Iain Dale 7pm - 10pm
North Korea bans birthday parties and hair dyes as fanatical groups clamp down on 'foreign influence'
23 January 2023, 14:17 | Updated: 23 January 2023, 14:43
North Korea has banned birthday parties in the hermit kingdom's latest crackdown on activities it considers foreign.
The tightly-controlled country is clamping down on film, TV and even haircuts with roving "non-socialist groups" snooping around for what the Kim regime would consider to be rabble-rousers.
Some of the crimes being clamped down on would be recognisable in other states, like drug dealing or smuggling.
But they also pursue people who are absent from work, adulterous partners and hair dyeing.
"Decadent culture" is also targeted, such as drinking parties, with authorities fearing that after a few drinks their people are tempted to sing South Korean songs.
Despite the authorities; intrusive surveillance and heavy grip on its people, the population has become more exposed to media from the south – like its dramas – stoking fears of foreign influence that could damage the oppressive grip the leadership in Pyongyang wields.
And in extreme examples, "crimes" such as watching pornography could result in a public execution.
A report by the Seoul-based Database Centre for North Korean Human Rights said: "The groups operate as a hidden tool, which is used by the government to achieve their ultimate objectives of ubiquitous surveillance and the ability to thoroughly oversee each and every resident."
A defector told the centre: "You cannot have a birthday party as a group. They keep saying not to have gatherings and drink alcohol because when people are drunk, they will end up singing one or two South Korean songs for sure."
Such "crimes against socialism" could, at worst, lead to the claimed criminal being killed, lose their job or end up being sent to a labour camp.
Most recently, North Korea has been accused of supplying munitions to Russia for its war in Ukraine - a humiliating consequence of the drawn-out conflict for Moscow, which has also relied on Iran for drones.
North Korea reportedly offered to send out construction workers to rebuild captured parts of Ukraine for Russia.