MBC’s “High Kick!” Series Popular in North Korea?

Radio Free Asia (RFA), the U.S.-based nonprofit radio/Internet news service, has reported Tuesday that MBC’s hit sitcom series, “High Kick without Hesitation” and “High Kick through the Roof,” are gaining huge followings in North Korea lately. “South Korean dramas titled ‘High Kick through the Roof’ and “High Kick without Hesitation’ are making a lot of young North Koreans laugh these days. Teenager kids and young women are completely fascinated by the fun script of the ‘High Kick’ series,” the radio broadcaster said quoting an unnamed source from the North Korean city of Hae San in the Yang Kang Province. According to the source, the “High Kick” series first started to surface in the Yang Kang black markets from last November, and currently most high school students own a couple DVD copies of the hit sitcom. A single DVD contains about five episodes, the report said, and they usually cost around 4,000 won (3.70 USD)—a hefty price tag for regular North Koreans who commonly pay nearly 2,000 won for 1 kg of rice.

“At first it didn’t look that fun because people were acting silly in the show. But the more I watch it, I feel like I’m getting addicted to it,” the report said citing another unnamed North Korean. It added the popular show has created a number of buzzwords lately. “The word ‘High Kick’ has come to mean ‘comedy’ or ‘theater plays’ in general, and a lot of artists have also started to use the word in place of ‘variety’ these days,” the source was quoted as saying. The report added, “If the ‘High Kick’ series is this popular in Yang Kang Province, you can pretty much assume the show is already spread all over the country.”

“High Kick without Hesitation” is a daily sitcom comedy show that aired from 2006 to 2007. It was one of the most popular family shows in the country as it recorded over 20% in TV ratings—a high number considering it’s shown every night. Due to popular demand, MBC produced the second season titled “High Kick through the Roof” in 2009. Some of the most popular celebrities have appeared on the show including Jung Il Woo, Hwang Jung Eum, Kim Bum, and Park Min Young, as well as Choi Daniel, Shin Se Kyung, and Lee Ki Kwang, among many others. 

RFA is a private, nonprofit organization partly supported by the U.S. government. It provides service in nine different languages in over six countries. First founded in 1996, RFA provides “accurate and timely news and information to Asian countries whose governments prohibit access to a free press” according to its website.