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South Korea lifts ban on North Korean TV channel

Seoul, South Korea –

Officials said South Korea plans to lift a decades-old public ban on North Korea’s television, newspapers and other publications as part of efforts to promote mutual understanding between North Korea and North Korea. rivals, officials said Friday, despite hostilities over North Korea’s recent missile tests.

Divided along the world’s most fortified border since 1948, the two Koreas forbid their citizens from visiting each other’s territory and exchanging phone, email and correspondence, and they block access to each other’s websites and TV stations.

In a policy report to new President Yoon Suk Yeol on Friday, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it will gradually open the door to North Korean broadcasts, media and publications to enhance mutual understanding. together, restore Korean national identity and prepare for a future unification. .

Ministry officials said South Korea would start by allowing access to North Korean broadcasts to try to encourage the North to take similar steps. The ministry declined to provide further details, saying the plans are still being discussed with relevant agencies in South Korea.

Jeon Young-sun, a research professor at Seoul’s Konkuk University, said North Korea is unlikely to respond because South Korea’s influx of cultural and media content would pose “a really big threat to their authoritarian leadership.

Ruled by three generations of the Kim dynasty since its founding in 1948, North Korea severely restricts citizens’ access to outside information, although many defectors say they have watched pirated South Korean television programs. Quoc while living in the North. In 2014, North Korea’s military opened fire when South Korean activists launched balloons carrying USB drives containing information about the outside world and leaflets criticizing the Kim family toward North Korean territory.

Relations between the two Koreas remain strained due to North Korea’s missile tests this year. Yoon, a Conservative, said he would take a tougher stance against North Korea’s provocations, although he said he had “a bold plan” to improve the economy. North Korea if it gives up its nuclear weapons.

Despite North Korea’s possible reluctance to reciprocate, Jeon said South Korea needs to relax its ban on North Korean media because the restrictions have led to dependence on foreigners and other governments for revenue. gather information related to North Korea. That has increased the risk of gathering disinformation about North Korea, Mr. Jeon said.

It is unclear how anti-North Korea activists in the South will react to the government’s move. Jeon said there was little chance the move would spur pro-North Korea sentiment.

South Korea, the world’s 10th largest economy, is a global cultural powerhouse. According to South Korean estimates, its nominal gross domestic product in 2019 was 54 times larger than that of North Korea.

Some observers say the ban must be lifted in a step-by-step process with discussions about what content North Korea will be allowed to first and how it should be accessible to the South Korean public.

While South Korean authorities block access to North Korean government websites and other media, they rarely crack down on experts, journalists and others who use virtual private networks or proxy servers to access them. A large number of North Korean movies, songs and other content are also available on YouTube, which is accessible in South Korea.

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