GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No.188

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No. 188 August 2008

Sinchun
County Crops Harmed by Pesticides
Fertilizer Agent Sells Confisticated Fertilizer

Workers Rejoice after Cancellation of Labor Mobilization

Euiju
County
Farmers Report to Work Only to Eat Lunch
Nampo Army Training Camp’s “Ground Corn-cob Meal”

Ingye-ri Farmers’ Life of Sharecropping

To the Families of the
County Party Officials, “Stop Lying through Your Teeth”
Ranam Mining Machinery Factory Workers Farming on the Side




Sinchun
County Crops Harmed by Pesticides
In farms in Myongsuk-ri of Sinchun County, South Hwanghae, insects have caused extensive damage to this year’s crops. After having sprayed agricultural chemicals on rice plants, they soon became yellow and died. Sinchun County asked for an explanation from the Microbiology Institute at Pyongsung Science Academy, which manufactured the pesticides. The Institute’s researchers have not yet responded to the investigation. With no way to stop the damage to their crops, farm members and the Ri (village) Party are forced to just sit and watch their rice plants die.



Fertilizer Agent Sells Confisticated Fertilizer

The price of fertilizer has risen during the corn-planting season, from 1,100 won per kg to its current price of 1,400 won per kg. The fertilizer trade has been managed by the government, but this year, farmers are trying to purchase it on their own because private small farming (소토지 농사) has become the only way to survive. In every region, Fertilizer agents (비료 단속원) are confisticating fertilizer as soon as they discover private sellers. However, it is said some agents are selling the confisticated fertilizer, which annoys the people whose fertilizer has been confiscated.

Workers Rejoice after Cancellation of Labor Mobilization
On the morning of July 18th, hundreds of workers, members of Democratic Women’s Union (DWU;녀맹) and students who have been mobilized for farming were waiting for the train to leave from Moosan Station in North Hamgyong. Power outages prevented the train from leaving. People said to one another: “I hope it will rain today,” “I am already hungry even though it is before 10 AM,” and “I hope the power doesn’t come back for the rest of the day.” Around noon, some governmental official came out and told them today’s labor mobilization had been cancelled. The gathered workers cheered and even gave out a hurrah. Some students went so far as to dance with excitement. They said that the day was one of the rare joyful days in the year and returned home with big smiles.

Euiju County Farmers Report to Work Only to Eat Lunch
It is commonly said that workers at farms in Euiju County, North Pyongan only go to work for their lunch. However, the farms have seen many workers not come to work because of the food shortage. Due to the lack of labor, the farms decided to provide corn noodles (옥수수 국수) for lunch. Since the decision to provide food, workers have started coming back to the farm, as it is hard to survive on nothing but grass porridge at home. Farm workers said that if not for the lunch, they would not come to work.

Nampo Army Training Camp’s “Ground Corn-cob Meal”
91 Army Training Camp located in Dojee-ri (도지리) of Nampo City, South Pyongan Province has been feeding its trainees two meals (breakfast and dinner) a day. Each meal consists of a ground corn-cob meal with 30% of corn-husks mixed in along with a salt soup and salted cabbage pieces. Army soldiers are complaining that they do not even have enough energy to work on the tanks.

Ingye-ri Farmers’ Life of Sharecropping
Many farmers living in Ingye-ri of Hoeryong, a city in North Hamkyong Province, have stopped going to work at the town community farm since the food ran out. Instead, many have been working at the private small farming fields of several well off households to eat breakfast and lunch, and to get paid with 2 kg of whole corn. Hakpo farm in Hoeryong has also run out of food, and are seeing more of its farmers doing some form of sharecropping (소작농). Though Hoeryong is the only other city other than Pyongyang and Kaesong where Public Distribution System (PDS) is available, the food shortage is making the farmers’ lives there (not unlike other places) very difficult.

To the Families of the County Party Officials, “Stop Lying through Your Teeth”
The factory workers of Gilju County in North Hamkyong Province are expressing their frustration publically saying, “They abuse us as if we were no better than common prisoners in Re-education Center(교화소) or Labor Discipline Center(노동단련대).” Their frustration comes from that fact that no matter how hard they work, they are unable to get their immediate needs met. Thus, when they see that all the bureaucrats (the factory managers, Secretary of the Party, and the County Party officials) and their families are eating and living well without a worry, they cannot help feel anger and resentment.

Kim Jong-hwa (51) points out, “They (the bureaucrats and their families) must’ve sensed the hatred from the common people. Sometime ago, they made a County Party Work Unit made up of the party officials’ wives to show the common people that they are just like us. Since they always had plenty, they never used to come out to Family Work Unit; but now many of the wives are coming out to work there. We know that this is just a façade and that they are taking all the harvested vegetables and grains, and even pork and goat milk to be distributed among themselves. We all work together; but it is only them who get to eat the fruit of our labor. So, how are they our equal? I wish they would just stop lying through their teeth



Ranam Mining Machinery Factory Workers Farming on the Side

A machinery factory in Ranam District of Chungjin City,
South Hamkyong, has not been able to pay its workers. Instead, they were each assigned to a small bean field and told that they would be paid according to the success of the harvest in the fall. Last year, a worker was paid 10 kg of beans for a month’s work. As of now, only about 10 workers are working in the bean fields. The rest are either absent without excuse or have invested their last bit of income to try and make a living squid fishing.

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