North Korean high schoolers under investigation for listening to BTS song 'Blood Sweat & Tears'

The students were trainees with the Red Youth Guard, a youth-led paramilitary organization attached to North Korea’s Military Affairs Department


                            North Korean high schoolers under investigation for listening to BTS song 'Blood Sweat & Tears'
BTS attend Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

It was reported on August 6 by Korea Times that a few teens from North Korea were caught listening to BTS songs. K-pop has started getting acknowledged globally but has yet to be welcomed with open arms by its communist neighbor and sister country, North Korea. The territory of Korea was divided into two states after the Korean War. 

Not much has changed about the conflict between the two regions but more tension keeps brewing with North Korea’s secrecy and confidentiality policy while South Korea is on its road to become a superpower, all thanks to the global wave of K-pop. Earlier this year, it was reported that the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un called K-pop a vicious cancer and pledged to end it.

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Youth Guard trainees in trouble

News reports state that North Korean high schoolers were caught singing and dancing to a song by BTS. These students were trainees with North Korea’s Red Youth Guard, a youth-led paramilitary organization attached to North Korea’s Military Affairs Department. The group of students that are being investigated were reported to be listening to one of BTS’ hit songs ‘Blood Sweat and Tears’. These were students of Anju Middle School and were said to be relaxing after a training session. They were reported to have blasted the song on an MP3 player. The group of teens were also belting out the lyrics, reports suggest.



 

Violation of North Korean law

North Korea's Workers' Party and state security were notified of this and the teens were then investigated for engaging with ‘reactionary ideology and culture,' a violation of the North Korean law. 

The relatively new law passed in December 2020 monitors how citizens interact with information and data from the world, outside of North Korea, including its sister country, South Korea. This means that North Korean citizens are not able to freely consume any and all entertainment media and broadcasts from South Korea. 



 

News reports also suggest that songs from BTS are receiving ‘explosive popularity’ amongst the youth in North Korea. In order to topple South Korea’s soft power, North Korea is also said to have made new laws pertaining to the use of slang in conversations. It is reported that women cannot use the word ‘oppa’ which means beloved or brother to address their significant others and older siblings. Instead they are supposed to say the Korean equivalent of the term, ‘male comrade’.

There are reports that suggest young North Koreans like the songs of BTS because of their meaningful lyrics that tell listeners to love themselves. North Koreans are indoctrinated to be loyal to the state and thus the act of listening to messages that suggest putting themselves first before their country is alien and shocking.

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