North Koreans discontent over abandonment of nuclear weapons

North Korean residents reading the Rodong Sinmun at a subway station in Pyongyang / Image: Daily NK photo archive

North Korea’s recent signing of a denuclearization agreement is said to be spreading negative sentiment among North Koreans.

In a telephone conversation with Daily NK on June 11, a North Korean trade worker who is based in China to secure ‘loyalty funds’ said, “I have been abroad for many years now, but I feel like I have been deceived when I look at the current state of affairs,” expressing frustration with recent news reports on North Korea’s denuclearization negotiations.

“There are talks about CVID and so on, but they are cheating the people by giving up nuclear weapons after all the sacrifices we have had to make. It would be good if our country opens up and the people are able to live decent lives. But opening up will require the regime to change and will lead to failure if the legal infrastructure is not set right,” the worker said.

“What would the people living in North Korea know about any of this when I know so little myself (about the rest of the world), even though I’m here (China)? I hope the summit goes well and the day comes when our people have enough to eat.”

A source in Pyongyang expressed skepticism over North Korea’s nuclear disarmament. “Because the United States is still present in South Korea, the people will not give up the weapons for their own defense, which they developed by tightening their belts. I don’t know what will happen to us (North Korea) if they (nuclear weapons) are dismantled since the U.S. had changed its stance overnight in the cases of Iraq and Libya,” she said.

Meanwhile, there appears to be an atmosphere of oppression regarding remarks on denuclearization in North Korea, according to a separate source in Pyongyang, who said that information on denuclearization is only provided through state television and the Party-run publication Rodong Sinmun, and not brought up in other media or lectures.

“The Central Committee of the Propaganda and Agitation Department issued a directive instructing all officials and lecturers to refrain from making individual statements. Considering that there may be unexpected comments on denuclearization during lectures, the authorities issued orders not to utter a word about denuclearization and to only speak as instructed by the Party,” he said.

“Residents are not very knowledgeable about denuclearization and talk more about general topics such as rice or construction. Some officials may know about it, but there is no exchange of words among our comrades. And since there is stricter control over the press and public opinion now than ever before, even those individuals who are known for speaking recklessly are remaining silent.”

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