North Korea judges TV ads a step too far

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The Independent Online

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il has fired his top TV official after state television aired a series of advertisements which apparently represented too much capitalist influence, a news report said yesterday.

Since early July, the North's state TV has aired rare advertisements for items such as beer, hairpins, ginseng and quail meat, in what appeared to be the country's first such commercials. This sparked speculation that the country might launch broader market reforms.

Mr Kim, however, was angered when watching the advertisements recently, saying, "such commercials are what China did when it started its reforms and openness," according to Yonhap news agency. Yonhap reported that Mr Kim has subsequently fired Cha Sung Su, who heads the committee in charge of state television.

It said Mr Cha's committee began airing the advertisements after Mr Kim instructed it to make TV programmes in a "more interesting, diverse" manner. The commercials haven't been seen on state TV since late August, Yonhap said.