North Korea's government is scrambling to prevent pirated copies of the film 2012 from getting into the country because Pyongyang fears the disaster movie could jinx its lucky year, according to a report.
The regime's reclusive leader, Kim Jong-il, has said 2012 will be the year that North Korea will “open the grand gates to becoming a rising superpower”.
April 15, 2012 will mark the centenary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the nation who is still revered as The Great Leader - and remains the official head of state despite the fact that he died in 1994.
North Korea’s leaders do not want their people to watch a film in which the Earth is obliterated by a series of massive natural disasters, including earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic eruptions, wiping out most of the planet, in the year they are due to rise in international stature.
Japan’s Asahi newspaper reported that “numerous” North Koreans caught watching copies of the film smuggled over the border from China have been arrested.
Authorities are prosecuting anyone caught in possession of the film with “a grave provocation against the development of the state,” a charge that carries a possible prison term of five years, the paper reported, citing anonymous sources.
Kim’s government has promised North Korea’s citizens that they will be living in a “strong and prosperous state” by 2012 and efforts are under way to spruce up the capital, Pyongyang. Among the promises from the regime is a vow to complete the 105-storey Ryugyong Hotel, which has sat unfinished since funds ran out in 1993.
Any improvements are likely to be cosmetic, however, after a series of economic and labour reforms earlier this year that ended in disaster and further ate into the impoverished nation’s funds.