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Kim Jong Un's unequal gift-giving irritates North Koreans

People forced to volunteer labor were given poor quality toothpaste and liquor.

By
Elizabeth Shim
Kim Jong Un’s regime is drawing backlash from ordinary North Koreans who volunteered labor but received poor quality presents from the state. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun
Kim Jong Un’s regime is drawing backlash from ordinary North Koreans who volunteered labor but received poor quality presents from the state. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun

SEOUL, May 18 (UPI) -- Pyongyang distributed presents to the population during the Seventh Party Congress, but some of the gifts were of such poor quality ordinary North Koreans are grumbling about the regime.

The presents also varied by recipient and the best products went to Workers' Party members in attendance at the Seventh Party Congress, Radio Free Asia reported.

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Jiro Ishimaru of Osaka-based Asia Press told RFA loyal recipients were showered with expensive household items like refrigerators, freezers, flat-screen TVs, as well as cosmetics, food, rain gear and boots.

The regime's longstanding practice of favoritism is drawing criticism from other North Koreans who were still required to partake in the country's "70-day battle." Most people had to volunteer labor to meet production quotas.

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"Members of the general population were given a toothpaste, a bottle of liquor, and a lot of complaints have ensued," Ishimaru said.

Some of the dental care products also had to be paid for and were of poor quality, according to the report.

Many North Koreans are saying the Workers' Party officers "do nothing" and are not the best politicians, according to Ishimaru.

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A North Korean source in North Hamgyong Province said the flat-screen TVs are "redundant" gifts for some, as the loyal population already has such goods at home.

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"There is criticism of the-haves, who are just sharing among themselves," the source said.

Discontent in North Korea doesn't seem to be registering with the regime.

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In the weeks following the Seventh Party Congress held on May 6, North Korea has been stepping up the idolization of Kim Jong Un, Yonhap reported.

Mass mobilization movements have required North Korean students to produce art that praises Kim, and over 1,200 such works have been produced, according to KCNA.

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