Under the North Korean dictator’s efforts to clamp down on “foreign influences”, enforcers are working to stamp out foreign television, hair cuts and even birthday parties, according to testimony from a defector included in a new report.
The secret squads, known as “gruppa” or “non-socialist groups”, are tasked by Pyongyang to pursue violations of the Communist Party’s official ideology.
“The groups operate as a hidden tool, which is used by the government to achieve their ultimate objectives of ubiquitous surveillance and the ability to thoroughly oversee each and every resident,” the report says.
Foreign media, particularly anything deemed to be “Western”, is strictly prohibited in North Korea. Any dissent is severely punished.
Kim Jong Un views South Korea as an American puppet state and is highly sensitive to any South Korean content crossing the border from China, fearing the influence it may have.
For some time now, any sign that someone may have been consuming media from the South has resulted in brutal consequences.
According to the report by the Database Centre for North Korean Human Rights (NKDB) based in Seoul, Kim is tightening his grip even more with the gruppa.
Citizens are being prosecuted for anything from defection, drug dealing, smuggling and begging, to being absent from work, traffic offences, adultery, dying one’s hair, religious practices and taking part in “decadent culture” – which can include parties.
“It is worse than the Kim Jong Il era,” one testimony quoted in the report said. “The border has become tighter, more barbed wire fences have been installed. Also, there were instructions to directly fire at any person crossing the border.
“[…] I’ve heard about people being shot for distributing impure cultural contents. There was one person who was executed for watching p0rn0gr@phy and pr0st!tut!ng at his place after Kim Jong Un took office.”
“First they check how you dress. Then what type of music you listen to, what videos you watch, whether you have dyed your hair […] You cannot have a birthday party as a group.”
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