North Koreans, who are forced to become part of political bodies controlled by the regime for their entire lives, are naturally accustomed to clapping when they gather to worship the supreme leader. They are brainwashed from early childhood to revere the leader, but such applause is rather sincere and enthusiastic. They think of the leader as their savior and are eager to express their admiration and gratitude for him.
In North Korea, public education and political events that are aimed at idolizing the leader are much more important than other efforts for economic development such as job creation. North Koreans would remain calm even if their relatives were executed on charges that they applauded the leader halfheartedly or behaved irreverently. The 20 million people in the reclusive country are fiercely competing to survive while keeping an eye on one another.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un received 'thunderous applause' from his loyal followers during the 7th congress of the ruling Workers' Party held about a month ago in Pyongyang, the first such event in 36 years. He intends to enjoy another feast of clapping in the 4th session of the 13th Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) to convene on June 29.
His grandfather Kim Il-Sung, the first leader of the country, declared, during the 1st session of the 3rd SPA held in 1962, that "In 1964, all people will be well-off, living in tile-roofed houses, eating beef soups and white rice, and wearing silk clothes." In those days, most people made do with cheep multigrain rice or porridge, so his remark gave people a glimmer of hope.
But, his vision was cut short by his son Kim Jong-Il. If the second leader had not built thousands of statues dedicated to his father and numerous other political facilities nationwide for decades, the 'great vision' of his father would have been realized at least in part.
His son and the third leader Kim Jong-Un is not much different. During his first verbal speech in April 2012, he avowed that he will address the hunger of the people, saying "I will not let our people tighten their belts". Now, five years on, the people's lives have not much improved.
The current leader is more obsessed with nuclear tests than his father and grandfather was under his ruling policy of 'parallel development of economy and nuclear weapons'. He has poured enormous amounts of money into nuclear tests, which could have been used to feed the starving people for years.
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Even in this situation, the North Korean regime plans to hold the 4th SPA session to lay administrative foundations through organizational reshuffle after the recent party congress.
During the party congress, Kim Jong-Un elevated his party title from the first secretary to the chairman. Some expect that in the upcoming meeting, his government post as the chairman of the National Defense Commission would be replaced as well. Besides, the participants would apparently discuss follow-up measures to the Five-Year Plan for economic development, which was suggested by the leader during the party congress.
In the planned meeting, Kim Jong-Un would try to mollify the people by adopting detailed actions for the Five-Year Plan, but the effect would only be temporary. The economic development strategy would end up in vain unless the regime admits the fallacy of the nuclear-economy parallel policy, with which it deceives the people into believing that their lives can be improved while all the money is dumped into nuclear development, and ultimately abandons its nuclear development.
It is also uncertain how long North Korea will be able to endure international sanctions and other pressure that have been enhanced after its 4th nuclear test.
Even in the face of the heightened sanctions, if Kim Jong-Un still cares only about changing his title to enjoy a long term in office, instead of bringing specific and feasible measures to improve the people's lives, he will face more and more discontent from the people, which will threaten the existence of his regime.
In the upcoming SPA session, Kim Jong-Un must come up with detailed and practical economic development measures to make people's lives better, instead of trying to make the event as part of the 'grand finale of his coronation' through only perfunctory organizational reshuffle.
LIM IL, writer and North Korean defector
Rim il, North Korean defector, is a columnist, novelist in South Korea. Born in Pyongyang, North Korea on Oct. 20, 1968. He had been slave laborer for North Korean regime in 1996. After suffering from slave laborer in Kuwait, defected to South (more...)