North Korea has called musicians “slaves” that are “robbed of their body, mind and soul” in a bizarre attack on pop music.
A piece published on the hermit kingdom’s Arirang Meari website made the unfounded claims over the weekend.
It accused record labels of “exploitation” of successful bands without providing any evidence.
Part of the piece states that K-pop artists are “bound to unbelievably unfair contracts from an early age, detained at their training and treated as slaves after being robbed of their body, mind and soul by the heads of vicious and corrupt art-related conglomerates."
The article may have been published in an attempt to “crack down on foreign media” and K-pop, CNN reports.
The genre originated in South Korea in the 1990s and has won millions of fans across the world.
However, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is seemingly perturbed by its success.
Sang-sin Lee, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), told NK News that officials have been forced to change their tactics – as they cannot prevent citizens smuggling music into North Korea.
Lee said: “North Korea writing these types of articles shows that [Pyongyang] thinks it has become difficult to completely block off the distribution of K-pop music.
“So, they are working on producing some sort of counterintelligence, claiming that these popular songs are being made under poor conditions — ‘slave-like’ exploitation of young trainees.”
He added: “These days, it doesn’t seem North Korea can completely block out outside information.
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“Things like the South Korean movie ‘Parasite’ winning an Oscar or BTS performing at the Grammys — they’d hear about this one way or another.”
Earlier this week, Kim’s influential sister Kim Yo-jong warned the US against “causing a stink”.
She was responding to joint military exercises between the US and South Korea, saying: "War drills and hostility can never go with dialogue and cooperation."
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In a statement later released to North Korean media, Kim’s sister said: "A word of advice to the new administration of the United States that is struggling to spread the smell of gunpowder on our land from across the ocean.
"If it wants to sleep in peace for [the] coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step."
The comments were carried in the Korean Central News Agency, and mark the first reaction to US President Joe Biden taking office.
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