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N. Korea intensifies crackdown on owners of “extra” memory cards

North Korea has recently stepped up its crackdown on people who own “extra” memory cards. The mere possession of such cards is considered equivalent to viewing or distributing foreign media.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, a source in North Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Thursday that the Ministry of State Security has recently been checking people for memory cards they do not use.

The source explained that the North Korean authorities have begun to prosecute those who possess extra data storage devices (such as SD cards and microSD cards) as severely as if they had used a Chinese-made cell phone to talk to people overseas or consumed media from other countries, such as South Korean movies, dramas, news or music.

For example, a thirty-something male resident of Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, is currently under investigation after being caught with an SD card, the source said.

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The man’s SD card contained only a handful of North Korean songs and no movies, videos, publications, books, or songs from South Korea, which North Korean authorities call the “puppet regime.”

However, North Korean authorities inferred from the man’s possession of an extra SD card that he may have come in contact with “outside information” such as South Korean movies, TV shows, or songs.

Daily NK could not confirm whether the man had a criminal record for accessing foreign information and media content.

In the same area, a man in his forties was passing through a cell phone checkpoint when a microSD card turned up in his personal belongings.

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Again, there was no foreign media content on the memory card. But officials with the Ministry of State Security pressed him about carrying a card without anything on it and they suspected him of watching or planning to watch illegal videos.

The man was eventually released after paying a bribe of USD 400 to ministry officials.

Authorities ignore those possessing Chinese movies, TV shows

The recent punishment of people caught with SD cards has angered some North Korean people.

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“It’s not right to treat people like criminals when they haven’t even committed a crime like watching a South Korean movie or using a Chinese-made cell phone,” one person said, according to the source.

North Koreans often watch movies and TV shows or listen to songs stored on SD or microSD cards, which they call “mouse cards.”

North Korean authorities do not object to North Korean media or Chinese movies or TV shows being stored on these memory cards.

However, if North Koreans are found to have stored or shared media from what the North Korean authorities call an “enemy state” (namely, South Korea or the U.S.), they can be sentenced to hard labor or even death under the Reactionary Ideology and Culture Rejection Act.

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Although the North Korean authorities have enacted laws to increase the punishment for the consumption of outside information to prevent ideological laxity, the number of people who secretly watch South Korean media has not decreased. This appears to be behind North Korea’s increasingly brutal crackdown on such behavior.

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Read in Korean

The post N. Korea intensifies crackdown on owners of “extra” memory cards appeared first on Daily NK English.

February 02, 2024 at 12:14PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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