North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un worries K-pop overthrow its totalitarian state by importing “clothes, hairstyles, speeches, behavior”. He is now calling for tougher penalties for young North Koreans who smuggle or consume South Korean content, and encourages his fellow North Koreans to denounce their neighbors for watching the video. BTS newest music video.
In an effort to strengthen his grip on North Korean youth, Kim Jong-Un seeks to eliminate the influence of K-pop and K-dramas. This new battle is just the continuation of an ongoing cultural war against South Korea, which started in the 90s with pirated entertainment.
According to The New York Times, the latest censorship law provides for 5 to 15 years in a labor camp for anyone caught possessing or watching South Korean entertainment. Those who smuggle the material into North Korea may face even more severe penalties, including the death penalty. North Koreans who âspeak, write or sing in the South Korean styleâ are subjected to two years of forced labor.
Currently, most South Korean materials enter the country on USB sticks across China, and their influence over North Koreans is manifested in changes in language and accent. Women in North Korea have adopted the expression “oppa”, for their masculine romantic partners instead of the state-sanctioned ‘comrade’ and those who ‘imitate[e] Southern ‘puppet accent’ in conversations or text messages are at risk of being kicked out of their cities.
In the United States, dstans dedicated to K-pop have flexed their immense power through the use of fancams, polls and TikTok, using the internet to take political action. This time last year, they drowned out the racist rhetoric on Twitter with floods of fanaticism and positive messages. During the ongoing BLM protests last summer, K-pop stans broke a Dallas PD snitching app with a shower of videos of their favorite artists singing and dancing. They also almost caused the downfall of TikTok when an embarrassed Trump demanded punishment for them reserve thousands of empty places at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
K-pop stans are unlikely on their own to destroy the decades-long North Korean dictatorship under the power of music, but which knows the extent of their political influence.