Not Funny: Joke Lands Comedian in North Korean Labor Camp

Authorities were not amused by his playful jab at the totalitarian regime

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Ed Jones / AFP / Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) in Pyongyang, April 15, 2012.

It’s no fun being the punchline.

North Korean comedian Lee Choon Hong has been shipped off to work camp after offending the nation’s autocratic regime during a comedy bit, Radio Free Asia reports.

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The well-known comedian was performing for farm workers in the Kangwondo Province of Sep’o, where he had been ordered by authorities to entertain on a 150,000-acre farm. Though it’s unclear exactly what he said, Hong was removed during his act after making a remark about the government and immediately sent to Jikdong Youth Coal Mine in the  city of Sunchon in South Pyongan province.

His “sensitive comment” will likely land him at least six months at the labor camp, the typical sentence for a public figure. This is the second time he’s been sent to a work camp for jokes about the government. The comedian, known for his impressions of people in North Korean society, was also hauled off to a work camp in the early 2000s for affronting the government.

Though he’s upset the hermit country’s draconian authorities, Hong has long been embraced by them, too. According to reports, the standup comedian was known to frequently perform for the late Kim Jong Il, even joining his personal troupe of entertainers, “Entourage of Delight” during the 1980s.

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