The North Korean authorities have launched a fresh attack on the viewing of foreign media, according to sources. The move reportedly comes in response to rising incidences of USB sticks being used to view dramas on Chinese-made DVD players with USB ports.
With the exception of the poorest groups in North Korean society, a great many families now own Chinese DVD players of this type, which many use to watch dramas from abroad.
A source from Hamheung in South Hamkyung Province told Daily NK on the 11th, “The Ministry of Public Security has issued orders calling for us to step up control over DVD players with a USB function.” He added, “If DVD players without a verification sticker from the security forces are found to be in use, even their TVs are being seized.”
According to multiple inside sources, while people do still watch films and dramas from abroad in DVD format, their usage is easier to uncover, causing the format to lose popularity particularly now that USBs, which are easier to conceal, have become more common in the country.
Therefore, security agents are supposed to be rendering the USB function on Chinese players unusable by removing internal circuits or making it physically impossible to insert USB sticks into them, before placing a verification sticker on the body of the machine that signifies that it is legal for domestic use.
However, according to the source, “Some households own multiple DVD players so that they can hide one from the authorities and present the other. Other houses are just waiting for the crackdown to loosen up so that they can carry on as before.”
“Local government cadres are telling public meetings that ‘you must open your door to the agents even when they come at night’. Once state TV finishes for the night, they enter homes and check whether TVs are warm, and if they are then they go looking for DVD players,” he added.