08172017Headline:

North Korea: Possession of foreign media punishable by up to 10 years

North Korea has increased the punishment for the consumption and distribution of foreign media to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment with hard labor, a sharp increase from the previous guidelines. It follows a reported increase in foreign influence. (more)

The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported on Sunday that it had obtained a copy of North Korea's 2015 revised criminal code. Few details about the country's judicial system are known because of its isolation and the fact that state-run media does not report on criminal cases.

The revised code states that those who import, distribute and illegally hold on to "decadent culture" or engage in "decadent acts" would face a minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment with hard labor or, in grave cases, a maximum of 10 years with hard labor.

North Korean law defines "decadent acts" as the consumption or re-enactment of "images, photos, books, music and movies that are decadent and suggestive," a reference to the consumption of foreign dramas, movies, books and music, according to Yonhap.

The new sentencing guidelines represent a sharp increase from the 2012 criminal code, which punished the consumption and distribution of foreign media with a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment. The change follows a reported increase in the smuggling of popular South Korean TV shows.

The revised criminal code also shows that the punishment for watching South Korean broadcasts has been doubled to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment with hard labor, Yonhap said. The same applies for the collection and distribution of 'enemy propaganda.'

The 2015 revised criminal code also established a new crime for government officials who do not properly or promptly carry out the "teachings" of North Korea's former leaders, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. This offense is punishable by up to a year in prison, according to Yonhap.

It is unknown if other revisions have been made since 2015.

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