Rare BBC video footage shows two teenage boys in North Korea being sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for watching South Korean K-dramas.

The video, which is shown filmed in 2022, shows two 16-year-old boys handcuffed in front of hundreds of students in an outdoor stadium. Also, the footage shows uniformed officers reprimanding the boys for not “they think seriously about their mistakes.”

North Korea bans the broadcasting and viewing of entertainment shows from South Korea. Still, some are willing to risk severe punishment and to watch the particular series from South Korea, which have a huge global audience.

Shots like this are rare because North Korea prohibits the leaking of photos, videos and other evidence of life in the country to the outside world.

This video was provided to the BBC by South and North Development (Sand)a research institute working with those who have fled the North.

The video demonstrates it how harshly the country’s authorities punish such incidents while the clip was reportedly distributed to North Korea for ideological training as a warning to citizens not to watch “decadent recordings”.

The video features a narrator repeating state propaganda. “The culture of the rotten puppet regime has spread even to teenagers”, the voice says, in an apparent reference to South Korea. “They’re only 16, but they ruined their own future”he adds.

In the past, the minors who were breaking the law in this way they were sent to youth labor camps instead of prison and the punishment was usually less than five years.

In 2020, however, Pyongyang enacted a law that makes watching or distributing South Korean entertainment punishable by death.

THE managing director of SandChoi Kyong-hui, stated that Pyongyang sees the spread of South Korean culture as a danger to its ideology.

“Admiration for South Korean society may soon lead to a weakening of the system… This goes against the monolithic ideology that makes North Koreans respect the Kim family,” he said.

“If you get caught watching an American drama, you can get away with a bribebut if you watch a Korean drama, you get shot,” a source told the BBC.