North Korea orders house-to-house searches to confiscate banned music

Kim Jong-un has issued a decree demanding the destruction of tapes and CDs that could threaten the regime. Daily NK reports

The Guardian, UK/July 28, 2015

Always concerned about possible threats to his regime, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered music censorship to be extended, banning not only foreign songs but local tunes too, sources inside North Korea say.

The Korean Workers’ Party Propaganda and Agitation Department has begun circulating a new and expanded list of banned songs, which also decree the destruction of any CD or cassette tape containing prohibited content, a variety of sources have confirmed.

Concerns that certain lyrics could motivate popular dissent appears to be the motivation behind the new restrictions.

“The local propaganda departments are getting inminban [people’s unit] heads to collect cassettes and CDs from people’s homes and are combing through them,” a source speaking from inside the country claimed. “If even one song from the banned list is discovered, they incinerate the whole thing.”

The soundtrack of a North Korean-produced movie, Im Kkeok Jeong, about a Robin Hood-like figure who lived in the 16th century, is listed, including titles such as Take Action Blood Brothers and To Get Revenge. In addition, a popular track – Nation of No Tears – from a made-for-TV feature has been forbidden.

Although many of the songs have been banned before, the directive takes new measures by demanding that all material is physically destroyed too.

The decree comes after the announcement that Slovenian industrial rock band Laibach will play in the DPRK capital, the first western band to perform within the secretive state.

But although apparently intended to make Kim feel more secure, sources report that the confiscations of CDs and tapes is having the opposite effect, and stirring discontent. “Recently, this [decree] has even led to fights between residents and [propaganda authorities],” a source explained. “Some women have gotten so angry that they’ve stormed into the local propaganda offices complaining that they [authorities] incinerated their goods without even telling them.”

Another source confirmed that a boomerang effect was developing, suggesting that the ban seemed to be reviving interest in older prohibited songs that had faded from public memory.

A version of this article first appeared on Daily NK, which contacts multiple sources inside and outside North Korea to verify information. Sources remain anonymous to protect their identities.

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