North Korean authorities have recently established “secret disciplinary units” led by Socialist Women’s Union of Korea organizations and members in North Hamgyong Province to stamp out “anti-socialist and non-socialist behavior.”

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK last Thursday that the provincial branch of the Workers’ Party of Korea ordered the secret establishment of “autonomous internal disciplinary units” composed largely of provincial Socialist Women’s Union of Korea organizations and members. The order stemmed from a Central Committee directive on July 11 to “thoroughly eradicate anti-socialist and non-socialist behavior.”

According to the source, North Koream authorities are frequently emphasizing measures to prevent youth “drenched in the culture of capitalist delinquency” from becoming addicted to the “enemy’s ideology and culture, which focuses on nothing but money.”

In lockstep, North Hamgyong Province’s party committee ordered the secret establishment of “internal disciplinary units” while stating that Socialist Women’s Union of Korea members “should take the lead in uncovering and reporting problematic behavior,” the source added, speaking on condition of anonymity. 

Socialist Women’s Union of Korea organizations in the province have resolved to “perform their role to the fullest in this effort,” according to the source. 

North Korean lecture materials calling on people to “smash anti-socialist and non-socialist behavior” published in July 2019. / Image: Daily NK

“So that nobody knows which one is taking the lead in the effort, the Ministry of State Security and Social Security are secretly taking members of city, county, and district Socialist Women’s Union of Korea organizations to get their fingerprints while tasking them with monitoring and reporting on locals’ speech, behavior, living standards, and household income versus spending,” the source said. 

Specifically, provincial authorities have tasked Socialist Women’s Union of Korea members involved in the disciplinary units with monitoring which clothes neighborhood youth wear, which hairstyles they imitate, which songs they hum, and which dances they enjoy. Disciplinary unit members are tasked with immediately reporting behaviors that “run afoul of North Korean culture.”

More importantly, the disciplinary units are supposed to pay attention to local mobile phone ringtones and conversations to “uncover acts of espionage.” Amid efforts to eliminate users of Chinese mobile phones, members of these units must “take the lead” and stay alert to identify these users in regions along the Sino-North Korean border, the source said.

“The Ministry of State Security and Ministry of Social Security stressed to members of the secret disciplinary teams that they must remain aware that they are fortresses and bastions protecting the socialist system and fulfill their role as mosquito nets against reactionary thought, calling on them to remember this and work to prevent early the ideological corruption of local residents,” the source explained. 

The source added that the Ministry of State Security and Ministry of Social Security have emphasized the “significance” of these secret disciplinary units. According to him, the ministries stated that “while reporting systems through the heads of inminban [people’s units] or informants also exist, [members of the new disciplinary units] must implement the Workers’ Party’s will to root out anti-socialist or non-socialist acts by relying not only the inminban heads and informants, but also by monitoring behavior and catching violations through multiple layers of surveillance.”

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