A new North Korea state command suggests the dictatorship may have its wartime and emergency priorities out of order.
The government has reportedly ordered North Korean citizens to make preparations for the safekeeping of portraits of the late supreme leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, just in case disaster strikes, according to Yonhap News Agency.
The portraits at the Provincial Artifacts Center in Cheongjin will relocate to a cave in Chongham District, a source in North Hamgyong province told Radio Free Asia.
Pyongyang reportedly issued the order earlier in November.
North Korean citizens have been instructed to prepare polyethylene resin boxes to keep the portraits hanging in their homes safe during a catastrophe.
After the order was released, the price of polyethylene resin went up.
With tensions running high on the Korean Peninsula, a result of North Korea’s repeated nuclear and ballistic missile tests, war is one contingency for which the country is preparing.
The North also struggles with natural disasters, such as the severe floods that killed several hundred people and displaced hundreds of thousands over the summer.
A group of 13 teachers and students perished at Songhak High School in North Korea trying to save the portraits of Kim Jong-un’s predecessors.
“The vice principal, fearing punishment for not properly protecting the idolization material, declared an emergency during the flood, and the teachers and students mobilized for the recovery task ended up losing their lives,” an inside source told Daily NK.
North Korea requires people to “serve the leader first with eagerness.” Failure to protect idolization material, specifically the portraits of past leaders, is punishable, even in emergency situations.
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