■ After watching dramas, North Korean citizens believe South Korean-style names are ‘cool’

For over 2 decades, South Korean dramas, movies, and music have made their way, despite strong controls, into North Korea, influencing the naming of children.

Touching this topic, the reporting partner said, “Until now, in North Korea, men have been typically been given names such as Yeong-cheol and Geum-cheol which contain the character ‘cheol,’ mainly written in Chinese characters as either 鉄 or 哲 (meaning ‘iron’ or ‘wise,’ respectively). Many women are given names containing the character ‘sook,’ written in Chinese as 淑, (meaning ‘pure’ and ‘virtuous’). There are so many people with the same name, so we are tired of having to keep using the same old Chinese characters for names.”

The reporting partner further explained, “Because North Korean people have been so impoverished and lived such hard lives, parents are giving money-related names to their children in the hopes that the children will become rich. In addition, there has been a significant increase in the number of children with ‘cool’ South Korean-style names. Having been told that everyone with such names must now be renamed, there has been a strong public backlash though, with people complaining, ‘I can’t even name my own child the way I want.’”

■ A disavowal of North Korean socialism

It is said that police are now calling for parents to rename any of their children who possess ‘inappropriate’ names, with the order not just applying to newborns.

The increasing number of children with South Korean-style names means that South Korean influence has already made a considerable mark on the North Korean people. It can also be said that the regime, by forcing citizens’ names to be changed, is reacting very strongly to the phenomenon of ‘anti-socialist,’ money-related names, and must be extremely wary of the public straying from or rebelling against the Joseon ideology. (Kang Ji-won)

※ ASIAPRESS contacts reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.

Editor’s notes on North Korean reporters

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