According to South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, there are more than 30,000 North Korean defectors living in the South. The lack of access to North Korea makes defectors one of the few windows to what life is like in the secretive regime. As a result, the defectors and their stories have become a hugely valuable commodity in South Korea’s popular culture and media.
There are a number of popular reality TV programmes starring North Korean defectors. Hyun-joo Yu is one of the most established stars on Now on My Way to Meet You, a popular and long running variety programme. The show features emotional North Korean defectors sharing their stories and performing to dramatic music. At the same time, the South Korean celebrity guests provide commentary and sometimes jokes.
Meanwhile, on the Internet, dozens of North Korean defectors have gained popularity through live streaming, telling stories about their lives in the North on YouTube and Instagram. These defector-celebrities, like 21-year-old Nara Kang, are mostly young, attractive women. Representing a younger generation of defectors, Nara Kang is tapping into an audience with no living memory of the North.
Capitalising on their status as defectors to gain fame, these celebrities cannot move on from being defined by their past. They strive to fit into South Korean society, while emphasising their otherness to South Korean audiences.
Indonesia: Not cool to date
Saying no to dating is part of a growing ultraconservative social movement in Indonesia being spread through Instagram and WhatsApp. “When I look at couples, I see my old self, how I used to be affectionate in public, holding hands, hugging,” says 23-year-old Yati, “and now I think that’s disgusting.” When Yati broke up with her ex, she didn’t just swear off dating; she joined Indonesia’s anti-dating movement - Indonesia Without Dating. Its leaders say dating is expensive, gets in the way of study, and - most importantly - is against religious teaching. For Assignment, Simon Maybin discovers it is part of a wider youth-led surge in conservative Islam in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. Opponents see the phenomenon as a backwards step for women and a threat to Indonesia’s religious pluralism.
Presenter: Simon Maybin
Producer: Josephine Casserly
Editor: Bridget Harney
Music at the end of the programme was Tubuhku Otoritasku by Tika and The Dissidents
(Image: Yati at an “Indonesia Without Dating” demo. Copyright: Simon Maybin/BBC)
The importance of Jurgen Klopp
The manager of Liverpool Football Club, who lead them to victory in the Champions League. But Jurgen Klopp has not always been this successful. When he was a young footballer at Mainz 05 in Germany, his former team mate Guido Shafer says he 'had no talent'. So what can we learn from his childhood in Germany's Black Forest? How did he become the manager he is today?
New York Stories with Joe Pascal
He’s the DMC in the legendary Run-DMC, a titan of the music industry. The group became known as the movie stars of rap. Busta Rhymes said of them “They didn’t just change music, they changed everything.” Presenter Joe Pascal meets the Devastating Mic Controller himself - Darryl 'DMC' McDaniels. He grew up in Hollis Queens and was at the forefront of revolutionary change in the New York music scene with the explosion of hip hop. He was there, watching, from the early days, with the DJs and MCs at the neighbourhood block parties. And then, alongside Run and Jam Master Jay, they became a music phenomenon – with their new kind of rap bringing hip hop to the masses. They had their own look, their own style. DMC talks us through those early years and his later battles with alcoholism and depression. What gave him solace in that time was a song, a pop ballad that he listened to for an entire year. He would take it everywhere he went and play it, every day, morning to night. DMC’s other passion is comic books, they fuelled his imagination and education and ultimately gave him the superpower he needed to get up on stage.
Ireland’s housing hunger
Ireland has booming investment and lots of new jobs. But Chris Bowlby discovers how a huge housing crisis is haunting the country’s young people in particular. Anger about poor housing, and fear of mass emigration by the young are issues with deep roots in Irish memory. And the housing crisis was a crucial factor in the recent Irish election which shocked the main parties and saw big gains for the nationalists of Sinn Fein . Chris travels to the city of Cork in the southwest of the country. He traces the roots of the crisis in a crazy house buying boom a few years ago. And he hears how a lack of good, affordable housing is affecting everyone from students to young families to Ireland’s many younger migrants who hope to stay in Ireland, but have nowhere to call home.
Presenter/Producer: Chris Bowlby
Image: Student rent strike in Cork.
Credit: Chris Bowlby/BBC