North Korean man defected after viewing K-dramas, now sends DVDs back to North Korea
Jang Se Yul, pictured above in a photo taken by Jean Chung for The New York Times, once lived in North Korea as a professor and a member of one of the more privileged classes. Even though he was in a country with strict laws about consuming foreign media, he, along with a group of other curious minds, wished to see what life was like in South Korea. This curiosity eventually led him to K-dramas.
He was caught watching the drama Scent of a Man. Ahn Jae Mo and Han Eun Jung (pictured below) starred in the 18-episode 2003 drama. It featured a plot about two step-siblings who were forced to hide their love for each other.
Jang was caught watching the drama along with 5 other professors who were also watching. He and the others were demoted from their station as professors to the field of manual labor as punishment for their crime. They were only able to escape prison due to their money that was used as bribes. After seeing the better quality of life in South Korea through watching dramas, Mr. Jang decided to defect.
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Jang told the New York Times, "I am sure these soaps have an impact on North Koreans, and I am the proof. In the future, if they spread, they can even help foster anti-government movements. That's why the North Korean authorities are so desperate to stop them from spreading." This is the main reason why Jang has become the leader of a group of North Korean defectors who send South Korean dramas and other forms of entertainment to North Korea. The hope is that more and more North Koreans will realize that their government is flawed, which would help bring an end to authoritarian rule.