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"The Interview" of course is hardly the first (or last) movie to be banned in North Korea. All media outlets are owned and controlled by the North Korean goverment, which means that basically all that North Koreans are allowed to watch, read and listen to is political propaganda.
One of the last things the North Korean goverment wants is to expose its people to Western culture, freedom and ideology. Since most movies unknowingly and unintentionally 'promote' and feature those themes, most -if not all- Western movies are banned from viewing in North Korea.

And by banned I'm not only just saying that people aren't allowed to watch it but it actually is extremely dangerous and illegal to watch anything that has been banned by the goverment in North Korea. People living in North Korea actually get arrested and convicted for owning or watching a banned movie and something tells me that those people won't come off with just 'a slap on the wrist'.

So it's easy to see why the North Korean goverment wants to keep Western movies, media and influences away from its people but sometimes the reasons why certain movies got banned are far more complicated and 'fun' to hear about.

Let's take this one movie for instance. It's a movie that you probably have seen once and have forgotten all about already. The type of movie that you watch and enjoy for what it is but won't ever think about as being anything offensive. Ridiculous, yes! Bad? Maybe but offensive as well? Maybe only to your intelligence but for North Koreans it was much more than just another bad and silly Hollywood time-waster.

The movie that I'm talking about is the 2009 Roland Emmerich movie "2012". Now why on Earth would a movie that shows, mostly, American cities getting destroyed, American people dying and the Western civilization getting annihilated be offensive and 'bad' to watch for any North Koreans? Well, the reason for it doesn't have much to do with the actual content of the movie but more with the main them and title of it.

While other groups of people were more concerned about 2012 marking the end of the world, because some ancient Mayans 'said so', the year 2012 was supposed to mark a special year for North Korea and all of its citizens. It marked the 100th birthday of its former leader Kim Il-sung and the year had been designated as 'the year for opening the grand gates to becoming a rising superpower' (Kim Jong-Il's words, not mine).

So a movie depicting the end of world, set in the same year as the country's 'eternal president's' 100th birthday was deemed as a grave provocation by the North Korean goverment. Still not as an 'act of war' but as something offensive and unsuitable nevertheless.

A Japanese newspaper reported that numerous North Koreans were caught watching the movie, that got smuggled over the border from China, which shows that North Koreans taste in movies is just as poor as anywhere else.

People who were caught got sentenced up to five years in prison, which means that most of them should come free around this time, which is just in time for them to catch "The Interview" or to celebrate the Day of the Sun, which is a national holiday, in honor of Kim Il-sung's birthday.  I wonder what they will rather do, after their, no doubt, unpleasant prison stay.

About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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