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Down with party officials, who live well by exploiting the people
Graffiti in North Korea
The defiant message, which found scrawled on a fence which surrounds Unsan county marketplace in South Pyongan province, north of the Hermit State’s capital Pyongyang, has enraged Kim and his officials, who are determined to catch the person responsible. A source told the US-backed website Radio Free Asia the message said, found a few days ago, read: “Down with party officials, who live well by exploiting the people.”
Kim and his henchmen are particularly rattled because the sign was discovered days before the anniversary on October 10, with widespread celebrations including a large military parade likely to take place.
A resident of South Pyongan, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFA: “The local security department is in an uproar.”
Using phrase by which Kim is commonly referred to, they added: “Security officials concluded that the graffiti is an attempt to overthrow party officials and is an anti-government act that directly criticizes the party’s central leadership, including the Highest Dignity.
“So, they began an investigation.”
As a result, security officials and police have been going door-to-door in a bid to identify the person responsible.
The insider added: “Under the orders of the security department, the leaders of the local neighbourhood watch units visited each household, making both adults and children write with pens on paper to be submitted to the security department.
“They are closely comparing the graffiti and the handwriting examples, but they have yet to catch the criminal.
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“So, they are starting a second handwriting investigation.
“The first time they made everyone write with their right hand, but this time, all the residents must write with their left.”
People were angry because the authorities were more concerned about getting to the bottom of the incident than the reasons which prompted somebody to write the message, the resident said.
Another source, also speaking anonymously, told RFA the wide sweep of the investigation meant even people who just happened to be in the area at the time were being ordered to provide samples of their handwriting.
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They said: “Last week I received a quarantine permit and went to my relative’s house in Unsan, South Pyongan province.
“While I was going about my business, a local security agent called me in for questioning.
“The security agent asked me about when I came from North Pyongan province and made me write on a piece of paper with my right hand and left hand.
“After confirming that my handwriting is different from the graffiti, he let me go.”
Despite the official anger, the unknown graffiti artist is regarded as a hero by the local community, the second source said.
They explained: “Local residents are expressing their great satisfaction with the graffiti that says, ‘Down with party officials,’ because the authorities and powerful people, including party officials, are well off, but normal residents suffer each year from different hardships.
“I know in North Pyongan province, it’s the same story.
“Apartments, where the provincial party members live, are always supplied with electricity, while the neighbourhoods where ordinary residents live are not.
“So, at night you don’t really see any lights.”
By contrast, party officials were enjoying the good life, the source said, adding: “They just live it up while the ordinary residents work hard to make a living, and the resentment of the people builds up to the point that the people start to hate the officials and the country’s leadership.”
A report published last year by Boston-based analytics firm NSI said there was little available data.
However, it added: “Anecdotal information and innovative means of tracking resource flows indicate that the DPRK may be by far the most unequal society in the world, with a small elite (less than 10 percent) controlling virtually all wealth, leaving the rest of the population at barely or below subsistence level.”
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