North Korea released a list of 310 new political slogans Thursday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party. The list was drafted by the Workers’ Party and published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. "Let the strong wind of fish farming blow across the country!" exclaimed one slogan. "Let the wives of officers become dependable assistants to their husbands!"
The slogans ran to more than 7,000 words in translation across two pages of the party’s newspaper, according to Reuters. One read: "Let us turn ours into a country of mushrooms by making mushroom cultivation scientific, intensive and industrialized!" Most of the slogans usually reflected state-wide needs like increased food to children, a steady supply of electricity and less bureaucracy, reported Reuters.
North Korean citizens might not necessarily be fazed or especially moved to patriotism at these slogans indicated one North Korean defector. “We were permanently buried by an avalanche of slogans,” said Lee Min-bok, 57, who fled North Korea 14 years ago and now lives in the South, according to Agence France-Presse. “We had to memorize a lot of them to show our loyalty, but they slowly lost any meaning for anyone, especially after the famine in the 90s.” He added that slogans talking about building greenhouses have been around for decades, but the “problem is nobody had any plastic sheets of glass to build them, or fuel to heat them.”
To deal with disparity between the harsh reality of living in North Korea and the rosy picture painted by the slogans, locals have taken to amending these catchphrases secretly. A 1990 slogan “With 1,000 ri [Korean unit of distance] of tribulation comes 10,000 ri of happiness,” was changed into “With 1,000 ri of tribulation awaits another 10,000 ri of struggle,” according to an unnamed North Korean defector from the North Hamkung Province, reported Seoul-based North Korean-focused news site Daily NK. Others include the 1998 slogan “Though the road ahead may be perilous, let’s travel it laughing,” which has been changed to “Let them laugh as they go, why are they making us go along?”
One slogan “Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are a great sun for the people,” turned into “They are indeed the sun; if you go too close you burn to death and freeze if you go too far away,” reflected how being close to the Kim family makes one “rich and warm,” but also risks the danger of facing the Kim family’s direct wrath. A top general Pyon In Son, often seen alongside North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was recently executed by Kim over a disagreement. The defector added that distancing oneself from the regime was not wise either, where the outcome would be prison, known as “cold rooms” in North Korea, and one would likely die.