North Korea Today No. 160

Research Institute for North Korean Society

North Korea Today 160th Edition July 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.”

Pyongyang’s 10.2 (October 2) Inspection Patrol
Pyongyang City’s Crackdown on Vehicles Made in South Korea
Investigation of People who have Contacted South Korea Once Again
American Food Supply: the Victory of Kim, Jong-Il’s Strategy
A Slump in Sale of Rice That Arrived at Nampo Port

Pyongyang's 10.2 (October 2) Inspection Patrol
The ‘10.2(October 2) Inspection Patrols have been actively carrying out the ideological strife against the anti-socialist actions in Pyongyang. ‘10.2 Inspection Patrol's include investigation homes in search for VCD's smuggled from South Korea in households with computers and recorders. The investigators unplug the electricity first and then start searching houses so that householders cannot take out VCDs from the players. This way they thoroughly examine what VCDs people have in their players. In case of computers, they confiscate the hard drive and even restore deleted files to see if there is any data or audiovisual materials from South Korea.

Pyongyang City's Crackdown on Vehicles Made in South Korea
Early last June, no vehicles made in South Korea were allowed to appear in Pyongyang. Pyongyang city officials started confiscating any cars made in South Korea and announced plans that any South Korean cars appearing in the city will be sent to the countryside. This measure is troubling special agencies, companies, and groups that have been using vehicles made in South Korea. The central epidemic control commission is suffering a great inconvenience because its one and only vehicle was confiscated because it is made by Kia Motors of South Korea. Likewise, the city authorities also require people to report in detail how they have come to be in possession of any electronic products from South Korea.

Investigation of People who have Contacted South Korea Once Again
With business and policies toward South Korea strained, North Korea has resumed investigating people who have contacted South Korea. The first target of this investigation was those who have been abroad; people who took pictures with South Koreans are required to give detailed explanations of how and why they came to take photos. While going over the records of the last 8 years' investigation, the National Security Agency calls in those who are suspicious for reviews. People who have been to Long-term Prison Labour Camp or in the Labour Detention Centers live in constant fear of being persecuted again. Some government officials, giving a frustrated sigh, say self-mockingly, "With the strained relationship with South Korea, it is again that we suffer to death."

US Food Assistance – Triumph of the Kim Jongil’s Policy
The officials in Pyongyang have been receiving lectures that food supply from the United States symbolizes a war trophy. One official reports, "We see lectures being held across the nation that advertise as follows: The American imperialists lifted economic sanctions on North Korea and removed its name from the list of terrorist-sponsoring countries. This signifies a great victory of our General Kim, Jong-Il, who has staunchly fought economic boycotts with the strategy of self-reliance and war-mongering threats with the strategy of real-time war preparations."

Expensive Rice from the Port Nampo, Slow in Sale
On June 21 before the US food assistance was distributed, thousands of tons of rice entered North Korea at Nampo port. The market seems sluggish at the port with nothing much going on. This is a stark contrast to the busy trading day on June 13 when many companies were at the port to buy rice. The reason for this slump is that no company can afford to purchase rice whose price has gone up to over 530 dollars per a ton from last year's 300-350 dollars. This hike in rice price is due to an increase in grain prices in the international market and also by the increased cost of transportation due to higher oil prices. While some people are merely observing rice coming in at Nampo in a wait-and-see attitude, it does not seem that the market will recover from its recession any time soon.

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