Published on AsiaNews.it, Feb 23, 2011.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – The wave of protests that began in the Mideast appears to have reached even North Korea. For the first time in the history of the Stalinist regime, groups of ordinary citizens have protested in three cities demanding food and electricity, sources say. The event is exceptional and confirms the economic difficulties, especially concerning food supplies, people have to face under the Communist government.
According to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, citing a North Korean source, demonstrations broke out on 14 February, two days before Kim Jong-il’s birthday, in the cities of Jongju, Yongchon and Sonchon, not far from the border of China.
The State Security Department (the all-powerful agency under Kim Jong-il’s direct control) investigated the incident but failed to identify the people who started the commotion when they met with a wall of silence. “When such an incident took place in the past, people used to report their neighbours to the security forces, but now they’re covering for each other,” the source said.
Korean sources told AsiaNews that this represents a crack in the prevailing mindset. “Different factors are at play. On the one hand, the country’s worsening economic situation is certainly one reason. The regime is in fact unable to feed most of its people. On the other, changes at the top are another as Kim Jong-un gets ready to succeed his father on the throne in Pyongyang” … (full text).