Three teenagers from Kujang County in North Pyongan Province recently received sentences of reeducation through labor for “anti-socialist behavior,” Daily NK has learned. Their families were also expelled from the county as a result.

“The Ministry of Social Security arrested three 14-year-old middle school students living in Kujang County for anti-socialist behavior. [The students] allegedly had cut their hair like South Korean teenagers and were singing South Korean songs. After their preliminary examination in early April, the authorities sent the teens to a labor camp for reeducation.” 

The source claims that in March, a classmate – who was the son of an inminban (people’s unit) leader – caught the three students cutting their hair like K-pop idols, hemming their pants above their ankles, and singing along to music videos of South Korean songs such as “Man” by singer Na Hoon-a. The students were then reported to the Ministry of State Security.

After the Ministry of State Security arrested the three teenagers, they underwent a preliminary examination and were sent to a reeducation camp for youths on Apr. 3. Meanwhile, the authorities expelled the students’ parents to Changsong County in North Pyongan Province for turning a blind eye to their children’s anti-socialist behavior and providing an environment that encouraged the behavior to continue.

“County officials responded to the incident by conducting a series of intensive lectures targeting educators and local residents. The lectures were titled: ‘Let’s stay on high alert to unequivocally reject the influx of the imperialists’ impure elements and enemy propaganda.’”

North Korean women bikes support
In this undated photo, North Korean women are seen on bikes near Sakju County, North Pyongan Province. / Image: Daily NK

According to the source, the lecturers claimed that “the devious imperialists are jealous that we [North Koreans] are living a better life because we hold our socialists values high, so they are ruthlessly trying to use their punk capitalist media to manipulate our impressionable youths because they are still growing up,” and emphasized that the people must be alert to the influx of outside culture into the country.

The authorities also gave attendees a strong warning during the lectures. “Don’t expect that students who are not yet adults will receive a lighter punishment,” they reportedly said. “If parents can’t control their children, [the MSS] will send the youths to receive reeducation and expel their families just like in the case of these three students.”

The Ministry of State Security and the Ministry of Social Security ramped up random inspections of locals’ homes after the arrest of the students. They also intensified efforts for locals to re-register old devices and register any new electronic devices. Officials also ordered an increase in the responsibilities and roles of inminban leaders and their informants. 

“The Ministry of State Security asked the students what part of the [K-pop] songs had tempted them to the point [that they would risk arrest]. The teenagers responded that the lyrics, especially the part where the artist sang about ‘[living] like a man and [going/dying] like a man,’ had touched their hearts. News of the conversation spread like wildfire around the community through the families of the MSS officers that had interrogated them, and has only stoked further curiosity among locals about South Korean music.”

*Translated by S & J

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.