K-pop music has a legion of fans worldwide, but it also has detractors, chief among them North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. And when Kim called the music a “vicious cancer,” some Twitter users couldn’t help but agree with him.
The glitzy, androgynous stars of the K-pop scene are idolized by fans around the world, but Kim is not impressed. According to a report this week in the New York Times, he’s called the genre a “vicious cancer” corrupting young North Koreans’ “attire, hairstyles, speeches, [and] behaviors.”
Smuggled across the border on flash drives and DVDs, K-pop videos portray a glamorous world that stands in stark contrast to the regimented existence North Koreans experience. Kim has reportedly railed not only against K-pop, but South Korean movies and television series too, calling them “anti-socialist and nonsocialist” influences that could make society in the North “crumble like a damp wall” if left unchecked. Again, the New York Times attributes these quotes to North Korean state media.
North Korea enacted a new law last year calling for up to 15 years in labor camps for people watching and possessing sources of South Korean entertainment, according to media outlets in the South. Those who smuggle them into the country reportedly face the death penalty.
Few in the West would take their distaste for K-pop to the levels Kim allegedly has, but some Twitter commenters jokingly concurred with the North Korean strongman.
Guys, I kind of think he might be on to something here…
— Dön🏛Røckwell (@DonAeterna) June 11, 2021
South Korean media has often been cited by North Korean defectors as influencing their decision to flee the communist state. However, few analysts believe that foreign media sources alone present a serious threat to Kim’s rule. Nevertheless, he has cracked down, reportedly even executing 10 of his own officials for watching South Korean dramas, according to intelligence reports from the South.
Such reports should be taken with a pinch of salt, however. Both the media and the government in Seoul have previously reported purges and the execution of individuals only for “executed” officials to later turn up alive.
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