The Chosun (North Korean) Workers’ Party controls and restricts all types of people: from party members to non-members, from the upper-class to the proletariat.
As the Party rules over the state, it coerces people to follow not the socialist constitution of the DPRK, but the party’s Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System (hereafter referred to as the Ten Principles).
The Ten Principles that the Party uses to restrict the people are something that everyone born in North Korea has to memorize and follow at home, work and school for their whole life.
The framework for the Ten Principles was laid by Kim Jong Il in his role as Party Secretary. Later he declared the principles throughout North Korea in February, 1974.
With the Ten Principles Kim Jong Il set standards for North Koreans’ daily lives and their daily activities.
Supervision and Restriction through Regular Party Evaluation Meetings
The Party’s regular evaluation meetings are the tools most typically utilized to monitor all affairs related to the work and personal lives of Party members.
According to Article 8, Section 5 of the Ten Principles, party members are required to “actively attend the Party’s regular evaluation meetings that are held every other day or every week in order to train oneself to become a revolutionary and to continuously rebuild oneself through criticism using the standards of the Leader’s teaching and the Party’s policies as a guide.”
During the regular evaluation meetings, first members within a certain period of time are to confess flaws and mistakes they or others made in their work or personal lives; what they said and did; and, one’s ways of thinking. Then they criticize themselves and one another.
These evaluation meetings are held weekly. There also are monthly and quarterly evaluation meetings, which vary in subject and scope.
If one tries to hide or minimize one’s mistakes during these evaluation meetings, then the level of criticism gets stronger.
“You can pass an evaluation meeting safely only when you seem to be repentant by showing tears and exaggerating even when the flaws are not that serious,” explained Mr. Kim, who defected in 2006.
The quarterly meetings sometimes last a half a day or a day.
Especially after reciprocal criticisms during the evaluation meetings, upper-level cadres of the Party submit the results to Kim Jong Il or the Guidance Department of the Central Committee of the Party for review. Later, the results of the evaluation are announced to the people involved.
The evaluations (similar to a South Korean court decision) can result in comparatively light sentences such as a warning, a severe warning or suspension of one’s qualifications. However, at times, severe punishments are given out such as mining work, farm labor without pay, suspension of one’s titles, banishment to remote regions, or referral to the National Security Agency. If charged and prosecuted, one may be sentenced to intensive labor or re-education camps.
Supervision through Various Forms of Guidance and Education
The Workers’ Party supervises and restricts the people by brainwashing them using various forms of instruction and lectures.
According to Article 4, Section 5 of the Ten Principles, everyone must “attend meetings, lectures and lessons without missing any to learn the Great Father Kim Il Sung’s revolutionary ideology and actively study the rules for more than two hours everyday.”
The mandatory Saturday meetings in particular are known to be the basic brainwashing tool; they are thoroughly prepared by the Propaganda and Agitation Department and involve lectures and documentary film lessons.
The brainwashing process that North Koreans have the hardest time with is the catechetical lessons.
The catechetical lessons take the form of a competition and include preliminary, semi-final and final rounds. During these lessons, all cadres, party members and residents have to memorize more than 100 pages of “catechetical lesson material” that have been prepared by the Propaganda and Agitation Department without getting one word wrong.
The catechetical lesson material includes Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s works, the Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System, Juche ideology and related philosophical issues, documents that praise the morals and majesty of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and various poems and songs praising the Kims.
The groups or individuals that win the competition get awards like a television and honor. But those who do not claim victory become the targets of criticism by the organizations to which they belong and the Party apparatus for slacking on studying ideology.
Restricting People Through Various Organizations
In North Korea, all people who are not part of the Workers’ Party must be mandatorily restricted by the Party’s quasi-governmental organizations.
Such organizations include the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, the General Federation of Trade Unions of North Korea, the Union of Agricultural Working People, the Union of Democratic Women the and Korean Children’s Union.
The Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League (the Youth League) is the biggest and most active political group, the only non-party member group for young people, and includes working youths, students, and military men.
The Youth League, by restricting the ideological culture and organized groups of all youths, monitors any changes in the society’s way of thinking that may happen with the change of generations. It also organizes all youths to be actively involved in production, construction and military service.
The Youth League plays the important role of restricting any form of opposition groups or actions among the youths of North Korea.
Youth League members who have reached the age of 30 but have not joined the Party must join the General Federation of Trade Unions, if one is a laborer or low-ranking manager, the Union of Agricultural Working People if one is a farmer, or the Union of Democratic Women if one is a housewife.
These workers’ organizations are managed by the work departments of the committees and the Central Committee of the Party.
Therefore, non-Party members in North Korea receive double supervision–from the organizations they belong to and from their workplace.
The Chosun Workers’ Party has been strictly restricting and supervising its people for 63 years, which is the period of disgrace of the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il dictatorships.