Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, has described K-pop as a “vicious cancer” corrupting the young people he governs.
On Friday (June 11), The New York Times reported that the politician has declared a new culture war to halt the spread and influence of South Korean movies, K-dramas and K-pop videos to his citizens through a secretive anti-K-pop campaign.
News of the culture war was first learned by Seoul-based news source Daily NK from leaked internal documents coming from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“To Kim Jong-un, the cultural invasion from South Korea has gone beyond a tolerable level,” said Jiro Ishimaru, chief editor of Asia Press International, a Japanese website which monitors North Korea. “If this is left unchecked, he fears that his people might start considering the South an alternative Korea to replace the North.”
Jong-un believes the influence of “anti-socialist” cultural exports from South Korea, which The New York Times have reported is smuggled in on flash drives from China, on North Koreans’ “attire, hairstyles, speeches, behaviours” is weakening his control.
Last December, new laws were introduced calling for five to 15 years in labour camps for North Koreans who watch or possess South Korean entertainment; those who distribute it face the death penalty. Even those who “speak, write, or sing in South Korean style” could also possibly face up to two years of hard labour.
Jung Gwang-il, a North Korean defector who runs a network that smuggles K-pop into the North, said: “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.”
Meanwhile, BTS are reportedly set to return with new music next month, following the release of their second English single ‘Butter’ in May.
This is according to a report by South Korean media outlet SPO TV News, which claimed that the K-pop sensations will make their comeback with a new album on July 9.
The publication also pointed out that the boyband mentioned during a press conference for ‘Butter’ last month that they were planning to release a new album this summer.