North Korean People Copy South Korean TV Drama for Trade

Yanji, China — As South Korean TV drama craze reaches North Korea, the incident of copying and trading S. Korean drama is increasing among those who live in Hwanghae Province where they can receive S. Korean TV broadcast signal pretty well, an inside source said.

Kim Chul Man (pseudonym), a resident of Hwanghae Province, who was visiting his relatives in Yanji, China, said to DailyNK on February 11, “In Haeju, you can get good reception of South Korean TV broadcast, and many people secretly watch S. Korean TV programs.”

“There are those who do not just watch South Korean TV programs but copy them for trade. They have all the equipment needed to make CDs, and produce and sell a large volume of copies of drama. You can see many incidents like this in Haeju,” Kim said.

“We can receive the S. Korean TV signal better than its North Korean counterpart in the Haeju area,” Kim said, “TV sets are pre-tuned by the North Korean authorities to limit the access to TV channels. However, that does not bother us because we can use a stick.” (North Koreans call a remote control as a stick)

In the border areas with China and South Korea such as Hwanghae and Kangwon Province, the North Korean authorities try to prevent people from watching S. Korean TV by soldering and pre-tuning TV sets to Chonsun (North Korea) Central TV. Lately, the authorities also attempt to restrict the usage of remote control by covering the sensor with silver paper.

However, North Korean people circumvent the regulation. Instead of giving away their remote control to the authorities, they purchase an extra and watch the TV as they please after removing the silver paper. After all, the authorities’ efforts to control TV channels turn out to be futile for those who have remote control TV sets.

Kim said, “We can receive the TV broadcast of KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) and SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System) fine in Haeju. Sometimes, we can watch MBC (Moonhwa Broadcasting Corporation) as well. I watched Dae Jo Yong (a popular TV drama from KBS) on TV. However, I wanted to watch it again, so I bought a CD and watched it several more time.” He said, “We can get copies of South Korean TV programs from China. However, a great number of copies are also produced in Haeju.”

“We get radio reception better than TV. In fact, most young people listen to S. Korean radio. You can easily tell who watches S. Korean TV just by listening to what they say,” Kim said. “Those in 40s like myself like to watch historical drama such as Dae Jang Geum, Hwang Jin Yee and Dae Jo Yong.”

However, North Korean people cannot openly talk about S. Korean TV due to the increased surveillance by the authorities, Kim said.