North Korea’s party daily on Tuesday warned government officials against prioritizing personal glory over the needs of the people, criticizing “obsolete” attitudes in the country’s economic planning sector.
The article appears to be part of a wider, ongoing propaganda effort by the Rodong Sinmun, following criticism of Cabinet officials for making “serious mistakes” at a high-profile parliamentary session in April.
The article, carried on page three of the ruling party daily’s Tuesday edition, condemned officials who “put personal achievement and success, not the people’s benefit, at the starting point of implementing Party policy.”
Discussing these attitude problems among officials, the party daily notably linked the issue to the ways in which some economic units produced consumer goods.
“Some units,” it complained, focus on merely “meeting performance rate of plans” on paper, in contrast with those that endeavor to “improve the quality of goods to meet the people’s likings.”
One expert suggested the article was aimed at the officials working in the light industry sector.
“Seems to be a problem with lower level consumer goods production,” Peter Ward, a researcher focusing on the DPRK economy, said.
“Perhaps this is because cadres really are behaving badly, on the take, as the media narrative seemingly implies,” he added. “But I am guessing that this is tied up with the general economic troubles that North Korea has found itself in of late.”
“They appear to have abandoned the five-year economic strategy. And now they are chastising industry for not serving the people, and not coming up with the goods, literally.”
Tuesday’s party daily article stressed that the world was “going through drastic changes” everyday, urging officials to think outside the box and not just concern themselves with meeting quotas.
Economic work “with an obsolete attitude, one’s perspective tied to the standards of the days gone by, cannot satisfy the ever-escalating people’s demands,” it said, warning against implementing party policies “just enough not to be scolded.”
“Consumer goods-producing light industrial enterprises are struggling to achieve what is demanded of them,” Ward, the researcher, told NK News.
“They’re trying to fix it through the use of the price mechanism by the looks of things, but also through the standard Stalinist method of imperative planning,” he explained.
North Korea has also in recent months stepped-up an apparent crackdown on corrupt and irresponsible party officials, with Tuesday’s article appearing to serve as a part of that campaign as well.
“The truly devoted servants of the people are those officials who do not ask for any honor or a price… sacrificing all their soul and heart for the people until their bones are crushed,” Tuesday’s article said.
And while it did not name the offending party officials, it did hold up examples of those who have served as models of diligence and selflessness.
Party official Kim Sung Il of the Hungnam Fertilizer Complex was noted as an exemplary worker, having reportedly condemned other cadres for “riding sedans and going around as if sightseeing.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a February Politburo meeting warned against “practices of privileges,” and “acts alien to the party, abuse of power… indulgence in bureaucracy, corruption and irregularities revealed among senior officials of the Party Central Committee.”
That meeting also saw top officials Ri Man Gon and Pak Thae Dok, both Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee vice-chairmen, demoted for “corrupt” acts.
In a rare article the following month, the Rodong also reported that a regional party cadre had been demoted for drinking, “debauchery,” and breaching the country’s strict coronavirus prevention rules.
Tuesday’s article focused on local officials — especially those in economic units — quoting Kim Jong Un having told a “responsible party official of one county” in May last year that officials should “have a habit of looking back at themselves to check if they are serving the people loyally.”
“The official who has lost the trust of the people and ignored by the people are, in fact, disqualified officials that do not share fortunes with the party,” the DPRK leader reportedly said.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
North Korea's party daily on Tuesday warned government officials against prioritizing personal glory over the needs of the people, criticizing “obsolete" attitudes in the country’s economic planning sector.
The article appears to be part of a wider, ongoing propaganda effort by the Rodong Sinmun, following criticism of Cabinet officials for making "serious mistakes" at a high-profile parliamentary session in April.