Report: North Korea Intensifies ‘Ideological Education’ After Kim Portrait Found in Waste

In this April 13, 2017 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, arrives for the official opening of the Ryomyong residential area, in Pyongyang, North Korea. South Korea's military says North Korea is believed to have conducted its sixth nuclear test. South Korea's military said Sunday, Sept. 3, …
AP/Wong Maye

North Korea’s communist regime ordered inspections and “ideological education” across the ruling Korean Workers’ Party, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Friday, after images of the Kim family were found in scrap paper.

According to sources who spoke with the news agency, the Central Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department found that images featuring Kim Jong-un, his late father Kim Jong-il, and his grandfather Kim Il-sung, were being treated as scrap paper. Kim Il-sung is the founder of communist North Korea.

Reportedly horrified by their discovery, department officials announced an investigation into the supposed lack of respect, pledging to hold local party officials accountable.

“Under the supervision of the Central Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department, the ideological inspections are being conducted on the party committees of each province, city, and county,” an official of North Hamgyong province told RFA’s Korean Service.

Some residents reportedly suspect the “investigation” is actually a cover to allow investigators to take bribes.

“The purpose of this inspection is to further strengthen the ideological education of local government officials and residents through the process of censuring and criticizing the effectiveness of the local government agencies’ ideological education process,” the official said. “The inspection is all because people are allowing books and newspapers containing No. 1 portraits, or artwork by Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un to be damaged.”

The official added that authorities are seeking to force leaders of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League, a youth group modeled after the Komsomol (the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League) to “thoroughly manage” publications featuring the leaders faces and to “educate and control the people so that they don’t sell them as scrap paper.”

A separate source, a resident of North Hamgyong’s neighboring Ryanggang province, told RFA that the inspection also incorporates other materials such as old videos that may have seen their quality deteriorate.

“The party, labor organizations and Group 109 are also collecting substandard videos,” said the resident, a reference to the regime’s specialized video censorship unit. “So far, there have been several instructions and inspections to root out the old videos, but it was concluded that nothing has improved, so the authorities are trying to find problems and take more stringent measures.”

Brainwashing and intimidation are common in North Korea, which has formed a god-like cult around the Kim family dating back to the days of Kim Il-sung, referred to as the “Great Leader,” and his son Kim Jong-il, called the “Dear Leader.” Kim Jong-un is known as the “Supreme Leader.”

As well as anyone critical of the regime, Pyongyang’s repression against dissidents extends to showing even the slightest or perceived disrespect towards the Kim family. Those suspected or found guilty of doing so can face punishments ranging from forced labor to execution.

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