Two students at Haeju University of Agriculture in South Hwanghae Province were recently put on public trial for watching, copying, and distributing South Korean videos.

A source in South Hwanghae Province told Daily NK on Wednesday that two 21-year-old male students at the university were arrested by the “unified command on non-socialist and anti-socialist behavior” for “watching a video from South Korea and brazenly sharing it in an indiscriminate way.”

They were put on public trial at the university’s sports ground on Sept. 4, he added. 

Hailing from wealthy families, the two students used their comfortable family circumstances to donate needed money and goods to their school and the Socialist Patriotic Youth League. This allowed them to engage in “non-socialist behavior” such as skipping events and social mobilizations whenever they pleased.

According to the source, the public trial of the students—identified by their surnames of An and Lee—took place at the sports ground of Haeju University of Agriculture at 10:00 AM on Sept. 4. Sitting on the court’s bench were Socialist Patriotic Youth League cadres from major city institutions, three members of the unified command on non-socialist and anti-socialist behavior, and the vice heads of the provincial branches of the Ministry of State Security and Ministry of Social Security.

Typhoon Lingling
North Korean farmers in South Hwanghae Province cleaning up a damaged farm field after Typhoon Lingling in 2019. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

The trial proceedings generally recounted what the two had confessed to after being arrested in early August. The students allegedly watched South Korean videos “countless times,” copied them to CDs and USBs and distributed them to other students.

Using computers unregistered with the Ministry of State Security, they illegally copied South Korean films onto “innumerable” CDs and USBs, selling them to students who asked for them. They then squandered the money on food, drink, and entertainment.

The court’s judges pointed out that the two students were able to brazenly engage in this behavior because the university and Socialist Patriotic Youth League turned a blind eye while the two were entrusted with “economic tasks” (the donations of money and goods). 

The judges slammed the students, condemning them for “boldly engaging in reactionary behavior upsetting public sentiment and ideologically agitating the masses” by distributing South Korean videos, for “instigating reactionary behavior, hanging out with those with the black worldly desires of capitalism,” and for “degenerating ideologically in the end, despite having long received ideological education in an organized and persistent fashion.”

Calling on organizations to strengthen ideological control over young people, the court warned that “the enemies are trying to overthrow our style of socialism by making our youth collapse from the inside and by infiltrating reactionary thought and culture” and “if your ideology degenerates, you could become a traitor who would sell out even the nation.”

The source reported the province has been in an uproar over the incident. “The provincial unified command on non-socialist and anti-socialist behavior ordered local residents to turn themselves in if they’ve watched illegal videos, and that those who turn themselves in would be forgiven,” he said.

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to