Thursday, 31 May 2012

North Korea is Changing: USBs & K-Pop

Image Source
I have for a very long time believed that reunification between North Korea and South Korea is very unlikely and growing increasingly improbable as time goes by. My chief reason for thinking so is because the two countries have hardly any cross-pollination, causing them to drift further and further apart culturally. The results is that although North Koreans and South Koreans share genetics, otherwise they are becoming increasingly different. In only the number of years I have lived in South Korea I can see a difference in how Korea was in 2006 (the first time I came to Korea) and now six years later. If a culture can change so much in half a decade, imagine how much it can change in six decades, and just as South Korea has evolved in one direction, North Korea has evolved in a completely different direction.

The big difference between the separation of East Germany and West Germany with North Korea and South Korea, is that while Germany was split physically, there wasn't a complete cultural split. The East Germans were still able to receive radio and television broadcasts from West Germany, so that the East Germans were keeping up with the cultural development of their neighbours. The same is not the case for the Koreas. The North Korea regime blasts its airwaves with scrambling signals that prevents the North Korean citizens from receiving broadcasts from South Korea. So over the six decades North Koreans have had very little exposure to what is happening in South Korea. For a long time all that most of them knew about South Korea is the propaganda lies they received from the North Korean dictatorship.

Things are changing and the thing that is causing the change is USB-drives. The small data-sticks that are smuggled in from China are used to share South Korea pop-culture: K-pop, movies and dramas. If ever North Koreans thought that the South is an impoverished puppet of America, then K-pop and South Korean television are the cure. The American influence (in the form of hip-hop and other fashions) is undeniable, but if there is one thing that these South Korean mass media do not depict is that South Korea is an impoverished country. Far from it. The cars, the clothes, the technology, the recreations in South Korean mass media are dripping with affluences and excess.

And so I believe change in North Korea is inevitable. While millions of North Koreans go hungry, go cold, and are oppressed, they are becoming increasingly aware that their Southern neighbours are living the good life. (Many homeless and poor South Koreans may disagree, but that is besides the point.) The North Korean regime is based on the lies that the whole world is out to get them and that the South is a poor puppet state controlled by the American Imperialists. What the North Korean populace is slowly realising is that most of the world don't even think about North Korea, and that South Koreans are clearly better off, what ever else they may think about democracy and imperialism. And let's not for a moment forget the terrible power of greed and and lust for hedonistic decadence, that is so part of the human psyche. For North Korean men watching South Korean music videos, it must be like watching porn! K-pop videos just ooze sex and decadence.

Change is coming. If actual reunification will ever occur, I don't know. I still believe it is quite unlikely. But nevertheless, change is coming to North Korea—of that I have little doubt. It may not reunify, but the Hermit Kingdom will open up.


BoerinBallingskap said...

Baie interessante feite hierdie. Ek dink in hierdie geglobaliseerde wereld van vandag, kan geen land in totale isolasie leef nie. Ek het dit ook reeds verskeie kere gese dat 'n herenigde Korea 'n historiese onafwendbaarheid is. Hulle was immers een land vir eeue en is net nou vir sowat 60 jaar geskei.

Oor die K-Pop: Ek dink ek is besig om versadigingspunt te bereik. Party musiek groei op mens, ander groei van jou af. K-pop is lg. Dis jammer dat dit die Noord-Koreane se inleiding tot SK moet wees...

Skryfblok said...

Lol. Ja, dit is sekerlik nie die beste inleiding tot 'n nuwe kultuur nie en ek moet saamstem dat K-pop is nie my koppietee nie. Oor die algemeneen is ek nie gaande oor popmusiek nie.

Wat ek wel kan sê van die Koreane is dat hulle hierdie (dans) genre beslis bemeester het.