GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 211

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng

No. 211 September 2008
Key Party Officials Informed in Advance of Absence of Chairman Kim at the 60th DPRK Foundation’s Anniversary Ceremony on September 9th
North Koreans Do Not Consider Absence of Chairman Kim at the Ceremony a Big Deal
Chairman Kim Enraged at the Report of Military Officers Going Hungry
Provincial Party Leaders Determined To Secure Food Supply for the Military
Fall Crop to Military, None for Farmers




Key Party Officials Informed in Advance of Absence of Chairman Kim at the 60th DPRK Foundation’s Anniversary Ceremony on September 9th
It has come to light that North Korean authorities informed key party officials in advance regarding the absence of Chairman Kim of the National Defense Committee at the 60th DPRK foundation’s anniversary ceremony on September 9th. His absence at the 60th DPRK foundation’s anniversary ceremony has caused a great deal of speculation outside of the country on the status of his health. In spite of the rumors, domestically, a relative calm has been maintained. Although it is not possible to confirm the Chairman’s health problems, the understanding on the part of the high-ranking party officials seems to be that ‘personal safety’ was the main reason for his absence. According to one official, speculation in South Korea that something may have happened to the Chairman or that he may have died, a few years ago are utter nonsense. He goes as far as claiming that Chairman Kim has been in contact with foreign dignitaries such as China’s Vice Chairman Shi Jin Ping. He protested that it is ridiculous that the foreign media would spread such nonsense and blow things out of proportion. He claimed that while it is true that the Chairman’s health is not optimal, it is not to the extent to which the foreign media is making it out to be. The Chairman was not in attendance because of issues regarding his personal safety. The Chairman himself insisted on attending the ceremony, but was advised against it because of these personal safety issues.

However, a former high-ranking party official who defected from the regime claimed that there was never such an incident where an advance notification was sent out in regards to the Chairman’s most important public appearance. This ex-party official claimed that advance notification on the morning of the ceremonial day would be considered highly unusual and that it cannot be any other reason except for the Chairman’s health, and also said that personal safety issues are just a facade to hide the truth about his poor condition.

North Koreans Do Not Consider Absence of Chairman Kim at the Ceremony a Big Deal
North Koreans consider Chairman Kim’s absence from the 60th DPRK foundation’s anniversary ceremony on the September 9th ‘neither unusual nor strange.’ He has in fact missed many important ceremonies before and his absences at those times were not considered unusual either. Whenever he missed important ceremonies, it was emphasized through lectures that “Chairman Kim’s concerns and worries about the nation’s industry and agriculture caused him to lose many nights’ sleep. Beginning at dawn, he visits many factories and farms, making no time for sleep and eating only a rice-ball for a meal.” As before, it is circulated that “the Chairman missed the ceremony because of illness caused by his many visits without any rest.”

Chairman Kim Enraged at the Report of Military Officers Going Hungry
On September 2nd, Chairman Kim of the National Defense Committee received a recent report on the food crisis. It was reported to him that many regions are suffering from severe food shortages. Apparently, he was even shocked to receive word that emergency measures are especially necessary because the military has run out of food as those stationed in Hwanghae Provinces and Pyongan Provinces do not have any food reserves left. Overall, the military is low on rations, the very idea which enraged the Chairman. Sources say that he berated his officials shouting, “How could you let this situation get to be this bad? What have you been doing?”

Chairman Kim was upset by the fact that soldiers fed twice a day are considered lucky and that some soldiers are only fed once a day. Some military units even have their officers go out to neighboring farms to borrow food. If those officers are unable to obtain more food, the soldiers go hungry. When the officers have to skip meals, the subordinate soldiers go hungry without fail. Chairman Kim was angered by the severity of the situation to the point of claiming he was surrounded by idiots. He was so agitated by the situation he even collapsed at one point. He ordered that any grain imported from China and food obtained from outside sources should first be routed to the military in order to guarantee adequate resources for it.

Provincial Party Leaders Determined To Secure Food Supply for the Military
In response to Chairman Kim’s rage and ill health, provincial party leaders are determined to apply their utmost efforts to secure a food supply for the military because “Our Dear Leader should not be burdened with more worries.” Leading provincial party officials requested that city and county party officials “release any food reserves to the military in order to lessen Dear Leader’s worries.” In return, city and county party officials asked the chairperson of the People’s Assembly for cooperation in sending supplies to the military. In the case of Hamgyung Province, the City of Chungjin decided to send 300 MT of corn obtained from foreign countries and 80 MT of dried noodles(꽈면) from China to the military. The City of Hoeryong also decided to send 400 MT of corn from foreign sources by train to the military stationed in Hwanghae and Jagang Provinces. The loaded trains left on September 12th.”

Fall Crop to Military, None for Farmers
Chairmans of People’s Assembly of Farms in Hwanghae and Pyongan Provinces agreed in one voice, “This year officials will be confiscating the entire harvest living nothing for the farmers themselves.” Grain from last year’s crop has been long exhausted and no reserves remain. It is expected that even with entire fall crop going to military it is not sufficient to cover the required amount for the militaries therefore, none will be left for the farmers. A party official of South Hwanghae Province says, “Our dear Leader, after receiving reports on the food crisis for this year, repeatedly emphasized that beginning next year all efforts should be directed toward agriculture.” The official also added that Chairman Kim’s health problem may have been a result of his concern over the food crisis.

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