GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 142

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


North Korea Today 142nd Edition June 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.”

Recruits Run Away After 2 Months: “Too Hungry”
Military Officers Are Surviving with Thin Porridge
Chairman Kim Jong-Il Orders to Place “First Priority on Food Issues”

Only One or Two Meals a Day for the Soldiers Stationed in Kangwon Province
“Willing To Sell One’s Body If It Enables to Get Some Food”
Phone Call to Outside World Prohibited To Prevent the News of Food Crisis
Real Reason Doubtful for Lee Myung-bak Government’s Announcement of Support of 50,000 MT of Corn



Recruits Run Away After 2 Months: “Too Hungry”
There were several cases where new soldiers recruited last April had run away from their units. They were young and as they could not endure the army life due to hunger and weak body, they decided to go back home. Thus three graduates from Sapo Middle School in Hamheung City had returned home and currently receive convalescent care at home.

Military Officers Are Surviving with Thin Porridge
An official from the central government stated that the military officers just eat porridge made with corn only twice a day. “This would be the first time in history of our country that the military is eating porridge. The Organization Bureau(조직부) of the Central Government and the Cabinet is trying their utmost to purchase food through land, sea, railways and ports. Those that could bring in rice from local area to prevent starvation can even receive a medal,” he said conveying the dire mood in the army.

Chairman Kim Jong-Il Orders to Place “First Priority on Food Issues”

Some high ranking officials said that on his visit to Gilju, North Hamgyong Province, on May 14, 2008, Chairman Kim Jong-Il spoke that, ‘there is nothing more important and pressing as resolving the food shortage for the people.’ According to these officials, when Chairman Kim received a report that the soldiers were being fed with porridge, he asked: "Why don't they get supplies from farms?" He was told that the situation at the farms were worse. He then made a personal visit to a farm and directed, at the spot, to solve the food problem with the highest expediency.

Only One or Two Meals a Day for the Soldiers Stationed in Kangwon Province
Food crisis for the soldiers stationed at Kangwon Province is very critical. Due to food shortage, the troops of the 46th and the 47th Division of the First Corps could barely sustain themselves. Clutching their empty stomach, they have to farm the sterile mountain soil. In order to fill their belly, they add grass to the meals as supplements. Since old days Kangwon Province has been known to produce little food crops and consequently it is the most unfavorable place to be stationed for the soldiers. Party officials who have children at draft age try hard to prevent their children to be stationed in Kangwon Province after getting drafted. Occasionally the State tried to set examples by selecting party officials’ children to be sent to this province. However, only the children from the poor and powerless families ended up in this province.

Soldiers of the 5th Division of the 5th Corps are normally fed one or two meals a day. Only when they have to do hard work, they get fed three meals a day. Corps headquarters in rear are very concerned that they have food supplies for about three months only and consequently are busy taking necessary measures in preparation for the foreseeable future. Officers at the 5th Corps headquarters in rear received the orders that each corps should be self-sufficient in providing food provisions. Therefore the only way left to do is to save and save. The 5th Division provides other divisions and regiments with the food saved by restricting rations.

“Willing To Sell One’s Body If It Enables to Get Some Food”
Throughout the military units stationed in Kangwon Province, not only ordinary soldiers but also officers have hard time. Family members of some officers, like any other civilian residents in the province, farm tiny plots and sell things for profit. Some wives do not return after visiting their parents’ home because of severe difficulty in feeding themselves. Some even go further. Although it is a very small percentage, some wives involve in prostitution. Suh Her-in (age 43) says, “Occasionally some wives do that. To tell you the truth, I myself asked my husband if I should sell by body, and he said nothing. Under the normal situation, he would be mad and shout. But he just frowned and said nothing. It showed how bad the situation was. We do not live on porridge meals as the civilians, but we can barely afford two meals a day.” She continued, “We don’t know how long we can last this way. Prostitution wouldn’t be a big deal. I would be willing to do it if I could get food.”

Phone Call to Outside World Prohibited To Prevent the News of Food Crisis
Beginning June 1, phone calls on the wired network can be made within the city only. Any long-distance phone calls to outside including cell phones are prohibited because of the concern of leakage of the state secrets. It is believed that all the reports of food crisis of the country are leaked by the disloyal people to those defectors out of the country. Therefore the Party in each city and county of all regions prohibited any phone calls to the outside world “to secure safety of the Beloved Leader and to cut off espionage activities” even though they realize it is causing a lot of inconvenience to the people. From now on, any phone call to outside should be made at the post office. People say they should be very careful of what they say because they are secretly eavesdropped.

Real Reason Doubtful for Lee Myung-bak Government’s Announcement of Support of 50,000 MT of Corn
A central party official at Pyongyang stated that, “Some time ago, the spokesman of Lee Myung-bak government of South Korea said no food support should be provided to North Korea in order to teach the North Korea a lesson even if half the population may starve to death. Then North Korea will collapse naturally. If (we) ignore it, North Korea will turn to South and beg for food.” He felt slighted and said: “It would be a huge mistake if South Korea thinks North Korea will lower itself to beg for food, after more than half the population are dead, an uprising of some sort might cause North Korea to.” In response to the official stance of South Korea that they would support only if requested by North Korea, the official said: “No matter how severe our problems might be, there won’t be any official request for food support. An official request would amount to begging.”

About South Korea’s suggestion for 50,000 MT food supply, he said that “because things move smoothly between U.S. and North Korea, South Korea might have felt left out in the cold, and as South Korea’s pressure toward North Korea becomes fruitless, they must feel they should offer some support. Is this really an attempt to help the poor people? Or an advertising scheme with they solved the North’s food crisis with just a tiny bit of support? Only Lee Myung-bak may have the answer.” He said, “But our government made an agreement with the United States and if we endure through the end of this month, we will be able to overcome the big hurdle and will never fall victim to a cheap scam of Lee Myung-bak. It is true that food shortage is not limited to a region but spread to the whole country, but we will overcome it this time too. The Beloved Leader provided advices on the resolution of food problem on several different occasions and some Chinese and people from abroad continue to provide free support. Aren’t they much better than shifty Lee Myung-bak?” He displayed a lot of distrust to the South Korean government and asked, “Lee Myung-bak government has severely hurt the sense of pride of North Korea. It is not helpful to the mutual relationship. Lee Myung-bak seems to like the word ‘practicality’. How could anyone call it to be ‘practical’ to make the other side angry and destroy all the trusts built up so far?”


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