Children's holiday snack pack features missile illustration

Kang Mi Jin  |  2017-05-19 18:16
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The North Korean authorities distributed snack gift packages emblazoned with an image of a missile to children across the country for the 105th anniversary of Kim Il Sung's birthday (April 15). One of these packages was obtained by Daily NKs Seoul office.

In the 2000s, these gift packages were typically decorated with an image of Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang, featuring the sculpture of a child in the center. This year, however, the packages feature an image of a child riding on a missile emblazoned with the term strong and prosperous nation. The change appears directed at promoting the legitimacy of nuclear development and the Kim Jong Un regime to North Korean children.

"The gift packages usually feature images representing the regime's policy at the time," a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on May 16.

"In recent years, 'missile' has become a familiar word even for children as the regime pushes forward with nuclear and missile tests. These days, toy missiles are distributed widely in day care centers as well as kindergartens and schools."

In addition, the words We've got nothing to envy in the world that were once featured on the packages have now been replaced by We are happy. This is seen by some as a significant change, as the old rhyme 'We've got nothing to envy in the world' received the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il awards for creativity and has been heavily emphasized for idolization of the leader. 

"It is likely that the production unit manufacturing the gift packages have replaced the wording so that children can easily understand it. They may have thought that the propaganda slogans the regime emphasized previously have fallen out of favor with the residents," the source added.

Daily NK's sources have noted that residents are increasingly dissatisfied with the declining quality of the contents and take little notice of the wording on the outside.

For example, this years snack packages included two types of so-called restorative jelly which is far from appetizing to children due to its bitter taste. Other items include candy, cookies, bean candy, rice crackers, and gum.

"Some are cynically quipping, 'They say that even the landscape changes over ten years, but the gift packages have been the same for decades," a separate source in Ryanggang Province said.

It is also worth noting that there are various kinds of quality snacks being sold in the markets, and many children in North Korea have developed a taste for higher quality products.

"Who would want to receive a bland snack when they can buy far more appealing cookies at the market? The residents keep saying that the gift packages for the Suryongs (Kim Il Sung) birthday were nothing more than propaganda," she added.

The months of January, February, and April mark the birthdays of the Kim family, and the state-produced gift packages are said to be openly sold at the markets during these months. But the price of the government produce is significantly cheaper than other snacks.

Both sources reported that after the currency reform in 2009, market prices have generally risen, but the price of these gift snacks has remained virtually the same. In the Paekam County Market in Ryanggang Province, for example, the gift snacks are sold at 3,800 KPW, which is less than half the price of ordinary snacks.

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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