North Korea TV Censors British Gardening Show Presenter’s Trousers

North Korea TV Censors British Gardening Show Presenter's Trousers

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Viewers with sharp eyes noticed the comical censorship

In a bizarre move, North Korean state television blurred out the jeans of veteran British gardener Alan Titchmarsh during a recent broadcast of his BBC show “Garden Secrets.” The 2010 episode aired on KCTV on Monday, but viewers with sharp eyes noticed the comical censorship – the lower half of Mr Titchmarsh’s body was pixelated to hide his jeans.

Mr Titchmarsh joked that North Korea’s censorship gave his gardening show some unexpected ‘street cred.’

“I’ve never seen myself as a dangerous subversive imperialist – I’m generally regarded as rather cosy and pretty harmless, so actually it’s given me a bit of street cred really hasn’t it?” he told BBC.

A North Korean studies expert, Seoul’s Korea University professor Nam Sung-wook, linked the jeans-blurring incident to North Korea’s newly enforced “Reactionary Ideology and Culture Rejection Act.”

“The act aims to prohibit North Korean residents from imitating foreign countries in various aspects, including how they’re dressed and speak,” he told CNN.
 

Mr Sung-wook said that North Korea has banned jeans for residents due to their association with American imperialism. However, foreign visitors are not subject to this restriction.

A South Korean research fellow, Peter Ward, suggests North Korea’s censorship reflects its fight against ‘anti-socialist culture and ideology.’

“Blue jeans are associated with ‘decadent’ Western culture, as they were in the Soviet Union, and Kim Jong Il ordered officials to rid the country of them back in the 1990s,” he told CNN.

“They have had campaigns against anti-socialist culture since at least the early 1990s,” said Ward. “The intensity of these campaigns has increased, especially since 2020.”

That year, the Reactionary Ideology and Culture Rejection Act was introduced, prohibiting the populace from distributing, viewing, or listening to any cultural content classified as anti-socialist.

During that period, the state-operated Korean Central News Agency stated that the law aimed to prevent “the spread of anti-socialist ideology and culture… in order to safeguard the North Korean ideology, spirit, and culture.”

North Korea has long been isolated from the global community, enforcing strict controls on freedom of expression, movement, and access to information. The country’s poor human rights record has drawn criticism from the United Nations. Internet usage is severely restricted, and even those with access to smartphones are limited to a government-controlled and heavily censored intranet.

Foreign materials such as books and films are prohibited, with severe penalties for individuals caught possessing contraband obtained through the black market.

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