GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 194

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No. 194 August 2008
Nampo City, 35 Farmers Die in Farms within 3 Months
Jungbongni Farm, 32 People Died During the Spring Lean Season
28 Farmers Died in Hukgyori Farm
Hospital in Jangyeon County, 70% of Death Certificates Belong to Farmers
Spring Lean Season, 70% of Deaths in Haeju Farmers, this year
Farm Workers in Kangsuh County Die of Grass Poisoning

Nampo City, 35 Farmers Die in Farms within 3 Months
The number of farmers who lost their lives this year from April to June in Taesungri (Currently included in the Kangsuh district of the Nampo Special city), Ryongang County, North Pyongan Province, is reaching 35. The individuals who lost their lives were greatly affected by the food shortage and died after suffering from severe malnutrition. This farm suffered from an unproductive harvest last year and was only able to provide its farmers with two months worth of food supplies. The number of casualties rose during the spring period of farming hardships, but stopped during July when the limited amount of the new harvest was released. However, with the start of August, reports of deaths are beginning to appear once again. After a death was reported on August 3rd, four more deaths were recorded by August 13th.

The Taesungri farm is the farm that the Dear Leader Kim Il-Song and the Chairman Kim Jong-Il has visited numerous times to show how to farm in person and this is the farm where he met the Great Patriot Taesung Granny. Currently, the farm is a Model farm, which makes it the object of much attention from the military. Because of this, the workers on this farm are not able to avoid military enforcement and not report to work, even if they are weakened to such an extent that they cannot work. As a farm that was the birthplace of a patriot and is a model farm, if workers do not report to work, the unit foreman and even the unit secretary go out to find and bring the workers to the farm. As of right now in August, the farmers continue to starve because of the food shortage, but have no option other than to report to work because of orders that say “Even if you are going to faint, report to the fields and faint there. It’s ok even if you can’t work, but make sure you report to the fields.” There are accounts that farmers in serious weakened conditions report to the fields, only to sit there the whole day before returning home.

Jungbongni Farm, 32 People Died During the Spring Lean Season
During the spring Period of Hardship from April to June of this year, 32 people were reported to have died at the Jungbongni Farm located in Shingye County, North Hwanghae Province. This individuals who work on this farm, which suffered severe food shortages from the beginning of this year, began eating greens like mugwort, mulberry leaves, and lettuce to stave off their hunger, but suffered greatly when grass poisoning began to spread. The faces of the afflicted individuals swelled and when the poison spread, different parts of their bodies became inflamed. The individuals were unable to find proper medication or receive proper treatment at hospitals because there was no proper medication and died painfully. At the Chihari farm in Pangyo County, Kangwon Province, 29 workers were reported to have died.

28 Farmers Died in Hukgyori Farm
At a farm located in Hukgyori farm in Hwangju County, North Hwanghae Province, 28 workers died during the Spring Hardship Period (춘궁기). Last year, this farm was only able to distribute three months of rations to its workers for the entire year, which caused many farmers to say “If they continue giving us food rations like this, how do they expect us to live?” Upon hearing this, the workers in charge of the food distribution went so far as to lie to the farmers in an effort to settle them and told them that “For the time being, if you accept the 3 month rations, you will receive more rations from the government once it has instituted a new foodstuffs policy.” Following these assurances however, no new food distributions were made, and after the farmers suffered immensely after running out of food in spring. Some farmers even borrowed 1kg of maize after promising to repay the loan with 5kg of maize in the fall. Even though it is currently August and unripe maize is becoming available, most people can only dream of eating maize rice, and at best, can only subsist on grass porridge a little maize mixed in. After realizing that the promises made by the food distribution workers were lies, statements such as “they made us starve with lies, resulted costing so many lives” can be heard and reflect the deteriorating atmosphere. The workers who are in charge of food distribution do not have to worry about eating porridge even when food supplies are low. Because of this increasing gap in lifestyle between these workers and farmers, the complaints issued by farmers are increasing.

Hospital in Jangyeon County, 70% of Death Certificates Belong to Farmers
Upon the death of a farmer or a farm worker, the individual’s family must formally declare the incident and receive a death certificate from the hospital, but in the region of Jangyeon County, it has been revealed that roughly 70% of the deaths are of farmers and farm workers. According to one official, “The number of people who have died in 2008 has visibly increased compared to 2007. The people who died this year usually died of starvation because of food hardships, or were ill because they couldn’t eat, and farmers constituted most of the death. If you look at the family members who come to pick up the death certificates, you can see many people who also look like they are close to death because of malnutrition.”

Spring Lean Season, 70% of Deaths in Haeju Farmers, this year
It has been revealed that even in the city of Haeju, South Hwanghae Province, farmers accounted for 70% of the people who died. Compared to last year, the total number of deaths has slightly increased, but the percentage of farm workers who died is considerably high. One citizen said, “I heard that the death rate in Haeju this year is around 1.4%. However, the death rate for farmers is about 5 times this amount. More farmers are dying right now than they did during the Arduous March. I wonder if the flood damage last year, which led to the suspension of food rations to farmers, didn’t cause this current situation,” and continued that farmers are currently facing the direst conditions.

Farm Workers in Kangsuh County Die of Grass Poisoning
The number of farm workers from Jamjini, Kansuh County, South Pyongan Province who died from April to June due to grass poisoning currently stands at 6, and there is an additional 8 people who suffer from the same conditions. People who are afflicted with grass poisoning suffer deep injuries when the inflammation spreads to their faces and bursts, but the condition is readily treatable with the proper medication. However, most of the people who suffer from grass poisoning are poor and don’t have the money to buy medicine, and these people usually die while trying to suffer through their condition. The farmers visit their local farm clinics to ask the doctors to help them, but the doctors can do little more than administer some tranquilizers.

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