NORTH KOREA: Cracking down on wedding dresses, sunglasses and slang, a report reveals

BBC (28.06.2024) – North Korea is carrying out a widespread crackdown on everything from wedding dresses to slang as it seeks to counter the South’s influence, a new report has revealed.

The report – released by South Korea’s Unification Ministry – is based on the testimony of hundreds of defectors.

It includes the case of a 22-year-old who was executed after admitting listening to South Korean music and distributing films, first reported by the BBC last year.

North Korea described last year’s report as “slander and fabrication”, but has yet to respond to the new document.

According to the collected accounts, searches of homes have increased since 2021, with officials looking for signs of outside culture, news agency Yonhap reports.

Signs are said to include wearing a white wedding dress or the groom lifting the bride on his back.

People’s phones are also being searched and checked for slang from South Korea in messages and contacts, it adds.

Sunglasses have also been deemed counter-revolutionary, the report says, despite North Korean leader Kim Jong Un being know to don a pair. His father, however, also labelled certain everyday clothes items as counter-revolutionary – including jeans.

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What exactly the punishment is for these infractions is unclear.

However, the crackdown on South Korean-made culture appears more severe.

A 2020 law made watching or distributing South Korean entertainment punishable by death.

This year’s report includes an account of a public execution which had earlier been revealed by the BBC, where a 22-year-old farmer was killed for listening to 70 songs, watching three films and distributing them.

It is thought to be the only account of an execution being carried out under the “reactionary ideology and culture rejection law” to emerge so far.

A video from earlier this year showed two teenagers being sentenced to hard labour for a similar crime.

The South Korean report has been released at a time of increasing tensions between the neighbouring countries.

The North has sent more than 2,000 balloons filled with rubbish across the border since last month – some of which were found to have parasites inside.

A meeting between Kim Jong Un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin last week has further strained relations.

It is notable, then, that this is only the second time the report has been released, despite having been compiled annually since 2018.

They were previously not released in order to avoid provoking North Korea.

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Photo: Ministry of Unification in Seoul