Just five days after North Korea canceled
Moranbong Band’s Chinese tour and ordered an immediate return of the band back
home, the authorities have also ordered a considerable number of trade- affiliated employees sojourning in China to report to Pyongyang.
On the 16th, our Daily NK reporter spoke
with a source residing in Pyongyang, who informed us that no concrete reason
had been given along with the order. And so on the 16th, agricultural workers,
forestry workers, traders, and workers affiliated with Mansudae Art Studio
boarded a train to return back to North Korea.
This was corroborated by an additional
source in the capital.
Our source expressed concern over the
drastic measure, wondering if the issue of the Moranbong Band’s canceled tour
might be exploding into a bigger issue. “When you call back scores of workers from abroad, that’s a pretty big deal,” she pointed out.
Naturally, she added, speculation about the
order’s motives has quickly reached a fever pitch. Some posit that Kim Jong Un could be experiencing
“mood swings” so close to the 4th anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death,
perhaps causing him to lose his temper over the Moranbong Band dispute and call
back the workers in China.
Some cadres briefly put forth the
possibility that maybe the callback was somehow related to mourning-related
events for Kim Jong Il, held at foreign embassies and the like over the
past three years, but admitted that “that doesn’t really seem to fit.”
Although, the reason will surface in a matter of days, “they can’t help but be
nervous,” the source said, adding, “After all, workers abroad are never called
upon to return without good reason.”
Families of the workers who have been recalled
are reassuring each other, noting, “While it’s bad news if only a few
workers are recalled, all of them being told to return simultaneously means
that they are probably just going to attend a large meeting or some kind of
educational session,” the source explained.
Given the cycle of purges and demotions
pervading the past few years, “cadres can’t help but sweat a little” whenever a
summons comes and the reason behind it is unclear or unknown. Moreover, the
fact that the order came immediately after the cancelation of the Moranbong
Band has “further stressed their already frayed nerves.”
On the whole, however, most are trying to lighten the mood with jokes and take the news in stride while they wait it out, remarking, “Sometimes it rains
an hour after the sun comes up (an expression used to criticize the moodiness
of Kim Jong Un); besides, haven’t we been through this a few times already?” according
to the source.