North Korea in re-education drive as foreign media increasingly smuggled across the border

North Korea is reportedly detaining more young people in re-education camps for secretly watching South Korean movies.

The crackdown on the clandestine viewing of foreign media comes amid fears by the regime that its “ideological purity” will be eroded, reported the Daily NK.

A source in North Pyongan Province told the news website that the country’s youth were increasingly using illegal memory cards for entertainment and to satisfy their curiosity about the outside world.

“But those that are caught are being sent to youth labour-reform centres and kept there for about a year for re-education,” said the source.

The strategy appears to be part of a wider effort to shape youth opinion in favour of the authoritarian regime and as future supporters of the government.

North Korea is currently opening its doors to South Korean pop bands as part of a cultural exchange – but western films are still bannedCredit:

Leader, Kim Jong-un, in his New Year’s Day address underlined that a “vigorous struggle should be waged to tighten moral discipline throughout society.”

Despite the recent rapprochement between Pyongyang and Seoul, South Korean media remains strictly prohibited in the North.

However, recent defections suggest that it has already gained popularity in the hermit kingdom.

A 24-year-old soldier who made a daring dash for freedom across the heavily militarised border last year later revealed that he was a big fan of K-pop band Girls Generation.

Many in the North still live in grinding poverty, resorting to washing their clothes in ice rivers in some cases during winterCredit:
Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

The US-based Human Rights Foundation is also helping North Korean defectors to flood their former homeland with flashdrives full of news bulletins and documentaries to counter state propaganda.

Alex Gladstein, the group’s strategy officer, told The Telegraph that up to 10,000 flashdrives were successfully smuggled across the border last year.

Waging this information war was “the only way to inspire change,” he argued. “So it’s really like a third way, and this is to liberate minds.”

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