Residents living in North Korea’s mountainous regions usually receive orders from Pyongyang a week later than other regions, causing some residents to perceive a disconnect and mock the old-fashioned method of circulating orders by paper.
Unlike illegal foreign media like the South Korean dramas that are smuggled over the border and quickly distributed throughout the country, orders from the authorities tend to take a long time to reach the people. This is due to the fact that the orders are distributed by old fashioned methods: delivered by hard copy and read to groups of residents ordered to gather for the occasion.
In a November 21 conversation with Daily NK, an inside source from North Korea’s Ryanggang Province said, “Residents these days are saying with increasing frequency that ‘another order from the central authorities [Kim Jong Un] has already become scrap paper by the time it reached us.’ The phrase mocks the fact that in these far flung regions, orders arrive comparatively late, and their implementation is delayed as well.”
“Regions like Taehongdan County, Paekam County, and Kimjongsuk County all receive orders via train or minibus, so they get the notifications later than in other areas. Sometimes orders are received after the date they were supposed to be officially implemented,” the source continued.
According to the source, orders that are received by the lower ranking units are transmitted after the residents are gathered – a time consuming process. “This is a system that requires us to senselessly gather over and over to listen to orders,” some residents have remarked.
“It’s the central authorities or the local cadres showing off,” the source said. “It would be sufficient if the orders were relayed by phone. There’s no need for the time-consuming meetings. All it does is take up the time of the residents, and they’re the ones who actually have to carry out the orders.”
“On some occasions, the provincial cadres go directly to the central authorities in Pyongyang to receive the orders. The orders, delivered in hard copy, take at least a week to reach the mountainous regions. Sometimes it can take up to 15 days,” he continued, adding that the residents, who are weary and run down from all the burdensome orders from the central authorities, have remarked that they wish orders weren’t relayed to them at all.
A separate source in Ryanggang Province added, “By the time the Pyongyang directives reach us, they’ve become garbage, but any news from South Korea spreads quickly via word of mouth and cellphones. Domestic communiques travel at a turtle’s pace, but news from the outside world moves much faster.”