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North Korea blasts K-pop industry as ‘slave-like exploitation’

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Over the weekend, an article published by a North Korean propaganda website he accused K-pop record labels of participating in a “slave-like exploitation” of highly successful groups such as BTS and BLACKPINK.

The piece from North Korea’s Arirang Meari site claimed that K-pop artists were “forced into incredibly unfair contracts from an early age, detained in training and treated as slaves after being stolen from their bodies, minds. and soul for the heads of vicious and corrupt. art-related conglomerates “.

The K-pop industry it is notoriously exhausting and difficult to introduce, but the North Korean article does not include any evidence of its allegations. He had only several paragraphs and quoted “reports” in other media.

The piece was probably part of a push by North Korean propagandists to suppress foreign media. While Pyongyang’s strict censorship apparatus severely restricts movies, music, television, newspapers, and books that its citizens can consume, the technology has facilitated the smuggling of foreign content, especially in USB sticks.

Defectors say trapped North Koreans consuming foreign content, especially from South Korea and the United States, often face severe punishments. Historically, these laws have not deterred people from doing so, but the situation may change.

After years of poor economic performance, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appears to be doubling central planning as a way to boost growth, which he noted as his long-term top priority of the regime at a major political meeting earlier this year. Some experts believe the renewed emphasis on government control extends to propaganda efforts and the consumption of foreign content.

Although the Kim regime has long repressed people who watched or read foreign material, the North Korean legislature passed a new law in December that forced citizens and organizations to prevent the “spread of anti-socialist ideology.” “, in practice means any content that has not been approved by government censors.

Kim, in February, also suggested that more controls on social content could arrive. He called for a “more intensive fight than ever before against anti-socialist and non-socialist practices.”

Musical divergence on the Korean peninsula

Despite centuries of shared culture, music in communist North Korea and South Korean capitalism have evolved very differently since the peninsula split into two political entities after World War II.

K-pop has become a world-renowned multimillion-dollar industry. South Korea has even blasted K-pop across the border as part of its propaganda efforts in previous years, when relations between the two Koreas were on ice.

Music in North Korea, meanwhile, is an important part of everyday life and serves as a key propaganda tool, hooking the ruling Kim family and their fight against imperial aggression.

North Korea’s monopoly on creative expression makes the state’s songs – and therefore its approved messages – ubiquitous.

“There is no evidence that people create their own music outside of what is allowed centrally,” said Keith Howard, an ethnomusicologist and Korean music expert. he said in an interview last year. “The only record company is state – owned and no representation is allowed outside of what is allowed.

CNN’s Oscar Holland contributed to this report.

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