Every week we ask a North Korean your questions, giving you the chance to learn more about the country we know so little about.
This week’s question is:
Does North Korea have pornographic movies or magazines?
This may sound disappointing to you but pornographic movies and X-rated magazines are very rare in North Korea. If you ever came across one in North Korea, they’re most likely to have been smuggled and distributed on the black market only. It’s not like in America or South Korea, where you can go buy this month’s copy of Playboy at your nearest bookstore whenever you feel like it. In the North, pornography is illegal. North Korea simply doesn’t allow it.
In South Korea, movies and documentary films are rated. In the South, you have to be 19 or over to legally watch porn. It’s understandable that people who aren’t familiar with North Korean culture might think porn must exist there, too. After all, people are same everywhere you go, right? But sadly, in North Korea, forget about sex scenes. It’s very rare to spot even one kiss scene in North Korean movies.
Sex education doesn’t exist at schools in North Korea
But that’s part of a much larger problem: Sex education doesn’t exist at schools in North Korea. When I was a high school student in North Korea, students went on dates but even spooning was inconceivable to us, let alone kissing. The bravest thing we could do was walk holding each others’ hands in alleys when no one else was watching. If they ran into someone unexpectedly, they would be startled and pretend they hadn’t been doing anything as “obscene” as holding hands.
Why would holding hands be considered obscene in North Korea? It’s probably all about comparisons: North Korean high schoolers don’t have a chance to watch porn, while high schoolers in South Korea or America can easily watch it.
Do you want to know what shocked me the most after arriving in South Korea? It was when I watched the news about a teenage girl who was in critical condition following an abortion. I had almost never heard of news like that in North Korea.
North Korean government strictly bans pornography within the country. They make sure that X-rated entertainment doesn’t circulate among its people. If someone gets caught watching porn or distributing it, they get sent to a correctional camp.
One North Korean guy I met on the way to South Korea said he left the country because he had been caught distributing copies of South Korean porn and he had been interrogated by North Korean police. That’s why he had to get away.
If North Korea opens its doors to the outside world or becomes reunified with South Korea, I can only assume that porn movies and X-rated magazines would be introduced into North Korea. But of course, they should be clearly rated X and kept away from minors.
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Editing and translation by Elizabeth Jae
Artwork by Catherine Salkeld
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