North Korea Today No. 163

Research Institute for North Korean Society

North Korea Today 163rd 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.”

Father Loses Party Membership Because of Son’s AWOL
Only Party Officials Enthusiastic About the Public Trial for Theft of Equipment at Kangsun Iron Works Enterprise
1,200 kg of Fertilizer in Black Market, Recovered in City of Hoeryong
"Ice (Amphetamine)” Flourishing in Hamheung
28 Mobile Phones, Confiscated in Hyesan City in June
Yeonsa County Mobilizing All Workers to Repair Roads at the News of Kim Jong-il’s Visit
"Motorcycle ban” policy

Father Loses Party Membership Because of Son’s AWOL
Ma, Sang-chun (54), in Huhchun County of South Hamgyong Province, recently lost his party membership and his wife received a severe reprimand from the Women’s Union. Their son, drafted into army three years ago, could not stand the hard life in the army. He came home on AWOL (Absence Without Leave). His parents did not report it immediately, but tried to hide it. Ma, Yung-Chul, the son/soldier, says “I thought I was going to die because of hunger. We did not even have enough cooked corn, not to mention cooked rice. Soldiers sleeping in the same quarters often steal someone else’s shoes or clothes to swap for food. Stealing food from the kitchen seems to be happening all the time. Disappointment and disillusionment by the thefts and suffering from hunger, I was tired of hard labor and training. That is why I went AWOL. I endured three years but it got so worse this year and I could not stand it any longer. I feel so sorry about my father and my mother.”

Only Party Officials Enthusiastic About the Public Trial for Theft of Equipment at Kangsun Iron Works Enterprise
Thefts of factory and facilities equipments are increasing at the Kangsun Iron Works United Enterprise in Kangsuh County, South Pyongan Province. The Party Secretary at every public lecture meeting emphasizes that everyone should protect the factory as if it belongs to him and treat the factory facilities as their personal properties. But the lectures do not have any effects on the people. On June 3, twelve iron workers were arrested for stealing welding machines and materials. The ring leader was sentenced to six years and the followers received four years each in prison. The public trial was held in front of all the factory workers. When the accusations were read aloud and their sentences were announced, no factory worker applauded. Only the party officials enthusiastically applauded on the podium. The managing executive tried to cheer up the workers, but they did not pay attention to him. Those enthusiastic at the public trial were only the party officials.

1,200 kg of Fertilizer in Black Market, Recovered in City of Hoeryong
On June 25, fertilizer manufactured in China arrived in Hoeryong station in eight trucks. Hoeryong station was busy with people from different farms to receive the fertilizer in trucks. Many people in charge of farms or the transport workers took advantage of the confusion by stealing some of the fertilizer. Some took it for personal use and some sold it to different individuals. In response, the city police arrested those who were illegally dealing the stolen fertilizer. Some of the fertilizer was recovered and the fines were levied against those arrested. On one day alone, about 1,200 kg of fertilizer was recovered. The police redistributed it to the farms it belonged to.

“Ice (Amphetamine)” Flourishing in Hamheung
As people in Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province are having a harder time to making a living, more people are getting involved with dealings in ‘ice’ to maintain their livelihood. They claim that manufacturing or selling ‘ice’ is better than plucking grass or other illegal activities. Kang, Hwa-sung (36) in Sapo District says. “Along the border area, people use little plots and import things cheaply, and therefore, whole sales are easier. Pyongyang is taken care by the central party, but nobody pays attention to Hamheung. However, Hamheung has a chemical plant, a chemical engineering school, chemical branch of Academy of Science and a medical school. These institutes provide an environment right for manufacturing ‘ice’. When times are hard like these days, people need to take advantage of the environment and make a living to avoid a miserable death.” He produced his analysis on why Hamheung is the area where the most ‘ice’ manufacturing occurs and the authorities cannot make a dent on the high level of ‘ice’ production. On June 23, a lady in her forties was on her way to Chungjin to visit her mother who was very ill. The lady was arrested by police for carrying ‘ice’.

28 Mobile Phones, Confiscated in Hyesan City in June
National Security Agency of the Hyesan City in Ryanggang Province cracked down on cell phone usage for about one month until 25th of June. The first initiative for this crack down resulted in 28 confiscations of cell phones and about 40 people coming under investigation. Because Heysan city is near the border, illegal river crossing and the smuggling are prevalent, and with many using their own mobile phones to connect with merchants and relatives, local authorities are ready to strengthen this censorship over the city.

Yeonsa County Mobilizing All Workers to Repair Roads at the News of Kim Jong-il’s Visit
In Yeonsa County in North Hamgyong Province, all workers were mobilized to prepare for, Kim Jong-il, the Chairman of the National Defense Commission of DPRK, visit to the city. Those who do not participate in repairing roads must pay a fine of 2,000 Won per day.

The 10.5 Anti-Socialist Investigation Patrol(비사그루빠) is doing a close inspection on video recorders and tapes. Video recorders found to have not gone through proper custom inspections are being confiscated as only video tapes or other recorded materials made in DPRK can be viewed by the public.

“Motorcycle ban” policy
On June 5th, a policy banning the use of motorcycles was delivered. The authorities announced this new policy to the public by region and work place saying, “The increase of motorcycles has aggravated the deficiency of the nation’s oil supply. Therefore the license and registered numbers of motorcycles will be strictly regulated."

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