March 08, 2021 12:57
North Korea is desperately cracking down on South Korean influences of all kinds that are sneaking into the country in a bid to shore up the regime's increasingly brittle control.
On Sunday the official Rodong Sinmun daily published a whole slew of articles that lambasted the "degenerate" way North Koreans now speak, dress and wear makeup.
The regime recently passed a draconian law that mandates the death penalty for disseminating South Korean movies, TV dramas or music videos.
"The use of dishonorable language harms the harmony and unity of the community and has a bad influence on society." Keeping North Korean culture pure "is a matter of whether we will be able to protect our national identity from an invasion by all kinds of unhealthy and degenerate ideologies and lifestyles," it added.
Although the state daily as usual named no particular suspect, the thrust is clear. According to accounts by North Korean defectors who arrived in South Korea recently, the young people in the North enjoy mimicking the South Korean vernacular, influenced by the popularity of South Korean TV shows.
The newspaper also said the way North Koreans dress, wear their hair and makeup are "ethically very important."
This is not the first time that North Korean authorities have reacted hysterically to corrupting foreign influence -- former leader Kim Jong-il famously published a list of permissible haircuts -- but the drive seems to have been strengthened recently, and new laws also make the use of certain South Korean-style expressions punishable by imprisonment.
The North Korean economy has collapsed under the triple strain of international sanctions, a complete border lockdown and natural disasters, and the regime seems to be running out of ideas how to keep its hold on a potentially restive population.
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