10 days of ideological education for family reunion attendees

The North Korean regime has ordered that those with “ideological issues” are to be removed from the list of family reunion applicants and that those remaining on the list must undergo thorough ideological education, report sources in North Korea.

“An order regarding the ‘principles concerning participants in the divided family reunions’ was sent down by the Central Committee [of the Korean Workers’ Party, KWP],” said a Pyongyang-based source on July 3. “It stated that the fundamental principle [of selecting participants] is to select those who have been unwaveringly loyal and faithful followers of the KWP.”

According to the source, the document further stated that “[the list of participants] must be made up of the purest of the pure who have maintained unquestionable loyalty to the Party throughout the 1990s and 2000s and have given their all at the front lines of carrying out the orders of the Party without fail and throughout all arduous and difficult periods.”

The document also stipulated that “background checks will be conducted for families who have relatives in South Korea within 8 degrees of kinship, and those who are impure in their ideology will be banned from participating in the reunions. Any families who were punished in the 1960s for criticizing Party policy or who are currently receiving punishment will be taken off the list.”

The North Korean authorities have also stated that the ideological loyalty of families who have relatives in South Korea will be thoroughly investigated by examining their participation in “inminban” (similar to a local neighborhood watch) before being put on the list, a separate source in Pyongyang said, adding that the authorities will also be conducting ideological education over the course of several days for those who have passed with flying colors.

“The authorities have decided to gather all of the participants who have been selected by each local Party committee by July 22 at the Mount Liberation Motel before giving them a five-day tour of Pyongyang and another five-day marathon of lectures,” she said.

The reunion participants ultimately will have 10 days of ideological education under their belts before the reunions start. Tours of Pyongyang generally involve visits to Kim Il Sung statues, Kim Il Sung’s alleged birthplace of Mangyungdae, and other sites that glorify the regime.

South Korea, meanwhile, is conducting a transparent, random drawing of participants for the reunions. The final participants will receive a single day of education about North Korea before the day of the reunions.

The first family reunions were held in August 2000 following the inter-Korean summit in June that year. Since then, 20 reunions took place until October 2015. A total of 4,185 and 19,928 members of divided families in North and South Korea have met through the reunions, respectively.