New mandatory lectures target smuggled phone users, warn against 'complaints'

Seol Song Ah  |  2018-04-04 17:47
The North Korean authorities are continuing their campaign against foreign information with the delivery of new mandatory lectures at workplaces nationwide. The lectures are reportedly focused on warning residents to refrain from voicing any complaints against the government amidst their latest international diplomatic push. 

The lectures are meant to refresh the workers' revolutionary spirit and warn people against talking about the state of affairs in North Korea during illegal international phone calls," a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on March 30. 

The source added that individuals have to be careful not to gather in groups of more than  three people for long periods, as they may "easily be labeled by the authorities as dissenters," regardless of their topic of conversation.

"Recent Workers' Alliance (a Party-led labor union) education material included orders to 'avoid speaking ill of [the country's] ideology with others' and that we 'must have pride in the Marshal (Kim Jong Un), who is achieving international recognition for our country as a nuclear power,'" the source said, adding that the purpose was to turn the workers into 'agitators' to spread pro-government sentiment.

A source in North Pyongan Province said that the authorities appear to be focusing on ideological education in response to growing public interest in the recent cooperation and exchanges between the two Koreas, last week's Kim-Xi meeting in Beijing, and the planned summits with the US and South Korean leaders. He explained that new protocols are being instituted through workers' units to ensure the reporting of any signs of "discontent" during this sensitive time. 

"Its a fear tactic, announcing that any assembly of people will be considered an anti-state group," he said. "They are even restricting the gathering of people drinking alcohol, supposedly to prevent such groups from forming."

However, the campaign against public discontent is reportedly having the opposite effect, as the source said ordinary people do not trust the authorities to follow through with improving relations with South Korea or realizing the benefits that they hope would follow.

"How can people trust what the government says when just last December they were holding lectures denouncing China, and only a few months later the Marshal (Kim Jong Un) travels to China and calls them our 'blood brothers'?" the North Pyongan-based source said. 

These kinds of reactions may also be damaging the cult of personality around Kim Jong Un, he added.

"People at the lecture were completely bewildered when the 'Great Marshal making our country a nuclear power' was telling them they shouldn't drink with their friends. Fewer and fewer people are taking the propaganda to heart," added a separate source in Ryanggang Province.

Daily NK also reported on separate mandatory lectures carried out last month promoting the enforcement of anti-information dissemination laws. 

*Translated by Colin Zwirko

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