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Southern Dramas Available in N. Korea

2008/10/13 | 146 views | Permalink | Source

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By Park Si-soo
Staff Reporter

Various video and audio productions from capitalist countries are becoming more widely available in North Korea, with the authorities becoming more lenient on those enjoying such contents. Previously North Koreans could be subject to life-long jail terms or even capital punishment, according to a white paper on human rights in North Korea released Monday.

The Korean Bar Association published the survey of 100 North Korean defectors who fled the North after 2000.

The annual report has been published since 2006 to monitor human rights violations in the communist country.

The report said a growing number of North Koreans watch Korean soap operas or movies smuggled in from China and Japan. Military officers and security guards are no exception.

"In 2004, a military officer boasted to me, saying he had watched popular Korean dramas such as `All In', starring actor Lee Byung-hun, and `Winter Sonata', starring Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo", the book said, quoting an unidentified North Korea defector.

Another defector testified he witnessed in 2003 a 20-something man selling reproduced "Winter Sonata" videotapes at Wonsan, a port city on the east coast of North Korea. Some added they had watched pornography with security guards responsible for preventing people from watching such material.

Lenient punishments combined with corruption are primarily attributable to the growing demand for such material in the reclusive state, it said.

"Before 2000, those detected watching or listening to South Korean programs were sent to labor camps. But now most are fined or released in exchange for a bribe", a defector testified.

One North Korean said, "I was caught smuggling in 25 radios from S. Korea in 2001. But I was not punished at all".

He added it had been common for those living in border areas to watch or listen to South Korean and Chinese programs.

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