North Koreans face the gulag for using slang words like “bye-bye” and “ty” after Kim Jong-un sparked a bizarre crackdown on “perverted” language.
The secret state passed the new measures in December because it feared that its youthful citizens were too comfortable with the words popular in neighboring South Korea.
Now authorities are reported to be inspecting citizens’ phones and looking for prohibited expressions in private messages.
The prisoners are suspected of violating the ban on South Korean television and may face the gulag.
Speaking to Rimjingang, a Japan-based magazine dealing with the dictatorship, a North Korean parent revealed the kind of harmless slang that could get kids into hot water.
The parents said, “The goal of the action is the text messages on cell phones.
“It’s been a while since South Korean dramas first came to North Korea, right
“Since cell phones have become commonplace recently, young people have been using South Korean phrases in their text messages.
“For example, almost all young people use ‘saranghaeyeong’ (I love you), ‘chal-ka’ (see you), ‘bye-bye’ and ‘ty’ (the English abbreviation for thank you) in their lyrics.
“If the text messages contain expressions that are not used in North Korea, the owner of the device is suspected of having seen and interrogated South Korean dramas.
“The inspectors are also checking the text messages for rumors or complaints about difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Students and young people are smart, however, so they take great care to delete their text messages as soon as possible after they are sent.”
A three-page document that Rimjingang received, labeled “Top Secret,” explains the ban.
In the document, Kim Jong-un allegedly referred to South Korea as the “puppet” of the United States and included more prohibited words.
He says, “We have to severely exterminate this [South Korean] “Puppet words” and “puppet style” from our society.
“In the past I have repeatedly warned of the phenomenon that young men and women who are not blood relatives use the puppet’s language to relate to one another.
“Like” oppa “(older brother) and” dong-saeng “(younger sister, brother).
“However, this phenomenon has not yet disappeared in some young people.
“This is a typical example of the perverted ‘puppet language’ and ‘puppet style’ that are prevalent in our society.”
Greg Scarlatoiu, director of North Korea’s Washington DC-based human rights committee, said the Kim regime was clearly threatened by South Korea’s growing “soft power”.
He said, “This new law is part of the North Korean regime’s efforts to block information from the outside world, particularly from South Korea.
“They do this by deploying new content, deploying new technology, and punishing those who try to access such information, both in and out of court.
“When it comes to language, the Kim regime has always been purist and nativist. North Korea rejects loanwords and uses “puristic” North Korean expressions instead.
“The South Korean wave brings a new challenge: the overwhelming power of South Korean soap operas, music, fashion and pop culture.
“The Kim Jong-un regime is desperately trying to tame the influence of the South Korean soft powers, which could ultimately be the greatest challenge to their survival.”