Ever wondered why despite so many reports of abhorrent human rights abuses by Kim Jong-Un, thousands of North Korean people – often with tears in their eyes – cheer rapturously for the young dictator images splashed across the media?
The reason is as ugly as you might imagine.
A North Korean defector who spoke to Sky News on conditions of anonymity revealed how people clap for their survival in the hermit kingdom – that all public displays of adoration for the leader are actually the result of fear and oppression.
"When people are clapping," he explained, "if you don't clap, if you nod off, you're marked as not following Kim Jong-Un's doctrine. You have to do it because you don't want to die. You chant 'long live' and clap because you don't want to die."
After serving North Korea's military for more than two decades, the defector fled to South Korea, leaving his two daughters behind.
The defector described how people who don’t follow Kim’s orders are punished – and in extreme cases, publicly executed.
“When Kim Jong-Un does something wrong, if the people don't live well, he points to someone else and says, 'You have done it wrong.' Therefore, the people get punished, or executed. It's not them that have done wrong.”
The interview comes just days after the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. It was, according to some reports, the “biggest ever” military parade.
However, it’s not just Pyongyang’s army that is seen expressing devotion and loyalty to the nation’s ruler. The mainstream media is rife with images of Kim Jong-Un surrounded by often emotional citizens fawning over him.
Be it men, women, senior citizens or children – almost everyone appears to be in awe of Kim Jong-Un:
While many North Koreans may truly be loyal to the regime, the defector’s account suggests how a climate of fear forces people to participate in glittering military parades.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, KCNA