GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 201

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No. 201 September 2008

Soldiers Stealing Corn in Pyonggang County
Hungry Soldiers in Cheolwon County Survive on Stolen Corn
A Farmer in Yeonahn County Killed While Guarding Corn
Full Alert against Theft of Corn in Bookchung County
Armed Policemen Added to Farm Guards




Soldiers Stealing Corn in Pyonggang County
Farmers of Pyonggang County, including individual farmers with small plots of land (뙈기밭), are victimized by soldiers stealing corn from their fields. The farmers filed complaints with the commanding officers of the army units, but the situation has not improved. Theft of corn, on a small scale, has always existed. However, farmers pay special attention nowadays because of the critical shortage of food supply. Pyonggang County Party officially requested the army to take measures against theft for the sake of the farmers’ livelihood. Military authorities sent instructions to the subordinate divisions and brigades that any soldier arrested for theft of corn will be sentenced to longer prison terms and longer labor work.

In the meantime, in the Ahnbyun County, a group of hungry soldiers were caught stealing corn on the field by a guard. These soldiers beat up the farm guard before returning to their army base. The soldiers’ beating was so severe that the farm guard died in that evening. The following day those soldiers were arrested while cooking the corn they stole.

Hungry Soldiers in Cheolwon County Survive on Stolen Corn
Soldiers of the 10th Regiment, 5th division of 5th Corps stationed at Cheolwon, Kangwon Province have been fed only twice a day since last spring. Fortunately this month, some rice has been distributed. However the amount is so little and the soldiers traded the rice for corn because they get a larger volume of corn than the rice. The amount of rationed rice is barely enough for a meal. Consequently the hungry soldiers go to a nearby village and steal corn from the field. The stealing was so rampant that farm managers complained to the army authorities to no avail. A military officer admitted, “We have attempted to draw soldiers’ attention many times. But we have to recognize that the soldiers are fed only twice a day.”

A Farmer in Yeonahn County Killed While Guarding Corn
While guarding a corn field on a farm in Ohyun-ri, Yeonahn County, South Hwanghae Province, a farmer was killed and the another severely injured by soldiers attempting to steal some corn. Even though the farmers could guess that the perpetrating soldiers belong to the artillery regiment of the 4th Corps, there was no solid evidence to accuse any of the soldiers. After the afore-mentioned unit denied that any soldiers went outside the camp that day, no one was arrested. The farmers of other farms in the area also suffer from these thefts. They have had to assign more than fifty farmers with teams of seven farmers to rotating guard duties. Their only job is to guard the crops but it is beyond their capabilities at times. When many laborers and soldiers in large groups come and take what they want, it is impossible to stop them all. By the time they report it to the police station, all of them have run away. Consequently farm managers requested the provincial party leaders of South Hwanghae Province to take proper measures.

Full Alert against Theft of Corn in Bookchung County
Bookchung County of South Hamgyong Province assigns a large number of people to guard against theft of corn, however, it has turned out to be very ineffective. Farmers’ biggest worry is that people take corn before it gets ripe, which may cause the whole crop to disappear. According to the starving residents of Shinhae-ri, the thieves go into the fields and fill their stomachs with unripe corn. The farmers cannot do anything to the thieves unless they find the corn with the thieves. This instigates an increasing loss on the part of the farmers.

Armed Policemen Added to Farm Guards
The police, farm management commission and party leaders of South Hwanghae Province held a meeting to discuss on the measures to guard the farms. They have decided to immediately add armed policemen to guard the farms. Anyone who tries to steal corn and refuses to be arrested or who beats up the farm guards will be sentenced to prison term. Anyone who attempts to flee despite warnings by police to stop will be shot on the spot. Provincial Party issued instructions to all of its subordinate organizations, factories and enterprises that the afore-mentioned measures be publicized widely so that all the laborers and soldiers will understand the consequences. All the authorities of cities and counties have decided to organize the guard duties as soon as possible and make reports on it progress.

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