North Korean fans of “2 Nights, 1 Day” concerned about future of the show

North Koreans secretly viewing 1 Night, 2 Days
North Koreans secretly viewing 1 Night, 2 Days. Graphic: Gregory Pence

North Koreans are expressing disappointment as no new episodes of KBS’s reality variety show “2 Days, 1 Night” have been broadcast in over a month.

“A lot of people are wondering why the show is suddenly off-the-air,” a source in South Pyongan Province told Daily NK.

“People don’t know about the sex crimes involving Jung Joon Young along with the golf-related betting scandal, so they’re clueless as to why the show is not airing anymore.”

North Koreans in Pyongsong, Nampo, Pyongyang and other areas of the country appear to be watching KBS broadcasts in real-time. South Korean television moved to digital broadcasts in the early 2000s, but TV stations have continued to broadcast analogue signal into North Korea. This has allowed North Koreans who live relatively closer to South Korea to receive TV broadcasts, even in places as far from the 38th Parallel as Pyongyang.

“2 Days, 1 Night” is one of the most popular South Korean TV programs in North Korea. Episodes of the show have been distributed throughout the country by USB sticks and other storage devices. The show began to spread through North Korea’s border region and interior in the early 2010s through DVDs created by North Korean business people capitalizing on the spike in demand for the show.

“People are interested in the show because they’re curious about South Korea and it shows famous places in the country,” the source said. “They are fascinated by the fact that people in the South can move around freely, given that they can’t do that here.”

The show is also popular because it depicts Korean culture and is easy for viewers to understand.

“The show gives viewers a taste of different parts of South Korea, rather than just showing the completely developed parts like dramas do,” a source in Pyongyang explained. “Viewers appreciate the show’s Korean-ness and being able to note the commonalities between the South and North.”

Another show, MBN’s “I’m a Naturalist,” is also popular in North Korea for its portrayal of real agricultural and mountain life in South Korea.

“Rock, paper, scissors, and the ‘elephant spin’ game are played by North Koreans, too, so they feel a sense of familiarity with characters in the show. North Korean viewers are envious of all the fun places to visit in South Korea that are shown in the program. Many people want to go to South Korea because of the show” a separate source in South Pyongan Province said.

“The program has been around for a long time and it shows a lot of games similar to those played by people here, so it’s sad that the show is off-the-air right now. I hope another show comes along just like it.”

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