North Korea is currently making headlines for reportedly executing two teenagers for watching and distributing Korean dramas. The boys were estimated to be aged 16 and 17.
According to Fox News, the residents of Hyesan were forced to witness the public execution via a firing squad in October after being told by the North Korean officials that people who watch K-dramas will not be forgiven and would be sentenced to death.
North Korean authorities, under the regime of Kim Jong Un, allegedly held public meetings weeks before the execution to warn people that crimes committed concerning foreign media would incur maximum penalty, which is death. To avoid getting caught, flash drives containing foreign media are often smuggled into the country and distributed in secret. A report by Radio Free Asia claims that the two teens were caught trying to sell these flash drives, which ultimately led to their execution.
North Korea has stricts laws forbidding foreign media from influencing its youth, especially with the rising popularity of K-pop and K-dramas from its southern neighbor. In December 2020, North Korea passed the “anti-reactionary thoughts” law that defines a wide range of illegal and unlawful acts, such as listening to, possessing, recording, copying, or distributing any foreign media or art. The law states that offenders will face public trials and will undergo “legal punishment.”
In August 2021, several minors were sent to prison after being caught watching the hit K-drama Crash Landing on You, as reported by Korean publication Daily NK.