Not a Stroke, But the People’s Awareness Is Kim Jong Il’s…

first_imgAnalysis & Opinion Not a Stroke, But the People’s Awareness Is Kim Jong Il’s Threat Analysis & Opinion Is Nuclear Peace with North Korea Possible? RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Pence Cartoon: “KOR-US Karaoke” Analysis & Opinion SHAREcenter_img Analysis & Opinion Tracking the “unidentified yellow substance” being dried out near the Yongbyon Nuclear Center Facebook Twitter By Jung Kwon Ho – 2008.11.24 6:47pm Shenyang, China — Since September, when the news of Kim Jong Il’s stroke was broke, the political rollercoaster surrounding his illness has been flying while the North Korean authorities have been trying to come up with a response. The response of North Korean citizens who became aware of the stories of Kim’s illness has been varied. Of course, some have said that “He should die right away” and made critical remarks such as “How can he be sick when he’s only been eating good food?” However, a portion of the people have shown more sympathetic responses, such as “I am sure he will get better” and “The country is not doing well and even the Great Leader is sick.” Such a sympathetic mentality can appear strange to outsiders. The question is why there are still many North Korean citizens who do not blame their leader, although they are complaining, saying that they wish a war would occur and the world would be overturned. The reason for not assigning blame on Kim Jong Il can be attributed to several decades of information control and the cult of personality. It is difficult for an illusion which has been systematically formed since people’s childhood to be easily crumbled. Even if the state has been in ominous decline, there are many who do not directly connect this to Kim. Also, there is the risk that if one weighs the pros and cons of Kim, not only the individual but his or her entire family will be in great jeopardy.Another factor is that North Korean citizens tend to harbor a greater grudge towards the mid-level officials and the soldiers who are the ones doing the harassing than towards the Great Leader. Among the citizens, many believe that the state of North Korea is due to the failure of those under Kim Jong Il to govern properly, not due to Kim himself.One North Korean traveler whom I met recently said, “I’m not surprised that the Great Leader has fallen ill. The officials who have to receive the General’s decrees only think about their own wellbeing and harass the citizens, so it would be strange if the General remained normal in such a situation.”Another resident said that, “There are few cadres who are concerned about the people. Not the top, but the middle cadres are doing wrong. It is a really good world only for mid-level cadres because the Community Watch Guard and the People’s Safety Agency are set up everywhere to control the people (which means that the PSA and other guards and their superior officers are collecting bribes from the people as rewards for ignoring them – editor) Therefore, another number one target of people’s grievance is the Community Watch Guard and the People’s Safety Agency. The cadres of the Party move aside for this target. If the officers of the People’s Safety Agency make up their minds to control the residents, there is no way to avoid it. Alley markets that are more abundantly found than permanent markets have also become illegal, as well as selling food and cigarettes on the street or at train stations. Helping to move luggage around the stations has also become prohibited and it is also against the law for women to ride bicycles. Even women seen in pants have been regulated for going against a decree. Rice, corn, clothes made in China, shoes, seasonings, toys, medicine and other necessities are also prohibited for sale in the jangmadang, according to their regulations. It sounds ridiculous from the viewpoint of outsiders, but it is all true. Therefore, all kinds of regulations can make benefits for cadres and affiliates with the People’s Safety Agency. The citizens who have been regulated or have had their sources of livelihood taken away have complained quietly, “If the state provides jobs and gives provisions, we would not have to work. Do those who receive provisions know our plights? Are we supposed to just starve to death?” However, even if people curse the state and the agents, it is difficult to even mention the word “General.”Kim Jong Il, in order to maintain the regime, has regulated the citizens through security organizations, the Party and the army, and has reigned as the “eternal sunlight of the 21st century.” The North Korean economy, after the March of the Tribulation in late 1990s, has been unofficially converted into an individual economic system and information acquired from the outside has secretly penetrated into every aspect of the citizens’ lives through various channels. Among the North Korean soldiers, the story that Park Jung Hee’s good governance created the economic development of South Korea has occasionally circulated. Even cadres express in their private places negative views of third generation hereditary reign. The most fearful thing for Kim Jong Il may be not a stroke, but the political awareness of the people. When the people confront the real problems of the system boldly and acknowledge that they can solve the current difficult situation through reform of its system, it will be the starting point for the North Korean reform. AvatarJung Kwon Ho last_img

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