GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 215

“I Wish I Could Have Some Rice Porridge Before I Die”
Rations of New-Crop Corn Noodles Given To Military Units Stationed in Kangwon Province on the Anniversary of Youth Day
Those Not Peddling Unable To Feed Themselves
Lee Hong-choon, deeply Involved In Manipulating Prices of Grain Nationally
Demand for Pork in City of Chungjin Far Exceeds Supply


“I Wish I Could Have Some Rice Porridge Before I Die”
Kim Myong-sik (63) of Chungnam-dong, Soonam District, City of Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province has been suffering for many years from abdominal pain. He has been selling pieces of furniture of any worth from his home in order to pay for medical treatment. This year he could not sustain himself physically by going out to borrow anything to eat. Pains in his stomach forced him to visit the hospital for some help. What he received was a diagnosis of a stomach ulcer requiring surgery. He could not afford to pay for any medication for a long time. His stomach is not capable of digesting even a small amount of grass porridge and a piece of potato. He finally concluded that he could not survive long and had such a strong craving for rice porridge that he paid a visit to the District Party headquarters. He said “I wish I could have a spoonful of rice porridge before I die” and asked them for a small amount of rice.

Despite this man’s entreatment, the party leaders coldly turned him down, saying “You are not the only one in such a dire situation. We cannot help you.” So disappointed, Mr. Kim shouted, “What is the Party for if it does not care about the starving people? I will go to Pyongyang and ask Dear Leader for some rice.” He was arrested for this incident and he had to ask for forgiveness from the security agents for his “nonsensical utterings.”

Rations of New-Crop Corn Noodles Given To Military Units Stationed in Kangwon Province on the Anniversary of Youth Day
Soldiers of the units stationed in Kangwon Province were fed with noodles made of new-crop corn on the anniversary of Youth Day. There were no special events planned for the occasion and soldiers took the day off. Soldiers of the 46th and 47th Divisions of the First Corps stationed in Gimhwa County of Kangwon Province are fed twice a day. Because they recently ran out of food, the officers’ families stopped receiving rations. Groups of starving soldiers go to the farms and private plots of land to steal corn. Some units stationed at the top of the mountain in Yeechun County of Kangwon Province had to travel 50 Li[1]) to haul water because the wells dried up during hot summer days. Lack of water forced the soldiers to use wet towels to clean their faces and many soldiers could not even do that for ten days or more. The Fifth Corps supplied whole corn, which the kitchen personnel had to grind before cooking it. It is hard to describe the sufferings of the soldiers.

Those Not Peddling Unable To Feed Themselves
The hardest hit areas by the current food crisis are Kangwon and South Hwanghae Provinces. Residents of these areas are either starving or only able to eat two meals of porridge a day. People are wondering how long even those fortunate enough to have porridge can last. Because of more intense control over commercial activities, those who cannot peddle have a hard time affording even meals of porridge.

Lee Hong-choon, deeply Involved In Manipulating Prices of Grain Nationally
Lee Hong-choon[2]), president of Namgang Company, North Hamgyong Province, was executed on July 15, a month later, all of his associates in crime were arrested. It has come to light that Lee Hong-choon has been in close contact with branch trading company presidents and a head of base, such as those in South Hamgyong Province, North Hwanghae Province and the City of Pyongsung. He coordinated efforts in manipulating prices of grain nationally across the country and became deeply involved. Accordingly, all of his associates in crime were executed behind closed doors and the government confiscated all of the grain in their possession. The confiscated grain was distributed to workers in education and medicine. In the case of the City of Chungjin during August, 5 MT of grain was sent to nursing homes and a Kkotjebi Center. The city and county construction shock troop brigade received the majority of the confiscated grain and the rest was sent to educators and medical workers.

Demand for Pork in City of Chungjin Far Exceeds Supply
Pork prices in the major markets of North Hamgyong Province have been rising. During May, the price of pork ranged from 3,500 to 4,000 NK won [3] ) per kg and started rising in June. During July, the price went up to 5,500 NK won and even 6,000 to 7,000 NK won in some areas. The reason behind the rise in price is the sharp increase in the demand for pork in the City of Chungjin. Annually, the demand for pork is high during the period between July and September and this year is no exception. Especially this year, it is rumored that it is impossible to find pigs in the City of Chungjin. It was hard to find any pork and therefore the price of pork brought from other cities and counties in North Hamgyong Province such as Onsung, Yeonsah and Hoeryong has also been rising.


[1]) Li리 is a distance unit in Korea and 1 Li리 is around 393 m, 25 Li리 is approximately 10 km
[2]) North Korea Today No. 198, August 2008 introduced Lee Hong-choon as the chief of the Namgang sales office in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province. Lee Hong-choon is actually the president of the Namgang Company.

[3] ) US $1.00 is approximately 3,300 NK won.

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