North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has branded K-pop a “viscous cancer” that must be eradicated in North Korea, according to the New York Times.
The authoritarian North Korean leader has taken issue with the “attire, hairstyles, speeches, behaviors” being promoted through K-pop, theorizing the South Korean music genre could cause North Korea to “crumble like a damp wall” if left unchecked, according to the New York Times.
After winning fans and BTS ARMYs around the world, South Korean music, films and dramas are now captivating North Koreans. Kim Jong-un called it a “vicious cancer.”
But even a dictator might struggle to hold back the tide. https://t.co/cjRMKk5TkI
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 11, 2021
“Young North Koreans think they owe nothing to Kim Jong-un. He must reassert his ideological control on the young if he doesn’t want to lose the foundation for the future of his family’s dynastic rule,” said Jung Gwang-il, a defector from the North who runs a network that smuggles K-pop into North Korea in a statement to the New York Times. (RELATED: Jimmy Kimmel Calls Florida ‘America’s North Korea’)
Signs of this cultural shift have already become visible in North Korean society, as many millennials have begun casually referring to their dates as “oppa,” meaning honey, a slang term used in various South Korean K-pop dramas. Kim Jong-un has called the language “perverted,”according to the New York Times.
The devotion of North Korean youth to Kim Jong-un’s regime has been steadily eroding in recent years, due to the influence of South Korean music, tv shows and movies smuggled into the North. A study conducted by Seoul National University indicated that half of 116 North-Korean defectors frequently consumed South Korean media while still in North Korea, according to the New York Times.
State-run North Korean television and radio stations routinely spread propaganda to North Korean citizens. Such propaganda regularly describes South Korea as a “living hell crawling with beggars” and North Korea as a “self-reliant” economic power, according to the New York Times.
Kim Jong-un enacted a law back in December that sentenced all citizens caught with South Korean contraband to a 15-year prison term in a North Korean labor camp. Speaking, writing, or singing in a South Korean style is punishable by a 2-year sentence in a labor camp, according to documents smuggled out of North Korea by reporters from Daily NK, a South Korean news blog.
Those caught distributing illegal South Korean material could face the death penalty under the new law. The North Korean government has subsequently begun searching all devices of citizens for any K-pop materials or audio with South Korean accents, according to the New York Times.
Kim has also banned “anti-socialist” haircuts and skinny jeans in recent months.
Talks between former President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un came to a halt in 2019 after Kim refused to abandon North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, a precondition Trump insisted upon in order for him to consider reversing the US’s crippling sanctions on the North Korean economy.
Kim Jong-un has since refused to resume those talks with the Biden Administration.