North Korea recently passed a broad new law of Kim Jong-un aimed at eradicating all outside influence, punishing anyone caught with Western films, clothing, or even employing slang. Why, though, is that?
Yoon Mi-so recalls seeing a man executed in a South Korean play when she was 11 years old. His entire neighborhood was put on high alert. It would be considered treason if you didn’t, she told the BBC from her home in Seoul.
The North Korean guards made it clear that carrying illegal movies carried the death penalty. I have a vivid recall of the blindfolded man, and I can still see his tears streaming down his face. That was a horrific experience for me. His tears had fully saturated the blindfold. They chained him and put him on a stake before shooting him.
‘A conflict without weapons,’ says the narrator
Imagine living in a country where you have no access to the internet, no social media, and only a few state-run television channels that broadcast just what the country’s leaders want you to hear – that’s life in North Korea. And now, Kim Jong-Un, the government’s leader, has tightened the screws, even more, enacting sweeping new legislation against what the dictatorship refers to as “reactionary ideas.”
Anyone caught with substantial amounts of South Korean, American, or Japanese media now face the death penalty. Those who are found, a viewing will be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
It isn’t just about what people watch, either. The new law of Kim Jong-un recently published a message in state media urging the country’s Youth League to crack down on anti-socialist, individualistic behavior among young people. He wants to ban “hazardous toxins” such as foreign speech, haircuts, and clothing.
Three teens were reportedly sent to a re-education camp for cutting their hair like K-pop idols and harming their trousers over their ankles, according to the Daily NK, a Seoul-based online tabloid with North Korean sources. This account cannot be verified by the BBC. All of this is because Mr. Kim is fighting a war without nuclear weapons or missiles. Analysts believe he is attempting to prevent foreign information from reaching North Koreans as life in the nation gets tougher.
Hundreds of millions of people are said to be hungry. Mr. Kim wants to make sure youngsters continue to be fed the state’s meticulously constructed propaganda rather than seeing life through the prism of glitzy K-dramas set south of the border in Seoul, Asia’s wealthiest city.
After locking its border last year in reaction to the pandemic, the country has been isolated off from the rest of the world more than ever before. Supplies and trade from China’s neighbor nearly came to a standstill. Imports are still limited, despite the fact that some supplies are beginning to make their way through.
This new law of Kim Jong-un has come into force while this self-imposed isolation has exacerbated the regime’s already failing economy, which is being used to fund its nuclear ambitions. Mr. Kim himself confessed earlier this year that his people were in the midst of “the worst-ever circumstances that we must endure.”