In a recent Rodong Shinmun editorial, the North Korean authorities heavily criticized the former socialist countries of the Eastern Bloc and placed extra emphasis on ideological education for the young.
The mouthpiece publication of the ruling Workers’ Party, Rodong Shinmun claimed, “Those who were corrupted first by the wind of renovation and reform in the former socialist countries were the young. They led the way to socialism’s collapse.”
It criticized them harshly for their interests, “These youths were on the cutting edge, spreading the ideology and culture of the imperialists. They enjoyed western books and movies, which are full of decadence, and hung around listening to jazz and rock.”
At that time, according to the Rodong Shinmun report, many youths quit school to earn money, left home and headed for capitalist countries, and only cared about high-paying jobs. These trends promoted the destruction of the socialist economies.
Rodong Shinmun harshly criticized the rulers of the Eastern Bloc for their poor governance, “Such former socialist countries did not value youth education highly, so the ideology and spirit of the young went astray, and thus they were not able to bring about socialist achievements or stick to the socialist way.”
It stressed repeatedly, “Those who harbored the illusion of capitalism defected to western countries, betraying their fatherlands. Thereafter, their economies went bankrupt and riots broke out.”
However, it said, “Socialism will win when our young follow Kim Jong Il’s military-first revolutionary leadership.”
Turning to propaganda, the editorial continued, “There are young people in all countries, but there are none happier than ours, who are taking part in the revolution, blessed with happiness and faith under the care of the Great Leader, Party and fatherland.”
With regards to the report, a defector living in Seoul said, “These days, smuggling is thriving around the border area and foreign information and culture are flying into the country, so complaints against socialism and the desire to go to free countries is increasing among the young. So it looks like the authorities are trying to regulate and reject those social trends.”
Regarding the editorial’s focus on rock and jazz music, another defector, who escaped North Korea in 2008, explained, “In reality, North Korean people don’t really know about jazz and rock, even though the authorities use the terms.” According to him, people know only “jazz” in terms of “jazz dance,” but his explanation of what North Koreans know as jazz dance sounds more like kitsch disco music of the 1970s and 1980s.
He said he had heard from Party lectures that jazz is “noisy and frantic, so it ruins people’s spirit.” However, “rock music” is completely unknown to most people.