Tue, June 28, 2022


Flying the flag: North Korea puts on daily displays

Every workday morning, detachments of North Korean women armed with red flags take up their positions in strategic locations around Pyongyang.

To the sound of patriotic songs extolling the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as the North is officially known, and lauding its leader Kim Jong Un, they wave their banners and beat red drums for up to an hour.

They are deployed at major sites and key transport hubs such as the Ryugyong hotel and the city's main train station, each group in a different uniform but their equipment identical.

Their displays of sweeping, flowing gestures -- accompanied by disciplined looks -- are intended to motivate the North's workers to greater efforts in their toils.

"We do this propaganda with the desire to give happiness to the Marshal," said Kim Chun Hui, referring to the leader.

Kim spoke to AFP after her performance Saturday outside the Ryugyong hotel, the unfinished pyramid that towers over Pyongyang but has yet to open for business -- although its facades are now illuminated at night, topped with a North Korean flag.

"We encourage the citizens to achieve greater successes in their work," added the 47-year-old, who has two sons.

"So we are not tired. We regard this as our great pride and we think this is what we have to do."

Ordinary North Korean citizens always express wholehearted support for the authorities when speaking to foreign media.

The shows have their origins in two production drives the North declared in 2016, the "70-day battle" and "200-day battle" -- Pyongyang often uses military language when setting goals for its economy, hit by sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

Those "battles" are long over but the flag-waving -- whose formal name is the "Agitation Activity of the Members of the Socialist Women's Union in Rush Hour" -- continues six days a week, the routines unchanged.

The Socialist Women's Union is an official body through which the highly regimented North organises the lives of its housewives, and the flag-waving is one of its activities.

All non-working women are members, largely in their 30s to 50s -- North Korean women in their 20s are assigned jobs, but many leave formal employment once they marry and have children.

"We regard the Supreme Leader as our father," said Song Yang Ran, 57, the SWU head for Pothonggang district in the centre of the capital.

"We always do this thinking of the Supreme Leader," she added.

"We will do it forever."

Published : March 09, 2019

By : Agence France-Presse Pyongyang