Ah, remember 2012? When many of us were convinced that the end was nigh? Well, okay, not that many of us, but enough for Roland Emmerich to make boatloads of cash off of it? North Korea sure does. “2012” was a massive hit at the box office, but it didn’t make its way to North Korea — not legally, anyway.
In further proof that North Korea seems to be living in its own alternate universe, the nation’s government declared that 2012 would be a very prosperous year for the country. According to The Guardian, not only was 2012 the 100th birthday of the nation’s founder, Kim Il-sung, but it was the first year in the reign of its new Supreme Commander, Kim Jong-un. As such, the government promised the advent of a more powerful military, an end to the country’s hunger crisis, and the evolution of North Korea as an “economic giant.” It wasn’t about to let a silly global apocalypse jinx everything!
Now, technically, all foreign media is banned in North Korea. However, according to a study done by InterMedia in 2017, media piracy is rampant in the country, and Kim Jong-un’s rise to power came with a crackdown on international productions.
“2012” arrived at just the wrong time, directly challenging the country’s success by portraying the mythology around the year 2012 as real, and implying that the government was killing whistleblowers. Perhaps that last part hit a bit too close to home. As reported by Japanese newspaper Asahi (by way of The Telegraph), “numerous” citizens found watching bootleg copies of the film were arrested, and faced up to five years in prison.