Photographer and assistant in North Korea arrested for media distribution

Pyongyangites line up to buy DVDs at a Mokran Video Company stall in the capital. Image: Daily NK

In the latest sign of efforts to stem the flow of outside information despite an international pivot at the top levels, the North Korean authorities have arrested a photographer and his assistant in North Hamgyong Province for distributing foreign media content, local sources report.

“In early December, the Ministry of State Security arrested a studio photographer and staff member in Chongjin’s Ranam District for loading foreign movies and TV shows onto discs and USBs, and selling them,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK, adding that an investigation is underway to determine who purchased or rented the products.

“They were doing it to earn money because photos don’t sell too well these days. But their profits raised suspicion from a staff member at another photo studio, who reported them to the Ministry of State Security.”

The Ministry of State Security, with a formal search warrant in tow (notably), entered and then ransacked the premises, discovering a stash of discs and USBs loaded with films and television programs from Hong Kong, the US, and South Korea, according to a separate source in North Hamgyong Province.

“The photographer and staff member confessed to the crime and disclosed their client list, which included factory workers, university students, and active military service members,” he said.

As previously reported by Daily NK, the central authorities are aware of the rapidly growing influence of South Korean media content, products, and imitation, and have launched strict crackdowns against it.

“For some of their clients, it was the first foreign movie they’d ever seen. They gave ten years of their lives (in military service) and now face punishment just because they watched a movie,” he lamented.