SEOUL, Sept. 19 (UPI) — North Korea is encouraging high school students to spy on one another in a recent campaign to discourage defections, according to a South Korean press report.
Students were instructed through lectures that took place in early September to monitor each other’s conduct and report any suspicious activity, New Focus International reported Monday.
A source in North Korea told the news service that with the new academic term the “Education Department began the provision of information for propaganda lectures, focusing on the penetration of new Party commands into the people.”
While community surveillance has been an integral part of North Korean society, the source said the recent message from the state includes a “special emphasis on revolutionary readiness.”
“Rumors are circulating among citizens in border towns, including school students, about the recent defection of the restaurant workers in China and other highly anked officials working overseas,” the source said.
North Korea has been cracking down on defectors and has stepped up surveillance of overseas workers.
But even the new measures may have limits because of diminished trust among North Koreans.
“The students already know what the State Security Department authorities mean when they say to assume a revolutionary mind – to spy on one another. But they laughed it off, because no idiot would ever tell their friends their plans to defect,” the source said.
Mutual spying is a source of constant fear in North Korea, according a refugee with the surname Choi.
“People say these days that you should never trust anyone – not your neighbors, your lover, your family or even yourself,” Choi said, referring to how the state assigns people to secretly spy on their acquaintances.
Pyongyang’s restrictions against defections come at a time when it has stepped up propaganda against South Korea and the United States.
On Monday, North Korean propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri stated Seoul was inciting military provocations and challenging the “sacred place of the Sun,” a reference to Kim Jong Un.