View into North Korea from across the Tumen River in China’s Jilin Province. Image: Daily NK

Daily NK has learned that the Propaganda Department of the ruling party committee of Yanggang Province recently held a four-day ideological training session for trade-related officials.

A source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Monday that the Propaganda Department gathered together trade officials from the Trade Management Bureau and other units in the provincial party’s general meeting room for four days of lectures and meetings from Oct. 18 to 21.

The lectures were led by eight officials, including a deputy section chief of the Propaganda Department of the Central Committee, the deputy chief of the Cabinet’s Trade Management Bureau, the head of the provincial party’s Propaganda Department, and an official from the Organizational Department of the provincial party.

About 90 cadres and officials from trade-related bodies and customs officials also took part in the meeting. The participants reportedly discussed the matter of “thoroughly realizing the ideas of putting the nation and self-effort first in all trade activities through the power of ideology.”

In fact, according to the source, the meeting consisted of discussions and workshops to ensure that trade officials were not carrying out activities from the perspective that money is everything, drenched in the “capitalist ideology of the almighty dollar” as they were prior to the closure of the border. They also discussed the ideology officials who undertake inspections, quarantines, imports and exports should follow once trade resumes in earnest following state approval. 

Firstly, the meeting stressed that trade officials should remember that they are “qualified to play their role only if they hold firm ideological principles” because they experience the boundary between socialism and capitalism up close and personal. They should carefully watch what they say and be ideologically proper in all their actions.

The meeting then stressed that improving and bolstering ideological efforts is “a vital demand” on the overseas trade sector. Only trade officials that “protect party policy and who are armed with revolutionary ideology” can do their part for the party, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the state and become “the needed officials who can work miracles while making their way through the hardships and difficulties faced by the party and state.”

The meeting appealed to the attendees to return to their posts, repeatedly study what they learned, and prepare to conduct trade in the future “thoroughly armed ideologically.”

In particular, the meeting ended with comments such as “the party, too, knows that if it unconditionally closes the border so you can’t trade, you can’t make a living” and “it’s party policy to demand the strengthening of ideological education of trade officials so that they would think and act according to party policy if trade were approved right away.” In North Korea, this has sparked greater anticipation that trade will resume.

The source said trade officials who attended the meeting are saying the authorities held the ideological training session because they might open the border soon.

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to