A new unit was formed in mid-January to deal with the amount of ‘illegal’ media circulating in North Korea.
“Unit 114 has been formed following a January 14th order handed down by General Kim calling for a concentrated crackdown on suspicious songs, recorded materials and impure published media,” a source from Yangkang Province told Daily NK on the 12th.
The source went on, “The unit has been organized by the Propaganda Department of the central Party, but the interesting thing is that it also contains people from the National Security Agency.” Interesting, the source noted, because such units, also a very regular feature of the Kim Jong Il era, are commonly made up of people dispatched by the central Party. Indeed, there is already Unit 109 similarly charged with dealing with inflows of outside media.
In addition, the format of the unit’s activities is in marked contrast to some of the past, the source said. “These inspections have not been announced in people’s unit meetings and, since the inspectors are circulating undercover in the jangmadang, people are much more frightened,” she explained. “Someone who was caught selling CDs in the area in front of the jangmadang here told me that the investigation was done by an NSA agent and someone from the central Party Propaganda Department.”
According to the source, the trader in question was selling copies of a recently released North Korean film, ‘Brotherly Love’, when he came under suspicion. Even though it is a North Korean film which portrays Chinese troops in the Korean War and the lives of North Koreans at the time, the trader nevertheless got in trouble because the film was copied rather than being an original.
“The trader made and signed a written statement saying ‘I will not sell copied films again’ and so was let go, but as he was leaving he was asked by an NSA agent to report people possessing or selling South Chosun films and songs or American films. He got really shocked by the experience, and is now at home resting up,” the source said.
“A lot of traders who used to make a living selling CDs are now in hiding. The investigation is harsh, so people with experience selling South Korean CDs in the past are hiding to avoid getting caught.”