Improve everything! N Korea unveils new slogans

Improve everything! N Korea unveils new slogans
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the construction sites of baby home, orphanage and orphans' primary and secondary schools in Wonsan City, North Korea.

SEOUL - North Korea unveiled Thursday an exclamation mark peppered list of 310 new political slogans covering every conceivable topic, from the glories of the ruling Kim dynasty and mushroom cultivation to the importance of dependable wives and "offensive" sports.

Oh, and the perennial need to wipe out US imperialist scum.

Political slogans are an intrinsic part of the relentless, daily propaganda formula that North Koreans are weaned on almost from birth.

Those published by the official KCNA news agency on Thursday were drafted by the ruling Worker's Party of Korea (WKP) to mark the 70th anniversaries its founding and of the liberation of the Korean peninsula from Japanese rule.

Their tone was by turns aggressive, encouraging, comforting and threatening, and the style ranged equally widely from the oddly poetic to the laboriously clunky.

"Make fruits cascade down and their sweet aroma fill the air on the sea of apple trees at the foot of Chol Pass!" was one agriculture-themed offering, followed by: "Let us turn ours into a country of mushrooms!" and "Grow vegetables extensively in greenhouses!"

Prominence was given to a long section of slogans hailing the legacy of late leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, and urging loyalty to the third generation Kim ruler, Kim Jong-Un.

Others covered military strength, the economy, farming, science and technology, education, the arts and sports.

Some like "Play sports games in an offensive way!" underlined the potential pitfalls of translating pithy ideology.

Proof of loyalty

While much North Korean propaganda seems trapped in an echo chamber of rhetorical overkill and hyperbole, it's tone is perfectly familiar and normal to North Koreans themselves.

The slogans shore up the internally propagandised image of the North as a racially pure nation that must make every effort to protect itself from scheming enemies - led by the United States - who are bent on invasion and enslavement.

"We were permanently buried by an avalanche of slogans," said defector Lee Min-Bok who fled North Korea 14 years ago and now lives in the South.

"We had to memorise a lot of them to show our loyalty, but they slowly lost any meaning for anyone, especially after the famine in the 90s," said Lee, 57.

"That greenhouse one has been around for decades. The problem is nobody had any plastic sheets of glass to build them, or fuel to heat them," he added.

Some defector-run websites have run reports of how slogans have become the butt of private jokes among ordinary North Koreans who often amend them to reflect reality.

The 1998 slogan "Though the road ahead may be perilous, let's travel it laughing!" was changed to "Let them laugh as they go, why are they making us come too?" But the slogans do offer some insights into the thinking and priorities of the North Korean regime, and a few ground realities are recognised.

One of those published Thursday, stressed the urgent need to increase food production, in order to "resolve the food problem of the people and improve their dietary life." There was a special section devoted to the evil misdeeds of the US "warmongers" and another underlining the absolute necessity of maintaining a powerful military.

"Should the enemy dare to invade our country, annihilate them to the last man!" read one slogan in the military section, that also exhorted the wives of officers to "become dependable assistants to their husbands!"

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