It may be the world’s most segregated country, however there’s a chance that North Koreans may soon be legally able to watch a small selection of western-made television.
According to reports, the Kim Jong-un lead dictatorship has been in negotiations for months with the British government about selecting programs to bring to the airwaves there. Now, they are reportedly getting close to allowing “Top Gear,” “Dr. Who” and “Teletubbies” to air in the notoriously closed-off country. The decision is said to follow last year’s foreign office-supported BBC initiative drawn up in an effort to improve understanding about the world within such a closed society.
And media experts in the U.S. are giving the potential proposal the thumbs up.
“I suspect it will have a pleasing subversive effect on the population as extraordinarily sheltered North Koreans learn that everywhere in the world is better than North Korea,” Matthew Vadum, senior editor at the Capital Research Center, told FOX411. “The show ‘Top Gear’ in particular, with its powerful muscle cars, is a wonderful testament to human ingenuity and the colossal things that free people can achieve.”
As it stands, North Korea’s state broadcaster, Korean Central Television, is only allowed to air for six-and-a-half hours per night, of which a third of the programming is dedicated to praising the totalitarian government. Another third is focused on pushing North Koreans to work harder to appease their leader. The remaining programming centers around a show called “It’s So Funny,” which features two uniformed soldiers performing sketch comedy.
Though viewing non-sanctioned programs and being caught with pirated content is severely punished, the desire for outside entertainment is so strong many still reportedly take the risk and store foreign shows on USB sticks, which can be easily hidden from authorities.
And while the negotiations are still ongoing, some media experts remain skeptical about how the proposal will come to fruition.
“That North Korea might be willing to run three western TV shows sounds more like a story from The Onion than real news,” added Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture at the Media Research Center. “Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is what will average North Koreans think about the world outside from watching ‘Teletubbies’ and ‘Dr. Who?’ What will they think the West is like? It is hard to say if this will be good until we see how and if it is used as propaganda.”
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