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With South Korean K-pop bands such as BTS and Blackpink becoming international successes, Pyongyang officials in North Korea are cracking down on pop music. It is believed Kim Jong-un is increasingly worried about foreign influence in the secretive nation.
One of the regime’s propaganda websites has compared pop music with “slavery” and said people are bound to “unbelievably unfair contracts”.
They said artists are “bound to unbelievably unfair contracts from an early age, detained at their training and treated as slaves after being robbed of their body, mind and soul by the heads of vicious and corrupt art-related conglomerates”.
Keith Howard, from London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, said the only recording company in North Korea is “state-owned” and only approved performances are permitted.
He told CNN: “There’s no evidence that people are creating any of their own music outside of what’s centrally allowed.
“The only recording company is state-owned, and there are no performances that would be permitted outside what’s authorised.
“You don’t even have the right to create new words (to existing songs), and if you did, you’d have to be incredibly careful, because if they were deemed to be inappropriate you’d be in trouble.”
This latest crackdown comes following a string of new measures introduced in the hermit nation to stop the influence of foreign countries.
Last year, Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo Jong labelled rebels sending leaflets, radios, US currency and Bibles over the border as “human scum”.
As part of a campaign, which has been going on since 2004, defectors have been dropping leaflets opposing the current regime into the nation using hydrogen balloons.
In the state-owned newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, Ms Jong said: “I would like to ask the South Korean authorities if they are ready to take care of the consequences of evil conduct done by the rubbish-like mongrel dogs who took no scruple to slander us while faulting the ‘nuclear issue’ in the meanest way at the most untimely time.
“I detest those who feign ignorance or encourage more than those who move to do others harm.”
She went on to call the defectors as “human scum little short of wild animals who betrayed their own homeland”.
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During the coronavirus pandemic, the hermit state continued to claim there were no reported cases of the deadly virus.
To combat the spread of the virus, the Supreme leader introduced a draconian rule allowing guards to shoot anyone trying to cross the border.
According to US forces in the South, North Korean Special Operations Forces (SOF) are patrolling the border with China and have been ordered to shoot-to-kill anyone trying to enter the country through these means.
US Forces Korea (USFK) commander Robert Abrams said the border closures increased demand for smuggled goods, forcing authorities to intervene.
Mr Abrams said North Korea introduced a “buffer zone, one or two kilometres up on the Chinese border”.
He said last year: “They’ve got North Korean SOF out there… Strike forces, they’ve got shoot-to-kill orders in place.
“The regime right now – the military – is focused principally on getting their getting recovered and to help mitigate the risk of COVID-19.
“We’re not seeing any indications right now of any sort of lashing out.”
Imported goods into the country have also grown scarce as trade dwindled under the new restrictions.
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