The True Opinion North Koreans Have Of Kim Jong Un, Secret Surveys Conducted

It’s a difficult task to truly determine what North Koreans think of their totalitarian leader King Jong Un. It is a nation where professing anything other than honor and praise for the Kim regime can lead to an individual becoming a political prisoner, or even worse.

Over many years, researchers within South Korea have attempted to collect data as to the common thought of those who have escaped the police state and made it to safety in South Korea by conducting surveys. However, a new strategy is in the works as the Washington Post states, noting “… the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, is trying to poll North Koreans who still live in North Korea.”

Victor D. Cha, the chair of Korea studies at CSIS, who run the Beyond Parallel project that is dedicated to Korean unification, speaks about the new poll.

“This gives us a window into what the average North Korean citizen is thinking. This is the first time we’re hearing directly from people inside the country.”

Cha would not reveal the name of the nongovernmental agency that was contracted to conduct the survey to maintain its safety of operations. The latest results about how North Koreans think and talk about Jong Un and his regime while in private is to be published on Wednesday.

The agency surveyed 20 men and 16 women who are between the ages of 28 and 80, from all areas of the nation. The individuals came from various backgrounds and jobs, some of which included a doctor, a laborer, a homemaker, a factory worker, and a company president.

The process was so secretive that Cha was not even aware as to how the survey was carried out and as to whether the people were aware they were being questioned for a poll. But such is life in North Korea.

“This isn’t Gallup-level surveying. It’s only 36 people, but it’s 36 people more than anyone else has surveyed in North Korea. The findings are modest, but they’re pretty insightful.”

Out of the 36, thirty-five of those surveyed admitted that their family, friends or acquaintances complained or joked about the Kim regime in private.

“For the vast majority of the world’s population, especially for those people living in free and open societies, a similar such finding would be quite banal. But North Korea is not a free and open society. That all but one. . . say people they know complain and makes jokes about the government is an extraordinary number given the gravity with which the regime responds to criticisms.”

It’s not surprising that North Korea does rank at the bottom of lists regarding countries with free speech. It has among the world’s most repressive media agencies and environments. There are only a few elite members of the nation’s regime that have access to any internet or outside information.

A report published in 2014 by the United Nations states that there is denial to the right to freedom of expression or free speech, and even thought within North Korea. There is state surveillance that constantly monitors the lives of all citizens to be sure that there is no ill expression in regards to the political system that is in place. Any criticism results in time in a political prison camp or even execution if the offense is serious enough.

The findings from the survey only add to the stream of reports that come from “citizen reporters” that are within North Korea. Media outlets that include the Japanese journalist Jiro Ishimaru’s publication Rimijingang and the Daily NK in Seoul, often use informants within the country; however, their reports are usually based on single sources from border regions.

[Featured Image by Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images]