Following special orders given to Party cadres, the North Korean authorities have been continually emphasizing the importance of rejecting foreign culture and adhering to socialism. The policy marks a clear divergence from the leadership’s peace offensive on the international stage, and is seen as an effort to crackdown on residents, strengthen internal solidarity, and increase loyalty.
During a telephone call with Daily NK on June 27, an inside source from Ryanggang Province said, “Immediately before the US-North Korea summit on June 12, the authorities gathered the cadres and delivered a lecture to them. It was announced that as the imperialist ideological attack takes place, we need to slam the socialist door of Juche (self-reliance) shut even tighter.”
The lecture distinguished for the first time the type of behavior that denigrates socialism. It was explained in great detail which social phenomenon fell into which category.
For example, the authorities labeled as anti-socialist the practice of dyeing one’s hair and wearing decadent clothing that clouds the socialist spirit. “Inform them not to wear long socks (mesh stockings) with flowers drawn on them, or clothes with English lettering on them,” the source recounted.
“It was emphasized that, if one sells these products in the markets, all of the goods will be confiscated. In particular, women will have to pay a fine of 30 yuan (about US $4.50) if they are caught wearing skirts that ride above the knee.”
Behavior that is considered counter to socialism includes acts like criticizing the Party’s policies and the enjoyment of overseas culture. “Illegal cell phones, illegal TV shows and movies, South Korean movies, radios, South Korean songs, erotic dancing, etc. were noted. If caught associated with any of the above, residents are subject to severe punishment without trial,” a source in North Hamgyong Province said, adding that the same lectures took place in that province.
“Erotic dancing refers to the dance craze spreading around Pyongyang at the moment, which involves copying the moves of South Korean pop stars. It’s also targeted at eradicating the practice of teaching these sorts of dance classes for money.”
Both sources noted that daily emphasis has been placed on expanding the role of Group 109 [a task force dedicated to rooting out the spread of foreign media].
“Through strengthened control over residents, no capitalist elements are being allowed to step even a single foot on this land [North Korea],” the source in Ryanggang Province explained.
Asked about the reaction of the cadres, the North Hamgyong-based source said that “they feel as if they’ve been struck on the back of the head.”
“The cadres are guessing that as the international relations of the country improve, their role will be to ensure that the people remain isolated,” he continued.
“The future looks discouraging – we’ll need to live with our mouth, eyes, and ears closed.”