Notetel and mp4
A DVD and mp4 player used in North Korea. / Image: Daily NK

In Pyongyang, a female university student was arrested at her house by Group 109 while she was watching a South Korean drama.

Group 109 agents told the parents of the female student, “If you want her to avoid the punishment, give us USD 5,000.” The parents borrowed money from everybody who could help, but were able to gather only USD 2,300. They rushed to the agent-in-charge to hand over the money. The officer said, “Are you kidding me?” and then threw a bunch of the money at the parents and made abusive remarks. He did not give the money back. 

Aware of what had happened, the female student committed suicide soon after on the hill behind her house. “I am an honorable person,” she said in her suicide note, “I will prove it with my death, so you can get your money back.” People living in the neighborhood wept and became infuriated after hearing about her suicide and the content of the note. 

The South Korean drama the student was watching was a drama about the life of an ordinary family. Most of the dramas watched in North Korea are about love, work and sorrow in life. North Koreans usually find the necessary strength and courage to carry on while watching these shows. In fact, more than 90% of the citizens enjoy foreign series and movies, and sing South Korean songs. This is the reality in the North Korea of today. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his security services forbid people to watch foreign shows and punish them if they do. However, the fact is that those same people watch foreign series and movies, and enjoy singing foreign songs. Ordinary citizens always feel anxious and have to give enormous bribes to monitoring authorities, and sometimes it ends in tragedy because of a single drama episode.

There is no other country in the world where people get punished and killed for watching a foreign movie or series, or listening to foreign songs. Such things cannot happen in a country where it is claimed people are their own masters. The Kim Jong Un regime must immediately guarantee its people the freedom of speech and free access to information.

*Translated by Alex Haym

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