Public Opinion Shows No Signs of Improvement

Inside North Korean sources have reported to The Daily NK that in the midst of ongoing food shortages and with the succession in progress, expressions of complaint about Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Eun have been increasing.

A source from Hyesan reported today, “People say that the reason why we have such hard lives is because the leader puts weight only on the military while paying no attention to the people’s lives.”

“How good would it be if he used just a tenth out of what he invests in the military on our lives? Kim Jong Eun acts more harshly towards the people than his father,” the source added, explaining that this belief stems from the fact that since Kim Jong Eun appeared the people’s lives have gotten worse due to strengthened regulations, more lectures etc.

A source from Shinuiju said that, “Now what the state says is not trustworthy. We do what we can to survive. That’s all. If we can make money, no one is reluctant to do it, even though the state is opposed.”

He added, “People are saying that we can’t live well due to Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Eun. When people get together, they whisper, ‘who would have believed in a family telling lies from grandfather down to grandson?’ or ‘It would be great if there were no worries about food.”

This, he claimed, is having a real effect; “Due to the hardships of life, many have recently attempted to defect to China. You can find people and households disappearing every morning.”

Another source from Woonheung in Yangkang Province said things are no easier there. “Some people in Woonheung exchange their home appliances for food at a cheap price when the food situation deteriorates,” the source explained. “More and more households are getting by on only two meals a day or, in the worse case scenario, only one meal.”

“The situation is so difficult that people steal food from the stores on collective farms or go robbing. People say this is doomed to end in disaster.”

The Hyesan source added gloomily that there is little sign of hope on the horizon, saying, “Even though we came to the holidays (New Year’s Day or Kim Jong Eun’s birthday), there were no holiday provisions and the food factories cannot run because they don’t have any materials.”

He added, “We don’t know if they will provide us with gifts on February 16th and April 15th,” noting, “When Party secretaries or cadres say ‘study the New Year’s Common Editorial well,’ then people generally laugh” into their sleeves, and added, “Can those who are sick and tired of Kim Jong Il’s politics respond positively to his son’s politics?”

Kang Mi Jin
Kang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Questions about her articles can be directed to