North Korea has reportedly banned its citizens from using sarcasm in conversations about the country’s totalitarian leader and his administration.
According to local media, Kim Jong Un’s regime has sent out officials to inform the public that even indirect criticism of the authoritarian government has been banned, and that satire directed at the regime or its leader will not be forgiven.
“One state security official personally organized a meeting to alert local residents to potential 'hostile actions' by internal rebellious elements,” a source from the Jagang province of the country told Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Korean Service this week. “The main point of the lecture was 'keep your mouths shut.'”
At a meeting in the neighboring Yanggang on Aug. 28, a similar message was delivered, a source in the province reportedly said.
The official warned the public not to be “dragged into internal hostile behavior,” signaling at an expression that can be heard frequently in the East Asian country, now with more irony — “This is all America’s fault.”
“This habit of the central authorities of blaming the wrong country when a problem’s cause obviously lies elsewhere has led citizens to mock the party,” said one of the sources, on conditions of anonymity.
“A fool who cannot see the outside world,” is another expression that has caught up with government workers in Pyongyang, directly targeting the North Korean leader’s isolationist policies in the diplomatic sphere.
North Korea officially “guarantees the people genuine political freedom and rights,” including “freedom of speech,” but Kim’s regime has been known to crack down on dissent harshly.
Even then, public discontent has been expressed in the form of graffiti at a construction site in Pyongyang that mocked production slogans and “more serious” instances like scrawlings with personal attacks targeting Kim Jong Un in areas near the Chinese border, RFA reported its sources as saying.
North Korea has been actively testing weapons like submarine launched ballistic missiles in a bid to demonstrate its nuclear capabilities in front of the West and neighboring rivals Japan and South Korea. This move has been criticized by the international community but the North maintains that such steps are essential for its security.