Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, described K-pop as a "vicious cancer" corrupting the young people he governs, and he plans to put a stop to it.
The New York Times reported on Friday (June 11) 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, which Seoul-based news source Daily NK first learned about from leaked internal documents coming from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Seoul National University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies conducted a survey of 116 people who fled North Korea in 2018 or 2019, in which nearly half said they had "frequently" watched South Korean entertainment while in the North. Jong-un believes the influence of "anti-socialist" cultural exports from South Korea, which NYT reported were smuggled on flash drives from China, on North Koreans' "attire, hairstyles, speeches, behaviors" is weakening his control. In December, he introduced a series of new laws that increased the level of punishment for owning and/or watching South Korean entertainment from five years of hard labor to up to 15 years in labor camps. His state media warned that if left unchecked, North Korea would "crumble like a damp wall."