Revamped propaganda lectures fall on deaf ears

North Korea is producing and distributing
‘direct lecture’ propaganda that celebrates the success of its purported
hydrogen bomb test and rocket launch in order to draw attention and excitement
to the upcoming 7th Party Congress. However, inside sources indicate that the
aggressive propaganda push has been substantially ineffective and largely dismissed by the public.

In a telephone conversation with the Daily
NK on February 18, an inside source from South Pyongan Province said,
“Recently, organizations affiliated with the central party Propaganda and
Agitation Department at the provincial and local levels have been implementing
lectures. The lectures were prepared for them by the central department.
Members at the local level are traveling around to factory businesses,
schools, and rural areas in order to implement the propaganda lectures and to
pave the way for a successful 7th Party Congress.”

Sources in North Pyongan Province, North Hamgyong Province, and South Hamgyong Province corroborated these developments.

He continued, “The propaganda
lecturers are instructing residents that the international community has
expressed support and approval over North Korea’s recent nuclear test and
missile launch. They are also showing pictures of the two events as evidence of
the regime’s success. They are also saying that the 7th Party Congress in May
will bring about groundbreaking changes in the welfare of the people in order
to gain public sympathy and support.”

In the early 1990s, Kim Jong Il issued an
order that the Department of Propaganda and Agitation carry out “public opinion
expansion measures” in places like markets, train stations, parks, and areas
with a high concentration of residences. Although the measures were undertaken
in secret–that is, plainclothes propaganda actors posing as ordinary residents–during Kim Jong Il’s reign, they occur out in the open in Kim Jong
Un’s North Korea.

Additionally, there are multiple propaganda
teams in each area, which has spurred a competition between the factions to
implement the superior lecture. The source also indicated that there is a
weekly evaluation of each area’s number of participants, activity patterns, and
resident reception.   

“Starting in January,
there has been a shortage of mass meetings and rallies. Therefore, to make up
the shortfall, there are now nightly lectures and classes carried out by party
leadership in each region. Some lectures are even held for residents after they
finish their day’s work. Complementing these efforts have been praises of the
satellite launch and the Party Congress on the radio, newspaper, and
loudspeakers,” he explained.

“The workers complained of harassment by a
regime that makes it difficult to properly do their jobs. Elementary, middle,
and high school students are being mobilized to street parades and state-run
enterprises to perform plays that support the Art Propaganda Squad every day–
morning, noon, and night.”  

When asked about the residents’ reaction to
the news, the source said, “People are saying things such as: ‘We were sick and
tired of the propaganda in the old days. There’s no way we’re believing what
they say about the nuclear test and rocket launch this time around.’ And, ‘If
it is true, then the UN is surely going to issue sanctions, no?’ In this way,
the residents expressed skepticism about the regime’s depiction of the
international community welcoming North Korea’s nuclear test and missile