A group of young people in Tanchon who gathered to prepare for Youth Day (Aug. 28) were arrested by the Ministry of State Security while singing and dancing to South Korean songs, Daily NK has learned. 

A source in South Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Sept. 3 that, “a group of youths at the Yangjong food facility in Tanchon were arrested in the morning by the Ministry of State Security.” According to the source, the arrest came “after [the youth had finished] working on repairs and during a nightly gathering to practice singing and dancing to prepare for the Youth Day event, which their youth organization had told them to do.”

South Korean songs and dances have been popular among North Korean youth for a long time. However, after the implementation of the “anti-reactionary thought law” last year, many young people have been arrested during intensified crackdowns on “anti-socialist activities.” 

According to Daily NK’s source, after finishing recovery efforts for the day, the group of young people in Tanchon gathered at someone’s house and were singing and dancing as they prepared for the Youth Day event. However, they were arrested after a local resident heard them and reported the group to the Ministry of State Security. 

North Korean university students play music at the Samjiyon construction site. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

“The youth were not frightened [about getting caught] since young people know all the South Korean songs and dances, but older people don’t know [the songs and dances],” explained the source. “They finished a short practice of the song the organization chose, and as they spent their remaining time happily singing and dancing to South Korean songs to relieve their fatigue from their hard work doing repairs, they were reported.”

Most of the people in the neighborhood felt sorry for the youth because they had gone through hardships working during the day and preparing for Youth Day at night. It was the actions of just one person who reported them that led to their arrest. 

The Ministry of State Security had, in fact, monitored the house where the youth gathered every night, the source said. Following the report of South Korean music being heard, security agents immediately raided the house and arrested the young people. 

The incident was immediately reported to the provincial government, the Tanchon party committee and local youth organization. The young people caught in the roundup are reportedly undergoing a preliminary examination by the Ministry of State Security.

The source said that “there is a rumor circulating that their sentences will not be light” and that “people believe that heavier sentences will be imposed as [the government] is intensely cracking down on watching South Korean movies or listening to South Korean music.”

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.