Why do North Koreans love to watch South Korean dramas? North Korea’s elites like to watch historical dramas set during the Joseon period. It’s probably no accident that North Korea still calls itself Joseon, a kingdom founded in 1392. Indeed, many defectors identify with their country being an anachronistic kingdom ruled by a Joseon-style absolute monarch than a totalitarian regime. In this piece, we explain why historical dramas are so appealing to North Korea’s older set while the younger set loves to watch love-comedies featuring South Korea’s latest pop trends and catch phrases. According to defector Thae Yong-Ho, just about everyone watches South Korean dramas and TV shows. In fact, they have infiltrated North Korean society so much that even patterns of speech are changing. South Korea’s “soft power” is a formidable weapon in its showdown with a nuclear North Korea.

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