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Report: North Korea strengthens crackdown on K-pop and South Korean haircuts

By Jennie Oh
Report: North Korea strengthens crackdown on K-pop and South Korean haircuts
A North Korean couple shops for luggage at a shop catering to North Koreans located across the street from the North Korean embassy in Beijing on October 29, 2017. Despite China's new sanctions on its neighbor, many critics point out that Beijing will not destabilize the North Korean regime with sanctions that would isolate the country. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- North Korea is on a drive to remove foreign cultural influence within its borders, according to South Korean media on Tuesday.

The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency said Leader Kim Jong Un had ordered an "all units and all members of the (ruling Rodong) party to root out non-socialist phenomenon" at the closing of the ruling party's Fifth Conference of Party Cell Chairs.

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Speaking to officials from the party's rank-and-file units on Saturday, the leader said, "As well as strengthening their oppression and sanctions on our nation, the Americans and enemy forces aren't holding back any means to spread unhealthy, foreign ideological poison within the nation and foster non-socialist phenomenon."

"It is an extremely dangerous force that immobilizes the sense of revolution and social class among youth and the people," he said, according to Dailian.

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The "non-socialist phenomenon" is believed to be referring to the spread of South Korean popular culture in the North.

South Korea's TV dramas and songs are reportedly smuggled into the North from China via flash drives and portable TV sets.

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Many North Koreans, from average laborers to high-ranking officials, enjoy the programs in the South, according to numerous defectors in Seoul.

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"North Korean citizens may cry, 'All hail Kim Jong Un,' during the day, they all watch Korean dramas underneath their covers during the night," former North Korean diplomat Thae Yong Ho said last year.

The contents offer a glimpse of life outside the reclusive state, inadvertently exposing North Koreans to underlying societal values such as freedom of expression and capitalism.

The regime is said to have scaled up measures to prevent the circulation of South Korean media contents since the launch of the Hwasong-14 missile in July this year.

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Authorities are even cracking down on residents who imitate their hairstyles of South Korean celebrities, Channel A reported.

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