Ask a Korean! News: Impact of "Korean Wave" on North Koreans

Interesting report on how South Korea's soft culture is impacting North Koreans. Below is a translation.

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A new report investigates the contours of "Korean Wave" in North Korea through detailed interviews with North Korean defectors. Kang Dong-Wan, researcher for Korea Institute for National Unification and Park Jeong-Ran, researcher for Seoul National University Center for Unification and Peace, analyzed the North Korean distribution route of South Korean visual media and the attendant changes in North Korean people's mindset in their report, titled "Korean Wave Shakes North Korea."

The 33 interviewed defectors, selected with a consideration for regional balance, watched South Korean visual media "every day" (34%) or "once or twice a month" (41%). The most frequently watched include the movies "The General's Son" and "The Trap", and dramas "Autumn Tale" and "Stairway to Heaven". They watched through South Korean broadcast receivable near the border, or through smuggled DVDs and CDs.

The interviewees said they nurtured their admiration for South Korea as they watched a dining table with white rice with several side dishes, a house with separate rooms for parents, couples and children, the way people wear different clothes indoors, outdoors and going to sleep, and the way women drove cars. The interviewees said constant viewing of South Korean visual media gradually disarmed their ideological guard and lessened their fears of living in South Korea, serving as a catalyst for defection.

The researchers said, "We asked the participants whether the spread of South Korean visual media can change North Korea, and most replied that there would be a significant impact," and added, "we emphasize that the process of constant watching, listening and sharing would lead to the changes in thoughts and ideologies." But to the opinion expressed by some that South Korea should have a production with political propaganda in order to induce the political change in North Korea, the authors noted, "It may lead to unintended adverse consequences, like killing the goose laying golden eggs," and advised, "It may be necessary to develop the contents that promote the capitalistic and democratic spirit that are unintended and naturally seen in South Korean society."

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