USB drives new status symbol in DPRK

According to the Daily NK:

North Korean citizens are not only sensitive to the style of their clothing or shoes, but also the brands of their accessories such as bicycles and MP3 players.

The reason behind the North Korean special emphasis on such items is apparent in the North Korean adage, “What one eats is not as important as what one wears.” It is not particularly evident whether one has eaten or not in the short term, but attire gives away the level of wealth in a household.

Just as household affluence is determined by the type of vehicle or house one owns in a capitalist society, the type of clothing or shoes that one wears, the particular brand of cigarettes in the pocket of a person or the kinds of objects one owns indicates the wealth of a person in North Korea and even decides the way in which a person is treated.

Two examples are the USB memory sticks and MP3 players which have started circulating there.

An inside source in North Korea testified, “Teenagers nowadays may not know how a computer works, but will carry at least one USB memory stick along with their keys. Middle school students living in cities have to own at least one MP3 player in order to be acknowledged as coming from a middle class background.”

So, in order to cement or exaggerate their social positions, youths go out and get an MP3 player, even if it means foregoing meals, and the parents who do not want to see their children getting alienated will save every penny to buy these ‘essential’ items.

Read the full story below:
Teenagers, the Generation Keeping up with the Times
Daily NK
Moon Sung Hwee, from Jagang in 2006


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