Amid all the excitement over Kim Jong-un's newly discovered wife, and whether or not she's the excellent horse-faced lady, another major story is being ignored: the Case of the Statue Demolition Society. Here's a report from the official Rodong Simmun:
Jon Yong Chol, defector to south Korea from the north, was interviewed by reporters at the People's Palace of Culture on July 19. He was arrested as he was trying to perpetrate hideous crime of destroying statues and monuments in the DPRK at the instructions of the U.S. and south Korean intelligence agencies....
Jon Yong Chol spoke first. He lived in Songrim-dong No. 2, Songphyong District, Chongjin City of North Hamgyong Province before defecting to south Korea and joining in the moves for destroying monuments of the DPRK by the U.S. and south Korean intelligence agency.
Jon said that he is an unpardonable criminal as he betrayed the motherland and took the criminal path. But he requested for a press conference thinking that he could not die before indicting the south Korean puppet regime for its heinous terrorist plot, he said, and went on:
Finding it hard to overcome temporary difficulties I had been engaged in illegal trading, broking, etc. I received money from a woman and helped her cross the border. Fear of punishment following its disclosure, I fled to China on April 24, 2010.
Wandering here and there I was tempted by an agent of the south Korean Intelligence Service (IS) surnamed Pak and gave him information about the inner situation of the DPRK several times. Guided by him, I went to south Korea. After going through investigation by IS agents and "education" at "Hanawon" I could live in Thoegye-dong, Chunchon City in Kangwon Province of south Korea from March last year.
Referring to the whole story about the course by which he received a terrorist mission from IS agents, Jon Yong Chol went on:
On around November 8 last year when I was frivoling time away without any job, I happened to meet Kim Song Min, who introduced him as representative of the anti-DPRK plot-breeding organization "Front for Liberation of North Korean People" in Seoul with the help of Ri Su Bok whom I got known at "Hanawon."
Kim Song Min is a bad man who defected to south Korea after committing crimes.
He formed a "statue demolition society" in the above-said front. He said that the U.S. and south Korean "government" authorities actively back the "society" with deep interest in it, and persistently persuaded me to join it if I want to make a huge amount of money.
North Korea said Friday that it has arrested a man sent by South Korean spies to destroy statues of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founding president and the grandfather of its current leader, Kim Jong-un....
In North Korea, every news item is thoroughly scripted by government propagandists. Any claim made in a government-arranged news conference there raises questions of credibility among outside observers.
“It’s completely false,” said Kim Hyung-suk, a South Korean government spokesman, referring to Mr. Jon’s claim that he was directed by South Korean government agents. “This is propaganda not worth responding to.”
But it's all being taken very seriously in Pyongyang:
As they continue to criticize South Korea for its alleged role in the recent ‘Statue Demolition Society’ incident, the North Korean authorities have moved to step up patrols around Kim Il Sung statues and other key ‘revolutionary historical sites’, nominally in order to try and foil any possible attack.
A North Hamkyung Province source told Daily NK on the 23rd, “Last week the Saturday morning lecture in factories, enterprises and in people’s units denounced the vandalism of the ‘Statue Demolition Society’.”
“The lecturers emphasized that there needs to be guard duty around statues, revolutionary research institutes and other historical sites in all districts, and that the guards need to be ready to give their lives for the defense of the sites,” the source added.
Reportedly, city and county Party committees have issued orders in the name of the Party Central Committee Secretariat instructing reservists including the Youth Red Guards, Worker and Peasant Red Guards and other societal organizations to set up special patrols in key areas around historical sites.
The orders instruct that the patrols must focus on Kim Il Sung Statues, Kim Il Sung Revolutionary History Museums, the Towers of Eternal Life that exist in every neighborhood and Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Revolutionary Ideology Research Institutes. It commands that patrol frequency be doubled, that one-man patrols become two-man, and that night patrols be extended through the day. It adds that towers and study rooms in factory enterprises should be guarded from 7PM to 7AM.
The aim of the exercise, as the weight of recent propaganda across all North Korea’s domestic media reflects, is to enhance the feeling of being under attack, and through that to generate internal solidarity.
However, a great many people are reportedly skeptical about the entire endeavour nevertheless, and not just because, as the source said, “In this heat wave who would want to stand in guard at the statue, unable to go and eat?
In a connected story, there is a rumor circulating that Jeon Young Chul, the man who stands accused of re-entering North Korea after defection so as to commit the so-called ‘statue terrorism’, is to be executed.
The rumor, which is moving not just between the people but also among members of the security forces, is that the execution will be public.
In the end, then, not so funny.
But at least we in the UK can hold our heads up. Surely the best possible start to the Olympics.