08:28 GMT20 June 2021
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    Back in December, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un intensified the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) culture war against South Korean media by introducing heftier labor camp sentences for individuals caught indulging in such entertainment. While the maximum punishment was set at five years of hard labor, it is now five to 15 years.

    As K-pop fandom continues to grow in South Korea and other parts of the world, the North Korean government and the DPRK leader are reiterating the country's stance on South Korean music and media. 

    The 37-year-old leader of the DPRK recently referred to K-pop as a "vicious cancer," that has the potential to corrupt North Korean youths with unsavory "attire, hairstyles, speeches, behaviors," according to the New York Times, citing state media. 

    North Korean state media emphasized that, if left unchecked, K-pop and related forms of South Korean entertainment could make the DPRK "crumble like a damp wall." 

    Kim's anti-K-pop sentiments are nothing new, as the North Korean leader spoke out in April about what he perceived to be "a serious change" in the "ideological and mental state" of North Korean youths.  

    Furthermore, due to recent legislation, North Koreans caught indulging in South Korean media can be sentenced to five to 15 years of hard labor.

    Members of K-pop boy band BTS pose for photographs during a photo opportunity promoting their new single 'Butter' in Seoul
    Members of K-pop boy band BTS pose for photographs during a photo opportunity promoting their new single 'Butter' in Seoul
    "Young North Koreans think they owe nothing to Kim Jong Un," Jung Gwang Il, a defector from North Korea, told the Times. 

    "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," added Jung, who reportedly runs a smuggling ring to transport K-pop into the DPRK. 

    Relatedly, the South Korean government has instituted fines and jail time for those caught sending material critical of the North Korean government across the border.

    These acts, typically carried out by human rights organizations and North Korean defectors, now carry up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of $27,000. 


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