A North Korean defector calling himself “Mr Chung” revealed North Korea’s smuggling preferences in a Channel 4 documentary last year.
He smuggles radios, USB sticks and DVDs of soap operas and entertainment shows into the North, posing as a mushroom importer. He said, “Men love their action films! I sent them Skyfall recently. The women enjoy watching soap operas and dramas.
“The more people are exposed to such media the more likely they are to become disillusioned with the regime and start wanting to live differently.”
A group of activists in South Korea led by another defector from the North send satchels containing anti-regime flyers, noodles, $1 bills and USB sticks containing South Korean soap operas over the border attached to balloons.
North Korea forbids its 24 million people from watching foreign broadcasts and videos out of fear outside influence could undermine the dictatorship’s ideology.
Anyone caught smuggling them in or distributing illicit material can be executed for crimes against the state and viewers have reportedly been sentenced to years in prison camps or hard labor. A purge was reported last year, when around 80 people were said to be executed for watching South Korean television shows in November.