North Korea Condemns 20 Young Athletes to Hard Labor in Prison for Using 'Capitalist' Words - Report

North Korea has sent several aspiring young athletes to prison over alleged use of words and expressions popular in South Korea, according to a report. It also says the despotic regime of Pyongyang has sent the young people into prison camps where they will have to do hard labor for terms ranging up to five years.

Draconian Measure

The charge against the young people is that they used South Korean vocabulary and slang while playing a word game, Radio Free Asia reported.

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The draconian measure was rolled out as part of Pyongyang's desperate bid to remove all traces of what it calls the capitalist influence on the young people in the country. The regime had earlier warned its youth against secretly watching the hugely popular South Korean dramas and pop songs.

"Residents think that it is excessive that they were sentenced between three and five years of hard labor ..." a resident in a border town was quoted by the outlet as saying. "It would be impossible to count how many hundreds or thousands of South Korean movies and dramas are easily available to us."

High School Athletes

The sportspeople who were penalized were mostly ice skaters and skiers and were all from high schools. The incident in which they were accused of using banned expressions happened during winter training for promising athletes from all over the province.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (seated) smiles during a solid-fuel rocket engine test in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March 24, 2016 Reuters

"Apparently, one of the athletes took a video of the young people playing a word game called mal kkori itgi, where the object is to make a sentence that starts with the final word of the previous player's sentence, and some of the athletes used vocabulary that was distinctly South Korean," the outlet said, citing a source.

The video was then found on the phone of a female athlete, whose home was raided by the police. The report, however, did not provide examples of the offending words or phrases.

It added that North Korean authorities have been cracking down of late on the use of words like 'honey' and similar words of personal endearment.