Youth League marches in abridged pilgrimage to national battlefield site in North Korea

Youth League marching on February 1 to Mount Paektu near Milyong,
Youth League marching on February 1 to Mount Paektu near Milyong, which North Korean alleges to be the birthplace of the late leader despite evidence to the contrary. Image: KCNA

The Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League’s Onsong County Committee recently conducted an abbreviated version of a nearly 400-kilometer march to a historical site honoring Kim Il Sung on Mount Wangjae.

The “100-ri march” was aimed at reaffirming the people’s will to achieve the goals set out by Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Address and to create an atmosphere of celebration in advance of Kim Jong Il’s birthday on February 16, a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on February 14.

Young people were asked to take the lead in the “great battle for socialism” in reflection of Kim Jong Un’s own relative youth.

“The Onsong County Youth League Committee decided to conduct the 100-ri march before the Day of the Shining Star (Kim Jong Il’s birthday) and each unit was sent in an orderly fashion toward the national battlefield site at Mt. Wangjae,” the source added.

The  Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League is North Korea’s largest youth organization and all residents aged 14 to 30 are required to be a member. Kim Jong Un emphasized during the 9th Youth League in August 2016 that the intelligence and courage of young people are important in the great battle for socialism.

The 100-ri march was held on January 21, a day when collective farms were on vacation. The event took place in a single day, so those who participated were not actually required to walk 100-ri; rather they walked only some of the distance to the mountain.

The participants carried Youth League flags and pickets with slogans while marching to the battlefield site. Upon arrival at the destination, they laid down flower baskets at the site and held a gathering intended to reaffirm their loyalty to the regime.

“The Onsong County Youth League also provided snow removal tools for managers at the battlefield site, along with military-issue gloves and rabbit fur earmuffs to help the site’s guards stay warm in the cold,” a separate source in North Hamgyong Province said.

However, he added that some local residents thought that the 100-ri march was just a ploy by Youth League officials to espouse their achievements.

“Some of the march’s participants complained that the Secretary of the Youth League ordered young people to march in the cold to help raise his own profile in showing loyalty to the regime,” he explained.

“Most Onsong County Youth League members work on the farms so they are already exhausted from the ongoing ‘manure battle.’ They needed a day or so of rest but were forced to go on the march. Not surprisingly, they complained a lot.”