Forced Mass Mobilization for ‘Loyalty Singing’ Event
April 15th, 2012 marked the 100th birthday of Kim Il Sung, also known as the Day of the Sun. To prepare for the celebration to mark the occasion, North Korean women were grinding away in preparation for the ‘Loyalty Signing’ event. The women must work a full day at their workplace, and then participate in practice and rehearsals in the evenings; despite being exhausted from a full day of hard work. Beyond their work and rehearsals, the women must also spend a significant amount of time and money preparing costumes for the event for themselves as well as their children.
A source from North Hamkyung Province said, “We are only able to practice our singing in the evening because we must spend our daytime hours earning money for our livelihood in the jangmadang (private market). However, there is no electricity, so we practice by candlelight. It hurts our eyes, and we feel very tired.”
Preparing costumes and props for the performance is the greatest burden on the ordinary people however, because the materials are not provided for by the state, and must be purchased by the citizens themselves.
The source reported, “I can’t help but buy costumes and props for my children, so they won’t be left behind the other kids. I have to spend quite a lot of money for them, but I’ll have to sell the materials for food when summer comes. Then, I’ll have to buy the costumes and props again next year. It’s a vicious cycle.”
The source also expressed displeasure with the event and added, “If we don’t take part in the preparatory meetings, we must pay a fee instead, so we have no choice but to go to the practices. I’d rather stay home sick in bed.”
The North Korean authorities mobilize all state organs as well as the people for the ‘Loyalty singing’ events every year to prepare for the birthdays of Kim Il Sung (April 15), Kim Jong Il (February 16), and Kim Jong Suk (December 24). The performances are part of the idolization of the Kim family.