Popular media players for watching foreign content in North Korea (left, notel; right, mp4 player
FILE PHOTO: Popular media players for watching foreign content in North Korea (left, notel; right, mp4 player). (Daily NK)

North Korea’s central government has once again ordered “Unified Command 82” to intensify its crackdown on so-called “anti-socialist and non-socialist behavior,” including the watching of South Korean dramas and films. 

According to a Daily NK source in North Hamgyong Province on Monday, the central government issued an order to Unified Command 82 on May 20 to intensify their controls so that the “anti-socialist and non-socialist phenomenon” of people watching “impure” videos such as South Korean films “does not occur during the lockdown period.”

Starting on May 21, the Unified Command 82 branch in Hoeryong formed teams to go around day and time in their jurisdictions and carry out random house searches.

“The Unified Command 82 inspections have once again intensified after cooling off for a while,” said the source. “The unified command uses their prerogative to carry out surprise inspections, entering homes without knocking to inspect drawers for USBs or SD cards, and inspect computers and recording devices, as well as checking if TV channels are fixed where they should be.”

With the country’s economic difficulties and food shortages now running up against COVID-19, there are concerns among the authorities that people could become ideologically disaffected. The authorities are apparently working even harder to bolster their controls and ensure that as times grow more difficult, “illusions” about the outside world do not take root among North Koreans.

Amid all this, a resident of Hoeryong’s Songnam-dong district got into a loud altercation with members of Unified Command 82 on May 23. This was because members of the unified command suddenly entered his home at dinner time, inspecting his TV and computer and turning over his place, the source in North Hamgyong Province said. 

The same thing reportedly happened in Yanggang Province, too.

According to a source in that province, Unified Command 82 personnel have been very busy in Hyesan. Believing that more locals are watching impure videos, including South Korean films, during the lockdown period, agents are disguising themselves as emergency quarantine officers to carry out surprise inspections.

They are carrying out inspections with greater gusto, barging into homes, searching everywhere and examining mobile DVD players, computers and other electronic devices. 

The source said Unified Command 82 personnel are now launching sneak raids “like alley cats,” adding that, “People are like, ‘We can’t go out due to the lockdowns, so what are we going to do at home?’ and ‘Won’t everyone who wants to watch the films watch them anyway [despite the surprise raids]?’”

According to him, the government is using different ways to stop people from watching “impure videos” like films from South Korea, but people are “finding more and more ways to watch them.”

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Lee Chae Un is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. She can be reached at dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.