Regime ramps up construction of memorial stones glorifying Kim Jong Un

Kang Mi Jin  |  2017-04-19 17:59
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The North Korean authorities have ordered residents and soldiers to build new memorial stones for Kim Jong Un as part of a wider idolization campaign to promote his legitimacy as a leader from the royal bloodline.

"Recently, the regions that have previously received a personal site visit from Kim Jong Un are going to have new memorial stones celebrating the visit. In the past, the priority task for such locations used to be fulfilling the orders given by the leader during the inspection, but now the construction of monuments has become the top priority," a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on April 17. 

"Recently, military cadres have been prioritizing the construction of these monuments to celebrate Kim Jong Un's site visits. The memorial stones are illuminated even at night because solar panels are installed for them, while the hospitals and kitchens for the army do not receive enough electricity," a source in Kangwon Province added.

Both sources noted that the movement of stone for the memorials can be seen all across the country. A memorial stone is a monument that commemorates the revolutionary achievements of the Kim family at particular sites. The North Korean authorities have been building commemorative and memorial stones at select locations with abundant sunlight following on-site inspections by the leader.

There are rumors spreading that if the memorial stones turn out to have aesthetic issues or are installed in suboptimal locations, those responsible will meet the same fate as Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Uns uncle (who was executed in 2013 on a charge of anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts"). 

This is because rumor among residents is that Jang Song Thaek also interfered with construction of memorial stones and wall mosaics for the Kim family, even instructing the army to build them in remote corners.

Some cadres are murmuring amongst themselves that the memorial stones must be prioritized to avoid meeting the same fate as Jang Song Thaek. Military commanders are matching this fervor out of fear rather than loyalty, a source in Ryanggang Province said.

In addition, military commanders are said to be granting leave to soldiers so that they can procure funds and collect the materials for construction.

"Soldiers who promise to prepare the construction materials needed for the memorial stones are given vacations to visit their hometowns. Some soldiers are claiming that they will acquire solar panels so that they can visit their homes, even though they know theres no way their parents can afford the equipment, he said.

Many point out that inducing loyalty in this fashion will not last. The construction of idolization monuments through coercion and incentives will instead have the opposite effect, further widening the gulf between the regime and the people, despite slogans stating that they are one and the same.

"The army chiefs have no choice but to force the soldiers to prepare the materials, and the pressure is eventually put on their parents. How are we supposed to show such loyalty when we barely have enough to eat? We just end up bearing the brunt of orders from obsequious cadres, the Ryanggang-based source added.

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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