The charge for the crackdowns is changed from 'lewd video' to 'South Korean recording materials'.

From August the storm of the crackdowns on so-called 'impure materials' has swept across North Korea within the inerior of the state apparatus. 

Beginning in Pyongyang with the firing squad execution of the entertainment group, reports have emerged from a number of different areas in North Korea of similar executions being carried out by mid-level government officials. The original reason given for these actions - the distribution of 'Impure recordings' - has since been completely changed, new claims being issued that these co-called corrupting materials were imported by the South Korean government. Let us examine the claims issued by the North Korean government:

In September, further announcements were issued by the North Korean government stating, "Those who view or illegally contribute to the dissemination of impure materials will be severely punished".

In front of the Sinuiju railway station people carrying large bags into the station are being stopped and searched by the officers of the Public Order Maintenance Corps (질서유지대), on the lookout for illicit materials being distributed within the country. Sinuiju City, North Pyongan Provice. ( November 2012, Taken by Rimjin-gang's reporting partner in North Korea) ASIAPRESS

In front of the Sinuiju railway station people carrying large bags into the station are being stopped and searched by the officers of the Public Order Maintenance Corps (질서유지대), on the lookout for illicit materials being distributed within the country. Sinuiju City, North Pyongan Provice. ( November 2012, Taken by Rimjin-gang's reporting partner in North Korea) ASIAPRESS


The Crackdown started with the 'Lewd Video'

"Security officers from Pyongyang have been dispatched to the provinces as part of the clampdown on material smuggled from South Korea, however, the target of these investigations are not normal citizens, rather ranking officials. They have even had their homes searched. The people who watch the most South Korean materials are the ranking officials and until now police were too afraid to touch them. This time, however, they are taking a more hardline."

On August 23rd, our reporting partner living in the Northern province of Ryanggang reported by telephone on the latest events coming out of North Korea, emphasising that this is not the first time that North Korea has taken steps to crackdown on the movement of illicit materials inside its borders. Time and time again, however, progress to control the flow of such 'lewd' material has been impeded. Accordingly, according to the reporter, there is no need to consider these efforts any different from what has been previously attempted.

However, firing squad executions in various provinces within North Korea have been called in by our reporting partners in North Korea and all have as the common denominator a renewed crackdown on 'impure recordings' as a motivator. These reports first started attracting world attention following an article in the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo on August 29th claiming that on the 20th of that same month, "more than a dozen of people including members of North Korea's Milky Way Symphony Orchestra were executed by firing squad for the filming and illegal distribution of a 'lewd video'."

By this time rumours of the 'Entertainer's Execution Incident' had already spread nationwide. On August 30th, Mr B, our reporting partner living in North HamKyung Pronvince, expressed the following on the matter:

- Have you heard anything about the execution of the entertainers?

"I hea rd from a police officer who is my acquaintance that 25 entertainers were executed by firing squad for making 'lewd recordings' and selling them in China." (At a later date, he corrected the number, clarifying that more than a dozen people were executed.)

- Can you explain about the situation in North Hamkyung Province?

"According to the police officers who dealt with the matter [of 'lewd' recorded material], in XX area of Saebyeol County, televisions and video recorders were confiscated from some 40 households. In some homes, entire families who had seen a 'lewd video' named the Day of the Gisaeng (Note: Korean Female Entertainer) were tied up and pulled from their homes, I was told."

- So those in charge of the crackdown were the police?

With the issuance of Kim Jong-un's 'August/17 Policy' (8.17방침) [The numbers proceeding each verbal instruction given by Kim Jong-un is assumed to refer to the date issued] officers from the State Security Department (the secret police) from Bureau 27 in Pyongyang arrived with the purpose of carrying out inspections.

These security officers have been searching both night and day in people's homes and on their USB drives in an effort to apprehend those involved. They claimed that, "Our enemy (South Korea) has smuggled 10,000 USB memory drives into North Korea in an effort to infiltrate our country".

The secret police from Bureau 27 in Pyongyang are specialists in covert intelligence and digital operations. If the case is to crackdown on "obscene materials", it is a moral matter, and the police deals with these issues. But when the secret police appears, it is deemed to be a political issue.

Mr. B also added that rumors are being passed around explaining that the reason Pyongyang's entertainers were targetted was because of the filming and recording of a sex video that was later discovered on a USB memory. The video was leaked to a foreign country, and the enemy (South Korea) deliberately smuggled it back into our country. However, It is unlikely and unnatural that the obscene video made in our country was smuggled in from a foreign country, Mr. B added.

Our reporting partner Mr.B expressed his uncertainty over special 'August/17 Policy'. In north Korea, 'Policy' refers to a direct command from Kim Jong-un. If the 'August/17 Policy' is indeed a ruling from the top if the political chain, it has a supreme political meaning. This makes it a top priority for the security services of the state. If we take this into consideration, it makes me think that this policy is in fact not entirely meant to address the issue of 'lewd videos' in North Korea.


Concerning the severe punishment of those who secretly view and disseminate the impure publication propaganda materials.

Today, the imperialists and reactionary forces who consider our country's socialist system, which continues to grow under the flag of the great Military First Policy, with great annoyance, are clinging to their conspiracies of infiltration of thoughts and culture through which they plan to destroy our republic from the inside. 
Sections of those impure groups who were blinded by money fell
 in the trap of the enemy's anti-republic conspiracies. They engage in conducting acts of smuggling, selling, secretly viewing and disseminating, without hesitation, dangerous material. 

The current situation immediately requires us to respond with awareness against the malicious conspiracies of enemies who try to lure us down into the trenches of political corruption, and to deploy the total decisive battle to smash these conspiracies completely. 

For the complete erasure of the acts of smuggling, selling, secretly dissemniating the impure publication materials, under the mandate of the People's Security Department, the following annouces have been issued:

1: Forbidden are acts of smuggling of impure publication materials.

2: Forbidden are acts of secretly viewing and listening impure publication materials.

3: Forbidden are acts of disseminating impure publication materials.

4: Forbidden are acts of concealing the criminal facts of those who engage in smuggling, selling and secretly disseminating impure publication materials.

5: All those who engage in smuggling, selling, secretly viewing the impure publication materials should voluntarily surrender.

6: Officers of the organ of law enforcement and restriction shall never condone acts of smuggling and selling of impure publication materials, and remain unaffected by materialistic temptations, favors or personal relations.

7: On an occasion that an individual gains knowledge of smuggling, selling, secretly viewing and disseminating of impure publication materials by the legal institutions, everyone should act for the prevention of such acts by applying pressure.

8: All public citizens should sharply supervise those who smuggle, sell, secretly view and disseminates impure publication materials, with highly motivated political class understanding of such harmful acts, and immediately inform the institutions in charge.

9: Those who violate the annoucement shall be arrested regardless of rank and position, and be harshly punished in consideration of their criminal responsibilities, and be ousted and forcebly exiled with their family, and all methods will be used for the confiscation of illegal contraband.

10: This announcement shall be adopted within all state organs, trading companies, military instituitions, special instituitions, enterprises, groups and individuals.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea - National Defence Commission- The People's Security Department

Juche 93 (2004) December 25


Announcement on the crackdown on 'Impure Propaganda'

As of mid-September, our reporting partners working across North Korea have, almost simultaneously, reported on announcements on the 'Anti-impure Propaganda Crackdown', as information has emerged from official sources.

The following was reported via telephone link by reporter Mr.B:
"For the announcements a meeting of the People's Unit was opened and police officers were called to attend, being told "Those people who have in the past been exposed to malicious things must confess".

ASIAPRESS North Korea reporting team requested a copy of the announcement. Unfortunately, Mr.B does not have a digital camera, however, he noted down all articles related to the announcement and read it for us via telephone using our safe-line.

The announcement is posted in public areas with high volumes of foot traffic such as train stations and public boards in the street.

Strangely, the announcement was publicly released on December 25th 2004, on this point Mr B sheds some light:
" The announcement was originally handed down from the top ten years earlier. It means that this is a warning to the people that they are under threat, according to the local police."

In Ryanggang Province, the announcement also contained similar information to that found in the 2004 document, according to other reporting partners in the area. 
So it can be understood that the announcement conveyed by Mr. B is the same as the 2004 version.

While the 2013 announcement was published through the 'National Defence Commission, People's Safety Deaprtment', the 2004 version was promulgated by the 'Ministry of Security'. Since the initial publication it is believed that only the name has changed. 

The 2013 announcement was published thourough the "National Defence Commission - People's Security Department". The reason seems to be that the Ministry of the People's Security was under the cabinet when the announcement was promulgated in 2004, and on the occasion of re-issuing the announcement in 2013, the name of the issuing organ was changed.

The materials listed in the announcement as 'Impure propaganda materials' include South Korean books, magazines, leaflets and videos. This also includes information stored and disseminated on USB drives. The re-announcement, ten years later, of a crackdown on materials considered harmful to the North Korean state is a deliberate move by Kim Jong-un, designed to personally exert his control over the country. 

At the same time in early August, that the crackdown was put into motion, Kim Jong-un regime announced implementation of the 'Lewd video-crackdown'. It is deemed that Kim Jong-un launched a series of crackdowns, the first stage of this trivialized events as implementing control on 'Lewd videos' , and later expanded into a large scale political crackdown.
*** Rimjin-gang 


Ishimaru was born in 1962 in Osaka, Japan. He is the Osaka office representative for ASIAPRESS.
He studied abroad in Seoul for two and a half years and then in '93 traversed the entire 1400 kilometer China-North Korean border. He has made reports from inside North Korea three times, and has been to the border region more than eighty times. Up to now he has interviewed more than 850 North Koreans. Ishimaru is the publisher and chief editor of Rimjin-gang. 


Rimjin-gang (English Edition First Issue) RELEASE NOTE
Editor's notes on North Korean reporters

ARCHIVE(pdf) >>