Amid stern U.S. rhetoric on North Korea, the regime is ratcheting up its efforts to increase hostility among its population toward Americans. These efforts include an uptick in compulsory visits to the Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities, a longstanding fixture of anti-American education aimed at ‘ideologically arming’ the population.
"The number of students visiting the Sinchon Museum has significantly increased. A lot of state-run enterprises are also sending their employees on field trips to the museum, and despite the fact that it’s currently the sowing season, even farmers are being mobilized for visits," a source in South Hwanghae Province told Daily NK on April 18.
Sinchon Museum was built to document alleged atrocities committed by the United States, and opened on June 25th, 1960, the day of the 10th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. The site maintains exhibits that the North alleges are evidence of the U.S. military’s war atrocities, including the killing of some 35,000 North Korean civilians.
The regime has recently designated June and July, which include the Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War (anniversary of the Korean War Armistice), as the months of anti-imperialism and anti-American struggle.
"Residents are not welcoming the orders to visit the museum in spring when their entire livelihood for the year depends on this period. They point out that the museum will always be there and there’s plenty of time for anti-American lectures in future. But now is a critical time for farming, so it’s a very unwelcome interruption,” the source said.
A separate source in South Hwanghae Province added that there are multiple rumors making the rounds regarding the museum. One example conveyed to the source by recent visitors to the museum involved theories that the walls of the supposed air-raid shelters are actually sprinkled with pig blood, not the blood of the soldiers.
"They say that blood has been splattered around in order to add atmosphere for the visitors, and a lot of people have really taken to this theory, bringing the truth of the Sinchon Massacre into further question for some people,” she said.
This is yet another example where the regime’s efforts to eradicate questions and provide a singular narrative has instead fostered doubt and inquiry among a population that is increasingly curious about the outside world.
"Except for those who don’t receive any external information at all, the residents do not quickly believe what the regime tells them," she explained.
Radio Free Asia reported on April 17 (local time) that the North Korean authorities are telling residents that the country is “untouchable” by the United States in an attempt to quell potential anxiety among the people.