Roughly 300 rather unusual political slogans like, “Let us build a fairyland for the people by dint of science!” were released by North Korea in celebration of its 70 year anniversary. The slogans were written by the Worker’s Party of Korea (the ruling party) and published by the official state news called the Korean Central News Agency. The new round of political sayings are meant to encourage patriotism.
Many of the slogans validate the late Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, former leaders of the state. They also praise and seek to further legitimize the present leader Kim Jong-un. Some of the sayings illustrate North Korea’s negative attitude toward the United States and South Korea, calling them “the enemy.” One new saying encourages people to stop the anti-North Korean “human rights schemes” proposed by America.
A handful of the rather unusual slogans released by North Korea encourage individual industries inside the country. Mushrooms, fruits, and vegetables were named specifically. Many of the political sayings read as encouragements to rally the people so that they will increase their economic and industrial production.
The tone in the slogans communicates authority and devotion to a love of the country. They are seen everywhere throughout the country from cities to rural areas. They show up on billboards and on mountainsides. Apparently, trees have also been carved to display these sayings.
The 25 million people who live in the isolated nation of North Korea are used to being buried in slogans. A man named Lee Min-Bok, who fled North Korea and lives in the South says that “an avalanche” of the sayings was constantly poured over the people. He also says the people were told to memorize them in order to prove their loyalty.
Defector-run webpages have reported on how some North Korean people use the slogans as the butt of jokes they keep amongst themselves. However, the people often change the politically driven wording to reflect the reality they see in their country.
North Korean policies are often displayed to the people in this vague, slogan-centered manner. The people are expected to first memorize them, then carry out the directives outlined in the sayings. The regime in North Korea is famous for controlling of its people, particularly in the area of media consumption. For instance, within the country it is illegal to watch foreign movies.
It is hard to believe that many people would blindly follow what is outlined in the sayings. The truth is that many people are not, the millennials in particular. Yeonmi Park is 21 years old and is a part of the millennial generation, often called the black market generation in North Korea. Park says that his generation is not worshiping Kim Jong-un with sincerity, they are just pretending.
The newest batch of rather unusual slogans written by North Korea have been called efforts to improve the citizen’s livelihood. For the most part, the sayings represent the dreamy ideals of the North Korean leadership; one even promises a “socialist fairyland.” However, the new political sayings do speak to a few truths about North Korea. For example, the slogans focused on food actually further illustrate food shortages and the impoverished way of living many North Koreans have to face. Talking about food in the country in practically poignant because roughly two million people died during a famine that took place in the 1990s.
By Emilee Prado
Photo by Will De Freitas – Flickr License