Child of North Korean official arrested for watching South Korean TV show

Portable “notel” media player popular in North Korea. Image: Daily NK

The child of an official from the Pyongsong People’s Committee has been detained after being caught watching South Korean content with friends, despite the official’s relatively high status.

“At the beginning of December, five Grade 6 students at Jungdok Senior Middle School (equivalent to Grade 3 high schoolers in South Korea) were caught watching South Korean dramas. One of them was the child of a Pyongsong People’s Committee official,” a source in South Pyongan Province told Daily NK.

An additional source in South Pyongan Province close to the matter added, “They were immediately handed over to the local Ministry of State Security unit and are in big trouble. Because a cadre’s kid is on the receiving end of punishment, it shows how serious the crackdowns are right now. Even they don’t receive special treatment anymore.”

The central authorities are aware of the rapidly growing influence of South Korean media content, products, and imitation, and have launched strict crackdowns against it.

In addition to fears over cultural affinity, the notion that young people are becoming more adept at obtaining, viewing, and spreading external information is another factor behind the rising efforts, noted a source in North Pyongan Province.

Compared to their parents and grandparents, he explained, the youth in North Korea are far more free-spirited and likely to think contrarily to the regime’s ideology and wishes. The regime naturally perceives this to be an existential threat.

“The authorities are therefore likely to deliver harsh punishments to all involved,” he said, adding that as inter-Korean relations grow stronger, “it’ll only get worse.”

Daily NK previously reported that young North Koreans are being sent to youth labor-reform centers with increasing frequency as the authorities strengthen their crackdowns against South Korean media.