Posters glorifying North Korea’s ruling Korean Workers’ Party are being defaced across the country in a wave of popular resentment against burdens imposed in preparation for celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the party’s founding, North Korean sources say.
Graffiti attacks against the posters were first noticed in South Pyongan province’s Pyongsong city during regional elections in July, a source in neighboring Jagang province told RFA’s Korean Service.
And despite a recently publicized order from national leader Kim Jong Un threatening harsh punishment for the attacks, “These acts of vandalism have continued until the present time,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The number of incidents is now increasing because residents of the reclusive nuclear-armed state are angered at their exploitation by the country’s central government as it prepares for elaborate celebrations, including a massive military parade, in the capital Pyongyang on Oct. 10, he said.
On Sept. 9, a poster was found damaged in Pyongsong, with references on the poster to the country as “the victor” changed to “the defeated,” a source in Yanggang province told RFA.
Two other posters were found later that night to have also been defaced, the source said, speaking on condition he not be named.
'The best target'
“When news of the Pyongsong incidents spread, more cases of the vandalism of posters promoting the 70th anniversary of the [North] Korean Workers’ Party began to take place nationwide,” the source said.
By publicizing news of the graffiti attacks, and threatening to harshly punish those found responsible, the government has shown North Korea’s people “the best target” for their anger against the regime, he said.
Reports in recent months indicate that North Korea’s regime has badly miscalculated the country’s readiness to mark the founding of its ruling party.
Traffic from the provinces to the capital Pyongyang has been severely restricted in recent weeks, and households around the country were instructed in August to pay around 40 yuan (U.S. $6.30) to support training for a military parade and finance new construction projects ahead of the celebrations.
Also in August, sources told RFA that authorities in North Hamgyong province were punishing those committing misdemeanors—such as riding bicycles without bells—with labor duty as they race to complete unfinished development projects before Saturday.
Reported by Sung-Hui Moon for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Hee Jung Yang. Written in English by Richard Finney.