North Korea Orders Youth League Reshuffle for More Effective Self-Criticism Sessions

With unfamiliar group leaders, youth will snitch on each other ‘more honestly.’

North Korea Orders Youth League Reshuffle for More Effective Self-Criticism Sessions

North Korea is ordering local leaders of the country’s main youth organization to change reviewers of self-criticism meetings to force young people to snitch on each other “more honestly,” sources in the country told RFA.

The new policy requiring people from outside one’s youth group evaluate mandatory self-criticism sessions is designed to break up cozy relations that have formed within units in which people rehearse their lines and cover for each other, the sources said.    

Every North Korean citizen must perform saenghwal chonghwa, or self-criticism, where they must confess their own state loyalty shortcomings, then publicly report any disloyal tendencies in their peers. Experts say the state uses these sessions to turn citizens against each other in order to control them more effectively.

For adults, self-criticism is done during mandatory meetings of their local neighborhood watch unit, while youth start from the age of 13, when they begin attending meetings of the Socialist Patriotic Youth League.

The league, formerly known as the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League, is modeled after the Soviet Komsomol. In late April, the league held a nationwide congress in Pyongyang, where it received its new name, and new directives from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on how to conduct the sessions.

“As soon as the 10th Congress of the Socialist Patriotic Youth League was over, they started inspections of the weekly self-criticism sessions for the youth here in Ryanggang province,” a resident of the northern border province told RFA’s Korean Service last week.

“During the inspections, low-level chairpersons that lead Youth League organizations in each factory observe the sessions in different factories, to review and report on them,” said the source.

Across the country, many citizens have come to take the weekly sessions for granted, and they collude with each other beforehand on how they will criticize each other, so they can avoid raising any red flags by being too harsh. Leaders of the sessions may also form friendships with attendees and allow them to simply go through the motions week after week.

The new policy on youth confessions aims to put a stop to this.

“The low-level chairperson dispatched to each Youth League organization should attend the self-criticism session and report on how honestly the young people criticize themselves in regard to antisocialist and nonsocialist thought, and how intensively they criticize other young people on the same subject,” said the source.

Another source, a resident of the northwestern border province of North Pyongan, told RFA that at a collective farm in Ryongchon county, chairpersons who returned from the 10th congress began inspecting the self-criticism session notes of youth league members.

“Since this review project lasts until the end of this month, all young people are pretty much forced to be honest in their criticism of their own and each other’s antisocialist and nonsocialist tendencies,” said the second source.

“They are conducting the review by sending youth league chairpersons to a different farm than their own. The purpose is to cross-inspect other cells of the youth league so that self-criticism is more genuine, because until now sessions have been more or less a formality,” the second source said.

The second source said the first cross-inspection of the sessions would take place on Saturday May 8, and that the people wondered how they might be different.

“The chairpersons are insisting that young people who have called people in foreign countries, especially in South Korea, or those that listened to foreign broadcasting in secret should self-criticize and earn the party’s forgiveness,” said the second source.

“They are also trying to make the youth criticize each other more sharply so they can find out who has been imitating South Korean speaking styles, dyeing their hair brown, and wearing clothing with English letters,” the second source said, citing the signs of outside influence Pyongyang tries to suppress.

The second source said that the youth find the new policy to be invasive.

“They are very critical of the authorities, who have nothing better to do than observe their self-criticism sessions and brand them enemies of socialism all while expecting them to work hard during the busier farming seasons.”

RFA reported last year that authorities were cracking down on young people for texting each other using slang terms they learned by watching or listening to South Korean media illegally, or for using South Korean spellings.

At emergency meetings of the youth league in May 2020, authorities confiscated members’ mobile phones and threatened harsh punishments if they found any illegal media or texts.

Reported by Hyemin Son for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Leejin Jun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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Interview: Ending the Dictatorship 'Will Give Us a Better Future and Better Lives'

More than 80 percent of Myanmar's teachers support the Civil Disobedience Movement opposing the military junta, says Sai Khaing Myo Tun, deputy minister for education in the country's shadow National Unity Government (NUG).

Interview: Ending the Dictatorship 'Will Give Us a Better Future and Better Lives'

An education plan will soon be released to prevent students from losing their rights to public education, says Sai Khaing Myo Tun, Deputy Minister of Education of Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow government set up to counter the military regime that seized power Feb. 1. On May 9, RFA Myanmar Service's Khin Khin Ei interviewed Sai Khaing Myo Tun about how Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council, the junta’s formal name, is suspending teachers involved in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), and what the NUG is planning now for Myanmar’s education sector.

RFA: What are you currently doing as the Deputy Minister for Education of the National Unity Government (NUG)?

Sai Khaing Myo Tun: We are making contact with teachers and with students involved in the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and are having discussions about education plans. Even though this is a revolutionary period, we are looking for ways to do this.

RFA: The State Administration Council is now suspending education staff. Would you comment on this?

Sai Khaing Myo Tun: The teachers themselves are determined not to work under the military junta's education system. At NUG, we set principles that are in line with the will of the teachers. We communicate with them and are trying to offer them moral support.

RFA: Some teachers have now left the CDM and have become non-CDM staff. What do you think about this?

Sai Khaing Myo Tun: The main issue here is the pressure put on them [by the junta] in terms of their security. This pressure includes violence directed not only at them but also at their families, involving very cruel methods. There are a lot of teachers who do not want to do non-CDM work. But there are also teachers who are not morally strong. The learned teachers I have contacted have not given up; they will do it [CDM] until the end of the revolution. And when the government elected by the people comes to power, they will carry out the duties of the people's government.

RFA: How many teachers are currently involved in CDM?

Sai Khaing Myo Tun: We are still counting the teachers in basic education. We have collected the lists [inside Myanmar], but most of them have not reached us yet. There are more than 400,000 teachers in Myanmar, including in the higher education department. You can imagine how many of these are involved in CDM work by looking at the fact that the schools cannot open now. If the classrooms were full of students [as the junta has said], it would not be possible to run these classes with such a small number of the current non-CDM teachers. I think that more than 80 percent of teachers are now involved in CDM. Now the State Administrative Council is not only suspending education officers, but also firing some of them. So the percentage of teachers doing CDM is over 80 percent, as I said.

RFA: We also heard that CDM education staff are facing difficulties and need help. What are you doing to help them?

Sai Khaing Myo Tun: We are making plans. One of our government ministers has said that they are planning to pay them their full salaries as much as possible. Even if we cannot help to that level, we are still doing our best to help.

RFA: The State Administration Council is trying to reopen the schools. Students are boycotting this, but there are also some students who want to study. What can you say about this situation?

Sai Khaing Myo Tun: We are making plans for this, too. The main thing is that students not lose their right to an education. Nor should this be delayed. In addition, we have set a "No one left behind" commitment, so that anyone can get an education. We will officially announce something soon. There will be opportunities for students to learn with teachers. Some students have suggested to us [the NUG] that we open schools for those students who are currently involved in the revolution. We will discuss all these issues and implement an education plan soon.

RFA: What message would you like to send to the students, teachers, parents, and other people who are now fighting the military dictatorship?

Sai Khaing Myo Tun: I want to say that both students and teachers have been resilient so far. The State Administration Council has used various forms of repression to oppress the people, including students and teachers, and many have already lost their lives. So we need to fight with resolve until the end of the revolution. At the same time, we are working to provide an education plan by linking to global education and linking to federal education: a plan for both the young and the grownup people in our country. It is very important that we completely overthrow the military dictatorship. This will give us a better future and better lives, and we will then be able to implement a better [program for] education.

Translated by Thane Aung for RFA’s Myanmar Service.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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