ARMYs might sometimes feel like they’re attacked and judged for liking and listening to BTS, but recently, three soldiers from North Korea found themselves facing serious repercussions for dancing to the boy group’s music.
On the night of August 5, it was reported that the three young soldiers, all in their 20s, started the “incident” while they were traveling during the People’s Army expedition while at a stop at Sokhu Station in South Hamgyong Province. During a power outage on the way from Pyongyang to Hyesan, an “entertainment event” occurred, in which the three men from the air force division of the army began dancing.
When members of the Defense Security Agency, who were watching the event, noticed that the soldiers were dancing to BTS’s “Blood Sweat & Tears”, they immediately had the young men dragged away by security guards. This was due to a propaganda worker of the General Political Bureau and the director of the Bureau of Security Affairs noticing their actions and determining it was a state of emergency and a sign that the soldiers were in a “state of mind that is completely rotten”.
When questioned about the incident, the soldiers insisted that they hadn’t realized the song was by BTS, and that the dance they were performing wasn’t the idol group’s choreography, but rather the “Exciting Boy Scout Dance” that they had learned from others within their unit. Unfortunately, however, the incident may lead to an ideological review of the whole North Korean military.
Some people, of course, questioned how the military personnel were able to detect the song and dance so quickly, given that such “propaganda” from South Korea is prohibited for North Koreans to watch and listen to. Apparently, according to the North Korean Security Bureau, they have a specialized unit that spends at least 3 hours a week watching and monitoring entertainment media, such as K-Pop videos, to keep up with such things.
North Korean defector and broadcast jockey Han Song Yi spoke last month about how BTS is, secretly, popular in North Korea. Fans apparently use code words, such as “Bangtan Bag”, to refer to the group without being caught. This has led to such specialized units to detect and persecute people who listen to the South Korean boyband, since members of the North Korean government see K-Pop as South Korean propaganda that could influence the beliefs of their citizens in an unwanted way.
It hasn’t yet been said what punishment the soldiers will be facing for their actions, but hopefully it won’t be severe. It’s hard to imagine someone being arrested for something as simple as listening and dancing to music, but that’s the reality of living in North Korea.