As the pandemic grinds on and North Korea’s borders remain essentially closed, Kim Jong Un is cracking down harder on youth culture. A law passed this winter, called the "Law on the Elimination of Reactionary Thought and Culture," carries penalties from 5 years in prison to death, the Daily NK reports. And being on the wrong side of that law can be as simple as wearing tight pants: the Socialist Patriotic Youth League functions as a sort of grim fashion police, preventing people from wearing skinny jeans, piercings, and trendy hairstyles, the Guardian reports.
North Koreans pass around USB sticks with careful encryption to follow dramas made across the southern border. Watching the shows can get a person sent to a labor camp; smuggling them can mean death. A trendy look, the latest slang, and awareness of South Korean TV shows are signs of a capitalist lifestyle, and thus anti-socialist, according to the North Korean government. Kim Jong Un has called all of these things "dangerous poisons," the BBC reports, possibly because people who are going hungry but watching opulent dramas set in wealthy Seoul will eventually flee North Korea. (Read more Kim Jong Un stories.)