What Can North Korean Soap Operas Tell Us About Kim Jong-un’s Priorities?
A group of women gossiping about the new neighbor. A feisty middle schooler using a homemade drone to prank his classmates. A young military officer seeking information from his past. These themes could be from any American TV show. But they are, in fact, storylines from a new wave of soap operas produced by the North Korean state.
Former AP journalist Jean Lee, now a Global Fellow at The Wilson Center, analyzed four of these North Korean soaps for a new research paper commissioned by KEI. In this episode of Korean Kontext, she discusses some of her observations, including a shift from emphasizing military service to emphasizing family ties and a focus on youth and the next generation of North Koreans – themes which may indicate some of Kim Jong-un's main domestic priorities.