GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

.

North Korea Today No. 213

Wheat provided by U.S.A. to the Northern Coal Mine Enterprise
Jagang Province Distribute Food Aid from the U.S.A. to Workers in Munitions Factory
In Nampo City, a Farm's Decision for Corn Distribution Causes a Controversy
Controversy Surround the Shooting Death of a Soldier Stealing Corn in Suhheung County Farm, North Hwanghae Province
The Number of Goat Drastically Reduced, Kanggye City
[Opinion] Time to Prepare for Humanitarian Crisis in North Korea




Wheat provided by U.S.A. to the Northern Coal Mine Enterprise
The Coal Mine United Enterprise, in Saebyul County North Hamgyong Province, has not supplied food rationing for workers of city and county coal mines since last August. For example, The Ohbong Coal Mine was able to distribute whole corn in July, but since then, they could not provide any food to their workers because they did not receive any the Northern Coal Mine United Enterprise. The officials in the city and county's coal mine tried to persuade workers to continue working by promising that it will sell coal and provide them with food in September. Despite its effort, the workers cried, "They are just saying that! The situation is not going to change". In some of the coal mines, only the lowest officials showed up at work. It is hard for the officials to force workers to do their job, when they are suffering from hunger. Coal Mine Industry Department was alerted of the situation and decided that they should keep the coal mines running. As such, they've decided to distribute 200 tons of wheat from U.S.A. to the Northern Coal Mine Enterprise before September 7.

Jagang Province Distribute Food Aid from the U.S.A. to Workers in Munitions Factory
Jagang Province supplied workers in munitions factory with enough food for 10 days worth of meals. Half the food aid was in unglutinous rice, the rest of them were wheat from the U.S.A. Since August, non-absentee rate has decreased because of the lack of food. Economic Commission II provided the workers with the food aid from the U.S.A. Since the head of household is not able to bring home food, the housewives are trying to get some food from family or relatives. However the application for travel certificates is often denied. Therefore, it is not easy to visit families who live in other areas because for security reasons, many people are not allowed to outside of their cities.

Some workers are forced to work without food rationing. Kim Hyung-oh (43) said, "Most of our people have been surviving with only porridge since April, when the food distribution stopped. Even I have no energy to continue to work all day. I often just lie down due to hunger at work and wait for the closing hour. When lying down, we are occasionally beaten with a stick by the officials. The officials blame us for reduced productivity.

In Nampo City, a Farm's Decision for Corn Distribution Causes a Controversy
A farm in Shinryong-ri, Nampo City, South Pyongan Province, distributed 35kg of corn to its farmers. Since the farmers did not have much to eat this September, many of them have eaten only one meal per day. The secretary and the farm managers thought that there would be almost no food for the farmers after they send corn as military provisions. Therefore, they harvested corn from around 1,500 pyung (평) of not-so-good corn fields earlier than usual so that they could distribute the 35 kg of corn to each farmer. However, someone reported, "Farm management workers harvested corn earlier on their own without any permission and distributed to the farmers," to the Province Farm Management Committee. The Committee notified the military authority of the incident, which allowed it to investigate the secretary and the supervisor of the Shinryung-ri farm management. The military authority asked the secretary, "You know that you were making a serious mistake when you harvested corn earlier than usual without permission from the government, didn't you!" The secretary replied, "I have tried to get some food for the farmers. How could I let more farmers die? Shouldn't I try more to keep them alive at any rate?" There is a great diversity of opinion on how to handle this case.

Controversy Surround the Shooting Death of a Soldier Stealing Corn in Suhheung County Farm, North Hwanghae Province
Thanks to help from the military police, the Suhheung Collective Farm in Suhheung town, Suhheung County, North Hwanghae Province gave two rifles to each work unit due to the recurring and unsolved problems of corn theft. On August 26, two 4.25 Engineering Training Battalion soldiers, who tried to steal corn, were shot by the armed farm guards. One of the fleeing soldiers was shot on the thigh and his leg was amputated. Then, the officers and soldiers from the Battalion made a strong protest against the supervisor and the workers, almost bullying "Compensate for the damages right away. If not, connect the amputated leg to the body." After having an emergent meeting, the farm secretary and the management workers apologized to the military officers saying, "We provide everything including food and medicine for the soldier whose leg was amputated due to our shooting until he fully recovers."

After the officers and soldiers returned, the work unit reported the details on the incident to the secretary of the Kun. The Kun Committee was held among the officials and the Committee sent the detailed report on the incident and a letter of complaint to the Ministry of People's Armed Forces. The officials from the Ministry of People's Armed Forces investigated the incident by meeting all the farmers and concluded, "The shooting was occurred by the soldier's theft of corn. Therefore, the farm should not be held responsible for the incident." They also criticized the officers from the battalion who claimed damage compensation. The company commander in the battalion received a 6 month of party punishment (당책벌) and the squad commander, who allowed the soldiers the stealing, was demoted to the solider (the lowest rank).

The Number of Goat Drastically Reduced, Kanggye City
The number of goat in Youth Goat Ranch, Kanggye City, Jagang Province, has been greatly reduced. It had approximately 6,000 sheep a few years ago but now only 1,300 are left this year. This ranch has been very famous for its goat farming and many ranches across the country have tried to emulate it after it began to raise goats for the first time in the country in 2002. However, due to the lack of fodder and decreasing grazing land, the number of goats has been significantly reduced. In order to take good care of goats, grazing land should be continuously created but there is almost no grass to feed the goats. Moreover, farm workers have barely managed to live by selling goat milk due to the severe food shortage. Therefore, the ranch was not able to create grazing land but to concentrate on selling goat milk. Every farmer is supposed to sell 50 liters of goat milk and then the ranch collects the profits. Since everyone has been engaged in selling goat milk, there is not enough number of people who make fodder for goats. This is why the number of goats has been reduced and, now, only 1,300 goats are left.

[Opinion] Time to Prepare for Humanitarian Crisis in North Korea
We keep getting reports that Kim Jong-Il, North Korea's leader, is seriously ill. Any changes to the leadership of North Korea will almost certainly lead to some degree of instability. The press has released a lot of speculative news articles that sudden big changes in North Korea could be coming soon.

According to WFP (United Nations World Food Programme) and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) reports released in June, the seriousness of the food situation in North Korea has been made clearer.

It is said that more than 50% of households live with only two meals of porridge per day.
The report supported our newsletter in 'North Korea Times' that North Koreans have been suffering from famine. The WFP report, as well as Good Friends, pointed that flood damage, the reduction of aid from other countries, and China's restrictions for the export of food has worsened the shortage of food crisis

To make matters worse, the shortage of food led to an increase of grain price and a decrease of purchasing power. It seems that people try to help themselves by farming in a small piece of field and collecting wild plants, which they can eat.

As We (Good Friends) have looked into diverse aspects of the North Korea situation, we think that the food situation is well reflected in the report. Our trials to get the North Korea news out worldwide have raised many objections.

The opposition insisted that some private organizations exaggerate the food situation, that the increase of grain price originates from North Korea's market control policy and it would be temporary issue, and that the food shortage is not that bad because a food famine is one of the strategies for North Korea government to manipulate people. However, now we have objective and comprehensive information on food situation in North Korea.

We should stop this exhausting dispute and come up with the new ideas on how to rescue North Korea from the humanitarian crisis that it now faces. We should not be preoccupied with just the news that Kim Jong-Il is seriously ill and that North Korea faces big and sudden changes in politics. Under the circumstances, the South Korea government must be hold firm in its position so that we can effectively deal with important issues such as the continuation of South and North Koreas' talks, humanitarian aid, non-governmental exchange between South and North Korea, and Inter-Korean economic business.

The easiest way to get through this difficult period is by providing food aid so that we can gain North Koreans' popularity. Humanitarian aid such as food aid would be the easiest and most justifiable measure to lead S. and N. Korea to become reunified one Korea. The South Korea government should continue to provide unconditional food aid to help the North Koreas people and resume talks with the North Korea government. By doing so, we should be able to intervene in its issues and lead it to solve the problems that it would face in near future.

We must keep in mind that the most important and biggest matter in North Korea is the food crisis that is causing many people to suffer from preventable hunger.
There was an error in this gadget