Earlier in the year, the North Korean elite announced that next year would bring about the 7th congress of the Workers Party. This would be the first to take place since Kim Il-sung named Kim Jung-il to e the successor in the regime. The recent releases of North Korean propaganda posters is trying to unify the nation before such a momentous event.
The theme of unification of the population behind a social or economical cause is commonplace in North Korean society. (I actually just finished a paper for class arguing that the intent of North Korean propaganda is to create a population that has become a crowd, eliminating all routes to individual and intellectual thought.) The recent releases of North Korean propaganda utilizes this theme to rally the population behind the outcome of the congress, though it has not taken place yet.
The slogans of the new posters all call for unification of the population in welcoming the new congress. Though there is small deviations between the posters. Some of the posters call for labor initiative, while others call for simply superior feats. Some of the posters even call for both. These posters are welcoming a political event, which has been the common call of the posters, as was seen throughout the 70th anniversary and other recent celebrations in North Korea.
The images within the posters are interesting. One showcases several medals, showing that the elite are to take part in the congress. Which is easily explanatory, since the congress will be made up of those loyal to the regime, as such people make up the political elite. There is also the use of technologically modern items, such as trains, cars and naval vessels. This poster uses the city of Pyongyang as the back drop to the advancement, hinting to the population that the party and Pyongyang – North Korea in general – is responsible for the advancement of the nation and should be respected.
So, what should be the takeaways from these new posters and why should we care? The answer to the first question is simple. The takeaway is that the congress will be seen as a celebration in North Korea, at least they are promoting it like they have done with other celebrations within the nation. For this reason, there will be a huge emphasis placed on the congress and its outcome, so the possibility of a provocation, most likely small and/or in the form of a vocalization of some sort will be higher than normal (this is my takeaway and prediction). The second question is slightly answered in the first questions answer. The congress will treated as a celebration in North Korea and with celebrations comes possible provocations. Also, with the recent announcement that North Korea is developing a new nuclear testing tunnel, the chance of a nuclear test can not be eliminated, though it may be far off and miniscule. This will raise security concerns on the peninsula and will raise tensions for many of the nations around the peninsula, both geographically and politically. Though this will not be the first time that political tension around the Korean peninsula has heightened to the point of possible war, a fourth nuclear test, or provocations, around the congress will be used to cement the authority of the regime and showcasing the military strength of the party. Depending on what happens with the congress, the surrounding events should be watched as we near the event. The fact that North Korea is advertising the event as a spectacle and celebration, may signal a special provocation. The start of tunneling at the North’s nuclear testing facility may offer insight into what type of provocation it shall be. Personally, I hope that Kim jung-un does not conduct a nuclear test and that the congress will go off with out provocation. The congress will be watched by experts, but also the outside events around the congress should also be monitored, as they may as well be more political unsettling throughout the peninsula and the region.