Authorities step up control of residents ahead of Party Congress with 'ideological re-examinations'

Choi Song Min  |  2016-04-20 17:19
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With Pyongyangs 7th Party Congress looming on the horizon, the authorities are ramping up efforts to re-examine the family ties and ideological leanings of each individual citizen closely. Considering this particular Party Congress is an important stepping stone toward  further consolidation of the regime, expectations are that Kim Jong Un will seek to control and restrict the population more stringently than usual prior to the event. 

Organization Departments of the corresponding provincial WPK committees are working in tandem with the provincial units of the State Security Department and the Ministry of Peoples Security to form an investigative body to carry out these investigations nationwide, reported a source in South Pyongan Province. 

Sources in Ryanggang Province and North Hamgyong Province have also reported comparable developments in their respective regions. 

Everyone is being newly re-categorized and closely managed according to their ancestry and songbun [family political background and history] and placed into one of the three categories: the core class, who in times of emergency would be expected to support Kim Jong Un, the wavering class, who must always be scrutinized, and the hostile class, who must be placed under continuous surveillance, the source explained. 

Families who have been categorized as wavering or hostile have already long suffered from restrictions on upward mobility, limited engagement in community life, and tighter surveillance. Some of these citizens either cannot receive a [domestic] travel visa or, if they must be given one, their travel visa is marked with a number that is easy to track so that the Security Department can follow their activities. 

Some family members of defectors, fearing political persecution from the regime as a result of the guilt-by-association system, are desperately hoping that their relatives who made it to South Korea will be content to live quietly, the source said, explaining that anyone related to a defector whose entrance into South Korea has been confirmed is being relegated immediately to the hostile class. 

Even worse, if it is confirmed that a defector [with whom they are related] has appeared in [international] media criticizing the North Korean system, their families are labeled as political criminals and are ruthlessly evicted from their homes. 

The current climate is such that for Party, State Security Department, and Ministry of People's Security personnel, the discovery of a defector in the family (even if the relation is merely a first cousin) warrants automatic dismissal from one's post. Even having a second cousin affiliated with the hostile class is grounds for termination. 

Ultimately, the source explained, this round of background investigations seeks to select a group of loyal members to create a fresh, so-called quintessential class of members ahead of the 7th Party Congress and rely on them to strengthen the regime by actively thwarting members of the wavering class from succumbing to the strong pressure of international society while forming a solid core that is able to overcome the current difficulties facing North Korea. 

*Translated by Natalie Grant
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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