Poking Fun at a Mess

Park Seong Guk  |  2011-10-27 12:48
The kind of gallows humor that satirizes the state of North Korean society is as popular in North Korea as it ever was in other socialist states.

For example, sarcastic terms to describe the useless role of a husband. As a source from North Hamkyung Province told The Daily NK on the 26th, “Husbands have tended not to go to workplaces and not to contribute to households, so reputations have been lost. Women call what was once a ‘nampyeon (husband)’ a ‘bulpyeon’ (inconvenience), or a ‘light bulb in daylight’, meaning a useless thing.”

Or, as the source explained, “The North Korean currency has fallen off and people prefer foreign currency, so they call US Dollar ‘groom’ and Chinese Yuan ‘bride’, while the North Korean won is the mere ‘bridesmaid’.”

Since the currency redenomination, there have been many cases of fraud or where people run away due to debt, too, meaning that now the term that means ‘to pay later’ (‘hubul’) has become ‘disappearance’ (haengbul), ‘borrowed money’ (‘ggun-don’) as ‘earned money’ (‘beon-don’) and those who are actually repaid the money they are owed are labeled a ‘war hero.’
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