August 30, 2021 12:55
The North Korean regime has been sending elite young Workers Party functionaries into internal exile at remote construction sites to shore up crumbling discipline.
The practice is being presented as "volunteering," but it appears they are not given a choice.
One senior defector said, "One of the biggest problems leader Kim Jong-un faces is young people who have been influenced by South Korean culture and angry about the economic crisis. The aim appears to be to neutralize them so they can't foment internal dissent."
The official Rodong Sinmun daily on Sunday published a statement from Kim to mark Youth Day the previous day. "What makes me especially happy is to see young people who have been left behind make the magnificent decision to sacrifice themselves for their country and start fresh by moving on to difficult and demanding areas," he said.
He attributed the "weakness" of young North Koreans to the "stubborn ideological and cultural infiltration schemes of the imperialists."
The victims gathered in Pyongyang to hold what was billed as a "debate" last week. They included a graduate from Sariwon Teachers College who "volunteered" to teach in a school in a remote outpost, a youth guidance official from Nampo who "chose" to work on a cooperative farm, and a high-end store worker in Pyongyang who "opted" to work on a ranch in Kangwon Province.
The echoes of the massive reeducation efforts of China's Cultural Revolution or Cambodia's Khmer Rouge are unmissable.
One intelligence official here said, "Many young North Koreans are essentially being sent to labor camps."
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