North Korea bans ‘capitalist’ blacked out car windows (which allowed citizens to watch foreign media without being seen)
- Kim Jong-un’s regime sees the tinted windows as a malign capitalist influence
- Young people are feared to be consuming South Korean music and films in cars
- Drivers are being fined and ordered to replace their windows if they are caught
North Korean police have launched a crackdown on tinted car windows because people use them to secretly watch South Korean media without being noticed, it has emerged.
Drivers are being ordered to replace their windows and face having their cars confiscated if they fail to do so, sources in the country say – but official vehicles are exempt.
Cars with tinted windows have been designated as malign capitalist influences in North Korea – but the crackdown does not apply to official vehicles, such as this one which was part of Kim Jong-un’s motorcade on a visit to Russia in 2019
The crackdown is taking place under a Rejection of Reactionary Thought and Culture Act passed in December to eliminate foreign cultural influences.
Authorities have described the windows as part of a ‘yellow wind of capitalism’, a term often used in North Korea to describe creeping foreign influence.
Traffic police are handing fines of 30,000 won (£35) for a first offence and confiscating cars if drivers are caught with the illegal windows a second time, sources say.
But many drivers are said to be voicing their discontent at the crackdown, having previously been pulled over only for goods or maintenance checks.
‘Drivers find the crackdown ridiculous, so many argue with the police and security agents. They want to know how tinted car windows are part of capitalist yellow culture,’ one source told RFA.
‘The police argue that only people tainted by the yellow wind of capitalism would want to obscure the inside of their vehicles.’
Exempt from the crackdown are official vehicles marked with number plates beginning 727, referring to a July 27 national holiday.
Cars with tinted windows have previously been seen in Kim’s own motorcade, including on a trip to the far east of Russia to meet Vladimir Putin in 2019.
Kim Jong-un’s regime has launched the crackdown under a Rejection of Reactionary Thought and Culture Act which was passed in December to target unwanted foreign influences
The ‘reactionary thought’ crackdown also includes fines for people found in possession of unregistered phones, radios or televisions, it is believed.
People caught with media from South Korea can face up to 15 years in a prison camp, while parents can be punished for what their children consume.
One Japanese magazine reported last month that the new law even bans speaking or writing in South Korean styles.
The only permitted media in North Korea is made up of state-controlled outlets which glorify Kim and the ruling party.
But many people are thought to watch South Korean dramas and films in private, with some foreign media obtained via border trade with China.
Kim vowed at a recent party congress to expand North Korea’s own wireless networks, which are heavily walled off from the outside.
The dictator told the gathering he would help people ‘from cities to remote mountain villages to enjoy better cultural and emotional life’.