GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 152

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


North Korea Today 152nd 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.”


Epidemic of Bird-Flu and HMFD
Public Criticism on the Chickens Dying Even After Quarantine
Siniju Secures Preventive Measures against Bird-Flu
Executives at the Emergency Committee on the Epidemic Prevention Meet to Respond on the Epidemic of the Bird-Flu and the Hand-Foot-Mouth Diseases

Worries about Crop Damage Caused by Disease and Insects at Areas along the Border
Excluding Border-Crossers from the General Amnesty on the Occasion of Anniversary of Foundation of Korea Worker’s Party Criticized
Families Got Busy to Take Advantage of General Amnesty



[Epidemic of Bird-Flu and HMFD] Public Criticism on the Chickens Dying Even After Quarantine
Early June, officials from the Public Health department took preventive measures for livestock against bird-flu in Onsung County of North Hamgyung Province. However, chickens have begun to suffer and die from diarrhea, which has been raising public criticism regarding the measures. It is still unknown whether the chickens died from the measures or from another cause.

[Epidemic of Bird-Flu and HMFD] Siniju Secures Preventive Measures against Bird-Flu
Siniju is yet to experience any official outbreak of contagious diseases. However the city has been preparing for every possible preventive measure because it is constantly flowing with outside visitors and neighboring areas including Gangwon province have been already hit with the bird flu. There are signs saying, “Prevent Bird Flu,” or “Drink Boiled-Water,” on the door of each household. Public lectures have been given to educate residents to immediately report any outbreak of a contagious disease to the Emergency Committee on the Epidemic Prevention.

[Epidemic of Bird-Flu and HMFD] Executives at the Emergency Committee on the Epidemic Prevention Meet to Respond on the Epidemic of the Bird-Flu and the Hand-Foot-Mouth Diseases
June 18, a meeting was held at the Emergency Committee on the Quarantine of City of Chungjin, North Hamgyung province, for counter-measures against the ‘bird-flu’. Present at the meeting were the physicians of the Epidemics Prevention Centers at cities and counties where the bird-flu virus 71 was detected. At the meeting, criticisms were leveled against the physicians of the cities and counties where many children with two to seven years of age died of Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease (HFMD;수족구병) and the counter-measures were discussed.

Gimchaek, North Hamgyung Province is the city where the most deaths from the HFMD occurred. A total of twenty two children died between April and June. Deaths in the other areas of North Hamgyung Province are seventeen at Chungjin, ten at Hoeryong and twelve at Musan. There are other areas from which unconfirmed deaths were reported. The Executives at the Emergency Committee on the Epidemic Prevention criticized those health officials in charge of the areas where the HFMD deaths occurred.


Worries about Crop Damage Caused by Disease and Insects at Areas along the Border
The farms at Saebyul County, Onsung County and City of Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province, and other farms along the national border are in deep worries about the crop damage caused by disease and insects. Five or six young green leaves growing in each corn stalk started to turn yellow around the middle of June. Only one or two leaves are remaining. Agricultural experts started visiting each farm to investigate and determine the cause whether it is a problem in the seeds or any disease or insects. The farmers say it is a rare phenomenon considering the size of the area with crop damage. However, only thing they could do is to sigh with despair, saying they cannot afford any chemical fertilizer and any insecticides. A farmer, Shim Kyu-seob (age 51) at Saebyul County is really worried, lamenting “Our farming depends only on the changes of the sky and consequently there is no confidence in this year’s crop.”

Excluding Border-Crossers from the General Amnesty on the Occasion of Anniversary of Foundation of Korea Worker’s Party Criticized
A general amnesty on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary on October 10 of foundation of Korea Worker’s Party is anticipated. However, instructions came down that the illegal border-crossers would be excluded from the amnesty, and this caused a huge turmoil among the residents. Along the border, there are a large number of families whose members got caught when they attempted illegal border-crossing in order to resolve the food crisis. These families complain that the exclusion is unjust. They ask that the crimes such as robbery, theft, personal assaults and border-crossing have all occurred due to poverty and economic crisis, but then, why is the border-crossing alone treated as a political felony? Hyun Jin-such (age 49) says, “In foreign countries, general amnesty applies even to those who are against the current regime. Our country treats those who crossed border because of economic difficulties as political felons. Therefore I am confused about what really is a political felony.” Han Her-in (age 39) at Gimchaek appealed. “As crossing the river occurred in order to find something to eat, I want the government to consider the situation. It would be unjust for the government to treat all the border-crossers as traitors to the country. During the war we kill each other, but the prisoners of war are treated humanely and eventually released. Then is it not possible to treat the border-crossers with leniency when all they wanted to do was to earn a little money or get some help from relatives”

Families Got Busy to Take Advantage of General Amnesty
Throughout the country, it is beginning to appear that the families of the common criminals are visiting their acquaintances of any influence and are trying to illegally bargain to take advantage of the general amnesty. Park Bong-il, an elementary school teacher at Yungwon County, South Pyongan Province, is busier than ever to get his father who had been jailed for 3 years released from the prison. His father was an engineer in charge of construction of apartments. An apartment he had built collapsed and caused two deaths. It was found that using poor construction material caused the collapse. He was fired from his job and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Despite his compassionate character and excellent professional capability, this catastrophic event happened and the whole family has been living with constant worries ever since. Mr. Park has felt as if part of his heart was being cut off whenever he sees his father getting paler and thinner at prison. The four sons including Mr. Park are determined to have their father to be released or the sentence reduced at any cost, including selling the house. Especially Mr. Park, the eldest son, has been trying his best making contacts with any acquaintances of any influence.



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