Arts, Culture & Media

Soap operas in North Korea

Sitting in this trendy cafe, this 28 year old refugee says South Korea is unlike anything she'd ever thought of. 11 years ago before she escaped, her understanding of the outside world was narrow. Even during North Korea's terrible famine, she says she still thought North Koreans had it better, but then after defecting her world started to unravel. She says when watching South Korean television, she couldn't believe what she was seeing: big houses and a different culture. She says after seeing the TV programs, she was inspired to defect. North Koreans can be exposed to Korean TV in China and in their own hometowns�videotapes and DVDs are hot commodities on the black market. This defector estimates that 1 out of every 100 North Koreans has seen South Korean TV, but the price can be high and viewers can be sent to a labor camp. Since they can no longer hide the wealth gap, North Korea has had to rethink its propaganda, focusing on moral purity. But the flow of South Korean media into the North may be cut off and that more troops are now guarding the border from China to South Korea, a common travel route for many defectors.

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