South Korean boy band BTS is popular in North Korea, where South Korean music is inspiring teens to learn K-pop dance moves, according to a South Korean press report. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Draconian punishment for distributing or watching South Korean media is not stopping ordinary North Koreans from accessing material banned in the country, and "private institutes" teaching K-pop dance moves are on the rise, according to a South Korean press report.
Various forms of media, including South Korean television dramas, are spreading in the North, and providing citizens an opportunity to catch glimpses of a "free society," South Korean news service Daily NK reported Wednesday.
The videos are distributed on flash drives and micro SD or memory cards, according to the report.
A Daily NK source in North Korea who spoke anonymously said the shows are transforming North Korean society.
"North Korean people like all South Korean dramas, films and variety shows," the source said. "A variety show with singing and dancing is especially popular among young people. During national holidays one can see them dancing in the South Korean style in [public] places."
The private institutes where North Koreans are teaching new dance moves will not publicly admit the choreography was South Korea-inspired, but "all the kids know the truth," Daily NK's source said.
Most of the digital media is smuggled through China, then duplicated in North Korea on private computers, the source added.
Flash drives and memory cards are easier to hide, and less people are being caught as they abandon the use and distribution of compact discs, according to the report.
Watching scenes of South Korea are a source of motivation for ordinary North Koreans.
"After seeing South Korea's economic development and cultural life, people say, 'If I work hard I too can live in such a free society'," Daily NK's source said.
North Korea severely punishes people who violate the state's ban on media.
Distribution or storage of "capitalist material" can result in a one-year prison sentence, and heavier forms of punishment include 5 to 10-year sentences at a labor camp.
The Korea Economic Daily reported in September globally popular groups like BTS are well liked in the North.
Young North Koreans use a code word to communicate about the popular boy band, say defectors in the South.