North Korea’s crackpot dictator Kim Jong-un has banned his people from using sarcasm in their everyday conversations in a fresh crackdown on criticism of his leadership.
Mass meetings organized by government officials have been used to issue a chilling warning that ironic statements “will not be forgiven”.
Oppressed and starving workers have been told satire directed towards the regime or indirect criticism hidden behind humor will be seen as “hostile actions”.
Among the phrases outlawed by Kim are ‘This is all America’s fault’ – a jibe at the paranoid regime’s obsession with blaming the USA for its own failings.
A source in the northern Jagang province near the Chinese border told Radio Free Asia: “One state security official personally organized a meeting to alert local residents to potential ‘hostile actions’ by internal rebellious elements.
“The main point of the lecture was ‘keep your mouths shut’.”
The same message was delivered in a meeting held in neighboring Yanggang province on August 28, a source there said.
The official leading the meeting warned those present against being “dragged into internal hostile behavior”.
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The source added: “This habit of the central authorities of blaming the wrong country when a problem’s cause obviously lies elsewhere has led citizens to mock the party.”
Another blacklisted expression is “A fool who cannot see the outside world”.
The phrase has been used widely by government workers in the capital Pyongyang who were surprised Kim Jong-un failed to appear at commemorations held in Russia and China to mark the end of the Second World War.
Expressions of public discontent with the brutal regime have become more common in the tightly controlled state this year.
Graffiti mocking production slogans appeared at a construction site in Pyongyang, while more scandalous graffiti personally attacking Kim has been seen in areas near China.