GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 199

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No. 199 August 2008
"At Best, Harvest will produce 6 Months of Food”
“Food rations will only be available to exceptional workers”
“No Matter What, Distribute food by October 10th”
Drought and Lack of Fertilizer Cause Worries for Farmers in Gaecheon City
A General Residents Meeting Starts with “Let’s Collect Aegookmi (patriotic rice)”
Yeonsa County Worries about Damage by Harmful Insects on Cornfields
Even Though It’s Not Even Winter, Unexpected Collecting of Pork for the People’s Army
Due to Blackout, Pork for People’s Army is Getting Rotten in Storage




"At Best, Harvest will produce 6 Months of Food”
On August 7th, the Agricultural Ministry (농업성) reviewed the current state of farming nationwide and took the time to discuss the reality of the situation. Over half the regions reported "This year, much damage was suffered due to the weather. In South Hwanghae Province and Kangwon Province, the flood damage was extensive, and in places like South Hamgyong Province, the weather was not favorable and that is causing concerns. Even if we have a good harvest this year, we aren't sure if our country will be able to produce enough food to support our citizenry for six months (fall harvest of 1.8 million MT)." After the review was over, the officials in charge of the review received much criticism. "We, Heungnam Fertilizer factory, distributed fertilizer to every province through full operation of factory, why weren’t you able to enact policies to deal with the flood damage? Floods are floods, but shouldn’t you have been setting up equipment during this time in order to be ready for droughts? What exactly are you doing?" Critisms like these came flooding in continuously as disgruntled citizens let out steam.

“Food rations will only be available to exceptional workers”

The general opinion is that this year, North Hamgyung Province will have the best harvest out of all the provinces nationwide. Despite this, the prospect for the future food situation is not good due to the changing climate of international foreign aid. With this in mind, the Chief secretary of the Party in North Hamgyong Province (도당 책임비서) tried to encourage others at a meeting by saying “The Chief secretary, who is in charge of all the citizens nationwide and Chair of the Rural Management Committee (농촌 경영위원회 관리위원장) must do everything in their power to allow the workers in cities and counties to focus all of their efforts on farming. If we are able to distribute food rations next year, those workers will be recognized as the hardest working laborers.”

“No Matter What, Distribute food by October 10th”
The Provincial party throughout the country has issued an order that no matter what, food must be distributed to workers and citizens throughout the country by the 60th DPRK foundation’s anniversary (공화국 창건 60주년) on September 9th of this year or the Party Foundation day (당창건일) on October 10th. In the case that some cities and counties are not able to distribute food, the chief secretaries (책임비서) and chairmen of the people’s committee (인민위원장) of these cities and counties were told that they would be judged as inadequate for their positions. In the past, due to worsening food situations, there were instances where citizens used national resources such as factories and industrial products to engage in capitalist activities. At the meeting of the Foundation day of the Workers Party, members criticized that “Although people have said that they had to engage in these activities because they had no other choice if they wanted to distribute food rations to their citizens, this was not always the case. Those in charge of the factories only gave the workers 1kg or so of foodstuffs while they took anywhere from 10 to 20 times that amount.” In light of this, nationwide investigations have been scheduled to take place from late August to early September to root out these types of criminals from factories and workplaces. Police agencies are currently thoroughly reviewing factory conditions and the amount of materials used at different factories and workplaces.

Drought and Lack of Fertilizer Cause Worries for Farmers in Gaecheon City
This year, farms in and around Gaecheon City of South Pyongan Province face a difficulty in farming because they did not receive fertilizers at the right time and the area has been undergoing a severe drought. Only 3 months and 10 days worth of food was distributed to the farmers due to last year’s poor harvest. Since the farmers know they won’t be given any more food this year, they plan on either stealing a few grains of the year’s harvest or not even coming to work at all. Although supervisors go to each farmer’s house to call out those who did not come for work, the farmers only make a gesture of listening to them. As the farmers are trying to think of a way to manage to live, more and more farmers are not going in to work.

A General Residents Meeting Starts with “Let’s Collect Aegookmi (patriotic rice)”
Across the country, party members, Workers’ Union(직맹), Farmer’s Union(농근맹), Youth Union(청년동맹), and Democratic Women’s Union(녀맹) have begun a public residents’ meeting in which they all advocate “each and every resident should strive to overcome a food shortage and collect military and Aegookmi (애국미;patriotic rice) provisions.” Even in each Neighborhood Unit, such slogans as, “Crops should be harvested at the right time, the infringement of crops should be strongly prevented, and all should put active effort in collecting crops,” are emphasized and studied by the residents through political lectures.

Yeonsa County Worries about Damage by Harmful Insects on Cornfields
In Yeonsa County, North Hamgyong Province, some cornfields have been damage by harmful insects, causing farmers to worry about this year’s harvest. Because they did not spray chemicals on time and the infected corns have withered and turned yellow, it’s reminiscent of the golden yellow fields of the harvesting season in late fall from a distance.

Even Though It’s Not Even Winter, Unexpected Collecting of Pork for the People’s Army
Every winter, the government has collected pork nationwide to support the People’s Army. Quite unexpectedly, it is collecting pork in the summer. Yeonsa County, North Hamgyong Province, is asking farmers to contribute 7kg of pork per person. It used be 5kg per person last year, but the demands have increased 2kg more. This year, the price of pork is around 4,000won per 1kg in the market, so it calculates to be about 28,000 in North Korean Won if a person pays it in cash. Except for a few rich farmers and families, most farmers are worrying about daily meals, so they cannot even imagine contributing pork to the army.

Some farms considered farmers’ difficulties and have decided to receive 10kg of corn instead of 1kg of pork. Therefore, the farmers need to contribute 70kg of corn per person instead of 7kg of pork for the army. However, 70kg of corn is still a big burden for them, so many farmers do not respond to the request. Some farmers have complained, asking why only farmers have to contribute when workers of other companies and enterprises do not. Indeed, workers of companies and enterprises of Onsung County did receive requests to contribute 5kg of pork per worker, but few laborers have consented. In previous years, workers have not contributed pork honestly, but their workplaces did not blame them for the reluctant contribution.

Due to Blackout, Pork for People’s Army is Getting Rotten in Storage
In Onsung County, North Hamgyong Province, contributed pork for People’s Army is starting to rot in the cold storages. It was stored in refrigerators at the historic exploration camp site(답사숙영소) under Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, but has begun to rot due to several powercuts throughout the day. Residents who have heard this story resentfully comments that, “We did our best to contribute pork that we only eat once in a year if we’re lucky, and those idiots go and spoil it!”

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