GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 173

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


North Korea Today 173rd 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.”


(Image by Google Earth)

In the Gilju Pulp Factory, a Worker’s Theft of Pulp Makes His Entire Coworkers Jointly Liable
Nine Fled From Hoeryong Detention Center
Re-education Center Plans to Release around 300
Continuous Medical Accident Prompts Tighter Control over Private Medical Practice
Reaching the Limits of Self Help, People of Hancheon, Pyongwon County


In the Gilju Pulp Factory, a Worker’s Theft of Pulp Makes His Entire Coworkers Jointly Liable
From last year to July this year, there is no sign of food distribution in the Gilju Pulp Factory in the North Hamgyong Province. However, unlike other factories, the workers of Gilju factory diligently report to work because they could buy food by selling stolen paper that was produced in the factory. This factory mainly produces papers for Rodong Newspaper (로동신문), other newspapers, and magazines, but to purchase raw material and spare parts for the machines, it also produces notebooks for the children and hand them over to the businessmen. As they could purchase 200-300 gram of corn by selling 2 kg of paper, the workers manage to steal paper despite very tight security.

(Image by Google Earth)

As the thefts become too frequent, the factory manager, party secretary, chief engineer, and production directors take turns to supervise the workplace. The factory securities guard the front and rear entrance and search workers’ bodies and belongings meticulously before letting them out the gate. If they catch a worker with stolen paper, it affects his entire work unit. Typically, all workers of his unit do not receive any wages for one month, or the whole unit is assigned to the most difficult job. Workers claim that without rationing this (stealing) is the only way to survive, and they demand food rationing as soon as possible to prevent stealing.

Nine Fled From Hoeryong Detention Center
In the morning of July 2nd, nine detainees broke the lock and fled from the Hoeryong Detention Center in Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province. There was a security guard, but since each of them took different route to flee, he was unable to catch any of them. The police blamed the qualification of the guard and punished him, and the supervisor is waiting for an appropriate disciplinary action from the higher offices. This incident made residents giddy (with hidden pleasure) or blame the guards.

Kim Sang-jin (51) said that because the police treat the residents so harshly, no one sympathizes with the police. “I shouldn’t say this but lately the security police have been too harsh. The police patrol starts work at 8 o’clock in the evening and start grabbing anyone that dressed well or appeared to have some money to coax something out of them: cigarettes, drinks, money, whatever it is that they have. There are even rumors that police officers are campaigning about how to make 50,000 to 100,000 won a night.” He expressed strong distrust against police officers.

Re-education Center Plans to Release around 300
Following the direction from the Supreme People’s Assembly’s Standing Committee (최고인민회의 상임위원회), People’s Safety Agency(인민보안성) will release prisoners with less than 5 years sentence to celebrate 60 year anniversary for the birth of the republic. Out of 700 that were housed in Jungeo-ri (전거리) Re-education Center, about 300 detainees will be released. Police offices in North Hamgyong Province are therefore revising the sentencing of those who are to be sent to the Labor Discipline Center to Re-education Center. Because when those 300 Jungeo-ri detainees are released, they will need more work forces to fill the gap.

On the other hand, in early July, Chungjin Police Department handed out very severe sentences to the women who had been captured from China. Out of seven women, three received 8 years, while four received 4-5 years, to serve at the Re-education Center.

Continuous Medical Accident Prompts Tighter Control over Private Medical Practice
The City of Hamheung, South Hamgyong Province, is clamping down on the people who manufacture medicine or practice medical services at home. On July 3rd, city police arrested three doctors who have manufactured illegal medicine and practiced illegally. This search of private homes resulted in confiscating huge amounts of items necessary to manufacture medicinal liquids for shots. The plan is to expand this type of search to include the medical students. The reason for this clamping down was several recent medical accidents. Some citizens of Hamheung complained that they suffered some side effects after receiving shots manufactured privately. Some of them had severe exhaustion that threatened their life, and some even died

Reaching the Limits of Self Help, People of Hancheon, Pyongwon County

(Image by Google Earth)

People of Pyongwon, Hancheon Rodongja-gu (workers district), have ran out their food supply since last year and their food crisis has lasted longer than other areas. Children, rather than going to school, go out to sea to collect clams. Their parents sell them in the market and buy some food. They are used to the self-help methods (자력갱생), but this year it is particularly hard. They suffer energy deficiency from eating only porridge and sometimes feel dizziness. They are complaining that it is too much for them to depend on self-help to sustain their livelihood.



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