Ordinary North Koreans indifferent to New Year's Address

Kang Mi Jin  |  2017-01-05 16:16
Many ordinary North Koreans have expressed cynicism and disinterest in Kim Jong Un’s recent New Year’s Address, citing the fact that they have long become inured to government policies and proclamations that are generated in an entirely different world to that of the common people.

"The Rodong Sinmun has claimed that people are working hard to fulfill the tasks outlined in the New Year's address to increase production, but residents are not showing much interest. Regardless of the annual lectures on the New Year's address, people know capitalism is their bread and butter,” a source in North Pyongan Province told DailyNK on January 3. 

"Many market vendors are commenting on the ‘great’ achievements touted in the New Year’s Address each year, sardonically noting how elusive they are since ‘nobody has ever seen them.’ I’ve heard others ask, “Where did all the goods and grain shown on television go?” People think little of the address, although they cannot openly say it, fearing punishment."

"Although the authorities are emphasizing domestic production and the promotion of achievements, the markets are still dominated by imported goods. This is why the emphasis on 'self-help' doesn’t resonate with people,” a source in Ryanggang Province said. 

"At first, I thought that the popularity of imported goods in Ryanggang was due to the fact that it is a border city, but I found out that markets in South Pyongan and the Hwanghae Provinces are also full of foreign products. Residents do not take the New Year's Address seriously because the propaganda doesn’t match the reality on the ground.”

The ubiquity of imported goods across the country is another contributing factor.

"People are well aware of the fact that local products are provided to the military, shock troops, state hospitals, kindergartens, and nurseries. However, the remarkable productivity mentioned in the New Year's Address is hard to believe, as even the state-run stores are full of imported goods," the Ryanggang-based source noted.

"The regime provided some domestically-produced materials to some enterprises for propaganda purposes, but other factories are finding it hard to fulfill their quotas due to the lack of materials. Many have realized that very few enterprises receive support, and it’s purely for propaganda purposes to encourage others to work harder.” 

"The authorities are forcing the residents to learn the New Year's Address,” a source in North Hamgyong Province added, “but people are only pretending to listen. They are more interested in survival, preparing for the imminent manure-collection mobilization. The claims of the authorities that people are encouraged by the New Year's Address is far from the truth.”

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

 
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2017.04.25
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