Authorities attempt to raise loyalty before Kim Jong Il’s birthday

Statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il at Mansudae Hill. Image: Rodong Sinmun

The North Korean authorities are trying to raise loyalty among the population prior to one of North Korea’s biggest holidays, Kim Jong Il’s birthday (February 16).

“Party cell secretaries were given orders concerning Kim Jong Il’s birthday (referred to as “The Day of the Shining Star”) on January 15,” said a North Hamgyong Province-based source on January 21. “They were ordered to read out propaganda and ‘morality-related’ materials that honor Kim Jong Il to their staff before the start of work each day.”

Cell party secretaries, the lowest ranking managers of the party, were ordered to hand out materials emphasizing Kim Jong Il’s achievements and “love of the people”.

Kim Jong Il is generally alleged by the North Korean authorities to have been a leader with “high-minded morality”.

“An order calling for the creation of ‘loyalty singing groups’ in each work unit was also handed down,” a source in North Pyongan Province added. “Each work unit must conduct performances in early February and lectures around February 10. Every company must conduct workplace-wide lectures before February 16.”

“Songs, poems and play scripts have already been handed down to each work unit and they are in the midst of practicing for their performances,” the source added.

Loyalty singing groups perform a wide-range of performances that include poem recitals, dancing, comedic plays, and entertaining monologues. The groups compel North Koreans to display absolute loyalty to the Party and nation, and ask them to promise loyalty to Kim Jong Il.

Many workers are feeling drained, having to work during the day and attend meetings in the evening to practice, while also having to collect state-set quotas of manure, according to a source in South Hamgyong Province.

Nevertheless, some are reportedly enthusiastic about preparing for their performances. “Each year the state uses the performances almost like tryouts for its Propaganda Teams, and workers know that they may be chosen to join military propaganda or factory-based propaganda teams,” she said.

“The performances offer an opportunity for them to escape the monotony of their daily lives.”