|▲ A photo which accompanied a recent KCNA story on growing tourist numbers (ⓒKCNA)|
Ordinary North Korean people are being reminded in official lectures that they may not make unapproved contact with tourists visiting the country. According to an inside source from Pyongyang who spoke with Daily NK on the 10th, the official line, that anyone who engages in conversation with foreigners or begs from them will face strict legal censure, is being strongly emphasized.
The source explained, “They’ve been issuing instructions about foreign tourists in enterprise and people’s unit lectures since the start of this month. The lecturers have been saying that ‘If there is no guide present, even if all they do is ask you for directions, you must tell a People’s Security agent first’.”
All foreigners visiting North Korea are assigned guides. This is nominally said to be for the provision of information, but also serves a surveillance purpose.
However, the warning is disguised as being for the benefit of national security. According to the source, “The lecturers put it like this: ‘foreigners are envious of our ideology and will try to undermine it,’ and emphasize that ‘we should not communicate with them because they could be enemy forces in disguise trying to attack our socialist ways and spread bad ideas.’”
The source continued, “The lecture material even said, ‘Chinese people bring things like processed ham to eat, but that doesn’t suit our race and will upset our stomachs and lead to ill health.’” However, he pointed out, “There is already plenty of Chinese ham in the market, so I’m not sure who they think is going to believe that.”
Although ordinary people are warned not to make unapproved contact with foreigners, Party cadres face no such restrictions. Indeed, in many cases they actively seek out places where foreigners gather.