GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 214

Two Inmates Escape from Younggwang County Re-education Centre
Successive Robberies of Stores in Hoeryong
Gasoline Tanker blows Up in Pyongyang’s Seungho District
Cargo Truck Accident in Jungpyong
Mt. Myohyang Tour Bus Rolls off the Cliff
Provincial History of Revolution Museum in Sinuiju to Be Renovated
Employee of the court dismissed after receiving 500,000 won to allow a couple to divorce
Not Everyone Can Divorce



Two Inmates Escape from Younggwang County Re-education Center
On September 2nd, there was a prison break involving 10 inmates from Younggwang County Re-education Center in South Hamgyong Province. Among them, three were shot and killed and five apprehended by authorities, while two are still at large. Earlier that day, three prison guards transported the ten to the Gohwon train station to stake bags of cement. Waiting for the right moment, around 6PM, the inmates finally ran away eluding the prison guards’ effort to capture them. However, three of them were quickly shot, and died on the spot. In an effort to arrest the fugitives, the Gohwon County police have set up checkpoints on the roads and tracks going toward the Chinese boarder up north.

Successive Robberies of Stores in Hoeryong
During the later part of August, there were successive robberies targeting large stores in the city of Hoeryong in North Hamgyong Province. On August 27, Ohsanduk Store and Moranjiguk Store were robbed of 1.8 million NK won (approximately US $545) and 7 million NK won (approximately US $2,121) respectively. Additionally, on the 30th, Social Emergency Storage – Day Care Items Distribution Store was hit loosing 2.5 million NK won (US $757) worth of merchandise. In a response to these robberies, on September 2, Hoeryong held an emergency City Party meeting. The Secretary of the City Party criticized the head of the police station, the captain of the security officers, and all the other related personnel, “What kind of poor job are you doing, that there are all these repeated robberies and you can’t even catch the criminals?” To put a stop to the spree of robberies, police officers are staking out during the night and interviewing the residents during the day.

Gasoline Tanker blows Up in Pyongyang’s Seungho District
A gasoline tanker exploded on its way into a fuel storage owned by the Support Bureau. This accident claimed the lives of the driver and a worker in charge at the fuel storage, and burned 10 ton of gasoline. It also caused a fire in the nearby cornfield and other fields inflicting a considerable amount of damage triggering worries over its negative impact on the harvest this fall.

Cargo Truck Accident in Jungpyong
In Jungpyong, South Hamgyung Province, a cargo truck belonging to transportation department of Grain Policy Division(양정사업소) got into an accident while transporting factory workers from Gohwon County. Four factory workers died and five were seriously injured. Catching the ride in the truck were four signalmen from the Air Force headquarters based in Jungpyong County; they also died in the accident.

Mt. Myohyang Tour Bus Rolls off the Cliff

Last August 16, volunteers from a company in Wonsan City, Kangwon Province, were involved in a traffic accident on their way to tour Mt. Myohyang. The tour bus was about to enter Goojang County near Deungduk when a truck that belongs to the training camp 91’s artillery unit collided with the bus due to a malfunctioning transmission, making the bus roll off a cliff. As result of the accident, seven passengers died and 12 were injured. People who needed emergency medical care were transferred to the Red Cross hospital in Pyongyang. Nobody in the truck that caused the accident was seriously injured.

Provincial History of Revolution Museum in Sinuiju to Be Renovated
City of Sinuiju in North Pyongan Province has decided to renovate the Provincial History of Revolution Museum (도혁명사적관) in Sinuiju to a “modern style.” Public lectures emphasized the need “for everyone to cooperate.” Since September, people started organizing to raise money. In University of Sinuiju, employees have decided to collect 10,000 NK won (US $3) from each member. University of Sinuiju has taken part in replacing the floor of the museum to granite, which will cost a lot of money. The factories and companies have been discussing how to raise money as well.

Employee of the court dismissed after receiving 500,000 won to allow a couple to divorce
In Sapo region which is located in Hamheung City, Southern Hamgyong Province, an employee of People’s Court was dismissed after accepting 500,000 NK won (US $150) to allow a couple to divorce. Since it is extremely difficult to be approved for divorce, many couples who want to divorce spend between 400,000 and 500,000 NK won to lobby the employees. As the number of such cases increased, the Central Court sent out an order to investigate every county and city. Kwon Soon-duk (45) from Hamheung City says, “People with money can divorce any time they want, but for those who don’t have money, divorce is not an option.”

Not Everyone Can Divorce
Amid the ongoing food crisis and break up of the families by divorces, a newly married couple divorced recently, raising a concern. Last August 5, the Central Court explicitly gave out the cases where people can file for divorce and made sure these are the only cases that can pass through. These cases are limited to serious beatings from the husband on the wife, partner’s addiction to illegal drugs, and just a few more. When a person files for divorce with the cases that do not belong in the list, that person will be placed in the rehabilitation programs for up to 2 years, where women will be sent to the farmlands and men to the mines.

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