North Korea Bans From Using South Korean Slang

Countries Mar 16, 2021

The North Korean authorities have criminalized watching South Korean films and TV series, reading South Korean books, and even using South Korean slang. This way, leaders in the DPRK want to fight cultural expansion from the South.

It became known from classified documents obtained by the Rimjingang, a Japan-based magazine focused on the dictatorship. On December 4, 2020, North Korea passed a law on eliminating reactionary thoughts and culture to combat South Korean cultural expansion.

The publication cites the text of the speech by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from September 2020. He criticizes the use of "puppet words" and "puppet style" in North Korean society.

In particular, Kim Jong-un does not like that citizens use the South Korean words like "oppa" and "dong-saeng," which mean, respectively, "older brother" and "younger sister," but not in the sense of blood relatives, but rather very close friends. The word "oppa" also appears in South Korean rapper Psy's song Gangnam Style.

According to the adopted law, which is called the Law on the Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture, those caught watching films and TV series or reading books from South Korea will face 15 years in prison. Those who distribute and sell such things face the death penalty. And for printing a text in South Korean, two years of community service are provided.

The new law even bans parents from giving their children South Korean names. Otherwise, they will have to rename their children.

Due to the Korean Peninsula's division, the speech in the two countries is somewhat different. However, despite the strict censorship in the DPRK, you can still watch TV series and films from South Korea there. There is a whole industry of secretly importing South Korean content.

Greg Scarlatoiu, director of the Washington DC-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, said that North Korean authorities are trying to block information from the outside world and South Korea, particularly since Kim Jin-un believes that the regime in South Korea has weakened.