On November 7th, Rodong Sinmun published an article employing comments alleged to have come from groups in third countries to criticize South Korea’s efforts to dissolve the ultra-left wing Unified Progressive Party (UPP) of detained lawmaker Lee Seok Ki.
Contributors to the piece, entitled “Stop the Oppression of Progressive Political Parties Now,” came from Switzerland, France, Bulgaria and Russia, among others.
One reportedly asserted, “We condemn South Chosun’s forcible disbanding of the UPP as an unparalleled act of fascist aggression,” and, “This incident confirms that South Chosun is a place where political freedoms and rights have been totally liquidated, a theatre of fascist rampages.”
A comment from Bulgaria declared, “We are very concerned about the increasing oppression upon a progressive political party that pursues justice and truth in South Chosun,” before broadening the attack, “The behaviour of the South in grovelling to their American masters while confronting their countrymen in the North cannot in any way be justified.”
A statement from the Swiss Chosun Association and Juche Research Institute added, “The forcible dissolution of the UPP is a criminal, fascist act” by which “the South’s puppet conservative government is attempting to revive the Yushin dictatorship [of President Park Geun-hye’s father, Park Chung-hee].”
Experts say that some of the groups may be complete fabrications. Currently, Google searches produce mentions of the groups in articles written by Uriminzokkiri and Chosun Central News Agency (KCNA), but no results containing anything produced by the groups themselves.
Ryu Dong Yeol, a senior researcher with the Police Science Institute told Daily NK, “Organizations like the Juche Research Institute do exist, but in name only. Other groups could be ones that are very obscure and inconspicuous, and the North may have borrowed and attached their names to statements produced at home.” He explained, “The North knows that their position is untenable when alone; hence, they seek to shore up their position by feigning the support of organizations from around the world.”
Some groups that regularly appear in the North Korean media are active at home, such as the Association for the Study of Songun Politics UK. However, even these groups are extremely minor, with limited memberships.