Latest Study Guides for Ideological Indoctrination 

Kim Jong Un is presiding over the ninth Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea. The image is from Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the regime, on 12/31/2023.

SEOUL – The ruling Workers’ Party produced its annual Study Guide last month, which provides a rare window into political indoctrination and the devotion with which everyone from top officials to ordinary workers is expected to approach it.

The “Study Guide to Arm Oneself with the Idea and Spirit of the 9th Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea” summarizes the new direction unveiled at the end of last year when Kim Jong Un declared, among other things, the country was no longer pursuing reunification.

It comes in two slim documents, one for party members and workers (i.e., non-members) and a separate one for senior cadres. They were published by the Workers’ Party of Korea Publishing House, which falls under the Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department. 

The documents are the most recent for use at the ideological study sessions, which all North Koreans are required to attend, regardless of age, occupation, or affiliation. These sessions are usually held on Saturdays at work sites, in schools, or at social organizations and typically last for up to three hours. They consist of reading, memorizing, and reciting the speeches, writings, and teachings of Kim Jong Un. Participants must produce self-criticism reports, confess mistakes, and pledge loyalty. Failure to do so can lead to criticism, humiliation, and even punishment from peers and superiors.

To give a flavor of its contents, the Study Guide opens with these words from Kim Jong Un: “We must shine in 2024 with new and significant achievements through a more energized and vigorous struggle, with the confidence that we have boldly overcome the most severe and rigorous obstacle.” 

The copies that NK Insider obtained from Pyongyang include 23 questions, which participants at study sessions are required to learn how to respond to. We list them here in full:

  1. What are the basic ideas and basic spirit of the 9th Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea?
  2. What made 2023 a year of great transition, a year of great change?
  3. What are the factors behind our accomplishments in 2023 that we can be most proud of?
  4. What achievement was more significant than exceeding last year’s grain production plan?
  5. What was the biggest political accomplishment last year that can’t even be compared to a great fortune?
  6. What is the practical significance of our 3-year period of struggle since the 8th Plenary Meeting?
  7. What is the current direction in the operation of the Science and Technology Distribution Center?
  8. What is the direction of our collective struggle?
  9. What kind of a year is 2024?
  10. As the risk of damage from disastrous extreme weather increases, what can we do to minimize its impact?
  11. What should be the guiding principles for any business, including urban management?
  12. What is our party’s decision regarding stabilizing and improving people’s lives at this time?
  13. How can the agriculture sector minimize the impact of disastrous extreme weather?
  14. What are the goals of mechanization of agricultural work set forth in the Agriculture Revolutionary Doctrine?
  15. What should the light industry prioritize and fight for this year?
  16. What are the key demands in modernizing rural industrial plants?
  17. What kind of people are the true talents, and what kind of units are the priority units that the times and the revolution want?
  18. What are the basics of operating a Science and Technology Distribution Center?
  19. How do we induce people to have a vested interest in the development of science and technology?
  20. What are the critical requirements of our party’s health policy?
  21. Where do we have to target and focus our efforts in the fight against anti-socialist and unsocialist behavior?
  22. What is important for the civil defense sector to be realistic in its planning and execution to complete the fight-readiness of civil defense forces?
  23. What is patriotism?

The study guide for the exclusive use of senior cadres includes answers to these questions, as they are required to lead study sessions. 

Below are some examples of the responses that citizens are required to learn. 

Question 3: What are the factors behind our accomplishments in 2023 that we can be most proud of?

Response: The heroic struggle of our Workers’ Party members, sincere workers and soldiers of the People’s Army, who have loyally upheld the Party’s ideas and leadership, and carried us to a new phase of reconstruction and development with their strong determination and bold efforts.

Question 4: What achievement was more significant than exceeding last year’s grain production plan?

Response: A long-standing and outdated belief in the agricultural sector, that farming is dependent on the harmony of the universe, is beginning to break down.

Question 22: What is important for the civil defense sector to be realistic in its planning and execution to complete the fight-readiness of civil defense forces?

Response: It is improving the level of operational command of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards’ commanders and the combat capabilities of their troops by continuously innovating training contents and methods so that they can actively and proactively deal with any combat actions of the enemy.

Question 23:  What is patriotism?

Response: Patriotism is a spirit of thought sublimated into a feeling of love for all that one has cherished in one’s heart on the land where one was born, and a will to defend it and to make it shine endlessly. In other words, true patriotism is an eruption of the most ardent and sublime ideological feelings toward the motherland, where one does not hesitate to sacrifice one’s blood, flesh, and even one’s life to defend the national independence and sovereignty of the country.

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