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Public opinion in North Korea about nuclear weapons

flag-N-KoreaAsk a North Korean: what do you think about nuclear weapons?

In an ongoing series, NK News poses a reader’s question to a North Korean defector. This week, pride in the government’s atomic exploration, Guardian, Je Son Lee for NK News, part of the North Korea network

Friday 23 October 2015 When I was still living in North Korea, the regime had a successful nuclear test. People were very proud of it, and afterwards we had a town hall meeting where my neighbours talked about how the US would no longer be able to boss us around.

Most North Koreans are very aware of the fact that other countries make fun of them, and look down on the DPRK, but many think it’s because the country is poor.

North Koreans are generally very curious about how they are perceived internationally, and reports are circulated among communities of discrimination and abuse suffered abroad – such as in China – which generate a feeling of self-consciousness.

Therefore, people in the DPRK have become very proud when they hear that the country has become a nuclear state. When they hear news like this, they think: “Our nation may still be poor. But we can [still] be one of the most powerful and influential nations in national defence.”


North Korea invests heavily in education, especially in teaching people about Japanese imperial rule and the era following independence.

The Japanese committed atrocities against unarmed, innocent Koreans, and Kim Jong-un’s government frequently highlights these acts of brutality when it justifie the possession of nuclear weapons.

Thanks to frequent reminders in school textbooks and history classes, North Koreans show more hostility toward Japanese than Americans.

Pictures and graffiti of Japanese and American soldiers committing acts of violence are painted on the buildings of kindergartens, schools and offices. If you had grown up being brainwashed and exposed to this from a young age, how would you feel? North Koreans begin to realise the importance of protecting their country.

This justifies the nuclear programme and weapons, but the government doesn’t teach its people about the negative sides and ordinary citizens have no way of finding out how dangerous they can be.

Of course, some North Koreans may hold different opinions on this issue. But from what I’ve seen, North Koreans are in favour of their government’s nuclear programme for one reason: they think it will protect them from powerful countries such as the US and Japan, and means they won’t have to go back to the time when Koreans had to suffer under the US military and Japanese imperialism.

Editing and translation by Elizabeth Jae. A version of this article first appeared on NK News, North Korea News

October 24, 2015 - Posted by | North Korea, politics

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