North Korean Authorities Step Up Probes of Anti-Kim Leaflets And Graffiti

north-korea-yanggang-province-samsu-county.jpg The map shows Samu county, Yanggang province, in northern North Korea.
RFA graphic

Judicial authorities in North Korea have increased their efforts to find the writers of leaflets and graffiti, whose words on the walls of train stations and other public places in major cities have denounced leader Kim Jong Un, sources inside the isolated country said.

Instances of the writings have been growing, despite a months-long investigation by the law enforcement officials to find those responsible along with efforts by authorities to ramp up a propaganda campaign praising his leadership, they said.

Graffiti demeaning Kim Jong Un have been discovered in the last three months in large cities, including the capital Pyongyang, Sariwon, Pyongsong, Hamhung and Chongjin.

But the case that has received the most attention occurred at a train station in the town of Posong in Samsu county, Yanggang province, through which express trains to Pyongyang pass.

Someone there posted a leaflet handwritten in Chinese ink on a wall vilifying Kim Jong Un, said a source from the province who requested anonymity.

“The authorities are trying to hunt down suspects whose handwriting matches that of the writing,” he told RFA’s Korean Service. “The leaflet was reportedly plastered right below the portrait of [former leader] Kim Il Sung on a wall.”

Handle with care

The source said he was hesitant to divulge the information because any negative incidents involving Kim Jong Un must be handled carefully lest authorities get wind of them and punish those who spread or disclose them.

“The leaflet found last New Year’s Day said, ‘Kim Jong Un is a son of b**** in Chinese ink,” the source said. “There were so many people from across the country mobilized at Posong station on Jan. 1st for the New Year’s Day celebrations that the news may have spread nationwide.”

The train station began operating in 1991 when the Posong District for Laborers was built to develop mining activities in the area, he said. The district contains residential homes, health care and cultural facilities, a junior high school, hospital, and stores along the Samsu River.

More than 1,000 district residents held a meeting at the Posong Cultural Center on Jan. 3 to discuss how they would accomplish the tasks that Kim Jong Un had outlined in his annual New Year’s address in which he pledged to increase the country’s political and military might, the source said.

But the residents at the meeting were much more interested in talking about the leaflet which had been discovered on the same day that Kim Jong Un gave his speech, he said.

“News of the incident spread like wildfire at the rally, which originally had been intended to heighten people’s loyalty to the leadership,” he said.

Search for suspects

During the last three months, law enforcement agencies have investigated more than 20,000 residents living on farms and in the district, hoping to find suspects by matching their handwriting to that on the leaflet, sources said. But so far, they have been unsuccessful.

Another source from Yanggang province said news of the incident was spread across the country by college students who had returned to their hometowns during the winter break and by residents’ out-of-town relatives who had visited the province from other regions for the New Year’s holiday.

“The idolization of Kim Jong Un seems to have been damped down by outrageous rumors about what the graffiti said,” he said.

In June 2011, authorities in Pyongyang effectively shut down the city for three days after they discovered graffiti denouncing Kim Jong Il as a “dictator who starved people to death” on the wall of Pyongyang Railroad College, so that they could search for the culprit among both visitors and residents.

Authorities narrowed down the investigation to students from the college and blocked the movement of people between provinces to try to stop rumors about the incident from spreading, according to a report by the online Daily NK at the time.

Their efforts were unsuccessful, however, because the news reached as far as North Hamgyong province in the country’s northeast.

Last October, people across the country defaced posters glorifying North Korea’s ruling Korean Workers’ Party to show their resentment against the burdens the government imposed upon them in preparation for celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the party’s founding, RFA reported.

Kim Jong Un threatened harsh punishment for those who committed the offenses, but the attacks continued.

Written by Jieun Kim for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Hee Jung Yang. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.


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