North Koreans forced to study supreme leader Kim Jong Un’s newly published “master plan” for 2023 say it is a rehash of old tropes and offers nothing on how to address the most pressing concern on people’s minds: overcoming the country’s chronic food shortage, sources tell Radio Free Asia.
Instead, it focuses on strengthening the military and the country’s missile and nuclear capabilities, and authorities are forcing citizens to study the highly-touted proposal in educational sessions this month.
“This year’s party policy … is a repeat of the same old themes that have been repeatedly emphasized for decades,” an official from the northern province of Ryanggang told RFA on condition of anonymity for safety reasons.
Authorities published the booklet as a nojak, meaning it is among the county’s masterpieces of published materials, and therefore an “immortal classic work.” The only other authors of nojak are Kim Jong Un’s father and predecessor Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, national founder Kim Il Sung.
The master plan did in fact discuss some current concerns, according to the source, but none dealt directly with providing a steady food supply for the impoverished country that has been isolated by sanctions over its nuclear program.
“They covered forestry projects, developments in science and technology, and projects to eradicate non-socialist behavior,” he said. “But unless we change our current policy of emphasizing national defense and increasing the military’s capabilities, how will we ever come up with a policy that addresses the problems directly related to how the people are struggling to live?”
Part of the educational materials discussion of Kim Jong Un’s “heroic accomplishments,” but the people scoff at these, a source in the northeastern province of North Hamgyong told RFA on condition of anonymity to speak freely.
“The general secretary boasts about the nuclear force policy as a great achievement completed under extremely adverse conditions,” the second source said. “But this policy has been a fatal blow to the lives of the residents.”
“They say, ‘Why do we need to do these kinds of ideological studies when nothing has changed after decades of studying?’” he said. “This is presented as a 100-year plan to create a rich and strong country, but nobody actually believes that.”
Translated by Claire Shinyoung Oh Lee and Leejin J. Chung