It appears that several of the 63 North Korean POWs who were held in South Korea before being repatriated in September 2000 as part of a humanitarian deal by the Kim Dae Jung administration are being employed by the local authorities as propaganda tools.
Video footage passed to The Daily NK by an anonymous source in North Korea shows Kim Sun Myung, who had been imprisoned in a South Korean jail for the longest term, 45 years, together with 22 other former POWs reciting a poem idolizing Kim Jong Il entitled, “A Morning in February”, and singing another hymn, “Thank You, Our Dear Leader”.
Besides Kim Sung Myung, clearly visible in the footage are Kim Jung Jong, a linguist who reportedly got his doctor’s degree after repatriation, Lee Jae Ryong, Kim Chang Won, Lee Kyung Chan, Woo Yong Kak, Ko Kwang In and Lee Du Gyun.
The anonymous source explained, “These former prisoners of war all live in Ansan, in the Pyongchon-district of Pyongyang, where a small assembly hall called ‘Unjeonggwan’ has been built for the purpose of hosting North Korean ideology-themed lectures and performances for North Korean people including its citizens from overseas and students.”
The performances are held on national holidays such as Kim Jong Il’s birthday (16th February), Kim Il Sung’s birthday (15th April), and national foundation day (9th September). This video was recorded on the day after Kim Jong Il’s birthday, February 17th.
The anonymous source went on to say that the Overseas Koreans Aid Commission is using the visiting overseas citizens as a means by which to amass foreign currency from overseas Koreans paying a visit to their homeland; the Commission has been cited as saying that an empty-handed visit would be disrespectful to the POWs.
The performance caught on video is divided up into two parts, with the first part featuring a lecture by former POW Kim Jung Jong, an 85-year old born in North Gyeongsang Province. His lecture mostly focuses on life as a prisoner in South Korea and the subsequent “fair” treatment he received back in the North. The latter half of the performance features songs and poems, either sung or recited in groups or individually, by the former POWs and their families.
Kim Jung Jong testifies in the piece, “Thirteen former prisoners of war, including Lee In Mo, have been enshrined in the patriot martyr’s memorial in Sinmiri. They experienced glory in their lifetime, and are still experiencing it after death.”
He ends his lecture by saying, “The Lee Myung Bak administration, which has rejected the June 15 South-North declaration and the October 4 Inter-Korean Summit Agreement, has the United States looking after its back and is fooling around with war and doing all kinds of disgraceful things. Let our compatriots in the South and overseas come together to combine their strengths and complete the autonomous and peaceful unification of our homeland, and let us start an era in which we can live with our heads proudly held high.”
Lee Jae Ryong, a 67-year old former POW born in Sookchung in South Pyongnam Province, also tells his story; of how he forged a family through the “blessing” of the Party and having a daughter named Chuk Bok (meaning “blessing” in Korean), whose name was given to her by Kim Jong Il. He sings a song entitled “My Blessed Life”, the lyrics to which he says were composed by his own family together with that of the late Lee In Mo.
In the second part of the performance, wives of the former POWs take part in a concert wearing traditional Korean “hanbok” and playing guitar and accordion.
Kim Jung Jong gives a speech praising the development of North Korea, saying, “I have been to Mt. Baekdu twice and seen every corner of the Republic (North Korea). There are huge differences from the past.”
He testifies that when he visited his hometown, Imha-myeon near Andong, North Gyeongsang Province in the South, in August, 2002, the last time in his life, he found it was so underdeveloped. He said, “There is no such rural area in the Republic at all. It was much worse than its past situation.”
He emphasizes, “With a dream that we can live eating white rice with meat soup, we are exerting ourselves to construct the strong and prosperous state. In 2012, when the anniversary year of the Great su-ryeong’s 100th birthday, we should put firmly in place the nameplate of ‘the strong and prosperous state’”
Another speaker, Lee Du Gyun recites a poem, “Oh, my mother,” which states, “There is a mother who has waited for her son for years. The great mother made him a red party certificate… Eternal love of a mother; ah, great comrade Kim Jong Il! I will take you as my eternal mother.”
The source who gave the footage to The Daily NK said, “Even visitors from foreign countries who watched the performance said it was too much to praise Kim Jong Il, who may be younger than their younger brothers, as a mother.” He added, “At the time when they were repatriated to the North, they flattered highly these former POWs as heroes of the Republic, but now they are spending their latter years only as a band to idolize Kim Jong Il.”
At the end of the performance, approximately 30 of the former POWs line up in a three-row formation to sing “Thank You, Father General and “We Will Guard the Leaders of the Revolution with Our Lives”, mixing it with intermittent shouts of “Guarding Kim Jong Il! Guarding Kim Jong Il!”
“We Will Guard the Leaders of the Revolution with Our Lives”;
Oh, leaders of the revolution, tens of millions will be the shells and bullets to protect thee,
Upon every bayonet we hold, our solemn oath to guard the dear leader lies.
Red flag-flying leaders of the revolution, tens of millions will be the shells and bullets to protect thee,
Inheriting that spirit which fought to guard the headquarters, forces with blood seething in our breast united.
Heart of Chosun, leaders of the revolution, tens of millions will be the shells and bullets to protect thee.
|▲ 22 former prisoners sing ‘Thank You General Father’ in chorus|
|▲ Kim Sun Myung and another three former prisoners sing songs with their wives|
|▲ Lee Jae Ryong with his North Korean wife and daughter ‘Chukbok’, supposedly named by Kim Jong Il|
|▲ Kim Jung Jong gives a speech, ‘Live under the careful consideration of North Korea’|
|▲ Commemorative stamp for the 63 former prisoners issued on December 20, 2000|