GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 204

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No. 204 September 2008
General Assembly of the National Party Cell Secretary to Te Held in October
Soonchun City and Pyongsung City, "We can not supply food for this year or next year"
"Factories should provide workers with meals"
“We should cut down on food consumption” versus “We can only cut down if we actually had food to eat.”
Half of the Moonmoo-ri Farm in Seoheung County Damaged by Flood
The Military Bean Factories Suggest, “Tofu Bean is a Longevity (Macrobiotic) Food”
Soldiers Trouble Farmers by Planting Beans in Their Farmlands
Parents Urge Children to Enter Military: "We can't feed you"
Training Camp '91' in Kangsuh County Tries To Deceive People with New Food Distribution System
[Opinion] The South Korean Government Should Still Provide Food Aid for North Korea Even Though It Is Late






General Assembly of the National Party Cell Secretary to Te Held in October
General Assembly of the National Party Cell Secretary (전국당세포비서대회) is scheduled to be held in October. Ten thousand cell secretaries, which will be biggest meeting ever, are expected to attend. This meeting resumed last year after a 14 year hiatus. The objective of this meeting is to discuss the food situation. The food situation has taken an unfavorable turn; the Central party lost its support of the people. They are concerned about a possible public movement in the near future because of the shortage of food.

At the meeting, the Central party will emphasize the role of the cell secretaries who are responsible for educating people. This will allow the cell secretaries to have the people under control. North Korea anticipates a food crisis this coming winter. This might lead people to a movement (protest). They will hold the biggest meeting of 10,000 participates to prevent people from a movement. One official of Central Party said, "The objectives of the general assembly of the National Party Cell Secretaries this year is to indoctrinate people in dogmas as to a projected food crisis. After this meeting is over, the control of people will most likely be tightened"

Soonchun City and Pyongsung City, "We can not supply food for this year or next year"
Local Food Administration of Soonchun City and Pyongsung city, South Pyongan Province stressed that the only way to survive is to save as much food as possible. Managers of factories and companies, secretaries of the party, and principal administrative officers got together to hold a meeting to state, "We are unable to provide food this year. We are not even sure if we could distribute some food next year. Given the projected food situation, we are unlikely to have food left for even peasants after giving the army provisions. We do not have food for the farmers who engaged in farming, let alone laborers." We are hoping for aid from other countries and for support from the Central government. According to statistic from the Local Food Administration, there is no possibility we can provide food this year and next year."

"Factories should provide workers with meals"

The City Party Officials of Pyongsung City in the general member’s meeting stressed that, "Factories should do their best to run a farm on factory-owned land, so that they can provide their workers with meals."

“We should cut down on food consumption” versus “We can only cut down if we actually had food to eat.”
In Seoheung County of the North Hwanghae Province, the secretaries of work units at the Moonmoo-ri (문무리) Farm said, “The world wide food crisis is worsening. We are not the only county with food problems. Many other countries face the same problem too, so we must cut down on our food consumption.” However, the workers cynically replied, “Shouldn’t we first get some food to eat before we reduce food consumption or not? We are barely living off of the grass porridge. Do you want us to not eat anything and die?” From February to June before the new potato season, the number of people that have died over the five month period at the firm has reached 55.

Half of the Moonmoo-ri Farm in Seoheung County Damaged by Flood
On August 6, half of the nine working units at the Moonmoo-ri Farm in Seoheung County (서흥군)of the North Hwanghae Province were damaged by flood. Since last year’s crop harvest was not good due to flood, the workers greatly worry over next year’s food supply since this year’s crops have been ruined again. The supervisors at the Moonmoo-ri Farm instructed an earlier fall harvest to the damaged units saying, “We need to retrieve every piece of crop”. Suh Chang-won (48 years) said, “This year, we weren’t able to use a lot of fertilizer and the weather situation was not good. Due to the flood damage, I worry because we don’t know how much of the fall harvest crops we’ll be able to retrieve. In addition, because soldiers have been stealing the corn, we don’t know whether we can provide the military provisions.”

The Military Bean Factories Suggest, “Tofu Bean is a Longevity (Macrobiotic) Food”
To reduce the lack of military provisions this year, the People’s Army has put up a slogan stating, “A tofu bean is a longevity (macrobiotic) food,” to promote bean farming. A new policy has been placed that a person must intake 40g of beans at the least and that military personnel must grow 40-50 kg of beans as sideline farming. They also have been encouraging bean farms to finish the bean harvests before the winter military training on December 1. On top of that, they were told that they would investigate how much beans are being stored. Last year, a company located on the border in the North Hamgyong Province, could not acquire the amount of beans requested by their battalion. However, they passed the military investigation after stocking up the necessary amount of beans because they had collected money among themselves to purchase the necessary beans from farms.

Soldiers Trouble Farmers by Planting Beans in Their Farmlands
Due to strong emphasis on bean farming, soldiers have moved beyond the ancillary work lands of their military base and are starting to encroach on farmland to plant beans. The Gosachong battalion of the Aviation headquarters, which is located in Jungpyong, Southern Hamgyong Province, angered the Farmlands Management Committee by adding farmer’s fields to their harvestable land. When legal steps were taken by the Committee, nothing was gained except criticism of farmers for fighting with the soldiers. Farmers in this area argue that they've given up about 5 acres (2 Jungbo) worth of farmlands to the military because of various reasons, but the harvests from these lands are also being accounted in farmers' overall production, which leads to a lack of food distribution for farmers.

"Either the 5 acres of land being used by soldiers gets taken out from farmers' overall land usage or soldiers make sure that other grains grow as well when they plant beans," says La Suk-joo (51 years old). Similar problems are occurring in other places as well. In the places where People's Army base camps are stationed, there are many cases where soldiers go into the farmers' fields to plant beans. The amount of lands the military is using in such ways can be added up to a one huge farmland.

Parents Urge Children to Enter Military: "We can't feed you"

In August 11, nationwide military recruitment for the fall season began. In North Hamgyong Province, the total number of enrollment was close to 2,500. A number of parents confessed that their children should be in the military to ease their living conditions. Although they acknowledged that life in the military is difficult, they believed that it would be better than starving at home. In the past, there were many students who wanted to serve in the military because of the possibility of becoming a highly-ranked general, but these days, the primary reason is food. Han Kyung-soo, 41 years old, explained this trend: "Parents see people coming back from military with thin bodies but the fact that they are still sending their children to serve in the military explains how hard their living really is. However, there are still more parents who do not want to send their children to serve, thinking their children will starve to death there.”

Training Camp '91' in Kangsuh County Tries To Deceive People with New Food Distribution System
The artillery battalion from Training camp '91', located in Jangjin-ri of Kangsuh County, South Pyongan Province, has begun distributing soldiers three meals per day since July 15, a change from two meals per day, due to new soldiers' complaints and escapes from the camp. Many soldiers who escaped refused to go back to the military by saying that they'd rather be "discharged dishonorably than go back." These soldiers have had enough with two meals of grass porridge a day. When the Central Party found out about this issue, it ordered food distribution units to guarantee better food distribution to military camps. However, in order to distribute three meals, quantity in each meal will be reduced. "They are just deceiving us," says Cho Myong-chul (28 years old).

[Opinion] The South Korean Government Should Still Provide Food Aid for North Korea Even Though It Is Late
Reportedly, a National Party Cell Secretary General Assembly (전국당세포비서대회) will be held in October 2008 in what is said to the largest National Party Cell Secretary Assembly in North Korean history with nearly all cell secretaries across the country expected to attend (about 10,000 attendees total). At last year's conference, which had taken place after 14 year hiatus, only high performance cell secretaries were invited. Nonetheless, it is more significant to understand the motive behind this year's conference.

It is widely said that the authorities feel that "the mind of the people has been greatly changing due to a nationwide food crisis." The Central Party, who has been reviewing numerous reports on public opinion from every part of the country, might be concerned that "something will happen in near future if the Party does not take any action." Due to such concerns, authorities must feel an urgent need to strengthen ideological education. As the first step, therefore, an ideology education project targeting cell secretaries has been initiated; it is the primary goal of this year's National Party Cell Secretary Assembly to reinforce ideology of both party members and non-members by cell secretaries.

Even though it was late, the South Korean government should still provide food aid for North Korea. It is an excellent opportunity to win the North Korean people's hearts. If the South Korean government unconditionally provides North Korea with large food support, the North Korean people will have more friendly feelings toward the government as well as the people of South Korea.
The World Food Program (WFP) has called on the South Korean government for food support for North Korea. There is no reason for the government in South to hesitate. The sooner the South provides aid, the more benefits the South would enjoy. When food shortages have been worsened to a degree that North Korean authorities become seriously anxious about its people's ideological change, South Korea's unconditional swift food support will not only save people's lives, but also will win the North Korean people's hearts. Moreover, it will allow the South to gain moral advantages over the North in negotiations. The South Korean government's swift decision on food support for the North is urged again.

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