Emulating the Idols of the “Korean Wave” in North Korea

It seems that everywhere I go, I run into the smiles of the flawless faces of the popular music idols and rising television and movie stars of South Korea. Although they may not be known as a part of what is mainstream popular culture in every location, somehow the South Korean singers, actors, and actresses have found their way into the hearts and onto the playlists of more than a few of my friends and acquaintances throughout the globe. The slim, well-dressed men and women of South Korean music groups and television dramas decorate bedroom walls and influence the fashion and tastes of many of the people I have encountered.

 

But to what extent has the South “Korean Wave” been able to captivate audiences in North Korea considering the division preventing exchange between the two halves of the Korean peninsula? Continue reading

“It Works Like A Market Economy”: Part 2 of 3 on Outside Media in North Korea

A radio tower stands in North Korea. Radio inside the country is limited to state transmissions, but citizens are often able to pick up transmissions from China or South Korea. Photo credit InterMedia.

In part 1 of this series we were introduced to the surge of outside media availability inside North Korea, reported in a recent survey of defectors and others with recent inside experience in North Korea by InterMedia. In this post we’ll go deeper into the role outside media plays inside the isolated country.

DVDs aren’t the only source of information on the outside world. CDs, cassettes, USBs, and even micro-SD cards are flourishing in black market trade, providing additional access to outside films and TV shows. Access typically comes through border residents or through the political and economic elite; the media are then shared with trusted contacts throughout the country. Some people in positions of power can even “order” a show or film brought in and it will make its way across the border through a network of bribery and smuggling. Continue reading

The Influence of the Korean Wave in North Korea

That’s right. The Korean Wave has spread to various parts of the world. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say it’s a worldwide sensation! Just looking at YouTube, you can find so much proof of this from videos of prison mates doing a mass choreographed dance of a popular kpop song in the Philippines to Americans doing covers of Korean songs IN KOREAN. I can’t help but be amazed at the amount of influence South Korean pop culture has had all over the world. But the thing that amazes me even more is that this phenomenon has also reached North Korea. Continue reading