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North Korea Today No. 116_Supplement Edition

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North Korea Today
116th Supplement Edition March 2008


Happy to Live with Mother and Brother
Kim Soonhee, who lives in Songpyung district, in Chungjin city, has suffered a great loss. Her husband died 8 years ago. Her family had suffered from hunger and her children left home to find food. Once she had a happy family with two children and a husband who was her college sweetheart. Since the Arduous March, she has lost her dream and her happiness. She could not return to her workplace where she once went with her husband. They frequently starved because there was no food rationing. In the early stage of the Arduous March she endured by making corn power soup mixed with wild grass that was gathered by her relatives or by burning collected coals.

After nearly starving to death, her husband became seriously ill from eating common goosefoot plant (능쟁이풀) soup, normally used for pig feed, which was not thoroughly cooked. At that time her elder son was 14, and younger son was 7 years old. The family had no medical aid and her husband died from the shock of eating the undercooked soup. His body became swollen and he suffered severe diarrhea. From the shock of his death, she began to suffer both psychologically and physically. She became so sick that she couldn’t care for her family. Her children began to wander the country to survive. They spent 6 years searching for scraps, getting beaten from because they were forced to steal, and getting frostbite from sleeping outdoors in the severe winter. Finally, they reconnected with their mother when they were 20 and 13 years old. Now, the family lives in poverty. The mother survives by selling noodles and coal. Although they still face continual hunger, they smile brightly because their family has been reunited.

Severely Beaten Homeless Children (Kkotjebis)
On March 10th, a group of homeless children (Kkotjebis) was killed at Gowon County station in South Hamgyong Province. About 20 homeless children were severely beaten by railway cargo guards, after the guards caught the children stealing during cargo loading time. The guards used sticks to beat down the children. Several were beaten to death. The officers cast the dead children outside the station. Among the homeless children, there were two girls who were about 10 years old. No body tried to take care of them because they were not from Gowon County. Han Youngchul, who was in the station at that time, lamented “this is too much even though morality is paralyzed from a deteriorating living condition. How our people have been living in such a dreadful state.”

Lamenting Husband Observing Wife Day
Husbands’ lamentations deepened after March 8th wife day (3.8부녀절). Kim Kwangchul cried “Although I am not a good husband to my wife, I could comfort my wife by eating out with her on March 8th, wife day. But now I can’t even dream about it. I think my situation is so pathetic and pitiful.” Park Sanghyuek, who married recently, is in trouble of not having a normal meal because his wife cannot do business. He says he does not see any hope in life because business is prohibited and the price of rice priceis sky-rocketing. Meanwhile, the government is not providing any promising policy. Additionally, the non-tax burden is increasing. So, men shout everywhere asking how they can be good husbands. So far, March 8th wife day, passed with the deep lamentation of the husbands.

Urangcheon Power Plant Explosion Accident
This past March 8th, there was an explosion at the Urangcheon Power Plant construction site in North Hamgyong Province. The Gimchaek city battalion began to dig out not knowing that one of 9 blasting gunpowders had misfired. The misfired gunpowder exploded during work time. 5 people died on the spot, and 3 people were seriously injured.

Bankrupt from Drug Business Investment
26 years old Lee Gumsun, who was involved in a drug business in Shinam district in Chungjin city, was arrested during a national security office screening. She earned a lot of money from the drug business in Sinuiju through a customs connection. She received investment from money owners to grow her business. She collected around nine thousand won with a high interest rate from five money owners(돈주). Her dream of earning big money disappeared after she was arrested on the way to Sinuiju. The money owners turned deadly pale. One lender went to the hospital after having a heart attack from worrying about the money.

The Itch (Scabies) Occurrence at Relief Institutions in Gimchaek City
Scabies(옴) is spreading at relief institutions in Gimchaek city and adjacent counties because of poor hygiene management. 21 homeless children (Kkotjebis) with scabies were counted on March 10th. They are quarantined at a warehouse at each relief institution. On March 5, 12 years old Kim Youngjin died at the warehouse in Gimchaek city. It turned out that he was infected with a spirochete after having treatment to prevent the inflammation from spreading to his whole body. Emergency prevention policies for epidemics are under consideration because of the concern that the infectious disease will spread out into other regions.

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