Public opinion in North Korea about the nuclear test: indifferent

Thursday 14th January, 2016

North Korea announced it has successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test. The Korean Central News Agency  released the official statement on the 6th at noon in North Korean time. It claimed that the successful hydrogen bomb detonation proved the accuracy of the technological resources behind its nuclear weapons development.

Unlike the regime boasting its success by forcibly mobilising the masses to participate in celebrations for portrayal in its state media, public opinion is rather negative, according to our internal correspondents.

One correspondent called in on Thursday evening, January 7th, to report, “At 11:50a.m. on the 6th, the community leader paid a visit to each and every house to deliver the order that we must all pay attention to an important announcement. At noon, Ri Chun Hee announced on the radio in a proud voice that North Korea has succeeded its 4th nuclear bomb test.”

She said, “People here are more apprehensive than boastful. They say the regime has finally blown it after the repetitive talks about the nuclear test. People in the markets also argue, ‘The government should have spent the money on food supplies. The state media announced that the nuclear test was a success, but who knows whether it was.’ ”

The situations in the North Korean border region remain unchanged; the residents are largely indifferent to the success of its nuclear test. The regime propagated justifications for possessing nuclear weapons and its success on the 4th nuclear test, on the basis that it defends peace and protects from the United States and its other enemies.

In the past, people in the DPRK have been proud of nuclear test success and its purported power to defend the state. But public opinion has turned against nuclear weapons over the years, with people’s perception of nuclear arms development going from ‘possession of national defense power’ to ‘waste of financial resources’. It is less perceived as a political issue, as there is development of consciousness about the economically negative sides of the nuclear weapons.

The “perfectly successful” test, if it was true, might have brought the country’s “nuclear might to the next level” as the state media announced, but the economic impact of the blow still would fall on its people. If North Korea’s nuclear threat deteriorates China-North Korea relations, it may affect economic exchanges between the two countries, among other issues. As North Korea’s economy greatly depends on China, its trading partner and economic provider, most commodities and necessity goods distributed in North Korea are imported or smuggled from China. North Koreans’ daily bread is at stake.

ROK Ministry of National Defense announced that senior defense officials from South Korea and China will have a meeting in Seoul on Friday, to discuss a joint response to North Korea’s 4th nuclear test, after South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye called Wednesday for China’s help to launch what she calls the “strongest” international sanctions on North Korea over the nuclear test.

By Park Sun-hwa.
Read in Korean.
Translated by Jinny Lee.

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