Survey Shows Majority of North Koreans ‘Unhappy’ about Kim Jong Un’s Leadership Succession
A survey revealing growing dissatisfaction among North Korean residents towards North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un before their defection has been disclosed.
The government assessed that dissatisfaction towards “the Mount Paektu succession” of the Kim family has increased due to the failure of the state-run economy, such as reduced local distribution and power shortage, and the shift of residents’ income source to unofficial private economy activities.
According to the “North Korean Economic and Social Situations Perception Report” released by the Ministry of Unification on the 6th, over half of the respondents, 55.5%, evaluated Leader Kim’s leadership negatively.
As a result, the survey showed that 26.0% of the respondents believed that Leader Kim’s future power succession is legitimate, while 43.8% believed it is illegitimate. 44.4% of the respondents believed the Mount Paektu bloodline system should not be maintained, while 37.8% thought it should be maintained.
The Ministry of Unification explained, “Looking at the trend of changes in the perception of defectors, the number of North Korean residents dissatisfied with the legitimacy of succession is increasing,” and “The perception of the Mount Paektu bloodline-based system is fracturing.”
The Ministry of Unification analyzed that as the economic difficulties continued, the North Korean government’s “loyalty pay” without pay has been prolonged, and the number of people who procure food from the market has increased. The private economy activities that respondents participated in were most common in total market retail, which was 27.0%, followed by reselling (19.0%), smuggling (14.3%), food vending (8.7%), and farming (5.3%). The Ministry of Unification explained, “The North Korean distribution system virtually collapsed as it experienced an economic crisis in the mid-1990s.”
The shortage of clothing, food, housing, power, and other infrastructure in North Korea was also revealed. The proportion of total respondents who said they had received food distribution was 34.1%, and the proportion who said they had not received it was 64.3%. There were 1.6% non-responses.
The Ministry of Unification analyzed that the trust in North Korean won has declined, and the circulation of foreign currency in the market has expanded due to the economic difficulties and the failure of currency reform in 2009. Since Leader Kim took power, the use of the Chinese yuan has increased about fivefold. This trend was particularly noticeable in Pyongyang, where the privileged class is concentrated.
Concerning this, a Ministry of Unification official met with reporters on the day. It said, “There were differences in the upper, middle, and lower classes among the residents of Pyongyang as a result of conducting in-depth interviews with Pyongyang residents,” and “The gap in the behavior of income and labor acquisition of officials was clear.”
Meanwhile, the North Korean authorities have strengthened control to prevent residents from defecting. Among the respondents, 51.3% said they had experienced surveillance and house searches in their residences. The response that more than 30% of the monthly income was robbed through bribes and non-tax payments was also 41.4%. The Ministry of Unification evaluated, “Kim Jong Un’s inauguration pledge to “ensure that the people never tighten their belts again” is becoming meaningless as residents are being squeezed without improving their livelihoods.”
Meanwhile, this statistic results from conducting one-on-one surveys and in-depth interviews with 6,351 defectors over the past ten years from 2013 to 2022 by the Ministry of Unification.