North Korea’s state newspaper Rodong Sinmun published a column Wednesday urging North Koreans not to be enticed by other cultures or ways of life, insisting instead that the brutally repressive communism of the Kim family regime is the “best in the world.”
The article is the latest in a string of propaganda pieces urging North Koreans to hang onto their austere communist ways and reject the “cultural poisoning” of the free world in anticipation of dictator Kim Jong-un announcing a refocus of his regime towards economic development. That shift has stalled as President Donald Trump has refused to lift sanctions on the country, citing its refusal to denuclearize.
“The DPRK [North Korea] is a socialist country which has been cherished in its people’s mind as the benevolent bosom where they lead an independent and creative life and happiness of all generations is ensured for 70 years,” Rodong Sinmun asserted in its column Wednesday. “The Korean people have enjoyed the most dignified life in the bosom of the DPRK for 70 years.”
“Our society is the best in the world as everyone enjoys happiness in very stable living condition, helping and leading each other though their life is not so luxurious and rich,” the piece continues, touting “the principle of collectivism” as the key to the alleged success of the regime. “Ordinary workers, peasants and intellectuals have become deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly to discuss state affairs and conduct free socio-political activities. This is a true picture that can be found only in the Korean-style socialist society.”
In reality, North Korea is one of the world’s most impoverished countries and arguably the most repressive regime in the world. In contrast to the picture of equality that Rodong Sinmun alleges, the Kim regime divides society into castes in a system known as songbun.
Those who exhibit the greatest loyalty to the Kim family, who are worshipped as gods, receive higher songbun, while anyone suspected of not being sufficiently loyal to the regime, harboring any religious faith at all, or sharing family ties with someone suspect loses songbun. Those of lower songbun may be banned from Pyongyang or forced to live in labor camps for generations.
The claim that North Korean society is prosperous also belies warnings in state propaganda published as recently as last week that the nation might soon face even more poverty than it is used to. Rodong Sinmun suggested in an article last week that North Koreans should be prepared to sacrifice in the recent future, urging, “even if (we) have to travel a long distance through snowstorms with our belts tightened, we will go straight to the people’s road which was proved as immortal in the process of the 70-years-long struggle and to the road of socialism.”
Yet Rodong Sinmun continues to publish stories insisting that the Kim regime is not amenable to compromise in negotiations with the United States or South Korea.
In another story published Wednesday, the state newspaper argued that “a new mode of thinking” is necessary in the government of Seoul to understand and accept that North Korea will not change. It decries negotiations with South Korea as “not substantial” and suggests that South Koreans want “a comprehensive and great change in inter-Korea relations, not a partial change, and permanent reconciliation and peace, not a temporary escape from the phase of confrontation and danger of war.”
The article also demanded an end to unprecedented global sanctions weighing on the Kim regime. “The anti-north sanctions are an unreasonable step taken by the U.S. and other hostile forces for the mere reason that the DPRK conducted self-defensive nuclear tests and ballistic rocket fires to defend peace and security from the aggression and war threat by outsiders,” it argued.
American officials have repeatedly stated that they will offer no sanctions relief to North Korea until the country completely, irreversibly ends its illegal nuclear weapons program. Instead, reports released this month suggest that North Korea has continued to attempt to manufacture long-range missiles.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress last week that the Trump administration has reason to believe North Korea is still producing fissile material, following the release of satellite images showing some activity at the nation’s Yongbyon nuclear energy facility.
This week, a report in the Washington Post suggested that images showed renewed activity at a facility in Sanumdong believed to have been the factory that created the Hwasong-15, a liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) considered the most powerful in North Korea’s arsenal.