anti-socialist punishment
North Korean soldiers / Image: KCNA

A North Korean has once again been arrested for performing a dance by South Korean pop group BTS. The authorities appear to be cracking down heavily on “anti-socialist” behavior as people in some areas of the country view music videos and other media from South Korea, including the hit series “Squid Game.”

According to a Daily NK source in North Hamgyong Province on Friday, a platoon leader with a patrol company of the Ninth Corps was arrested by the corps branch of the Ministry of State Security on Nov. 12.

The soldier, a man in his 20s identified by his family name of Kim, was charged with performing a dance by BTS during “recreational time” the day before.

To bolster morale, the North Korean military grants two hours of recreation a day after work. Kim took the lead during one session, dancing to bolster the spirits of soldiers suffering from economic troubles due to COVID-19.

In the end, however, he was dragged off the very next day, charged with imitating a dance by BTS.

During questioning, Kim denied even knowing who BTS is. He claimed he simply performed a dance he used to perform in his hometown to boost the morale of the soldiers.

However, the Ministry of State Security said he was lying and gave him three months in the stockade.

The source said Kim was well-behaved, often resolving the difficulties the soldiers faced. Because he was well-regarded by the officers and men of his company, he avoided a dishonorable discharge or expulsion from the communist party. 

It is not clear whether North Korea’s law against “reactionary thought and culture,” which was enacted late last year, bans people from doing South Korean dances.

As North Korea expands efforts to crack down on South Korean pop culture in line with bolstered ideological propaganda efforts, however, punishments like that given to Kim may continue. 

Daily NK previously reported that three airmen at the headquarters of the Korean People’s Army Air and Anti-Air Force were arrested for performing a BTS dance in August of last year. After a six-month investigation, they were dragged off to the Ministry of Social Security’s political prison camp in Kaechon.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to

Read in Korean