Wednesday, June 6, 2012

South Korean clothes taking North by storm: Will culture, and not bombs, unite the Koreas?

The popularity of South Korean culture is so high in North Korea that dramas aired on one day in the South are being made into DVDs in northeastern China the next and, by the third day, are cropping up on the fringes of North Korean markets. The North Korean people are then watching these dramas over and over again, sharing them with close friends and swapping them for others with trusted confidantes. In the process, the fashions worn by the stars of these dramas become objects of considerable envy.

It is thus inevitable that South Korean clothes would be popular among the North Korean people more generally. As a Yangkang Province source told the Daily NK recently, “Even households that are not doing that well are going out in South Korean clothes, while the demand for Chinese goods is more limited.”

In particular, the source went on, “Since the start of this year, there have been noticeably more people selling South Korean clothes in the markets, because that is what people want to buy.” Prices reflect this, the source said; for example, South Korean t-shirts sell for nearly double the price of the Chinese equivalent. Read More