North Korea Bans Sarcasm, Yes Really - Dispatch Weekly

September 8, 2016 - Reading time: 3 minutes

Kim Jong-un, North Korean leader, has banned citizens from using sarcasm in everyday conversations, which includes satire directed towards the regime and indirect disapproval of the leader.

Freedom of Speech: Sarcasm is a ‘Hostile Action’

Sources say that this began at the end of August, in mass meetings organized by government authorities, across the isolated one-party state.

An anonymous source in Jangang province, on the border with China, told RFA’s Korean Service this week:

“One state security official personally organized a meeting to alert local residents to potential ‘hostile actions’ by internal rebellious elements.”

Seen and Not Heard: “Keep Your Mouths Shut”

The same anonymous source added, “The main point of the lecture was ‘keep your mouths shut.”

Discontent has been mounting in North Korea, as there have been reports of mocking graffiti slogans at a construction site in Pyongyang.

Blacklisted Expressions

‘A fool who cannot see the outside world,’ refers to a phrase that was reportedly circulating the state, relating to the country’s isolationist leader.

Another expression, “This is all America’s fault”, was banned because, if spoken ironically it could be regarded as criticism of the failing regime.

Defections Increasing

According to South Korea’s Unification Ministry, the number of defections from North Korea is increasing.

Between January to August this year, 894 people defected from the north to the south, a 15 percent increase from the same period a year ago. This number could hit 1,500 this year, say South Korean officials.

Photo Credit: ROK Unification Ministry, 2016


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