Porn diplomacy: Actress Mariko Kawana, Japanese AV popular in North Korea

Shukan Asahi Geino Nov. 11
Shukan Asahi Geino Nov. 11
Diplomatic relations between Japan and its Asian neighbors may now be at a post-World War II low, but, reports weekly tabloid Shukan Asahi Geino (Nov. 11), the popularity of Japanese AV is rising steadily in North Korea.

On October 16, the Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo raised concerns about how widespread Japanese adult videos had become within its neighbor to the north. “Porn videos from overseas have high market value, especially those from Japan,” explains a resident in a North Korean border town. “Their content may be illegal, but the videos are very popular with young people.”

The tabloid wonders how a nation in which much of the population faces starvation can find an interest in AV.

“It is a fact that the ship Mangyonbon is used to transfer Japanese porn between the two countries,” says professor Toshio Miyatsuka of Yamanashi Gakuin University, whose research focuses on North Korea. “These videos are circulated first among political leaders and military personnel. Then they are sent to trading merchants, who spread them widely through various markets. In the past, they had only been kept for personal use.”

According to the professor, North Korea designates these videos as “unusual recorded material of capitalism.” They are subject to Chapter 6 of the law “Violations of Socialist Culture,” which was revised in 2005. Article 193 of that statute (“Bringing or Spreading Demeaning Cultural Material”) makes any person possessing “demeaning, erotic, or hardcore material recorded onto tapes, floppy disks, CD-ROMs or other recorded media” subject to two years of labor. In very serious cases, the sentence can be boosted to four years.

“The fact that such a law has been highlighted reflects the impact of these videos,” continues the professor. “I don’t think it is necessarily negative for the people of North Korea to be exposed to such things. Just as water starts to saturate a desert, this isn’t a bad way of getting a taste of capitalism.”

A person familiar with North Korea tells the magazine that tourists from China can purchase original DVDs in Tokyo’s red-light district of Kabukicho and make copies back home. “Japanese porn uses high-quality images and techniques and are very detailed. Especially popular are those films featuring retired actress Mariko Kawana.”

The magazine reprints the cover to the 2004 Kawana DVD titled “Mariko: Last Love.”

Kawana was previously unaware of North Korea’s interest in her films. When made aware of this article, she exclaimed on her Twitter account, “Unbelievable!”

It is not just adult-oriented merchandise that is of interest to North Koreans. “In fact, since the World Student Games of 1998, the issue of prostitution has started to surface,” continues the professor. “Prostitutes, known as ‘flowers of the night,’ used to be only available in rural areas, where food shortages were an issue. Now Pyongyang has them too. They run something around $2 to $3 for full service.”

Welcome to the pleasures of globalization, smirks Shukan Asahi Geino. (K.N.)

Source: “Chugoku keiyu de Nihon no AV ga tairyo ryushutsu, Kita Chosen de Kawana Mariko ga dairyuko shite iru!” Shukan Asahi Geino (Nov. 11, pages 44-45)

Note: Brief extracts from Japanese vernacular media in the public domain that appear here were translated and summarized under the principle of “fair use.” Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of the translations. However, we are not responsible for the veracity of their contents. The activities of individuals described herein should not be construed as “typical” behavior of Japanese people nor reflect the intention to portray the country in a negative manner. Our sole aim is to provide examples of various types of reading matter enjoyed by Japanese.

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