DPRK selling its uniqueness on TV

Korea Times:
Kim Sue-young

South Korean broadcasting stations have paid North Korea up to $1 million since 2003 in return for permission to produce programs in the North, a lawmaker said yesterday.

Citing a report of the Ministry of Unification, Rep. Kwon Young-se of the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) said that local broadcasters have been engaged in a price competition, as they pay a large amount of money to the North.

“A total of 10 inter-Korean broadcasting cooperation projects have been approved since 2003,” the lawmaker said. “The Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) paid Pyongyang $1 million for the production of a singing contest program in July 2003 and a performance by pop singer Cho Yong-pil in May last year, respectively.”

Those companies have also paid between $500,000 and $800,000 for other television programs on North Korean food or the remains of the Koguryo Kingdom (37 B.C.-A.D. 668), Kwon said.

A ranking official of the Korean People Artist Federation said last September that three major television broadcasters _ KBS, SBS, and Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) _ raised the level of the financial support, according to Kwon.

“Minor cable channels that cannot afford to pay the large amount of money don’t even contact North Korea,” the official was quoted as saying. “The government should regulate the soaring prices.”

The lawmaker also quoted an official of the Korea Development Institute complaining of Seoul’s difficulty negotiating with Pyongyang because of the large sum of money.

“Broadcasters gave North Korea a lot of money to attract events for their programs, which made North Korea indifferent to economic cooperation projects,” Kwon said.


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