12 Million N.Koreans Watch S.Korean TV Broadcasts

Around 12 million North Koreans are believed to have access to South Korean TV shows. A government source said South Korean TV can be accessed from areas south of Sinuiju in North Pyongan Province and Wonsan in Kangwon Province.

A survey of 200 North Korean defectors last month by Media Research showed 70.5 percent of them had watched South Korean TV and other media content in the North. Some 90.5 percent of them said they felt a sense of intimacy with South Korea because of them. And 36 percent said 10 to 30 percent of people in the North use mobile phones.

The Institute for National Security Strategy under the National Intelligence Service estimates there are around 3 million mobile phones in use in North Korea, one million of them registered with Chinese service providers. One North Korean defector said he can call Pyongyang from Seoul on his mobile.

That shows how cross-border contact between ordinary people and access to South Korean culture are growing. One source said, "People who have greater access to mobile phones and South Korean TV programs tend to favor capitalism and support reunification."

North Korea's dependence on informal open-air markets continues to increase. A government source here said North Koreans get between 60 and 90 percent of their food and daily necessities from the markets.

People have long been allowed to farm a portion of their lands for their own needs or and run a businesses to make ends meet. Some buy local products and resell them at a markup. In the survey, 63 percent said they supported capitalism while they lived in the North, while only 25 percent said they favored socialism.

Capitalist traits are also creeping into North Korea's housing market, including real estate speculation on expensive apartments. Private home ownership is in principle banned and people are only given usage rights, but some high-ranking party officials own several apartments costing more than US$100,000 each, some in the names of state-run companies. Apparently defying the law, these properties are often inherited by their children.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 15, 2014 08:12 KST