Pornography in the Democratic Republic of North Korea

When I was researching my last post I accessed a journal article, by Philaretou & Allen (2006), which explored sensitive issues such as feminism in an autoenthnographic manner. Although I used it to widen my general understanding of the concept of autoenthnographic research it did present one avenue I had not explored within the North Korean media world – online pornography. This concept is considered a growth industry in the western world and has extended its tentacles into every aspect of online media. Personally I was hoping I would find that the strict control which the Democratic Republic of North Korea places on media and online interaction may have blocked the spread into that county.


However what I found from searching the digital stream were blog sites such as Surprise! Even North Koreans download porn by Mariella Moon which speculates or allude to the existence of pornography in the North Korean media scape but can present little definitive evidence. Further investigation found that much of what is presented on this subject by bloggers is simple material reblogged from other sources such as the Daily Mail in this instance.


Porn, Top Gear and Angry Birds: What North Korean internet users are downloading is revealed by internet analysts

  • Few people in North Korea can access the world wide web
  • The downloads were by computers registered in the capital Pyongyang

ByJill Reilly for MailOnline Published: 22:37 AEST, 15 August 2014 | Updated: 19:21 AEST, 27 August 2014

This created a high level of frustration on the part of this researcher because on the one hand I was trying to source information about a topic I find sensitive and all I can find is a constant digital regurgitation of the same information. Upon reflection it struck as a sure single that one of two things is happening. The first is that the streaming of pornographic material onto online media channels is not happening in the DRNK. The second is that the incredible restrictions placed on North Korea media is so effective no information is leaking out. I sincerely hope it is the first because it would be one positive outcome of the censorship and rigid control that is exerted upon the media interactions of the NK people. On the other hand it represents a withholding of freedom. Regardless of the negative social and emotional impact of pornography egalitarian values dictate that the choice should be the people’s not the State’s, especially in a culture with a State which is so overtly oppressive.



Surprise! Even North Koreans download porn. by Mariella Moon posted August 18th 2014 at 1:53 am


Philaretou, A.G. & Allen, K.R. 2006, “Researching Sensitive Topics through Autoethnographic Means”, Journal of Men’s Studies, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 65.


North Korea executes music band members over pornography charges – South paper 2013, , London. BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific [London] 29 Aug 2013.


One comment

  1. Firstly, your analysis of the research process itself and the differing results that can be produced based on accessibility demonstrates a good example of how to use autoethnography to reflect on your learnt experiences. Secondly, reflecting on your own cultural biases might add an essential dimension to your autoethnographic experience which will allow you to fully reflect on the subject that you are studying. For example, why is it that you view the restriction of pornographic material being downloaded within the DRNK as a positive thing? How does this suggestion/view fit into wider Australian society?


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