GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 191

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng

No. 191 August 2008
In Pyongyang City, Long Delays Affect Food Distribution
In Kangdong County, The Party Punishes Farmers for Gathering New Corn
In North Hamgyong Province, Food Distribution Only for a Select Few
In Eunduk County, Villagers Cope with Four Months of No Rations
Hoeryong City Suspends Food Distribution in August
In Heungnam City, Corn Distribution Limited to Teachers Only



In Pyongyang City, Long Delays Affect Food Distribution
This past July, Pyongyang City distributed 10-day rations of long grain rice(안남미), polished wheat (밀쌀) and crushed maize(짝옥수수;옥수수쌀) to residents in the center of the city. City officials had publically announced that they would distribute food in August. However, the distribution is still pending. People in the outskirts of the city have not received any rations since last month. Moreover, the stored food supplies have nearly run empty. City officials have ordered that residents should be guaranteed rations, but a majority of executives share the gloomy view that any guarantee is impossible unless the army also turns over some of its food to civilians.

In Kangdong County, The Party Punishes Farmers for Gathering New Corn
On Victory Day, July 27, some farm workers in Kangdong County, Pyongyang city, were reprimanded by the Military Party and Agriculture Management. The Party punished the workers for receiving maize that had been harvested early. Because of the floods of last year, the expected corn harvest has decreased dramatically, resulting in rations of at most three months and 15 days for farmers. Many farmers suffered from side effects caused by toxins in the grass they eat or malnutrition due to drawn-out periods of starvation. As the number of farmers unable to come to work has decreased, managers have made a strenuous effort to come up with a solution, such as serving porridge for lunch. Farmers have been grateful for the lunch, but the shortage goes on during the current early harvest period.

These days, stealing handfuls of maize on the way home from work has become an ordinary scene in daily life. During the July 27 holiday, farms provided the early-cropped corn seeds gathered from barren fields to their desperate farmers. However, The Military Party has severally reprimanded the farm managers for not having consulted the Party before making the decision to release seeds.

In North Hamgyong Province, Food Distribution Only for a Select Few
As of August, food distribution in North Hamgyong Province is reserved for educators and health workers. The distribution priorities come from an order announced at a North Hamgyong Party Committee meeting. Meanwhile, deeper inside North Hamgyong Province, more teachers are absent due to the prolonged food crisis. North Hamgyong officials are seriously concerned that this absenteeism will place education in critical danger, which is why the Party decided to release food to teachers. Although the rations differ from county to county, most teachers and doctors have been provided with 15 days’ worth of baby potatoes for August. In order to provide rations to teachers, schools send students out to the farms to dig potatoes. On average, each teacher receives 30 kg of potatoes.

In Eunduk County, Villagers Cope with Four Months of No Rations
In Eunduk County, North Hamgyong Province, 10-day rations of potatoes were distributed to teachers and doctors. When it comes to the villagers not in a professional field, they have not received any rations since April. Only the munitions workshop of the July 7th public enterprise (7월7일기업소) distributed 7-day rations of 50 MT of polished wheat to its workers. Any food remaining after the distribution has been used at the factory cafeteria. Since the middle of August, noodles made from the mixed corn and wheat has been served to workers at lunch in the factory cafeteria. Meanwhile, due to the continuing food shortage, this year has seen a striking increase in the number of women leaving their homes to go to work. In addition, North Hamgyong Province reported a record high number of people trying to pass the national border by crossing the river.

Hoeryong City Suspends Food Distribution in August
Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province, has distributed a half-month’s ration of food to residents, distribution that is limited to schools and health departments. According to workers in the Local Food Administration Department (량정부), the city’s potato reserves cannot feed all of the residents. If there is any food left after the distribution to teachers and doctors, only then will it be given out to other residents. Low potato reserves at the farms mean that it will be difficult to decide what food can be given to residents.

In Heungnam City, Corn Distribution Limited to Teachers Only
Heungnam City, South Hamgyong, has issued an urgent order to the Local Food Administration Department of the City People’s Committee, instructing them to give early August rations to teachers only. In complying with the order, a half month’s ration of whole corn which had been saved as emergency food was distributed to teachers.

In Heungnam City, the long-term absentee rate among teachers was still high. In addition, there are many teachers who have retired early so that they may earn a living giving private lessons to the children of the wealthy or party officers. Ko, Hwa-soon, a 40-year-old middle school teacher, says, “starving teachers are so weak that they can’t afford to teach their students in the classroom. This order is a tough decision based on the belief that education for future generations should continue no matter how difficult the food crisis is. I am thankful for even a handful of corn in this hard situation.” Hwa-soon was deeply moved.

The Party Educational Department mentioned that the teachers’ attendance rate should increase as they receive their rations. The Education Department emphasized that educators should also improve their teaching ability.


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