The maximum penalty for using or spreading South Korean style speech in North Korea is execution. The Kim Jong-un regime enacted the terrible law that carries this penalty – the “Pyongyang Cultural Language Protection Act” - in January of this year. The full text of the law was acquired by Daily NK and published in March. ASIAPRESS inquired to South Korea’s unification ministry about the law and the ministry replied that “the government has obtained the same document and is sharing it throughout its departments.”
In May, North Korea’s government began implementing crackdowns based on the new law. The start of these major crackdowns by government agencies, enterprises, social organizations and schools was revealed by ASIAPRESS reporting partners living in North Korea.
◆ Crackdowns on South Korean style speech
The “Pyongyang Cultural Language” is considered the DPRK’s “standard language.” The new law claims to be protecting this language from outside influence; however, the full text shows that the law is full of antagonistic language toward South Korea, making it clear that the regime is extremely afraid of the impact of South Korean style language on the country’s society.
The law prohibits the use of “oppa” (a word used by women to refer to older brothers or boyfriends/husbands) toward men who are not part of their family and bans the use of “nim” (an honorific attached to names and titles), calling it “an imitation of ways the puppets address others.”
ASIAPRESS reporting partners say that there has been an increase in people being reported and investigated by the police for using South Korean style speech. The police are not only investigating spoken speech but also language used on cell phone text messages.
◆ Kim Jong-un’s unrestrained hatred of South Korean culture
Two and a half years before the law was enacted, ASIAPRESS acquired and published a document released by the Kim Jong-un regime that was entitled: “A Proposal for Measures and Related Proposals to Thoroughly Clean Up the Trash That Imitates and Copies the Words of the Puppets.
The document includes a section with comments made directly by Kim Jong-un.
“The phenomenon of imitating and copying the ‘puppet’s language’ in the daily vocabulary of youths is a very serious national and social problem. In addition, it is a very serious problem in relation to the prospects of our party from a political standpoint.”
The influx of Korean culture and information, or Hallyu, has influenced the young generation to imitate the language of ‘puppets’, which is the South Korean way of speaking, indicating Kim Jong-un’s strong feeling that it is a serious problem that could upset the system.
The document shows Kim Jong-un’s deep hatred of South Korean culture. The Pyongyang Cultural Language Protection Act has been enacted to allow the government to crack down on the use of South Korean speech and the spread of South Korean culture. Without any sense of embarrassment or disgrace, the law says that anyone using or spreading South Korean speech can face the death penalty. The law shows how intent Kim Jong-un is to eliminate South Korean influence from his country.
◆ The Full Text of the Pyongyang Cultural Language Protection Act （Quoted from Daily NK.）
THE PYONGYANG CULTURAL LANGUAGE PROTECTION ACT OF THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Adopted by Decree No. 19 of the Supreme People’s Assembly on January 18 of Juche year 112 (2023)
CHAPTER I. BASICS OF THE PYONGYANG CULTURAL LANGUAGE PROTECTION ACT
Article 1. Purpose of the Pyongyang Cultural Language Protection Act
The Pyongyang Cultural Language Protection Act of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea contributes to the protection and active revival of the Pyongyang Cultural Language by completely eliminating the use of the puppet language, denouncing abnormal language elements, and establishing a socialist language lifestyle throughout the entire society.
Article 2. Definitions
The definitions of the terminology in this law are as follows.
- The Pyongyang Cultural Language is our native national language and is the most pure and excellent language which has been developed in accordance with the demands of the current era. It serves as our country’s standard national language.
- The puppet language is a jumbled together language that has completely lost the essentials of the Korean language due to its vocabulary, grammar and intonation becoming Westernized, Japanized and Sinicized. It is a lowly and disgusting garbage language that exists nowhere else in the world.
- Abnormal language elements refer to foreign loan words, the remnants of the Japanese language, and difficult-to-understand vocabulary of Chinese origin that do not conform to the standards of the Pyongyang Cultural Language.
Article 3. The Basic Principles of the Pyongyang Cultural Language Protection Act
The protection and active revival of the Pyongyang Cultural Language is critical to maintain and celebrate our ideology, our system, and our culture. The State shall move forward with an intense struggle across the entire society to completely eliminate the puppet language circulating in our country’s language domain.
Article 4. The Principles of Strengthening a Law-abiding Culture
Strengthening a law-abiding culture is essential to protect the Pyongyang Cultural Language. The State shall strengthen law-abiding culture within all sectors and all units to ensure that all citizens are well aware of the legal demand to completely eliminate the puppet language and adhere to our Pyongyang Cultural Language so as to thoroughly abide by the law.
Article 5. The Principles of the Nationwide Struggle to Completely Eliminate Remnants of the Puppet Language
The struggle to eliminate the remnants of the puppet language is a serious political and class struggle that affects the very fate of our socialist system and the very existence of our people and future generations. The State shall conduct a highly intensive struggle to liminate the remnants of the puppet language in all sectors and all units to ensure that the entire society ostracizes those who imitate and copy the puppet language and ensure that every person is awakened and is as vigilant as possible toward one another.
Article 6. The Principles of Legal Punishment Toward People Who Spread the Puppet Language
The State shall treat anyone who imitates or spreads the puppet language as garbage contaminated with puppet culture and as criminals. Anyone, regardless of the seriousness of the matter, shall face serious legal sanctions, including the death penalty.
CHAPTER II. THE NATIONWIDE STRUGGLE TO ELIMINATE THE REMNANTS OF THE PUPPET LANGUAGE
Section 1. Obstructing the Sources of the Spread of the Puppet Language
Article 7. Basic Requirements for Obstructing the Sources of the Spread of the Puppet Language
The complete obstruction of the sources of the spread of the puppet language is the first step in the struggle to protect the Pyongyang Cultural Language from infiltration by the rotten language culture of the puppets. Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens must exhaustively identify the elements and spaces in which the puppet language can spread, such as the inflow and dissemination of published propaganda material by the puppets and the inflow and dissemination of goods with markings in the writing style of the puppets to ensure their physical removal with a view to guarantee remnants of the puppet language do not infiltrate our language domain.
Article 8. Strengthening of Inspections and Security Activities on the Border
Border inspection authorities, including customs offices and border security organizations, shall strictly inspect all personnel, goods, freight and transportation methods entering the DPRK and strengthen security activities to ensure that goods marked with the puppet language or with markings in the writing style of the puppets never seep into our territory. Officials shall not conduct inspections irresponsibly or take money or goods in return for allowing in goods marked with the puppet language or with markings in the writing style of the puppets.
Article 9. Strengthening of Aerial Surveillance and Searches for Leaflets
Legal institutions, institutions, enterprises and organizations shall strengthen aerial surveillance and searches to seek out all leaflets and dirty goods sent into the DPRK by the puppets and conduct proper disposal of these items with a view to obstruct the inflow of the puppet language through leaflets.
Article 10. Surveillance and Handling of Garbage in Rivers, Streams and Seas
Legal institutions, institutions, enterprises and organizations shall strengthen surveillance over the border region, frontlines, rivers and streams in coastal regions, and the seas to obstruct the entry of the puppet language through garbage with a view to remove, burn and bury garbage with puppet language markings or using the writing style of the puppets.
Article 11. Requirements to be Adhered to During Trade-Related Projects and International Economic Activities
Central international trade guidance institutions, central international economic guidance institutions and provincial people’s committees shall search exhaustively for routes in which scraps of the puppet language can enter the DPRK during international projects and international economic activities and take measures to deal with these routes. Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall not receive propaganda materials published by the puppets, or goods with puppet language markings or that use the writing style of the puppets, from foreigners residing or living in our country or from Koreans living overseas.
Article 12. Monitoring International Business Travellers and People Given Government Permission to Travel to China
Institutions, enterprises and organizations shall conduct strict education and monitoring over citizens conducting business travel to other countries and to those given government permission to travel to China to ensure that they do not illegally bring back propaganda materials published by the puppets, goods marked with the puppet language, or goods which use the writing style of the puppet language, nor imitate the puppet language they saw and heard in other countries.
Article 13. Strengthening Control over Published Propaganda Works
Institutions shall prevent the inflow of the puppet language into the DPRK through published propaganda works by strengthening controls over the published propaganda works of other countries.
Article 14. Strengthening Monitoring and Control over Electronic and Radio Wave Equipment
The State’s radio wave monitoring institutions and central information industrial guidance institutions shall obstruct the inflow of the puppet language by strengthening monitoring and controls over electronic and radio wave equipment.
Article 15. Strengthening of Monitoring and Control Over Internet Users
Institutions shall establish strict controls over the use of the Internet and strengthen monitoring and controls to ensure that users do not copy published propaganda works, materials and programs with markings of the puppet language or that use the writing style of the puppet language during the course of using the Internet for various reasons, including science-related research.
Article 16. Ban on the Consumption and Distribution of Published Propaganda Works of the Puppets and Broadcasts by the Puppets
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall not engage in consuming or distributing published propaganda works of the puppets or broadcasts by the puppets.
Article 17. Tracking and Exposing Acts of Consuming Video Content and Broadcasts by the Puppets
Legal institutions, institutions, enterprises and organizations shall regularly conduct inspections of electronic media, including computers and cellphones, and establish a well-organized public reporting system to exhaustively track and uncover all phenomena related to the secret viewing of videos and broadcasts created by the puppets.
Section 2. The Extermination of the Remnants of the Puppet Language
Article 18. Basic Requirements for Exterminating the Remnants of the Puppet Language
The extermination of the remnants of the puppet language is a critical requirement to better adhere to our socialist system and our people’s spiritual and cultural life and more firmly establish the revolutionary and class strongholds. With a clear concept of hostility, institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall mercilessly eliminate the remnants of the puppet language that has infiltrated our language domain through a nationwide struggle.
Article 19. Ban on Imitating Puppet Style Titles
Citizens shall not imitate the use of titles in the puppet style, such as young people calling non-relatives oppa or adding nim at the end of a professional title. Citizens can use the title oppa until the end of their time in the Korean Children’s Union, but starting from their time in the Socialist Patriotic Youth League, they must use the titles dongji and dongmu.
(Oppa means “elder brother,” while nim is an honorific attached to names or titles. Dongji and dongmu mean “comrade.”)
Article 20. Ban on Imitating Expressions in the Puppet Style
Citizens shall not imitate puppet style expressions in their linguistic lives.
Article 21. Ban on the Use of the Puppet Writing Style and Grammar
Citizens shall not write text or create documents using the writing style or grammar of the puppet language.
Article 22. Ban on the Imitation of Puppet Style Intonation
Citizens shall not imitate puppet style intonation by raising and lengthening their intonation at the end of a phrase in an obsequious, lilting and nauseating way.
Article 23. Ban on Giving Names in the Puppet Style
Citizens shall not sloppily give names to their children in the puppet style nor create aliases imitating the language style of the puppets when using cellphones and on computer networks.
Article 24. Ban on the Production and Distribution of Compilations, Pictures and Scrolls with the Puppet Language or Using the Writing Style of the Puppet Language
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall not produce or distribute compilations, pictures, or scrolls with the puppet language or that use the writing style of the puppet language.
Article 25. Ban on the Spread of the Style of the Puppet Language through Cell Phones and Computer Networks
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall not exchange notices or electronic mail written in the style of the puppet language through cell phones and computer networks.
Article 26. Ban on the Trafficking and Use of Goods Marked with the Puppet Language or the Writing Style of the Puppet Language
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall not illegally sell or use goods marked with the puppet language or writing style of the puppet language, or electronics goods and programs displaying the puppet language.
Article 27. Ban on the Spread of Published and Printed Works with the Puppet Language or Writing Style of the Puppet Language
Institutions and its members shall strictly adhere to established systems for handling published and printed works and shall not distribute published or printed works with the puppet language or writing style of the puppet language.
Article 28. Ban on the Use of the Puppet Language Style in Written Documents
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall not use the style of the puppet language while writing documents.
Article 29. Ban on the Spread of the Puppet Language Style Through Business Activities
Institutions, enterprises, and organizations shall not post prices, menus, instructions or advertisements, or display items marked with the puppet language or using the writing style of the puppet language.
Article 30. The Requirement to Install Puppet Language Scrubbing Programs
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens are obligated to install puppet language scrubbing programs designated by the State onto their cell phones, computers and servers.
Article 31. Strengthening Education and Control to Eliminate the Puppet Language Style
Institutions, enterprises, and organizations shall strengthen education and controls over their employees and students to ensure they clearly understand that supporting the schemes of the enemies to distort our style of socialism from within is a traitorous act.
Article 32. Strengthening Monitoring over Ex-convicts and Problematic People
Legal institutions, institutions, enterprises and organizations shall increase the intensity of their controls on people who have previously consumed or distributed impure propaganda materials, those who make various excuses to avoid showing up for work or school, and those who frequently leave work early and move around as they please to ensure that they have absolutely no time available to consume propaganda works created by the puppets.
Article 33. Notifying and Criticizing Parents Who Fail to Correctly Educate Their Children
Local people’s committees, institutions, enterprises, organizations, local offices (including those in villages, laborers’ zones, and districts), and neighborhood watch units (inminban) shall notify parents who allow their children to imitate the puppet language style due to the improper education of their offspring through various meetings, such as employee reviews and neighborhood watch unit meetings, to ensure they hang their heads in shame.
Article 34. Revelations and Criticism Through Publishers and the Media
Publishing and media institutions shall sharply expose and criticize phenomena where the puppet language is imitated through newspapers and broadcasts to ensure that people using the style of the puppet language are roundly repressed, ostracized and blamed so they can no longer stand tall with us in the ranks.
Article 35. Education Through Public Struggle
Legal institutions, including social safety institutions, shall conduct public struggles in various formats and sizes, including revelations through documentation, mass struggle meetings, public arrests, public trials, and public executions to break the spirits of those contaminated by rotten puppet culture and to awaken the masses at large.
Article 36. Reporting
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall immediately report any imitation or spreading of the puppet language to legal institutions, including social safety institutions.
Article 37. Investigations
Legal institutions, including social safety institutions, shall immediately investigate any acts of imitating or spreading the puppet language during the course of their duties or after receiving reports of such acts.
Article 38. Ban on Overlooking or Minimizing Incidents
The employees of legal institutions and monitoring and control institutions shall not overlook or minimize acts involving the imitation of the puppet language by receiving money or goods, succumbing to authority, or being swayed by personal feelings. Anyone who does not actively struggle against the phenomenon of imitating the puppet language or who shields others in an unprincipled way shall be considered traitors who support the spread of rotten puppet culture and shall be severely punished under the law.
CHAPTER III. BAN ON THE USE OF ABNORMAL LANGUAGE ELEMENTS
Article 39. Basic Requirements for the Ban on the Use of Abnormal Language Elements
The ban on the use of abnormal language elements is an important and fundamental requirement for maintaining the purity of the Pyongyang Cultural Language and actively reviving its excellence. Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall not use abnormal language elements in their linguistic lives, including unsanctioned foreign loan words, the remnants of the Japanese language, and difficult-to-understand vocabulary of Chinese origin.
Article 40. Ban on the Use of Unsanctioned Foreign Loan Words
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall not use foreign loan words unsanctioned by the government in speech or written language.
Article 41. Ban on the Use of Remnants of the Japanese Language
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall completely eliminate the remaining remnants of the Japanese language in various spheres of society, including mineral mining, coal mining, means of transportation, and construction, and use the Pyongyang Cultural Language instead.
Article 42. Ban on the Use of Difficult Vocabulary of Chinese Origin
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall not speak or write difficult-to-understand words of Chinese origin and shall refrain from creating and using Chinese character-based words as they please.
Article 43. Ban on the Use of Abnormal Abbreviations
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall not abbreviate and use certain institution names and titles as they please in their daily lives that fail to conform to norms.
Article 44. Ban on the Use of Abnormal Intonation
Citizens shall not use abnormal intonation, such as raising the intonation at the ends of phrases in an unrefined and strange way.
Article 45. Ban on Other Abnormal Language Elements
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall not use abnormal language elements banned by the State in speech or writing.
Article 46. The Use of Registered Terminology
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall first register new terminology with language inspection institutions when publishing academic magazines, dissertations, reference works, and commercial trademarks.
CHAPTER IV. ESTABLISHING THE SPIRIT OF THE SOCIALIST LANGUAGE LIFESTYLE
Article 47. Basic Requirements for the Establishing the Spirit of the Socialist Language Lifestyle
Establishing the spirit of the socialist language lifestyle is important for the protection and active revival of the Pyongyang Cultural Language. In order to establish the socialist language lifestyle throughout society, institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens must thoroughly adhere to the language’s independent and unique national character in their linguistic lives, assure its cultural character, and strictly follow the Pyongyang Cultural Language’s norms.
Article 48. Establishing a Revolutionary and People-centered Language Style
The language style of our country’s greatest leaders is a shining example of a revolutionary and people-centered language style developed independently at the noblest level to meet the fundamental demand for a written and spoken language suiting the needs of the masses. Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall thoroughly learn the revolutionary and people-centered linguistic style of these great leaders and endeavor to embody this style in their linguistic lives.
Article 49. Adhering to the Independent and Unique National Character in Our Linguistic Lives
Preserving the independent and unique national character of our language in our linguistic lives is a struggle against flunkeyism and part of the fierce class struggle to protect what is ours. Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall proactively revive and use our nation's excellent written and spoken language to meet the aims, demands, thoughts, sentiments, and feelings of the masses.
Article 50. Guaranteeing the Cultural Character in Our Linguistic Lives
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall raise the cultural character of their language, retain politeness in their speech, and elevate their linguistic lives such that it becomes a firm trend in our society. They shall not use dialects, vulgar speech, slang, or any other kinds of uncultured and immoral expressions.
Article 51. Following Linguistic Norms in Our Linguistic Lives
Institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens shall precisely follow the linguistic norms of the Pyongyang Cultural Language in their linguistic lives, including but not limited to rules regarding vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, proper spelling, and spacing.
Article 52. Duties of Language Research Institutions
Language research institutions shall, in accordance with the State’s language policies, further glorify the excellence of the Pyongyang Cultural Language while elevating social linguistic life and strengthening research activities to solve any problems that arise during efforts to develop the sophistication of the people’s linguistic lives.
Article 53. Duties of Language Inspection Institutions
Language inspection institutions shall assess the use of Pyongyang Cultural Language in all fields, formulate and promulgate various language standards, and strengthen monitoring and controls to prevent the use of puppet language remnants and abnormal language elements.
Article 54. Duties of Institutions, Enterprises, and Organizations
Institutions, enterprises, and organizations shall strengthen their struggle and education on law-abiding culture to eradicate the remnants of the puppet language and reject abnormal language elements while establishing the spirit of a healthy and revolutionary language lifestyle within the collective.
Article 55. Duties of Education Institutions
Education institutions shall strengthen cultural language education and regularly educate and monitor students to ensure they actively revive the excellence of the Pyongyang Cultural Language and refrain from using remnants of the puppet language or abnormal language elements.
Article 56. Duties of Publishing and Media Institutions
Publishing and media institutions shall widely promote the excellence of the Pyongyang Cultural Language and regularly publish various publications and reports related to the elimination of puppet language remnants and abnormal language elements, all while acting as leaders and models of the proper use of the Pyongyang Cultural Language.
Article 57. Duties of Citizens
Citizens shall use the Pyongyang Cultural Language when they speak or write while elevating their linguistic lives to speak with manners and sophistication as a reflection of their deep awareness of the moral and civic responsibilities they have towards society and the collective. Parents shall educate their children to actively revive and use our language and pay close attention to their children’s mobile phone and computer use to prevent even the most trivial scraps of impure ideology from influencing them.
CHAPTER V. LEGAL OBLIGATIONS
Article 58. The Crime of Using the Puppet Language
Any persons found to be speaking, writing, sending messages, or exchanging emails in the puppet language or creating printed materials, video recordings, compilations, pictures, photographs, or scrolls using the puppet language’s writing style shall be sentenced to six years or more of reform through labor. If the severity of the crime is deemed high, the offender shall be sentenced to a lifetime sentence of reform through labor or the death penalty.
Article 59. The Crime of Propagating the Puppet Language
Any persons found to be teaching the puppet language to others or circulating printed materials, video recordings, compilations, pictures, photographs or scrolls using the puppet language writing style shall be sentenced to ten years or more of reform through labor. If the severity of the crime is deemed high, the offender shall be sentenced to a lifetime sentence of reform through labor or the death penalty.
Article 60. Fines
In the following cases, institutions, enterprises, and organizations shall be subject to a fine between KPW 1 million ~ KPW 1.5 million, and citizens shall be subject to a fine between KPW 100,000 ~ KPW 150,000.
- Displaying price lists, menus, instructions, or advertisements that include abnormal language elements, such as the remnants of the Japanese language
- Using a mobile phone, computer, photocopier or other such device without installing a state-designated puppet language scrubbing program
- Failing to properly control and educate one’s child, causing them to imitate the puppet language
- Using foreign loan words not approved by the State in one’s speech or writing
- Using new terminology that has not undergone a review by a language inspection institution, which causes a negative impact on the country’s social linguistic life
Article 61. Reform through Labor Punishment
Anyone found to have repeatedly perpetrated the activities outlined in Article 60 of this Act or who have caused social criticism due to the use of abnormal language elements, shall be sentenced to three or more months of reform through labor.
Article 62. Punishment through Unpaid Labor, Demotion, or Dismissal
In the following instances, the responsible party shall be sentenced to three or more months of unpaid labor.
- Failing to properly conduct border inspections, which allows remnants of the puppet language to enter the country
- Improperly handling and/or picking up garbage from rivers, streams, and seas, which creates a space where puppet language remnants can circulate
- Failing to properly regulate foreign propaganda printed materials, which creates a space where puppet language remnants can circulate
- Failing to properly monitor and regulate Internet usage, which creates a space where puppet language remnants can circulate
- Failing to properly carry out regulations or education designed to eradicate puppet language remnants, which allows puppet language to be used and circulated
- Failing to take properly control the use of computer networks, which allows one or more users of the network to use an alias during computer-based entertainment that contains the puppet language
Article 63. Termination of Business
Businesses found to be displaying, selling, or concealing goods marked with the puppet language or the writing style of the puppet language shall be shut down.
Article 64. Confiscation of Materials
Goods and money used in or earned in the course of crimes or illegal acts in violation of the Pyongyang Cultural Language Protection Act shall be confiscated.
Article 65. Relationship with Other Acts and Regulations
Items not regulated by this Act, such as the application of the principles, procedures, and methods of punishments and administrative penalties shall be enacted in accordance with the relevant regulations, including criminal codes, administrative penalty codes, and regulations on fines.
- ＜Investigation＞ The authorities start crackdowns based on the Pyongyang Cultural Language Protection Act (1)… “Eliminate South Korean speech, dialects, and loanwords”… The maximum punishment is execution
- ＜Investigation＞ The authorities start crackdowns based on the Pyongyang Cultural Language Protection Act (2) “People using South Korean style speech are being arrested”…ASIAPRESS asks its reporting partners about the crackdown
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