New Year’s Ceremony in North Korea, Workers Shout “Thank You Commander!”

[imText1]A new year has started. In this New Year, will the North Korean people have anything to laugh about?

Without any noticeable change or development, North Korean people start the new year without any change from the previous years.

For the new years, you get two days off, January 1st and 2nd. The only days you take off in North Korea are the new years holidays and the birthdays of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. After the holidays, the workers gather in their workplaces on January 3rd and vow “the pledge of loyalty.” The ceremony of the pledge of loyalty is a political event held the day after important national holidays. Those who miss or come late to the ceremony are reported and criticized for one year, so everyone participates.

The pledge is for the purpose of expressin gratitude to Kim Jong Il for granting them holidays and therefore they pledge loyalty.

The ceremony for the pledge of loyalty is held by the party secretaries. They stand in front of the workers holding a red pledge book open and start out by saying, “We will now start the ceremony of the pledge of loyalty for Commander Kim Jong Il, the great leader of our party and our people upon meeting the new year of 2006, by all the workers of 00 Factory in Pyongyang City.”

The party leader reads one line and the workers repeat it. The pledge consists of ten clauses. These clauses are the revisions of “the ten principles to secure the party’s single ideology system,” which were made into laws for the people.

First Battle of the New Year, Production of Fertilizers

After the pledge of loyalty, they enter the mode of “the revolutionary battle of the new year.” In North Korea, all the production and social activities are called “battles.” Such expressions as “planting (rice) battle,” “autumn battle,” “70 Day Battle,” is evidence of how the word is used.

During the battle period, you are obliged to come to the workplaces even if you have no work to do. Even if you do not have much to do, you have to run around busy. I did not know when I was in North Korea, but looking back, I think it was the state trying to keep workers busy so they don’t think about other things.

Textile, food and other manufacturing companies start working at 0 o’clock on January 3rd, and thus the workers come to work at midnight and participate in the ceremony after twelve hours of labor.

Now that most of the production factories have stopped working, the workers do not have much to do. They go to the workplaces only to participate in the ceremony and are involved in producing fertilizers. Even in the “New Year Cooperative Column,” it is stated that this year’s main goal for the construction of the economy is “farming.”

The party involves the people into farming by emphasizing daily the “agriculture supremacy-ism.” The planned amount for fertilizer is 1 to 2 tons per person. The road is full of the workers with wagons for fertilizers every morning.

Since the rice ticket is given according to the amount of fertilizer produced, all members of the family are involved. You hear people fighting over human waste at public toilets to make fertilizers even before the sun rises. I remember taking wet coal ashes because there was no human waste.

After a year of farming, the farmers immediately start worrying about the coming year’s farming. In the last ten years, North Korea has become one of the countries with the most primitive farming techniques.

Another hopeless and difficult year has come for the North Korean people.

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