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Young N. Koreans flaunt government laws aimed at stamping out foreign culture

North Hamgyong Province’s municipal and county-level party committees are intensifying ideological crackdowns against young people as the end-of-the-year approaches, Daily NK has learned. 

“Even if the authorities threaten them with new laws and harsher punishments, young people have an attitude of ‘they’re bound to give up after a while,’ so it doesn’t matter how much the authorities intensify crackdowns,” a source in the province told Daily NK on Dec. 21, speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons. 

“Despite the implementation of new laws after COVID-19 and witnessing people getting shot for breaking these laws, young people are still saying they want to follow global trends and imitating what they see in South Korean dramas and movies,” she said. 

In recent years, the North Korean government has adopted the “Law on the Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture” (December 2020), the “Youth Education Guarantee Act” (August 2021), and the “Pyongyang Cultural Language Protection Act” (January 2023). These laws were implemented to intensify punishments aimed at preventing ideological deviance among young people, which the regime believes is caused by the influence of foreign cultural content, including South Korean movies and dramas. 


North Korean authorities have placed particular emphasis on encouraging people to snitch on those who use South Korean speech and phrases. In recent years, the increasing popularity of South Korean drams and movies has led many young North Koreans to use phrases such as “oppa” (elder brother), “saranghae” (I love you), and “namchin” (boyfriend).

Daily NK reported in July that a man in his thirties surnamed Kim was arrested while watching a South Korean drama with a USB stick plugged into his Notetel. At the time of his arrest, Kim was watching the drama “Strong Girl Bong-soon” by himself at home.

A significant number of people have been sent to reeducation camps or political prison camps following the regime’s intensified crackdowns on the consumption of foreign media in recent years. Yet many young people are flaunting the country’s laws by continuing to watch and imitate what they see in South Korean dramas and movies.

The popularity of foreign culture among young North Koreans has also impacted the country’s dating culture. According to the source, there has been an increase in the number of couples holding hands in public places, and one can often find young couples kissing each other on the streets.


“At first, when I saw couples kissing on the streets, I was so shocked that I blushed bright red,” she said. “Now, I just walk past them thinking that things are very different from when I was young.”

Among the changes in dating culture is an increase in older women dating younger men.

“When you see South Korean or American dramas, people fall in love and get married regardless of age, so I began to think about why we didn’t think of younger men dating older women,” a young man who is currently dating a woman older than himself told Daily NK. “At some point, I began to feel romantically attracted to a woman six years my senior whom I had known since childhood, and we started dating.”

At first, their parents were vehemently against the idea, calling the couple insane and hurling all sorts of insults, but now both sets of parents have come to accept the relationship between the man and his older partner.


As there has been an increasing number of older women dating younger men in recent years, parents seem to be accepting this as a new dating trend.

There is also a growing number of young people who feel that they do not have to get married. 

“After going through the challenges of making a living, especially with the difficulties brought on by COVID-19, there has been a noticeable increase in young people who say that they want to earn and spend money independently without getting married,” the source said. “In the past, there were barely any women who had not gotten married by the time they were thirty, but now both women and men have no interest in marriage even in their thirties.”

Translated by Annie Eunjung Kim. Edited by Robert Lauler. 


Daily NK works with a network of sources who live inside North Korea, China and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous due to security concerns. More information about Daily NK’s reporting partner network and information gathering activities can be found on our FAQ page here.  

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

Read in Korean

December 30, 2023 at 07:08PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)


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