GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 203

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No. 203 September 2008
Forest Cultivation Office Scheduled to Close after years of Private Farming
North Hamgyong Province, “Insure the Completion of Baekdu Mountain’s Highway Construction”.
In Hamheung City of South Hamgyong Province, Orders to Crack Down on Merchants Who Break the Price Controls
Hyesan City, Arrests for Illegal Recorded Materials
Patrolmen Order Women, “Take off Your Socks”
In the National Border Areas, August Inspections for Illegal Recorded Material
In Hoeryong city, Twenty-Five Arrested by the National Security Agency
A Public Trial for Drug Traffickers Took Place in Manpo City, Jagang Province
Violent Incident at an Inspection Point in Shinpo City
Reshuffle in the Railroad Authority Bureau Expected










Forest Cultivation Office Scheduled to Close after years of Private Farming
Those citizens who are involved in forest cultivation have also been farming corn or other crops along with growing tree seedlings in the forest. The practice is forest cultivation in name only, being essentially small private farms. However, starting next year, the forest cultivation office (산림이용반) will close down, due to lack of interest in forest preservation over farming. The end of the Forest Cultivation Office means the current saplings will suffer. The Ministry of Land (국토성) had tried to abolish the Forest Cultivation office, but they decided to let its farming continue until the end of the year due to the food crisis that normally comes during the spring.

North Hamgyong Province, “Insure the Completion of Baekdu Mountain’s Highway Construction”.
The Chairman of the People’s Committee (인민위원장) of each city and county in North Hamgyong Province recently attended a provincial all-members meeting, wherein they decided to focus on Baekdu Mountain’s highway construction. As of now, the crew dispatched to Baekdu Mountain’s highway construction, which is to connect many cities and counties, barely manage to live on a bowel of porridge a day. Their living condition has become more of a concern than any delays of construction. To address the problem, the chairman of the People’s committee and the leading secretary (책임비서) gave an order that local towns should be responsible for unconditionally providing food for the workers until August 20. In addition, local leaders are required to report on the food supplied to workers to the province’s administration office (도당조직부).

At the all-members meeting, leaders also stressed the importance of finishing the first phase of Baekdu Mountain’s highway construction at all costs. The commanders in charge of the construction in each city and county were told secure additional laborers and support their livelihood in case there is a shortage of forced labor.

In Hamheung City of South Hamgyong Province, Orders to Crack Down on Merchants Who Break the Price Controls
The manager at the Sapo market office in Hamheung City, members of the People’s Committee and district officers have clamped down on sellers who raise the price of rice. In addition, they send a broadcasting vehicle around the market, announcing “The allowed price of rice is up to 2,700 won per kg, even if it is good quality rice. Any rice over that price cannot be sold”. (* USD $1.00 is approximately 3,300 North Korea won)

Hyesan City, Arrests for Illegal Recorded Materials
Since August 9, officers at Hyesan city in Yanggang Province have been searching for illegal recorded materials. The inspectors, called 109 from the Central Party, inspected city and province officers’ houses, regardless of villagers’ information and their opinion. The authorities believe that more officers are getting blinded by South Korea’s way of living and that they then attempt to cover their illegal acts with their position and power. In compliance with the Central Party’s order to increase enforcement, they announced in public that those officers who had watched South Korean movies have been sentenced to prison at an educational institution.

Patrolmen Order Women, “Take off Your Socks”
Patrolmen’s searches at Hoeryong City security points in the North Hamgyong Province are getting stricter. In the evening they perform searches without any oversight, stopping women who pass by and forcing them to take off their clothes, shoes, even their socks. The inspected women who had disrobed said that they feel contempt and a sense of shame. Jung Eun-shim (31 years old) was upset, stating that “the patrolmen sleep well if they are able to make 50,000 won (about USD $15) in a night, so they are eager to perform searches. They are like parasites feeding off the sweat and blood of the people. I am distraught about this undeserved ill treatment.”

In the National Border Areas, August Inspections for Illegal Recorded Material
From August 7 to August 30, authorities have increased searches for illegal recorded materials and television channels along the national border areas in North Hamgyong Province. Officers in the city and in the village hall announced to residents, “Do not put together a TV receiver and a recorder, do not watch illegal recorded materials, and report anyone who watches or distributes an illegal record or CD to the security office, especially if his material in question is a South Korean movie. They added, if there is a People’s movie produced by an individual, it should be revealed to the security office. Except for a Hana Recording or a Hana Electric CD, and a Mokran CD, all others should be reported. A smuggled recording machine’s usage is prohibited. During this inspection period, if someone turns such a device in voluntarily, they will be forgiven; soon, they will start very severe punishments.

In Hoeryong city, Twenty-Five Arrested by the National Security Agency
In Hoeryong city, the National Security agents arrested twenty-five individuals. Of the twenty-five, three to five were found to be innocent and acquitted, but the rest of the suspects are likely to be sentenced to a severe punishment. Choi Yong-soo in Osan-dong was caught possessing 800g of ‘Ice’ (amphetamines) and USD $9,000. Most of those who were arrested are drug traffickers and seemed to spend more than their income. Han Kwang-sik, who used to be a manager of the foreign currency business office, was arrested last year and sentenced on June 29 to nine years of labor re-education.

A Public Trial for Drug Traffickers Took Place in Manpo City, Jagang Province
The public trial took place for drug trafficker, Kim Joong-suk, and his three accomplices in early August. The defendants sold drugs to their neighbors and attempted to traffic in China. The leader, Kim Joong-suk, was sentenced to life in prison and his three accomplices were sentenced to be re-educated for 7-9 years. During the past couple of years, the traffickers had sold a total of 3,400 kg of drugs. The police officers who protected the illicit business were released from office or discharged for bad conduct.

Violent Incident at an Inspection Point in Shinpo City
An inspector was arrested on August 1 in Shinpo City, South Hamgyong Province because he did not properly inspect a military vehicle. As usual, he stopped the vehicle and asked for the driver’s ID card and destination. The driver said that he was taking a team of patrol officers to Pyongyang. He also provided an identification certificate, which they used to pass any inspection station without showing an ID card. However, the inspector insisted on looking at the passenger’s identification, which upset the driver. The driver then got out of the vehicle, beat the police officer, and left the scene. The police officer was arrested shortly after he had recovered. The police commissioner in Shinpo City was dishonorably discharged because he did not educate his officers about the inspection regulations. This is a case where a strict inspection caused big trouble.

Reshuffle in the Railroad Authority Bureau Expected
Although changing railroad transportation policy has been a top priority, there have been no improvements to the policy. The National Defense Committee has inspected each railroad authority office. They concluded that the officials at the railroad offices did not put any extra effort toward making changes. The central party commanded "We can not let the incapable officers stay at their position. The National Railroad Administration should reshuffle their work force to reorganize operations."



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