GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No.178

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No. 178 July 2008
Elections for Supreme People’s Council Postponed till November
Pyongyang Should Set an Example for Age Limitation on Doing Business
Arguments in the Market for Age Limitation
Women Whose Items Were Confiscated Say They Are Going To Die.
In Sariwon Market, Physical Altercations between Women Merchants and Control Officers Get Serious
Officials in Pyongsung Criticized for Being the Center of Wholesalers in North Korea


(Image by Google earth)

Elections for Supreme People’s Council Postponed till November
Elections for Supreme People’s Council, which had been scheduled for August, have been postponed till November. It is known that this was done to allow more focus on the upcoming 60th year anniversary of the founding of the Republic on September 9th.

Pyongyang Should Set an Example for Age Limitation on Doing Business
The Manager of the market in Dangsang-dong, Mankyongdae District, Pyongyang City, emphasized that the women that has not reached the age allowed to do business are going to be assigned to some factory jobs in preparation of coming Independence Day, August 15. On July 10th, there were repeated lectures from a mobile propaganda center, which was parked in the market, about the policy that urges women to contribute to the improvement of society. The lectures emphasized that every young woman should go to the factories for work, not to the markets. If they do not register in a factory within a week, local People’s Committee and Market Management staff will accompany the women for registration. If they do not yet obey, the Committee would publicize criticism through the business or factory where the head of the household works. Similar messages were sent out to other area markets. The government indicated their strong will to implement the policy, “starting from Pyongyang which should set an example for other localities.” The businesspersons expressed their dissatisfaction that the Party is bullying Pyongyang for fear that the policy will become ineffective.

Arguments in the Market for Age Limitation
On July 6th, in a market in Gimchaek, North Hamkyong Province, a conflict arose during the cracking down of young women who violated the age limitation. Combined forces of Security Control and City Labor Department got into argument with the women while confisticating the market booths being used by the women whose age was below 40. Kim, Shin-young (38) shouted at the top of her lung to a control agent: “Your wife is working at the market even if she is 35. Everyone knows this. It is unfair that you keep someone under control while you let go others.” People around the scene were on her side and seemed to agree with her opinion. One onlooker said that, “He’s bringing shame to himself. Shouldn’t he control his own wife first?” and people laughed.

Lee, Gil-joong (48), a control agent, said that the policy on age control made things worse. “Before there was only one person per household, but now there are two. The old lady sits in front of the booth like a model, and a daughter or a daughter-in-law stands behind and does the business. It is harder and more complicated for us to control. The people blame the officers that came up with the policy. At our house, my wife does the business in order for us to eat. It is not right to discriminate who to control and who not to control. What people say is not wrong.” He confessed his problems.

Women Whose Items Were Confiscated Say They Are Going To Die.
July 8th, the date on which Great Leader Kim Il-Song had passed away, there was a large-scale crackdown in the Sapo area, Hamheung City, South Hamkyong Province. Police officers confiscated food and vegetables the women had for trading in order to earn a day’s living. The control officers took everything, tofu-rice meal, rice cake, bread, squids, etc., saying that they are going to take them to the Homeless Children’s Shelter.
Some women grabbed the control agents’ legs and begged them not to take away their goods. The women were kicked or dragged and still they pleaded. Kim, Ja-yoen (42) screamed, “You, a bunch of robbers, I won’t let you take these things easily.” She dumped the tofu-rice on the ground, then terribly bad-mouthed them. These aggressive women often get beaten and end up having bloody nose. During physical altercations, their hairs were pulled and their cloths torn. Han, Mi-young (39) says, “We live day-by-day, hand to mouth, but when we lose money that was invested to buy things, we cannot do any more business. This means the end. How can we go on living?” She cried her heart out. Some of those old women who were watching the scene wiped their eyes.

The majority of food items confiscated that day, it was said, ended up in the house of the control agents rather than the Shelter. According to shelter residents, only younger boys received some bread but the older boys did not get any. The rumor says that, “At the house of a control officer, the housewife did not eat any of her own supper because she filled her belly with the confiscated food.” The rumors spread rapidly and fanned the rage of the business women.

In Sariwon Market, Physical Altercations between Women Merchants and Control Officers Get Serious
On July 12th, in the market of Sariwon City, Both Hwanghae Province, there was a large-scale crack down of young business women by the coordinated body of City Party, City People’s Committee, City Security Office, and Market Management staff. That afternoon those women were lectured by the City Party officials. The City Labor Department unilaterally assigned them to the shoes factory and textile machine factory and demanded them to report to work. They were threatened with legal actions if they do not follow through. The Market Management staff got a detail report as to who violated the age limitation rule and how many. Despite such large-scale crack down, the wives of Security staff, Security Department, or court officers managed to escape the crack down and caused the residents’ further complaints.

Those women who lost their booth decided to display their wares on the street near the market entrance. But the security officers confiscated their wares and charged them fines. Jo, Hwa-young (37) got into a big fight with a security officer. Because she was no match to the man’s physical strength, she used her head to butt, teeth to bite, finger nails to scratch, and hands to push. She was thrashed down to the ground and verbally abused with vulgar names. She was so enraged that she could not sleep. She said, “I bought the booth for 100,000 Won, but had not used it for long. They would not give my money back. This is too much. I lost my goods which is unjust enough. Now I have to pay fines. I cannot let it go.”

Not everyone fights this hard. Those who are more gentle, they just cry. “What’s the reason for prohibiting trading? There is no ration, and they did not do anything for us. Last year they were wishy-washy about cracking down, but now they are harassing us. Do they think we will stop trading? Just watch. We’ll come back with whatever means we have,” they vowed.

Officials in Pyongsung Criticized for Being the Center of Wholesalers in North Korea
Pyongsung City in South Pyongan Province is serving the role as the central wholesale clearinghouse for the nation’s wholesalers. As a result, it was recently labeled by the central party as “the source of all the market and trade activities of the nation.” Recently, city officials were called up to the provincial government to receive an official reprimand. As a follow-up, the city issued a guidance document to all the city party and People’s Assembly members titled, “Why you shouldn’t trade.” It consisted of warnings against individuals engaging in small or large trading activities, who will be punished severely if caught.

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