The reputation of South Korea continues to rise in North Korea, with a lot of the influence being imparted by the quality of South Korean goods as much as by more noticeable cultural trends.
A source from Pyongyang told The Daily NK on Friday, “The constantly improving image people have of South Korea is related to dramas, but the influence of the South Korean products people are using is having a bigger effect. Due to Hallyu, traders are also moving towards predominantly South Korean goods.”
Various sources even agree that people are now increasingly referring to their southern neighbor as ‘South Korea’ rather than ‘South Chosun’, as it has traditionally been known. There is even anecdotal evidence of People's Safety Ministry agents demanding to know "Is this from South Korea?" as opposed to "Is this from South Chosun?"
“Because of the preference for South Korean goods, smugglers working the border and Chinese merchants are making a fortune,” the source said, adding, “People take second-hand South Korean clothes before new Chinese ones. Traders can name their price.”
The source also claimed that dramas and Korean consumer goods are reinforcing the popularity of one another, as people with money to spend are heading to the market in search of Korean fashion or products used by the main characters in dramas.
“People also see commercials for things like shampoo, toothpaste and razors in the dramas, and then the next day they go out looking for it,” the source continued, going on, “Smuggling methods are so well developed now that you can order something from China and get it the next day. More and more people are looking to buy South Korean shampoo, soap, toothpaste and USB drives."
USB drives are great for young people as they hold more information than CDs and are easier to conceal. These days, 2GB drives sell for 8,000 won, and 8GB for 15,000.
“Nowadays they are selling USB sticks with South Korean TV programs already on them," the source noted. "Some young people even performed a dance by a popular Korean singer at the festivities on the September 9th holiday.”