July 11, 2007 / 2:01 AM / 10 years ago

Nation bans karaoke bars, Internet cafes?

<p>A Chinese man sings at a karaoke club (KTV) in Shanghai, in this file photo from March 1, 2006. North Korea's security agency has ordered the shutdown of karaoke bars and Internet cafes, saying they are a threat to society, a South Korean newspaper reported Wednesday.Aly Song</p>

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea's security agency has ordered the shutdown of karaoke bars and Internet cafes, saying they are a threat to society, a South Korean newspaper reported Wednesday.

Refugees from the reclusive state say such outlets are largely located in the northern region that borders China and are frequented by merchants involved in cross-border business rather than ordinary citizens.

The North's Ministry of People's Security said in a directive that all karaoke bars, video-screening rooms and Internet cafes operating without state authorization must shut immediately, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said.

The paper did not say how it obtained a copy of the directive.

"It is so promulgated under the mandate of the Republic in order to crush enemy scheming and to squarely confront those who threaten the maintenance of the socialist system," the daily quoted the ministry directive as saying.

"Most of the people who would go to these places are people who made quite a bit of money, normally not officials or the average person," said Park Sang-hak, an activist for human rights in the North based in South Korea.

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