Support for accessing North Korean media polled in South Korea

A TV antenna atop the Odusan Unification Observatory points directly across the Imjin River to Kaesong in North Korea.

Just over half of 1,000 South Koreans surveyed support the ability to watch North Korean television, according to an annual survey on reunification matters that was published this week by the Korean Institute for National Unification (KINU).

The survey focused on views towards possible nuclear armament by South Korea but included the question of North Korean media access. It was conducted between April and May this year by Hankook Research for KINU and had a 3.1 percent margin of error.

Respondents were asked: “Recently, there has been discussions about allowing access to North Korean newspapers and broadcasts in South Korea. Do you support or oppose allowing North Korean broadcasting?”

They were asked to respond either: oppose strongly, oppose somewhat, support somewhat or support strongly. The published results grouped the oppose and support together and found 51.3 percent of people supported greater access to North Korean media while 48.8 percent opposed.

By political leaning, greatest support was expressed by those affiliated with the Democratic Party (DP or 민주당), but there was also slightly greater support among those affiliated with the PPP. Opposition was greatest amongst those who expressed no political affiliation.

South Korean attitudes towards allowing North Korean media access (Image: KINU)

The question of allowing access to North Korean media came up in mid-2022 when South Korea’s Ministry of Unification proposed allowing greater access as a way to increase mutual understanding. Part of the idea is a hope that North Korea will take a similar step, although the chances of that are incredibly remote.

Accessing North Korean media in South Korea sits in somewhat of a grey area. The country’s National Security Law prohibits dissemination of North Korean material, but the pure reception of such material appears to be legal. Nevertheless, South Korean Internet providers all block connections to North Korean websites.

There have been cases where South Korean citizens have been jailed for possessing North Korean propaganda. In 2020, four teachers were jailed for having copies of North Korean books. In 2012, a South Korean man was given a 10-month suspended sentence for retweeting a pro-North Twitter account, although the case was later acquitted by an appellate court.


An affiliate of 38 North