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North Korea warns youth about South slang as Kim Jong Un warns against “cultural penetration”

Young North Koreans were asked to avoid using “dangerous” slang, with the country’s official newspaper calling on younger generations to honor traditional lifestyles as part of a fast-track campaign to block cultural influences from South Korea.

“When the new generations have a good sense of ideology and revolutionary minds, the future of a country is bright,” said an editorial in the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, according to the South Korean news agency. Yonhap. “Otherwise, social systems and the decades-long revolution will perish. “

In particular, the newspaper warned young people against adopting South Korean slang, telling them to stick to their country’s “upper” language. He also warned them about style inspiration from South Korea, including fashion and hairstyles.

“Ideological and cultural penetration under the colorful banner of the bourgeoisie is even more dangerous than enemies who take up arms,” ​​he said.

North Korean high school students visit the Juche Tower, built to commemorate the 70th birthday of former President Kim Il Sung.Alain Nogues / Corbis via the Getty Images file

This is not the first such warning North Koreans have received.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has issued directives for months ordering citizens to shun the influence of the outside world, from fashion and hairstyles to dance moves and K-pop, which Kim recently called “vicious cancer,” according to The New York. Time.

However, as part of the regime’s growing crackdown, citizens may be more likely to face stiffer penalties if they are caught consuming South Korean pop culture. A new law introduced in December provides for up to 15 years in labor camps for those caught accessing South Korean entertainment and threatens those who distribute it with the death penalty, according to the Times.

The escalation of the campaign comes amid an increasing amount of media and information entering North Korea from outside the country and suggests the government may be insecure and fearful of losing power, a said David Maxwell, senior researcher at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based non-partisan think tank.

“Frankly, outside information is an existential threat to the survival of the regime,” he said.

With speculation swirling around Kim’s health after he appears to have lost weight in recent photos as North Korea grapples with food shortages and an economic crisis sparked by a drop in trade with China for the Covid-19 pandemic and exacerbated by international sanctions, said Maxwell Kim has increasingly focused on eradicating this threat.

Soo Kim, a former CIA analyst specializing in North Korea and currently an analyst at the RAND Corporation, a non-partisan think tank based in Santa Monica, Calif., Agrees.

“For the North Koreans, while they are suffering at the moment, to see that beyond [the southern border] there is wealth, there is food and there is freedom, it doesn’t bode well in terms of Kim’s hold on power, “she said.

Despite the Kim’s regime’s long-standing efforts to keep South Korean influence out of the North, however, southern pop culture continues to reach residents across the border.

A woman and a child walk in front of a fountain in a park next to the Great House of People’s Study in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 5.Kim Won Jin / AFP via Getty Images

In a survey of 116 North Korean defectors in 2020, Seoul National University found that nearly 48% of defectors had been regular consumers of South Korean television and movies, as well as the country’s music. , before fleeing the North.

Meanwhile, only 8.6% of attendees said they never enjoyed South Korean pop culture before leaving North Korea.

Maxwell and Kim have both said the trend is unlikely to end, even amid increased repression from North Korea.

Noting that it has become “much easier now than before for North Koreans to get outside information,” Kim said, “We no longer rely solely on DVDs, but a lot of these [nongovernmental organizations] now use small USB drives which are much easier to carry than in the days of videotapes. “

Ultimately, North Koreans will continue to take risks to try to absorb culture beyond their borders, Kim said.

“People are hungry for information, they know the risks and they accept the risks because they prefer to have the information,” she said. “They want change and they want freedom.”

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