North Korean Teenagers Sentenced to Hard Labor for Watching K-Dramas

There’s no shame in tuning in to some dramatic shows unless you live in North Korea. Two teenage boys were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor after they were caught watching South Korean soap operas.

A video of the conviction of two 16-year-old North Korean boys was posted online that showed the pair in grey uniforms on a stage surrounded by hundreds of people. They received their sentence for the “horrible” crime of watching and distributing K-dramas from the “puppet” South Korean regime.

“The rotten puppet regime’s culture has spread even to teenagers,” a narrator says in the video. “They are just 16 years old, but they ruined their own future.”

All South Korean entertainment is forbidden in North Korea. According to a law enacted by the Hermit Kingdom in 2020, watching or distributing South Korean entertainment is punishable by serious prison time or even death.

These two boys can consider themselves lucky. According to a North Korean defector, he was forced to watch a 22-year-old man get shot by a firing squad for listening to South Korean music and sharing it with his friend. Getting caught doing anything related to South Korea is much worse than even viewing American entertainment.

“If you get caught watching an American drama, you can get away with a bribe, but if you watch a Korean drama, you get shot,” a North Korean defector said. “For North Korean people, Korean dramas are a ‘drug’ that helps them forget their difficult reality.”

A different North Korean defector added: “In North Korea, we learn that South Korea lives much worse than us, but when you watch South Korean dramas, it’s a completely different world. It seems like the North Korean authorities are wary of that.”