Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang. (AFP-Yonhap)
North Koreans are growing skeptical of the so-called “self-sufficient” economy that their leader Kim Jong-un champions, Radio Free Asia said Monday, citing anonymous sources there. North Koreans complained that they had yet to get their usual New Year’s gifts, calendars, and that put things in perspective.
“For the first time, we celebrated the New Year without the calendar. As trivial as this looks, I think this is just evidence of how empty the economic plans are -- those that they say could better our lives,” one anonymous source said, referring to the economic initiatives Kim unveiled at the recent party congress.
The calendars, given to North Korea’s residents every year to mark New Year’s Day, were reportedly not available on time because Pyongyang had difficulty importing ink cartridges. The isolated regime has shut down nearly all border traffic to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“That is just not right. They had all the propaganda fliers for the party congress a week ago. They could have easily printed the calendar,” the same source said, adding that only the senior party members had received theirs.
Many residents were upset over the delay because they were repeatedly told to wait, according to the same source.
Meanwhile, another source told RFA that North Koreans were running out of basic necessities such as coats and gloves for the winter. The source said North Koreans were left with subpar Chinese goods because local companies had nearly halted production due to the freeze on imports in the pandemic.
“There wasn’t enough food already and now this?” the source said. “The Chinese goods were never the first choice. We can’t even get enough of them now. They’re all gone.”
By Choi Si-young (firstname.lastname@example.org