GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 217

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No. 217 September 2008

Yeonsah County: People Growing Angry Over Party Control of the Market
Onsung County: Market Regulation Stir up Residents
Three Month Labor Training Punishment to Corn Thieves in Kangsuh County
Six Month Laboring Training Punishment to a Corn Thief in Hoeryong City
Inspection for Lodging Facilities in North Hamgyong Province to Catch Runaway Soldiers
New Recruits Forced to Give Up Their New Uniforms for Worn Uniforms
People Charged with Crime for Watching a Film from South Korea
The Name of the Chairman 'Kim Jong-Il' Used for Non-Tax Contribution
A Lookout for Workers Picking Bean Pods


Yeonsah County: People Growing Angry Over Party Control of the Market
Yeonsah County, North Hamgyong Province, people are growing more angry over party control of the market. Food aid from the US has not been distributed to the factory workers and other households in this county. Most people barely keep their body and soul together by farming in small fields. The big problem is obtaining alternative food sources since small businesses are the only place to get food. However, there are many restrictions in order to open a small business. For example, the age limit forbids anyone over 40 from opening a small business. Trade must occur in assigned market areas. The market space does not provide enough room for all the people who want to do business. Even if they are willing to pay the market display fee of 500 NK won, there is still no enough room for everyone. Some business who sells medicinal items and local product can not make enough profit so some set up shop illegally outside of the assigned market area to avoid market display fee.

The market management office checks each businessperson's age and cracks down on people running their business outside of the assigned market area. The officials either fine them 500 NK won or get them to attend re-education course for an entire day. "If we use one day for re-education without making money, we end up with no food next day. It makes our situation worse." said Jung Myong-hee (43). She also added that anger amongst the small business operators has been increasing.

Onsung County: Market Regulation Stir up Residents

Onsung County, North Hamgyong Province, as market regulation has become stricter, complaints among the residents are rising. The residents and peasants who have trouble getting food sell domestic animals, eggs, medicinal herbs, and farm product from small farming fields. This is the only way they can buy other food. Every fair day, the market is packed with people from many places. The market management office cracks down on people who sell outside of the assigned market area and who do not follow the age limit regulations. The accused end up with fine NK 500 won. Otherwise they have to attend re-education class for a day until 5:00pm.

Some accused elderly beg, "I won't sell outside of the assigned market area. Please let me off the case." However, the enforcement officials do not let them go home until they pay the fine. Some of the accused get as mad and they curse and swear at the officials. "We are treated so badly, the officials won't get away with it." Some residents yell after they are discharged.

The accused, Jang Soo-young (41), was caught when she sold her fares on a small residential street. She said furiously, “It is hard to bear this situation. We have no other way to get food. If they are so hard on people, it could get everybody into big trouble."

Three Month Labor Training Punishment to Corn Thieves in Kangsuh County
On August 26, a three month labor training punishment was given to corn thieves in Kangsuh County in the Southern Pyongan Province. The five people, including a person who stole more than eight ears of corn, received the labor training punishment in a public trial. When September approached, many farmers barely manage to live off rice porridge, and some farmers have died from a lingering illness. Some people who suffered from malnutrition died without even a morsel of food.

Six Month Laboring Training Punishment to a Corn Thief in Hoeryong City
On September 5, a six month labor training punishment was given to a corn thief, Lee Suk-gyun in Hoeryong City of the North Hamgyong Province. An oxcart handler, Lee stole six ears of corn from the Second Ban corn field in Daeduk-ri and snuck them under his cow fodder while he was moving it out from the field. He was caught by a guard, who found all of his corn under the fodder. Lee was arrested on the spot as a corn thief. On September 5, he received a public trail in front of all of the residents of Nammoon-dong and got the six month labor training punishment.

Inspection for Lodging Facilities in North Hamgyong Province to Catch Runaway Soldiers
Of those who received the recruit training and placement of their military unit at the end of August, the number of deserted soldiers has increased due to the intense work and severe hunger. On top of individual desertion, which has already been a problem, the increasing number of group desertion has made the military authorities’ primary goal to catch these deserters. Hence, the police and the military authorities have combined to intensify the lodging facility inspection in each city and county of Northern Hamgyung Province.

New Recruits Forced to Give Up Their New Uniforms for Worn Uniforms

At a boot camp located at Chilbong-ri, Wonsan city, Kangwon Province, worn uniforms from discharged soldiers were supplied to new recruits, whereas the new uniforms were taken by the discharged soldiers. On July 22 of this year, new recruits enlisted for autumn registration had to dedicate all of their new uniforms, boots, helmets and underwear to senior soldiers. Because the senior soldiers who were going to be discharged didn’t have proper clothes, the director of uniform-supplies suggested a switch between the new recruits’ uniforms and the seniors’. Some of new recruits said, “We were very hungry. Moreover, they compelled us to switch our uniforms to theirs.” Further, this caused about 30 new recruits to desert their camps. From August 23-26, some new recruits ran away from camp so commissioned officers went to bus or train stations to look for deserters. Commanders like the Chief of Camp and the Major General strongly urged that commissioned officer look for and bring deserters back to the camp with silence. If new recruit’s deserter had been reported to seniors, commanders couldn’t have avoided strict liability.

People Charged with Crime for Watching a Film from South Korea
On August 16th, there was punishment rendered in regards to censorship over a banned film at Nampo City in South Pyongan. Some executives were fired and some were expelled from their town. Also some regular workers and other citizens were ordered to be expelled. Citizen arrested for watching films from South Korea were charged with “civilization”, which means that a serious crime charged to them. Those charged were Kim Jung-chul, Lee Moon-ho and so on, who belong to the 2nd factory under light industry at Nampo City.


The Name of the Chairman 'Kim Jong-Il' Used for Non-Tax Contribution
Yeonsah County in North Hamgyong Province has mobilized a workforce to expand as well as repair streets in expectation of a visit from the Chairman 'Kim, Jong-Il'. The residents complain that, “Whenever they need people to work for non-tax contribution and collect money from people, they always make excuses that it is for the visit of the Chairman. It looks like it is the same tactic they use everywhere, not just in Yeonsah County. Even if people in Yeonsah County make a donation of money and work hard for his visit, who knows where he decide to go?", people ridiculed at their policy.

Seo Sang-mok (39) said that "They always used the Chairman Kim Jong-Il to make people install pavement and to mobilize people. We are sick and tired of hearing 'the policy of the chairman'. Until when they utilize 'Chairman's policy' to make people bend over backwards. They should feel shameful for the shallow tactic they've used."

A Lookout for Workers Picking Bean Pods
In Dukchun City of the Southern Pyongan Province, while farmers search for rabbit grass or any various types of grasses in the mountains for their meals, they secretly steal corn or bean pods from area farms. Therefore, farms have begun to strengthen surveillance on corn or bean pods because people try to illegally to fill his/her bag or sack with corn or bean pods. Guards have been placed at the frequently traveled alleys and roadsides to search the bags of all the passers-by including the farmers who pick the grass.

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