Best-selling Items at Markets Are Wild Greens
As grain prices are soaring and prices of staple commodities are continuously increasing, the best -selling items at local markets are various edible wild greens. In spring, a peak season of wild greens, there are a number of people who pick wild greens in the mountains as well as on the plains. No matter where you go, every mountain is packed with people who are looking for edible greens for food or to sell at markets. A demand for wild greens is increasing because wild greens are key substitutes that double the quantity of a meal, adding to a little amount of corn rice.
Approximately thirty young female students who live in a nearby farm village are selling wild greens at the entrance of Namsong market in
Even Residents of
Of residents of
The Shortage of Food Is Worsening in Nampo
Nampo known as an internationally famous port city has also had troubles with the scarcity of food. Residents living in the suburban cities and counties of Nampo aside, about 350 thousand people live in the city and laborers have not received rations since last December. The City Government has had urgent meetings about food problems, but they did not find appropriate answers. They have just asked people who are going to foreign countries to get food by using any connections. If it is not possible to get food in the countries, they seem to think simply bean oil is enough in this malnutrion period. They ask their favors again and again because they can prevent them from starving to death by only dipping grass and root in the oil and eat them. Although some people can go to foreign countries, they cannot find any connection that can provide them with food and many people ask these people for the same favors, so it is useless to ask. Metaphorically, it is like preaching to the deaf ears.
The Number of Absentees without Leave Increases in a Fertilizer Company in Hamheung
The number of absentees without leave has increased in a fertilizer company in Hamheung because they have not received any rations at all this year. Every worker speaks out that they cannot go to work because they did not eat anything. Without considering this situation, the Police Substation(분주소) in the company organized the security officers to find and scold absentees without leave but the situation has not improved much. Finally, the police officers had to get involved to make them come to work by treading them like criminals, and made the workers listen to propaganda lectures.
Even Armament Factories in
Armament Factories located in Kangye,
The Department of Agriculture, “Even Though There Have Been No Natural Disasters This Year, the Prospect of Harvest is not Bright.”
The Department of Agriculture of
Preparation for Cultivation is Still Slow
Even though it is a sowing season, many farming areas are not ready for this yet. The Agricultural Management Committee of Daedong County,
Suicide Increasing Nationwide
We are seeing more suicide victims throughout the nation as food shortages intensify. Jang Myung-hee (42) from Dukcheon,
Park Keum-chul (46), from Eunha-dong, Sariwon in
Park Rae-ok (38), from Joonggang-myun,
She says that even his physical abuse is OK, but what she couldn’t deal with was that she couldn’t feed her two children even runny porridge. She would run around from early dawn to late night, doing other people’s errands and looking for roots, grass, and loose grains in the hills and fields, all to feed her children. She would even cultivate barren land that no one else would even try on the off-chance that it could grow something. But no matter how hard she tried, her life did not improve. She became weaker as days went by without any color to her face. There was no life left anymore on her face. She barely speaks anymore and looks more like a corpse than a living person.
Last winter, her children, without any decent shoes or clothes to wear, spent hours outside looking for loose grains that they could pick up to eat. They came back freezing and crying with hunger. Park promised them that she would buy them “nice shoes and nice clothes” then sat down and cried her heart out. That same day, she tried to commit suicide but was revived by the villagers. Although corn prices went up to 1,800 won per kg this year, the Neighborhood Unit would demand 3kg of beans for the April 15th anniversary (4.15명절), while schools would demand 14,000 won per household if they couldn’t remit fur. After paying off electricity and water bills, nothing was left, even to make porridge. After begging for some corn from a neighbor to make porridge for her children, her husband began another fight by demanding that she bring him some alcohol. She spent that whole night wide awake. The next morning, she used the last bits of corn to make porridge for her children and bought alcohol on credit from a neighbor for her husband. Around lunch time, she boiled two sheaves of straw and silently drank the drug. She was saved by her neighbor who happened to stop by to give her some tidbits. After regaining her consciousness, she was silent for a long time before sighing, “Why did you save me?” Even before, she used to say, “Often I can’t think I can die because of my poor kids… then I think that it’s better to die than to live like this.”
Han Kwang-hyuk (55) from
A Prolonged Food Crisis Leads to an Increase in Family Crimes
Soaring food prices, which are repeatedly reaching its historic peak, is worsening the existing food crisis in
Indeed, there was a case in the middle of April, 2008 that an elderly woman committed suicide by throwing herself into a rushing truck in Chullimagu District in Nampo (남포 천리마구역). The family of the victim initially considered it a car accident and demanded a compensation for her death. The investigation, however, revealed that her own children's cruel treatment of her was what led her to kill herself. When the truth was disclosed to the public, people accused her children of their immorality. Meanwhile, a similar case of suicide occurred in Sungyo District (선교구역) in Pyongyang. An elderly man who had suffered from his children's mistreatment set a fire on the house where his extended family were living and then committed suicide. After an intensive police interrogation of the family members who survived the fire, they confessed their ill-treatment of their father. Authorities reported the case at a General Meeting of Residents and banished those surviving family members to a farm village near
In addition to the aforementioned cases, there was another case of family tragedy that a daughter- in-law murdered her mother-in-law in Pyongsung. Han Jeong-hee, a 38-year old woman, was facing a serious food shortage. Under such a distressful situation where it is hard to feed her own little children, her old mother-in-law became a painful burden for Han. Han's mother-in-law who was suffering from cerebral thrombosis had badgered Han to get her food all the time. It was painful for Han to see her malnourished young children who have thin arms and legs, and big bellies; it was because her children did not get enough to eat besides diluted rice soup. Due to the strained circumstances, she was losing her patience with her mother-in-low who could not even carry herself. That day, Han confessed, her mother-in-law kept asking her for food and she eventually gave her mother-in-law a pesticide by lying to her that it was a medicine for cerebral thrombosis. Later, Han buried her mother-in-law on a hill behind her house with her husband. Yet, a neighbor who was suspicious of not seeing Han's mother-in-law reported to the police and they found out about her death. Han and Han's husband claimed that her mother-in-law died of a disease but the autopsy revealed it was death by poisoning. As a result, they were arrested.
Lastly, Park Guang-hyuk, a 39-year old male resident of Namhyang-dong, Pohang District in
Increasing Theft of Farm-owned Draft Cows
Authorities began an investigation on the theft of two cows at a collective farm in Juaha-ri (좌하리), Daegwan County in North Pyongan Province two months ago. The investigation revealed that Ahn Young-chul, a 29-year old textile factory worker, got divorced from his wife and drifted from place to place. During his temporary stay at a relative’s house, Ahn stole two cows. Then he slaughtered the cows, he brought them to
Meanwhile, there was another case of cow theft: three cows were stolen at Sungnae-ri (성내리) collective farm, Saebyul County in North Hamgyung Province on April 21st. The farm lost the three cows at a critical moment to plow fields. As cows are essential for plowing fields, missing one cow can affect the farming. Losing three cows, therefore, is likely to cause great damage to this year's farming, not to mention plowing fields. Farm workers are all wearing a worried look. The manager even took a sick leave and is worried about the farming at home whereas farm workers are distressed with a concern to plow fields on their own. In the meantime, no clue, as to the thief, has been found and there is still no trace of stolen cows.
News of Incidents and Accidents
Last April 11, 5 meters of a tunnel collapsed when workers of the Re-education center of People’s Safety Agency (인민보안성) were working in the tunnel in Youngkwang County, South Hamgyung Province. In this accident, 2 workers died and 3 injured.
Last April 19th, bus number 116 of Hamheung,
Last April 24th, bus number 116 of Chungjin running from Gimchaek to Chungjin crashed into trees on the roadside in Gilju because of drowsy driving. This accident killed 2 passengers on the location and critically injured 5 people. Those with life-threatening injuries were sent to Gilju hospital and received medical treatment. The bus company decided to pay half million won for each casualty as compensation.
[Opinion] We Can No Longer Afford To Wait To Give Food Aid to
The shadow of death is once again covering
When the Arduous March was occurring, Good friends recognized the dangers and lobbied the
Still others focused only on the North Korean human rights situation. They believed that the emergency food shortages will bring about a fundamental change to the North Korean government, or even force it to implode. They further said that since food shortages are a direct result of the North Korean government policy, famine is a process that they inevitably have to go through to bring about a collapse of the North Korean regime that can lead to a permanent change. They also said that aid will only act to prop up the North Korean regime and ultimately act against improving the human rights situation there – they actually called for stronger sanctions to put more pressure on the North Korean regime. Among these dueling arguments, the voice calling for food aid was once again buried.
All these arguments and declarations had their own reasoning and evidence, but they all worked together to delay the food aid and resulted in the massive number of famine victims. If they had acted sooner, we could have halved the number of people who starved to death.
What’s happening in
Some don’t believe that this year’s food shortages will be that serious. They are optimistic because they believe that the economy has picked up and markets are active. The North Koreans have developed coping mechanisms and can survive without aid from the outside. Yet others say that, although the food shortages are serious, sacrifices are inevitable in order to teach the North Korean government a lesson to change their behavior. Food aid must be conditional on the resolution or improvements on the nuclear issue, human rights violations, or anything else.
But how can you call barely surviving on grass porridge a coping mechanism, especially when doing so under the suffocating eye of the government? If you don’t aid the North Korean people by saying that they have developed “coping mechanisms” because they learned to live off wild roots and grass, then you are doing them a grave injustice. Also, if you believe that linking food aid to the North Korean regime’s behavior will be effective in the long run, despite the ‘inevitable’ sacrifice of the people, then you have forgotten the dying cries of the 3 million who perished in the last famine, victims of the same calculated non-action.
How can you say that you care about the North Korean human rights when you won’t vote to give one grain of rice to
Good Friends (Korea)
Good Friends USA (Washington, DC)