“Just put up with it for three years. The good days are coming.”
In these words, now being used by ordinary North Koreans seeking to reassure one another about the future, can be seen the desire for change from a new regime whose leader is being lauded in the official propaganda narrative as a real man of the people.
A North Hamkyung Province revealed more popular words of comfort in conversation with Daily NK yesterday, saying, “These days the people are all saying ‘although it is really late, we will be living well within five years’.”
Admittedly, the source said that some people are employing the phraseology seditiously, with the hidden meaning being that they hope the Kim regime will be gone within the stated time period.
However, others do mean, “Kim Jong Eun has arrived, so in three to five years we will become a strong country.” Or, in other words, “In three years our politics will change, and then two years after that life will be better than it is now.”
In particular, middle- and low-ranking cadres are very hopeful that “once all the senior cadres go in 3 or 4 years, maybe reform and opening will be seriously discussed among the younger cadres.”
The source analogized the current state of public opinion to that which was prevalent at the dawn of the 2000s, when the authorities were focusing on repressive public controls to avoid social upheaval following the famine of the mid- and late-90s. Then as now, the people were burdened with diverse non-tax payments and controls on internal migration, and were being frightened into submission by state terror.
That is not the only similarity. “In the late 90s the authorities encouraged us by claiming that ‘we will live well in 2003’,” the source said. “In 2000 they promised a ‘Strong and Prosperous State in 2012’, but in actuality no promises were kept and North Korea has not found a way forward.”
Not only that; the source asserted that North Korea’s bottom-up ‘market economy’ is no longer enough to keep people happy. More improvements are needed.
He emphasized, “Just five or six years ago people hoped to be able to trade or work a small plot of land, but now we are not satisfied with those things. People are only satisfied when they see things getting better, but if it stays the same or regresses then complaints get bigger.
“For so long have the people been deceived by the authorities, and for so long has this long economic crisis not improved, that the people won’t believe anything unless they see it,” the source said.