Daily NK has become aware that North Korea is stepping up punishments and intensifying a crackdown based on the “anti-reactionary thought law” adopted at the end of last year. The law seems to have strengthened the authorities’ control over citizens in the country. 

According to a source in North Pyongan Province, a teenage boy who was caught watching pornography at his home in Sinuiju earlier this month has been exiled to the countryside along with his parents. 

The teenager was watching a pornographic video late at night when his parents were not at home. He was caught during a surprise inspection by a task force created to monitor “deviant” behavior. 

According to the explanatory material for the “anti-reactionary thought law” obtained exclusively by Daily NK, Article 29 of the law calls for sentences of five to 15 years of correctional labor for consumption or possession of pornographic videos or books, photos or drawings that “preach superstition.” Individuals who produce, import or distribute such materials may get life sentences of correctional labor or even the death penalty, depending on the quantity of the material. 

However, it appears that because the “anti-reactionary thought law” does not prescribe punishment regulations for adolescents, the punishment was set to deportation instead of correctional labor. 

Articles 34-38 of the law stipulate fines of KPW 100,000 to 200,000 if a reactionary thought crime occurs due to the irresponsible education of children and orders the entire family to move to the countryside as punishment for the parents. 

A copy of part of the “anti-reactionary thought law” recently obtained by Daily NK. / Image: Daily NK

For someone who lives in one of the larger cities in North Korea, being deported to the provinces is considered quite a heavy sentence as these individuals will not only lose their economic base but also become politically stigmatized. 

As a result, some of the people aware of the incident questioned whether this punishment was too severe for a teenager. 

“The crackdown and punishments are likely to intensify for the time being given that the ‘anti-reactionary thought law’ is still in the early stage of implementation,” the source said.

“Moreover, Kim Jong Un stated that ‘non-socialism is a malignant tumor that hinders unity’ and declared a ‘more intensive struggle against the non-socialist phenomenon’ at the Second Plenary Meeting of the Eighth Central Committee of the Workers’ Party on Feb. 8,” he added.  

Daily NK is aware that the principal of the school attended by the teenage boy also received the “revolutionary punishment” of unpaid labor. 

The principal was punished because articles 34-38 of the act stipulates “punishments of unpaid labor, demotion, dismissal, or forced resignation if a reactionary thought crime occurs due to the failure to control and educate students on how to abide by the law.” 

Daily NK understands, however, that the principal was not demoted or dismissed. 

Meanwhile, the South Korean National Intelligence Service explained in a report to South Korea’s National Assembly Intelligence Committee on Feb. 16 that North Korea has strengthened punishments in the “anti-reactionary thought law” by prescribing the maximum punishment of death penalty for the import and distribution of South Korean video materials.

*Translated by Vilde Olaussen 

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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Seulkee Jang is one of Daily NK's full-time reporters and covers North Korean economic and diplomatic issues, including workers dispatched abroad. Jang has a M.A. in Sociology from University of North Korean Studies and a B.A. in Sociology from Yonsei University. She can be reached at skjang(at)uni-media.net.