Fairies, fishy aromas mark North Korea’s latest rallying cries
TOKYO — North Korea could one day become a land of fairies, where a pungent, fishy aroma permeates the air as stylishly dressed children walk to school.
This is what the reclusive communist nation actually wants its people to aspire to, according to a list of 310 national slogans released by its state media Thursday.
There are five different references to building a socialist, scientific or military-influenced fairyland, according to a translation of the Rodong Sinmun story by the KCNA Watch blog.
Several of the slogans concern food production. One calls for “fragrant smell of fish and other seafoods,” while another declares, “Let the strong wind of fish farming blow across the country!”
Other slogans are less aspirational and more educational, for example: “Fertilizer means rice and socialism.”
The slogans were printed in Korean and haven’t yet been posted in the English versions of the Rodong Sinmun or the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s primary media organs.
Although the slogans may appear humorous to foreigners and were likely designed to rally a domestic audience, there is a more serious issue behind the fishy phrases: a potential food shortage.
“We’re concerned about seed scarcity and the low level rain and snowfall,” John Aylieff, deputy Asia director for the United Nations World Food Program, told the Washington Post last week from Pyongyang. “All of these things are raising concerns about the winter harvest this year.”
Food shortages have proved to be a chronic problem. Somewhere between 500,000 and 2.5 million North Koreans died of hunger in the 1990s, according to U.S. Census Bureau and congressional reports.
In the past, North Korea has procured relief aid by leveraging the desire by South Korea and its allies for talks aimed at ending its worrying nuclear weapons development.
In 2000, former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung held an historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, at the cost of $500 million in aid, it was later learned.
In January, former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak told Reuters that he refused talks with North Korea after Pyongyang asked for 500,000 tons of food and $10 billion in exchange.
South Korea does provide money for food aid to the World Food Program, which operates within North Korea.
Most nations are wary of granting North Korea direct food aid due to Pyongyang policies that favor regime officials and the military.
“The distribution of food has prioritized those who are useful to the survival of the current political system at the expense of those deemed to be expendable,” the 2014 U.N. report on human rights stated.
North Korea’s rallying cries
Here are a few of the more colorful examples among North Korea’s latest domestic propaganda slogans:
- Let us turn the whole country into a socialist fairyland by the joint operation of the army and people!
- Let us build a fairyland for the people by dint of science!
- Make fruits cascade down and their sweet aroma fill the air on the sea of apple trees at the foot of Chol Pass!
- Let this socialist country resound with Song of Big Fish Haul and be permeated with the fragrant smell of fish and other seafoods!
- Let the strong wind of fish farming blow across the country!
- More stylish school uniforms and quality school things for our dear children!
- Let us turn all counties into the people’s fairyland by applying the spirit of the historic Changsong Joint Conference!
- Fertilizer means rice and socialism.
- Let the wives of officers become dependable assistants to their husbands!
- Let us carry through the great Generalissimos’ instructions on “grass for meat”!