UMG releases 200-person survey on North Korea’s shifting media landscape
Since gaining power in 2012, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has strengthened the country’s crackdowns on “foreign information.” Recently, however, the Unification Media Group (UMG) released a report with testimony from North Koreans showing that despite these crackdowns most North Koreans are still accessing South Korean and other foreign TV dramas, movies and music.
The report, entitled “A Survey on the North Korean Media Environment and North Korean Exposure to Foreign Media,” was released by UMG on June 19. Of the 200 defectors interviewed for the report, 143 respondents (71.5%) said that it had become more dangerous to watch or listen to foreign media after Kim Jong Un gained power. A total of 150 of the respondents (75%) told UMG that they had witnessed someone being punished for watching foreign media.
A defector who left North Pyongan Province in 2018 told UMG that “The Ministry of State Security (MSS) or local police departments conduct raids or house searches. Raid teams shut down the power and take all the CDs found during a raid. There are a lot of North Koreans who’ve been arrested for selling or distributing South Korean videos, even if they don’t actually conduct that business on a full-time basis. People who sell South Korean videos face either execution or up to 10 years in re-education camps.”
A North Korean currently living in South Pyongan Province told UMG that “The authorities frequently check TVs and other devices [in people’s homes]” and that “The devices are generally so small that the authorities tear apart the house to find them, and if they find devices that have traces of foreign media content the devices are immediately confiscated and the people in question are punished.”
The man also said that “Group 109 generally manages these raids” but that “other local law enforcement officials can drop in at any time to conduct a search.”
North Korean authorities are concerned that foreign media will create a rift between the regime and the people. Group 109 was specifically created to monitor and crackdown on the sale, distribution and viewing/listening of foreign media content. ......