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Why N. Korea fears S. Korean drama Jeong Do-jeon?

Posted May. 29, 2014 06:53,   


"Jeong Do-jeon" is a historical drama currently being aired by the KBS. At the drama website, Jeong Do-jeon, a politician in the early Joseon Dynasty, is introduced as "the outsider, abandoned by the Goryeo Dynasty, who was reborn as a revolutionist from the bottom of pyramid." The drama is one of the most popular dramas in South Korea these days, shedding new light on the life story of Jeong who planned a new dynasty amid turbulent times of a transition from the Goryeo Dynasty to the Jeseon Dynasty.

"Jeong Do-jeon" boom seems to have spread to North Korea. The North Korean regime is known to have ordered the national defense agency to thoroughly block illegal distribution of the drama within the country. While it is not a surprise that the North prevents its people from watching South Korean dramas, it is unprecedented to specify a certain drama. North Korea experts say the reason the "modern dynasty country" fears "Jeong Do-jeon" is because the drama contains a dynastic revolution that it bans.

West German people watching East German TVs played a decisive role in the unification of Germany. When President Park Geun-hye visited Germany in March this year, Lothar de Maiziere, who was the last leader of East Germany, said, "I knew enough of West Germany since I watched West German TVs. There was a joke that East German people were looking towards West Germany from 8 o`clock." East German government strictly clamped down on its people watching West German TVs between 1952 and 1971, but tolerated it afterwards and allowed free viewing from 1980. This was a political judgment to soothe the public`s complaints on belief that there is no risk of regime collapse as well as considering that there is no way to completely control TV watching.

Jeong belatedly restored government post in King Gojong era when Joseon was declining. His dream was to enable all people become the owner of the country. It would be too much to expect that a single drama would bring change to the world`s most closed society. It would be sufficient if leaders in South Korea who have the freedom to watch TV to learn from Jeong the mind to respect the public. People will obey to a leader who wins their heart, but will turn their back to the leader if he or she fails to do it.

Editorial Writer Koh Mi-seok (mskoh119@donga.com)