April 01, 2023

Suspicious knowledge: foreign languages in North Korean culture

Propaganda has traditionally portrayed those interested in life overseas with suspicion

In the 1970s-1980s, clients of Soviet barbershops were exposed to a unique form of fun. While waiting in line they could read the colorful glossy magazine Korea Today, which was widely distributed in the USSR by the North Korean authorities and, for some unknown reason, settled down mostly in barbershops.

To Soviet readers, these magazines were a window into a crazy, upside-down world.