North Korean lectures describe South Korea as ‘disease-ridden, backward country’

A passerby holds his mobile phone as people line up in front of Rungra Dolphinarium in Pyongyang. Image: Daily NK file photo

North Korea has returned to its routine criticisms of South Korea through nationwide lectures targeted at its domestic audience.

The regime may be attempting to stifle any fanciful ideas that could surface as a result of increased cooperation between the two countries. Collaborative projects planned between the two countries include a focus on forestry, roads, and railroads, as well as events like the two-day North-South Korean Unification Basketball game that was hosted recently.

According to a source in North Hamgyong Province, a lecture on July 3 stated that “South Korea is a disease ridden, backward country”. The source also reported that following this lecture, the North Korean government has been relentless in its smear campaign against its southern neighbor.

He added that the lecturer also said that “South Korea is a society controlled by money where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Robbers frequently kill for money, and even parents and their children will fight and kill each other for a few dollars.”

This is in stark contrast to the picture North Korea is trying to paint to the outside world – cutting down on its criticism of the South in its state run newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun. Some believe that North Korea is trying to improve its international image while keeping its population in the dark.  

“After a long absence of slander directed at South Korea, it seems that these recent lectures have come about in response to recent cooperation between the South and North, built on the regime’s concern that people will form romantic ideas about the South.”  

A separate source in North Hamgyong Province who also reported hearing the lecture added that the authorities are using the old approach of trying to unite the population against a common enemy to strengthen loyalty for the regime.  

“The situation in which the South Korean puppet government is trying to belittle the human rights record of our country, while pretending that they have welfare and equality for everyone is positively absurd,” the source said, citing the lecturers. 

North Korea rejects assertions by the international community that the regime is responsible for human rights violations within the country. Just as North Korea blames nuclear sanctions on the United States, it absolves itself of any responsibility for its crimes against humanity by blaming the international community.  

However, it appears that this form of propaganda is having a diminishing effect in North Korea. Responses to propaganda are lukewarm at best, and most citizens have some understanding of South Korea through exposure to radio and TV broadcasts.   

“When it was first announced there would be a lecture on South Korea, the audience was interested, but upon hearing nothing but criticism, many started dozing off,” the additional North Hamgyong Province-based source said.

“Whatever the case, the majority of citizens who recognize that South Korea has a high standard of living and that North Korea will need its help in the near future aren’t being fooled by the state propaganda lectures.”

*Translated by Brian Boyle

Kim Yoo Jin is one of Daily NK's freelance journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to