GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 202

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No. 202 September 2008
In Kangsuh County, A Crackdown on Private Manufacturing
Hamhung, Textile Factory Workers Are Sent Out To Sell Cotton
Engineers at Pyongyang’s Soonan Airfield Hoard Aircraft Fuel In Order To Survive
Workers of Eunryoul Mine, “Give us unpaid wages”
Wonsan City, The Market For Used Japanese Goods Returns
Workers of Heungnam Chemical Plant Live On Ground Rice Bran to Be Used To Make Soaps
Workers at Gimchaek Shipyard Prefer Squid Fishing
Tractor Parts Factory in Sariwon Demands That Workers Come to Work
Hyesan Residents “will choose a different place to live if smuggling becomes impossible”
The Cabinet’s Decision on “administrative roles of every organization and public Enterprise”




In Kangsuh County, A Crackdown on Private Manufacturing
Since August 1st, the Safety Agency of Kangsuh County, South Pyongan Province has intensified its control on individual craftsman in order to eradicate anti-socialist phenomenon. Kangsuh County is one of the most well-known areas for individual handicraft manufacturing. It is also called the heaven of imitation production.

Choi Yong-cheol, a resident of Kangsuh County hired 15 handicraftsmen and started producing imitation goods. Choi’s employees were paid 4,000 won per day ($1 is around 3,300 NK won). Mr. Choi has made goods with materials illegally hoarded from national factories, such as imitation Cat Cigarettes, and sold the goods wholesale. His business has improved over the past few years and now Choi is considered as one of the richest people in Kangsuh County. The Organization and Guidance Department of County Party (군당조직부) and County Police Station (군보안서) identified Choi as a main suspect for illegal manufacturing. Fourteen officers selected from the security office, public prosecutor and the police formed a special investigative team. The special enforcement officials had a warrant to search the house and have started investigations based on the testimony of Choi's employees. Materials which are national property but which were found at those houses were confiscated and some laborers were arrested. The confiscated merchandise consists of 35 million won (approximately $10,600) worth of goods including 28 packs of Cat cigarettes and 500kgs of leaf tobacco, 35 gunny bags of confectionery, 4 tons of wheat flour, as well as other items.

Hamhung, Textile Factory Workers Are Sent Out To Sell Cotton
Employees of a textile factory in Hamhung City, South Hamgyong Province are scattered all over the country, each of them ordered to sell 100 bundles of cotton per person. The factory’s output had decreased because of the limit on power supply and poor facilities. Eventually, production at the factory ceased, due to the poor quality of its products. The factory workers had recently joined the social mobilization, when it ended on July 25th, they were sent out to sell cotton. The workers were ordered to sell 100 bundles of cotton worth 15,000 won (around $4.55) each. But as the price is too high the quality low, the workers are unlikely to sell their bundles.

Female workers, in groups of two or three people, also went out to sell cotton but they said it was more difficult than they imagined. Jo Seong-ae (age 37) said, “If I sell all the cotton, I can make 1.5 million won (around $455). Even though I cannot sell all the cotton, at least I was going to make back the money I spent for this trip by exchanging cotton for food or buying other goods. However, it is not easy. Now I do not make any money and I am always spending it on inns and meals. Asking favors of relatives does not help either. I will still be able to go home with some money, but I am anxious about the situation."

Engineers at Pyongyang’s Soonan Airfield Hoard Aircraft Fuel In Order To Survive
Soldiers who serve as airplane engineers at an airfield in Soonan District near Pyongyang City have better household conditions than others. These soldiers and their families are able to receive non-glutinous rice (입쌀) and long grain rice ( 안남미). However, their salary of 2,500 won (less than 1 dollar) is not sufficient for their own survival. Although their food supply is secure, they cannot buy a workbook for their children with only their salary. Therefore, there are many engineers who try to steal aircraft fuel. When the soldiers go to work, they bring an oil can which can be filled with 30 to 50kg of oil and fill the can without their superiors finding out. When the engineers leave work, they hand the can to their wives covertly. Then the wives sell the oil to merchants for a price of 1,600 won per 1kg. Hoarding aircraft oil secretly is very difficult so they wait for opportunities very cautiously.

Workers of Eunryoul Mine, “Give us unpaid wages”
Recently, three workers at Eunryoul Mine of South Hwanghae Province fell ill in a single day. They collapsed due to long term starvation and hard labor. A troop of workers who were infuriated went to the management office and angrily demanded, "We cannot be patient anymore, give us unpaid wages and promise a food supply." Up to now, Eunryoul mine has provided wages only once and a food supply only twice.

Wonsan City, The Market For Used Japanese Goods Returns

A market for Japanese used goods in Wonsan City, Kangwon Province, has regained momentum after it nearly closed at the end of June. Ever since trade with Japan ended, used goods such as bicycles, televisions, refrigerators, and washers became scarce, making the merchants who relied on selling these items suffer greatly. However, since the end of June, more and more people have begun making contact with Japanese ships to receive used goods and start selling again. Among these people, there are college students who earn their tuition by selling used goods they receive from importing companies.

Workers of Heungnam Chemical Plant Live On Ground Rice Bran to Be Used To Make Soaps
Recently it came to light that workers at the Heungnam chemical plant had stolen and lived on ground rice bran (쌀미강가루) which is made into soap. Heungnam City had planned to supply soap to every house as the memorial gift on September 9th of this year. However, according to the industry department of The Provincial People's Assembly, there is now a shortage of the raw materials used to make soap. The chemical factory was reluctant to produce soap in the first place, knowing that its hungry workers might steal the rice bran. Because it has been so long since workers last received food rations, theft of the rice bran used to make soap happens very often. The factory manager said, "Although our laborers consume a lot of ground rice bran, it is difficult for us to stop them because we have not supplied any other foods."

Workers at Gimchaek Shipyard Prefer Squid Fishing
As the number of workers not reporting to the work increases because of lack of food rations, Gimchaek shipyard in North Hamgyong Province has allowed workers to go out for squid fishing. Starting on July 28th, shipyard workers can go out to fish for squid, although they must first be inspected by the coast guard. In order to take as many people on board as possible, shipyard workers connect many different types of small ships to one rope and then ultimately to the biggest ship which will tow the smaller ones. Once the fishing is over and workers come back to the shipyard, the directors of each department receive their share of squid as well.

Tractor Parts Factory in Sariwon Demands That Workers Come to Work
“Let’s close ranks and restore production at our factory to invite our general leader.” This is a statement being made by the executives at a factory that manufactures tractor parts in Sariwon City, North Hwanghae Province. They tell even the weak or the ones that are suffering from the food shortage to come to work. Kang Jae-hyuk, 41 years old, says, “When I give reasons for not being able to come to work, my supervisor thinks I am just being lazy and forces me to come to work.” The workers’ general reaction to such a demand is that “executives at the factory cannot sympathize with the workers because their stomachs are full.” “Let us become full, too,” workers say in public.

Hyesan Residents “will choose a different place to live if smuggling becomes impossible”
Residents in Hyesan City, Ryanggang Province, have taken advantage of their location on the national border and have made much of their living from smuggling. So far, because of National Defense Committee inspections and antisocial activities inspections, many cases of train passengers and local police assisting or getting heavily involved in smuggling have been reported, but it is still able to continue. Residents of Hyesan City state that they will “leave the city if smuggling becomes impossible.” As a matter of fact, some people who already earned a lot of money chose to leave the city and go to places like Sariwon City, Hwanghae Province, or Pyongsung City, Southern Pyongan, because of the inspections. There are many other people who want to leave Hyesan city as soon as they earn their fortune from smuggling.

The Cabinet’s Decision on “administrative roles of every organization and public Enterprise”
Cabinet made rule 68 in regards to “administrative roles of every organization and company.” Some of the important topics are as following:
1. Every organization and public enterprise should establish clear administrative regulations and follow them seriously.
2. Every organization and public enterprise should take strong actions against those who lobby to sell goods and those who do not go to work.
3. Because characteristics that are against socialism are often times found among unemployed or lazy people, these people should be well monitored.
4. Punishments are also to be applied to those who do not follow these rules.

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