GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 130

Research Institute for North Korean Society
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng

North Korea Today 130th Edition May 2008
“Research Institute for North Korean Society of Good Friends, in order to bring news of the food crisis in North Korea more accurately and quickly, will increase its e-newsletter frequency to more than one issue per week. As such, the release dates might shift. Thank you for your understanding and attention to this looming crisis. We at Good Friends hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.”

Epidemic Diseases Alert
Five to Six Children Dying Each Day in Hoeryung Due to Disease
Sudden Outbreak of Acute Colitis in Onsung Threatens Young Patients
“It is Ridiculous to die because of simple Tuberculosis”
Officials of Chejong Farms (Seed Collecting Farms) in North Hwanghae Province Are Imprisoned
Chief of the Management Committee of Bongsan County Collective Farm said “I am ashamed” when Questioned on the Party Membership
Chief of the Management Committee of Ryongrim Collective Farm at Munduk County has also suffered with the Party’s Cross-Examination
Price of Rice on the Bulletin Board at Market Entrance is Useless.
No Sales except Food Items at the Market
Public Speech Criticizing Lee Myung-bak Government Continues


Epidemic Diseases Alert
Five to Six Children Dying Each Day in Hoeryung Due to Disease
An unidentified disease has been spreading since early April in Hoeryung, North Hamkyong Province, and five to six children have been dying each day since April 27th. In the beginning, the disease originated from Mangyang-dong, and currently, the disease is spreading rapidly throughout the city, but there are no effective preventive measures in place. Children who are able to endure a high fever for two weeks are able to survive, but those who are unable to do so are dying.

Sudden Outbreak of Acute Colitis in Onsung Threatens Young Patients
On May 16th, two children from the town of Onsung kindergarten in Onsung County, North Hamkyong Province, died in the hospital due to acute colitis, and 11 other children are currently receiving treatment in quarantine. However, doctors have a bleak outlook on the chances of survival for the children who are receiving treatment because of their weakened state. With these young children suffering from acute colitis, the health authorities are keeping a watchful eye out to see whether or not the outbreak is going to spread.

“It is Ridiculous to die because of simple Tuberculosis”
Kim Sang-hyuk, a driver from Soonchun, South Pyongan Province, has already been suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis for a few years now despite his relatively young age of forty-six. Because there is no medicine available at the hospital, Kim Sang-hyuk has not been receiving any treatment other than the occasional costly purchases of medicine he makes in the marketplace. With no regular distribution of food being made, his comparatively healthy and strong body has become nothing more than skin and bones. Kim Sang-hyuk reflected the attitudes of others when he said, “It is regrettable that in other countries, tuberculosis is not even considered a disease and people can get better after receiving treatment, while in our country people are dying.” He went on to criticize the current conditions by saying that, “In light of the large number of people who are dying because they do not have the money to get treatment, it would be better to simply say that this is a country for government officials rather than deluding ourselves and saying that this is a country where healthcare is free. Isn’t true that government officials are the only ones who receive treatment for free?”

Officials of Chejong Farms (Seed Collecting Farms) in North Hwanghae Province Are Imprisoned
The officials of the village and the operations manager of a seed collecting farm in Shingang-ri(신강리), Geumchun County(금천군), the North Hwanghae Province, together with the officials of other seed collecting farms, have recently been arrested. These farm officials had sold part of their seeds to the general farms in return for food, which caused a shortage of seeds for the upcoming farming season. The government holds these farm officials responsible and arrested them. In addition, those that demanded speedy distribution of food to the farms by the Central Party have been relieved of their position and have been sent to jail or re-education center. No one now dares to raise the issue of food aid to the farms for the worsening food situation.

Chief of the Management Committee of Bongsan County Collective Farm said “I am ashamed” when Questioned on the Party Membership
Lee Ryong-hoon (45), chief of the management committee of Bongsan County Collective farm(봉산협동농장), Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province, was caught during the inspection by the City and was questioned severely about the Party membership. The inspection results of the prosecutory office were sent to the City Party and this Party examined the chief’s activities in the Party. As a result of the inspection it was pointed out that due to shortage of seeds, there would be severe problem at the harvest time. The City Party threatened him saying, “(you) betrayed the Party’s trust and damaged its reputation. Will you surrender your Party ID card or not?” Mr. Lee said that he would follow the Party’s decision and do his best if he is given another chance. He stated, “I don’t have quality as the Party member and I am ashamed,” and said he would take responsibility for the matter.

Chief of the Management Committee of Ryongrim Collective Farm at Munduk County has also suffered with the Party’s Cross-Examination
Choi Oak-hee (52), chief of the management committee of Ryongrim Collective Farm(룡림협동농장), Munduk County, South Pyongan Province, has been evaluated as a loyal Party member who had devoted his mind and body for the collective farm management during the past several decades. Last April when a farming season began, but many farmers did not come to work because of starvation for a long time, the chief tried to encourage farmers to come to work by visiting from house to house. However, he did not motivate the hungry and exhausted farmers at all, so he decided to rent the field to individuals. He tried this method, fully determined to face the harsh criticism by the superiors, to encourage farmers to work because he knew that if left uncultivated the field would become waste land. Unlike other chiefs who have resigned their positions because of the shortage of food, he tried to find an answer to save farmers but it brought a disaster. Choi is under preliminary hearing on a charge that, “he treated the national farmland as private property and tried to fulfill selfish desire for personal profit. He was influenced by the capitalism and it damaged the national solidarity.” The members of the collective farm speak in a hushed voice saying, “shouldn’t we try different methods of farming instead of insisting only one method, and then promote the best method? Isn’t the goal to do good farming? The Chief didn’t try it to only enrich himself but to encourage the weakened farmers? Isn’t it a too harsh punishment?” The public expressed sympathy on the imprisonment of the Chief.

Price of Rice on the Bulletin Board at Market Entrance is Useless
At the entrance of major markets in North Korea, a notice was posted on the bulletin boards prohibiting sales of corn and rice at a higher price than Won 1,000/Kg for corn and Won 2,000/Kg for rice. This notice was to advertise the rice price control policy which has begun since around last April 20th. The residents say that there is a big difference between the suggested price and real market price. From the point of view of buyers, “We did not receive any wage; even though they control corn’s price not to go over Won 1,000/kg, it doesn’t make any difference because it is still too expensive and we cannot buy it at all.” Bae Choon-sung (49), a resident of Nampo, said, “(I) don’t know which social class these prices are based on. If it was based on the wages of majority workers, the price should drop to won 10/Kg to allow them to live normally. No matter how (they do) to control the soaring prices, they are not reasonable prices.” The businessmen in general say that “the prices determined do not reflect the reality,” and that the price control policy has no real effectiveness.

No Sales except Food Items at the Market
In any market of the whole country, we cannot see any one but the people who buy food. Daily necessities such as clothes, shoes, miscellaneous goods have not been traded. As the food prices skyrocketed, people have to spend more money on food and have no extra money to spend on other items. Sellers who trade other items cry out that they cannot make enough money to buy one meal a day even if they worked hard all day. People use lye for laundry, put on worn-out shoes, save candles, and eliminate other items except food as much as they can. There is absolutely no sign of improvement and although they work hard all day and make 3,000won, they can barely maintain their lives with thin gruel.

Public Speech Criticizing Lee Myung-bak Government Continues
North Korea’s uncomfortable attitudes toward the Lee Myung-bak Government continue. The North Korean Government held public forum in which they spoke on the subject that “the anti-North Korean policy of the rebel leader Lee Myung-bak will not avoid destruction.” They say that “The gangs of Lee Myung-bak are just traitors and rebels. Followings are four specific examples: First, his government does not want peaceful unification by and between our people. They rely on the power of US and consider the amicable relationship with US as the first priority and carry out actions to strengthen it. Second, the Lee Myung-bak Government is in the front line demanding the denuclearization which US is forcing upon us. Third, the rebels of Lee Myung-bak pressure us to improve human rights and open doors, and if we do that they will help us achieve GNP of $3,000 per capita. Fourth, they say that the North Koreans’ poverty and shortage of food are severe violation of human rights and they insist on pushing through the South Korea’s demand.”

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