Spread of outside information helps allay fears of war among North Korean residents

Lee Sang Yong  |  2017-12-22 16:04
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Residents of North Korean border towns like Sinuiju were reported to be expressing fears of US missile attacks, however, these sentiments are allegedly starting to fade. 

"People in the military in Sinuiju began voicing concerns of an imminent US attack around December 10, and the tension was heightening, but today nobody seems worried about it anymore," a source in China close to North Korean affairs told Daily NK on December 20. 
 
"Traders in the area were also saying earlier that they were worried China would react to US bombing by increasing sanctions and closing down the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge (connecting Dandong and Sinuiju), but fewer people are expressing such concerns in recent days," he added. 
 
Reports of fear among residents began soon after US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said in late November that the "North Korean regime would be utterly destroyed," and just a few days later White House national security adviser HR McMaster stated that he believes the potential for war with North Korea is "increasing everyday."  
 
Local military leaders informed their personnel of these statements, hoping to inspire them even if the US were to attack. They stressed the country's nuclear capabilities and encouraged soldiers to be confident that nothing can stop the regimes drive towards nuclear attainment.
 
As a result of these messages, fear rose among the military conscripts. The efforts may be part of North Korea's domestic strategy: to instill fear in order to foment feelings of unity between residents and the military against a common enemy. The authorities likely hope the strategy will lead to increased military discipline.

However, the intended air of fear did not last very long. Residents now appear to be considering talk of an imminent attack to be "ridiculous."
 
A source in Ryanggang Province said on December 19, "Things have gone relatively quiet now. People are carrying on and working as normal."
 
He added that increased exposure to outside information appears to be a major reason for the quick change in public sentiment. Residents and military conscripts alike are able to gather news from international sources, which has led to word quickly spreading that current conditions do not quite merit fears of an imminent attack. 
 
"Residents of the older generation living in remote areas may still be susceptible to government propaganda, but most others are not so easily convinced. Some are still worried about an attack, but people are feeling reassured by the fact that South Korean residents are not worried about war, he concluded.

*Translated by Colin Zwirko

 
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