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North Korea Today No. 105

Research Institute for North Korean Society
North Korea Today
105th Edition January 2008

Punishment for the Moonduk County Sedition Group, Including a Representative of the Supreme People’s Council
This past December 5th, there was a public trial공개재판 and execution공개처형 for the Moonduk County Sedition Group종파사건in Pyongsung City평성시 of South Pyongan Province평안남도. North Korean authorities executed the Chief of the Management Committee관리위원장, the Secretary of the County Party군당비서, and an accountant부기장 by shooting each one 90 times. The rest four defendants were sentenced to life in prison. Moreover, the authorities completely dismantled the County party군당, People’s Council인민위원회, and the police station보안서 of the Moonduk county 문덕군for having an indirect responsibility in the matter. The main charge in this matter was the crime of “wasting the great achievement of the leader.” As such, they brought in officials of farm collectives from every province도to put on a public People’s Trial. Family and relatives of those found guilty were also shipped off to labor detention centers관리소. This was the first time in Moonduk County that a representative of the Supreme People’s Council최고인민위원회의was executed for the crime of ideological sedition 종파주의.

The three that were executed were accused of living up in two-story houses and abusing their authorities for personal gains. The Chief of the Management Office was a representative of the Supreme People’s Council and has previously been praised several times for running the best farm by Kim Il-Sung when he was still alive, meeting with Kim Il-Sung directly and receiving not only a hero honorific로력영웅 but also other mementos of honor such as business cards, watches, and certificates of appreciations. He even rode around in a private car, which was not given to him by the government (in North Korea, cars are given out to high government officials, but not to the Chief of the Management Office). But everyone obeyed him because of his position in the Supreme People’s Council. He also constantly surrounded himself with young men who had been discharged from the army and was, therefore, unapproachable.

Furthermore, he neglected to register in the army land property map군축지지도 the 80 jungbo정보 (unit of land, 1 jungbo is 3,000 pyung평) which he had ordered and cultivated as new farming land in the last 10 years or more. He actually fed the soldiers under his personal command with the rice farmed in these unregistered plots. He even pulled down a building that Kim Il-Sung had personally oversaw construction of and built a house in its place. In short, he acted like a king in these parts so much so that not even the police보안서 and the National Intelligence Agency보위부 could touch him. He almost completely controlled the army in the region, leading to the central authorities to disbanding the party of Moonduk County.

Related to this matter, there was a training course for all the chiefs of the management committees and secretaries of the parties in cities, counties and divisions리, stressing that, starting this year, those officials caught appropriating grain from farm collectives will face serious lawful penalties. The training emphasized that they should remit all foods to the government and not report falsely. It also announced a new policy of tight auditing of all farm collectives in the division. There are many farm officials shaking in their boots right now for the fear of being made into an example should they get caught in these audits.

Commenting upon this matter, one high official said, “Although Moonduk County is not ideal for farming, the executed chief, on the strength of his leadership and management skills, was able to make the region productive and remit a lot of food to the government while being good to the people. There was a lot of trust in the chief. There are almost no army units today that don’t have unregistered cultivated land on their respective land maps. Moonduk was actually the epitome of a county that did well to sustain itself and the chief had carried out his duties with confidence and popularity.” The high official then wondered whether the chief was made into an example to warn against the possible formulation of regional powers in North Korea.

Only Farm Products Allowed to be Sold in Markets Nationwide

The North Korean authorities are planning to prohibit the selling of finished goods from the market nationwide and restrict the trade to farm products only. Items such as bags, cigarettes, cosmetics, and furniture have already disappeared from the shelves and other finished goods will also be gone soon. Therefore, in order to buy finished goods, people would have no choice but to use state-run stores국영상점, which will be in effect acting like markets. The city commerce management offices will instead take delivery of the finished goods from firms and distribute them to these state-run stores, allowing them to mark up the price and engage in retail business, not in wholesale. However, the consumers are complaining that nothing good has come out of this change in location and sellers except that the prices of the goods have gone up.

More People Want to Sell Market Shelf Space
Recently, in Soonam Market수남시장 in Chungjin 청진, market shelf space매대 that used to command from 500,000 to 1 million won fell precipitously to 200,000 won. When initially building the market, the official price per 1 meter of shelf space was fixed at 100,000 won. But officials had earned double by pricing each 0.5 meters of shelf space for 100,000 won. As the demand for shelf space grew, however, people were bidding from 500,000 to 1.5 million won for shelf space. Some, finding that 0.5 meters is too small to display their wares, bought and operated two at a time. With the age restrictions being enforced since last December, however, the once filled shelves are now empty. Those too young now to trade in the markets are now selling off their useless space. Now there are more sellers of shelf space than buyers.

Hamheung Held a General Public Trial of People Caught by the Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol
Last December 8th, a public trial of 40 people caught by the Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol비사회주의그루빠 (“ASCIP”) was held in Hamheung함흥, North Hamkyung Province 함경북도. A person in charge of the inspection from the Central Party came and announced to the audience the charges of 40 criminals caught by ASCI. 5 among them whose charges were serious were publicly executed instantly. The snipers from People’s Security Division인민보안성shot to death those 5 criminals bound to stakes with the automatic rifle자동보총. Some people who were at the public trial said they felt too miserable to watch the execution.

Those executed on the spot were the biggest merchant princes trading the “Ice” 얼음( a kind of amphetamine) with the head of a base기지장of Gold and Silver Mining Enterprise금은산회사. Some of them renovated their houses as factories and manufactured the “Ice” and some sold their merchandise to foreign buyers. It is reported that the criminals caught by the ASCI recently are 100 or more in total, including the 40 brought to the general public trial and those imprisoned in a detention cell구류장. The ASCI in Hamheung will expand the number of patrol groups and reinforce the inspection in the national border area.

The Attendants at the Scholars Conference Received Extra Presents from the Central Party

The Central Party had presented each attendant at the last scholars conference held from November 30th to December 1st with a book and a ball-point pen. However, after the conference, Chairman Kim Jung-Il who heard again about the list of presents for the attendants, claimed that the presents were not good enough for the scientists considering the importance of science in this modern time. As the result, additional presents from Chairman Kim Jung-Il have been granted: An Arirang television set, a business suit, some Korean dress material, one carton of underwear, dishes, and a blanket. The additional presents are worth about 1 million won of the market price. The attendants given those new presents swore allegiance to their leader. Since the Committee of Science and Technology has been dismissed and the foreign moneymaking company외화벌이회사of the National Academy of Sciences과학원has not earned money from exports any more, the government could not afford to grant decent presents to participants at the conference. This is the first time that additional presents are granted after the original conference presents were given. The cost of those new presents seems to be from the Party’s budget.

With Market Trade Ban, People Are Logging Trees in the Mountains
People who are in economic distress due to the recent trade ban are going up to the mountains to log trees. However, the areas near towns are made up of mostly ordinary fields뙈기밭 and there are hardly any trees. Thus, to find trees, people have to walk as far as 2-3 hours of distance and usually start very early in the morning. However, their long, tough day hardly pays off. Some people succeed in cutting trees without being caught by the forestry patrol산림단속원, but most people barely collect enough dust ball검부레기 to heat their houses and cook food. To gather enough trees to sell and avoid getting caught by the patrol, people should leave their home after 9 pm and cut pine trees around midnight. However, the patrol can easily figure out which pine trees are gone the next morning because there are too few pine trees in the mountains. However, it is still better for those who live near the mountains since they can go to the mountains for logging to make a living, but those who live far from the mountains are desperate for survival mechanisms.

Onsung Residents Almost in Tears for Unsold Firewood
Many residents in Onsung온성in North Hamgyung Province함경북도 , hunt for firewood in the mountains after the market trade ban. Unfortunately, only a small number of people such as the Party officials and rich people can buy the wood. As a result, the firewood price has been falling since there are so many sellers but not enough buyers. One large bundle of firewood is sold for the same price as 6kg of corn (about 3,600 won). The price has fallen almost by half considering it was traded for 5,000 won earlier. Presently, there are many residents in Onsung who can afford only 1 kg of corn to share in the family on a daily basis.

Because of No Food, People Go to and Reside in the Mountain.
Many residents of Onsung County went to reside in the mountain. They decided that living in isolated areas is better than staying in the villages, since they cannot trade at the market any more or do not have sufficient food to feed their family. Furthermore, they would not be forced to make a lot of extra contributions to the Public Enterprises 기업소 and Democratic Women’s Union녀맹, if they went to the mountains. At first, only a few people resided in the mountain, but now the number of people staying there has increased a lot, so the size of the residence area has become as big as an ordinary village. The residents in the mountain said they feel much at home there. They said that they did not intend to stay in the mountains for a long time, but since they were pressured to make a lot of contributions and were irritated by various demands by the government officials, they thought it would be better to abandon their houses and properties to come to the mountains. The residents now regard their places in the mountain as their home.

However, soon after people began to gather together in the mountain to live, the officials from the National Intelligence Agency and the police found these squatter residents in the mountains and forced them to return to their villages. About this measure, people staying in the mountain asked the police officers, “Why do you treat us like this? Where should we live?” The officers answered, “Why do you live in the isolated place? Because staying in the mountain is not safe, you should move down to the village where a lot of people live together and live with them.” But the people said, “Then, give us food and housing, and we will move down to the village.” However, the government did not provide any appropriate solutions to the request of the people, and eventually, most of the relocated people have moved back to the mountains. It takes about 2 hours for the residents to go to the mountains from their village by walk. Many informal villages have sprung up in the mountains, and there are about 16 of them only in Onsung County.

Burdensome Briquette Price
Facing the winter season, the price of coal, which is raw material of briquette, has increased. Sinuiju신의주residents are suffering from the drastically rising briquette price, from 90 won to 250 won per briquette. Minimum heating needs at least 3~4 briquettes per day, which equals the value of almost 1kg of rice. For hungry residents, it could be a luxury to think of heating in the winter season.

Munsu Street in Pyongyang is Ice Water Street
Of residential areas in Pyongyang평양, 20- or 30-storey apartments do not have any hot-water heating service온수난방, so the tap water pipes are frozen and people who return from their work go to bed by wearing winter clothes, and go to work without changing their clothes next morning. Rich people are well-prepared for the harsh winter by installing an alternate no-electric power boiler 무동력보일러in their veranda or buying a gas heater. However, the poor residents encounter winter by covering windows and doors with sheets of plastic like a greenhouse or endure this ruthlessly cold weather without electricity. In this context, the Pyongyang City government allowed citizens to use electric warm blankets because the city could not provide enough hot-water heating service. Households with old people and children do not have enough electric warm blankets for the entire family, so they put hot water in the liquor bottles of 5 liters and make their blankets and comforters warm. But the bottles cannot keep the heat until dawn, so they said that they usually feel cold in the morning.

In Pyongyang, Munsu Street문수거리 has such a poor heating system and service that many households must stand the cold winter without proper heating, thus it has a shameful nickname, “Ice Water Street.” 냉수거리. Meanwhile, the Pyongyang Power Plant has supplied hot water to the Central District중구역, the Botongang River District보통강구역, and the Pyongchun River District 평천강구역, to run the central heating system of housing facilities in these districts. The plant used to provide Munsu Street with hot water, but it does not have enough coal to run the generators, so it cannot supply the hot-water-heating service to the “Ice Water Street.”

People Want to Tell the Shortage of Electricity to Foreign Countries
Some officials and rich people can use electricity, but people who struggle to feed and support their family cannot use electricity. People in North Hamgyung Province함경북도 have used electronic heater fans열풍기 as heating apparatuses when they do not have coal as the source of operating their heating system, but the heater fan are useless because they do not have electricity any more. Officials of the City Party and managers of companies or Public Enterprises do not have any trouble with heating because they can use electricity as much as they want. However, ordinary residents cannot even imagine using the heater fan. Some residents said that they want to report the shortage of electricity in North Korea (NK) and the horrible gap of the living standards between officials and ordinary residents to foreign newspapers or journals because they seem to think that the problematic situation can be improved if foreign countries find out the shortage of electricity in North Korea.

Divorce Leads to Punishment:
Divorced People Sent to Coal mines or Mining Labor Farms
The first issue discussed at a general residents’ meeting주민총화 in Shinuiju신의주 was about illegal marriages (love affairs). It was mentioned, for an example, that a man had relationships with three different women, which led to a breakup of three families. And this story caught the public’s attention. This man eventually got divorced, and the court’s decision on the case was that from now on, anyone who is found being in an illegal marriage or getting divorced will be sent to coal mines or mining labor farms광산농장 with no exception. The second issue discussed at the meeting was about the mistreatment of parents-in-law and old people. Concerning the increasing number of such cases, the residents were told that anyone reported for mistreating old people and in-laws would be expelled to the most notorious places among coal mining areas in North Pyungan Province평안북도. Runaway people가정이탈자 who breakup families in anyway will be also sent to coal mining areas without exception.

Party Officials Reviewing the Results of the Six-Party Talks
Manager-level officials부장급간부 of the provincial party도당 of North Hamgyung Province gathered to review the results of the six-party talks. “In the six-party talks, the United States lifted economic sanctions on North Korea completely and agreed to provide 200,000MT of oil and food aid. In addition, South Korea also promised to continue to give rice and industrial products in aid. There is no one who can defeat our army and people. As we have completed our preparations to defend our nation, we now need to pay more attention to improving people’s lives.” This was an essential point of the meeting.

Soldiers of Youngbyun County Over-exposed to RadiationYoungbyun County영변군 in North Pyongan Province평안북도 has been quarantined, and no outsider is allowed into the county. It is mostly soldiers and their families who live in the Uranium Mining Areas of the County. Due to its fragile prevention system, inhabitants have been exposed to radioactive materials, and many of them suffer from radiation poisoning. Even in old days, people who finished their military service in this country received a certificate of an honorable discharge with an indication of “atomic troops원자력복무” – soldiers who stationed in areas where atomic facilities are located. These people identified as “atomic troops” are eligible to receive free medical services whenever they have health problems (at work). In addition, they are also allowed to take a long-term sick leave. These are the only privileges for those exposed to radiation.

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