Kim Jong Un’s iron grip on the North Korean people is weakening, and an information campaign rooted in soap operas and dramas could help advance a civilian uprising, a prominent defector told a congressional panel Wednesday.

“Great and unexpected changes are taking place within North Korea,” Thae Yong-ho, a former diplomat in North Korea’s Embassy in London, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In Thae’s view, free markets are increasingly popular. The state welfare system has collapsed under stiff sanctions, making civil servants and military officers dependent on bribes and embezzlement. State propaganda is shunned as more people watch South Korean television programs, forcing the government to allow the sale of DVDs of Soviet-era films and even American animation like Tom and Jerry, “The Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast.”


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