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‘90% of N. Koreans see Kim’s word as law’

Nine out of every 10 North Korean defectors regard their leader Kim Jong-il’s words as law, contrary to expectations of North Korean citizens’ weakening loyalty to the totalitarian regime, a survey showed Tuesday.

About 90 percent of the defectors said the dictator’s instructions “were laws to keep while living in North Korea,” while 74 percent remembered being educated by the regime on how to best obey Kim’s remarks.

The survey, commissioned by the Unification Ministry, was conducted on 80 North Korean defectors currently living in the South by a team of researchers from Kyungnam University.

Most of the respondents, meanwhile, said laws in North Korea were “unfair” and legal affairs and punishment were “inconsistently carried out.”

Up to 47 percent of the defectors answered that bribes were “critical for a favorable ruling in criminal trials,” while 69 percent believed the elites and officials in Pyongyang were “never punished for corruption corresponding to the rules.”

Researchers said that after reunification, programs will be needed to cultivate North Koreans’ law-abiding spirit, citing that only six percent of the defectors saw bribery as a major problem.

“There is a prevailing attitude that tolerates making money through illegal activities,” they said.

North Korea is one of the most reclusive countries in the world with Kim Jong-il ruling the state since the death of his father and dictator Kim Il-sung.

Kim’s youngest son Jong-un, who is reportedly still in his 20s, is expected to take over the impoverished state of 24 million people from his ailing father in the near future.

By Shin Hae-in (hayney@heraldcorp.com)
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