North Korea Today No. 94

Research Institute for North Korean Society

North Korea Today
94th Edition October 2007

Military Committee Meeting to be held from October 19~21 on Food Situation
A Military Committee meeting is planned in Pyongyang from the 19th through 21st of this month. The purpose of this meeting is to come up with emergency plans to deal with the unprecedented food crisis for the military as there were reports of shortages of food rations in numerous locations throughout the country. Food administration officials from all provinces, districts, cities, and counties are being called up to Pyongyang to discuss relief efforts. In case of non-attendance, the absent food administration official will be subject to military punishment, according to the official order to comply. Up to now, the Central Party’s Committee for Organization had requested them to cooperate with the military relief efforts but was largely ignored. Since this year’s food output looks particularly bad, there is a sense that the central government is trying to resolve the military food situation by forcing down the responsibility on local governments. This will mean that ordinary citizens will have even more difficulty obtaining food next year.
Pyongyang to ration South Korea rice
Pyongyang is rationing rice sent by South Korea. But the rice is not popular with Pyongyang residents since it tends to be fluffy and flaky when cooked, being Western-style rice. Even then, it is better than nothing, and, the Pyongyang residents are trading in their rationed rice for maize and other types of rice. On the other hand, there is a rumor that 50,000 tons of South Korean rice is about to arrive through the Port of Nampo. One export/import merchant in Nampo said: “I understand that 30,000 tons of South Korean Western-style rice has already come in. They don’t give the people anything no matter how much comes in. The people are used to being neglected and no longer expect anything anymore. I wish they would at least give to the military what they don’t give to the people, but that doesn’t seem to be happening either. Even if we get extra 50,000 tons of rice, the people won’t get any.”
Teen girls off to Siniju, Working in Prostitution
From all of the Pyungan North Province, teenage girls who want to prostitute themselves for money are going to Siniju. When a lot of girls who want to help their parents and siblings needing food and fuels come to the city, officials of the Siniju have no idea of how to handle this kind of problem. A 17-year-old girl from PyHyun county said that her friends from the same place had found their clients and went their ways. She said that nobody wanted to buy her body because she was not pretty, but now she can sell chestnuts that she can get at a market. She said that she buys chestnuts at 1,400 won per kg at a market and sells them at 1,500 won around the apartment area/residential area. She said that she will go home when she saves 50,000 won. So far she has saved 20,000 won by not spending it on anything non-essential. She is waiting for the day when she can go home.
Universities at Siniju Distributing Maizes including cobs
Universities at Siniju신의주 distributed each faculty member 100 kg of whole corn with shuck as a half year’s rations which is equivalent to about 2,200 won. The universities have grown this distributed corn at their granted lots. Faculty members and their families spread the corn out on on the floor inside their house and ground it untiltheir hands felt numb. However, housewives were glad to work because they had not received the rations for a while.
Public Execution Carried Out on a Stone Processing Plant Manager in Soonchun
On October 5th 2007, the Soonchun Stadium순천경기장 was packed with a crowd of 150,000 to watch a 75year old manager of a stone processing plant in Soonchun순천 who was publicly executed only after a preliminary trial. He was arrested by the investigation patrol of the Committee of Defense국방위원회, the National Intelligence Command국가보위사령부 when they discovered that his father had served as a Captain of the Chi-an-dae치안대[1] during the Korean War. His main accusations were fabrication of his personal history and pretense of being a patriot instead of confessing he was a son of a traitor. In addition, he was accused of setting up the stone plant by investing his own money, appointing his own son and daughter as managers of the plant, installing 13 telephones in the basement of the plant, and making international phone calls from 3 of those telephones for a long time. However, after the execution, the stadium being too crowded, 6 people were dead and 34 injured while they were leaving the scene.
Aftermath of the Soonchun Public Execution
After the execution of the stone plant manager in Soonchun, 3 commanders of the National Intelligence Command were suspended and the Chief Secretary of the city council with some leading members of the Party, who have been involved in the manager’s wrongdoings, were discharged from their positions. Since there might be still more members in the Party who have accepted money from the manager and his children were found to have done some foul plays by using their father’s name, those who might have been involved in those corrupt activities are anxiously watching the progress of this case.
Moreover, some very high officers in the Party are likely to be discharged from their positions since they are found to have defrauded the factory machines and sold them into some provinces against Chairman Kim Jeong-Il’s order.
Frequent Gas Explosions
An explosion from a kitchen gas tank in an executive officer’s home in Siniju on October 11th has burned a house to ashes and caused two neighbors’ walls to fall to the ground. Among the family members, only a baby survived while the baby’s grandparents and the baby’s mother burned to death. Fortunately, the baby’s father who is an executive officer was safe from the fire because he was on the night shift on that day. Recently, there have been frequent accidents of gas explosions. One of the residents said “Since second-hand gas tanks are not allowed to be imported from China, the gas tanks are disguised through repainting and are imported to North Korea. Since people in Siniju use charcoal for heating, gas that leaks in the night from an old tank might react with gas from charcoal under saturated conditions and lead to accidents. As the weather gets colder, everybody relying on charcoal heating has no other choice but to use it even though they are afraid of accidents. If conditions for electricity are favorable, an electrical heater might be used but that is usually not the case when there is only a two hour supply of electricity per day. Furthermore, watching television is not easy because of low voltages. While watching television, the electrical power is turned on and off every 30 minutes”. Some people basically associate the accidents with the lack of adequate electricity supplies.
Labor from Children in an Orphanage
There is an orphanage composed of 125 orphans in the Onsung county온성군. Taking care of orphans is false banner and there is actually no effort from the orphanage itself to care for the children. They raise the children with the confiscated goods or tax from the quarantine across the bridge. Among rationed goods, the best ones are distributed to schoolteachers or the local residents, and the worst ones are allotted to the children in the orphanage. The orphanage is cultivating a farmland of 12acres, but they rely onchildren’s labor. The children are forced to pull out weeds every afternoon so they do not have time to play. Due to hunger and excessive labor, many children run away from the orphanage. Those who know the situation blame the neighbors and the teachers at the orphanage and call them landlords. Since advantages are taken by adults while hard-work is assigned to children, relatives such as grandmothers or uncles would like to take care of the children who do not have parents instead of sending them to an orphanage.
[1]Chi-an-dae: meaning ‘Security Patrol’ in Korean, is equivalent to low capacity civil militia that used to help US army and the Korean army during the Korean War (1950 -1953). Thus, when one was found to take part in the Chiandae, everyone was almost put to death or imprisoned and all their families were distinguished as the ‘hostile class’ that were discriminated against from the rest of the society.
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