Subdued Atmosphere for Party Foundation Day

The 69th commemoration of the Founding of the Chosun
Workers’ Party [October 10th] has come to a close, but unlike past years, this
year saw no widespread celebratory events. Aside from small-scale performances,
and revolutionary study sessions and lectures held at factories and
enterprises, the holiday passed in a fairly downcast manner, according to
sources inside the country.

Some residents have speculated that the decrease in activities is
linked to Kim Jong Eun’s purported health issues and failure to appear in
public for the event, even to visit the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, which
serves as the Kim family mausoleum.  

“There are some things going on for the holiday, but nothing
feels festive at all,” a source in North Hamgyung Province reported on Friday
to Daily NK. “On this founding anniversary of the Chosun Workers’ Party we didn’t even receive special food
rations; they just keep on with the continuous lectures and study sessions.
Because the holiday is political, people have to attend, but dread the
unavoidable indoctrination gatherings.” Notably, there were no lectures at the
national meeting the day prior to the holiday.

The only events outside of the sessions were “loyalty art
performances” by the Chosun Democratic Women’s Union and various performances
by student and children’s organizations, the source explained.

“There weren’t even any street performances. Workers from each factory and enterprise just went to lay flower wreaths at the statues of Kim Il Sung
and Kim Jong Il,” he went on. “ It feels like the solemn atmosphere and lack of
events is at least somewhat tied up with Kim Jong Eun’s health issues and
inability to appear in public at the moment.”

The change in mood from past years was confirmed by another
source in the region, who said, “On October 6th, heads of Inminban [people’s unit] in
each district came together to give lectures, declaring, ‘We must awaken our
revolutionary spirit even more and crush enemy activity at the right time.’”

In the past, this would often be followed by a special food
ration distribution, but this year saw no such allotment. “We waited for our
food rations because it was a holiday, but it was in vain. Nothing came,” he
said. “This is not a festive atmosphere; it’s like a silent holiday.”

He went on to assert that the Party Foundation Day, along with
hopes of joining the Party for its benefits, do not hold the same appeal that they once did for most residents, whose perspectives are rapidly shifting. In the
past, the holiday was considered the most important in the nation, after the
birthdays of  Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il; however, in more recent years
many who make a living doing business do not desire to join the Party because
of its constraints and the time it would take away from their commercial
activities.

Sensing this shift, the Party has stepped up its efforts to
foster residents’ loyalty with a barrage of related lectures; still, many have
dropped notions of gaining Party membership, claiming that it presents more
burdens than benefits.

Perspectives of existing Party members seem to be shifting as well,
according to the same source, “These days the Central Party is pushing for increased
inspection of Party member identification cards because many are leaving it
with strangers, using it for collateral for business, or losing it.”

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