Daily NK snapshots from North Korea

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The August 28 edition of the Rodong Sinmun published an article on its front page with a picture of young people working at the Samjiyon construction site. / Image: Rodong Sinmun


Grandiose Youth Day Celebrations Despite Economic Troubles 

North Korean officials ordered that grand celebrations be held for this year’s Youth Day (August 28th), a national holiday that celebrates the anniversary of the establishment of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League. This order was handed down in June with the rationale that the youth should take the lead in economic planning in accordance with the party line. The regime has long made efforts to counter growing discontent among youth toward the government. In addition to the members of the youth league, locals in the entire region were swept up in the festive mood of preparing for the Youth Day celebrations. In contrast to this high-spirited atmosphere created by North Korean authorities, however, the budget for the celebrations by its management committee turned out to be insufficient. Participating vendors in the festivities had to take out loans to procure the necessary supplies for the events.

Profanity Broadcast via Chinese Loudspeakers into North Korea

Profanity-laced broadcasts from China are being sent over the border into North Korea. The broadcasts are likely related to the increasing number of North Korean residents crossing the border to steal from Chinese households amidst a downturn in the North Korea economy. It is unclear whether these broadcasts are being conducted by Chinese officials or by private citizens. Due to recent crackdowns on smuggling across the border, both North Korean traders and the border guards who had been receiving bribes are now facing economic hardship, and both civilians and soldiers are crossing the border to steal food. In response to this, North Korean authorities have conducted lectures to criticize people’s shamelessness and lack of revolutionary spirit. Despite the criticism, officials have simply advised North Koreans to report any acts of stealing to local Ministry of State Security offices or local police stations. 

South Korea’s MOU Increases Funding to Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund

Despite a lull in North-South Korean relations, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification increased funding allocated to the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fundas part of its efforts to create a so-called ‘peace economy.’ For fiscal year 2020, the ministry proposed a budget of 1.44 trillion KRW (around 1.18 billion USD), earmarking approximately 1.22 trillion KRW (approximately 1 billion USD) of that total towards the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund. This represents a 10.3% increase from the previous annual budget’s allocation for the fund. The ministry explained that the increase in funding designated for the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund is related to diverse purposes such as infrastructure, humanitarian aid, defector resettlement support, and research and academic exchange. The extent to which these various objectives will be achieved, however, depends on the mercurial political relationship between the two Koreas. As of this past July, only five percent of the funds allotted to the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund from its fiscal year 2019 budget have actually been used. 

Rodong Sinmun Extols North Korea’s Newest Weapons

At the second session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly, North Korean officials claimed that a new weapon had successfully been developed, emphasizing the hard work of the country’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un. On August 24th and 29th, the Rodong Sinmun published articles detailing the successful development of a super-large multiple rocket launcher while simultaneously extolling the virtues of the Supreme Leader and blaming the joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States as the motivating force behind North Korea’s continued missile development. The Rodong Sinmun also cited the colonization of Korea by the Japanese Empire as demonstrating the need to stockpile weapons to establish North Korea as a formidable power on the stage of global politics.