North Korea Strengthens Punishment for Importing K-Pop and Other Cultural Content from the South

Adding to already strict laws on importing South Korean cultural content, North Korea has taken it up a notch. Seoul-based media outlet Yonhap has obtained exclusive documents showing that importing and distributing items such as K-Pop or Korean dramas will now earn much more severe punishment than designated by previous laws.

According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s 2015-revised criminal code showed that those who import, distribute and illegally hold on to “decadent culture” or engage in “decadent acts” would face a prison sentence with hard labor of a minimum five years to a maximum 10 years, when circumstances are found to be grave.


North Korean law defines “decadent acts” as the consumption or re-enactment of “images, photos, books, music and movies that are decadent and suggestive,” a virtual reference to the consumption of South Korean dramas, movies and music.

The updated level of punishment represents a drastic increase. The penalty for the same crimes in the 2012 May-revised criminal law stipulated a maximum two-year prison sentence with hard labor, according to the Unification Ministry database.

Stricter laws on propaganda produced at home have also been enacted.

The revised criminal law also newly created a clause for the punishment of government officials who do not properly and promptly carry out the “teachings” of the country’s late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-il. Those found guilty of failing to carry out their duties face a maximum one year in prison.



The Staff

The Staff

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