GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 219

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No. 219 September 2008

Blamed For Other Thefts after Two Thefts
Shooting At the Boat That Tried To Go To the South
Masked Robbers Appear in a Mountain Trail in Rasun City
“Thousand Miles with Our Great General? Backward Miles with Our Great General”
“A Hill Too Dangerous to Cross Alone”
"A world where loan sharks thrive"




Blamed For Other Thefts after Two Thefts
Cast steel ironworkers of Gimchaek Steel Mill in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, were caught after two consecutive thefts. Earlier, they had traded 60 square meter of iron plate for 250 kg of flour, but on August 19, the security patrol caught them stealing once again in the same manner. Gimchaek Steel Mill was producing 400 square meter of iron plate for the National Defense Committee and there had been 18 thefts already. Seven people caught this time are likely to be charged for all these previous thefts even though they were only involved in the last two. Many officials actually sort of allowed people to steal because they understood how serious the food situation was. However, none of the officials came out saying they were involved. Co-workers said, “Being charged for all other thefts is too harsh.” Department of Security said, “We will know if they are responsible for all others when the investigation is over.”

Shooting At the Boat That Tried To Go To the South
Last August 27, there was incident of shooting on a small boat (쪽배) that was trying to go to South Korea. An anonymous worker and his family were on the boat. This worker is known to have attempted crossing the border several times in the past. This time, he was trying to cross the border with his two children but without his wife. The coastal patrol boat, suspicious of the boats coordinates, followed it and opened fire. Everyone on the boat was killed. The Department of Security in Heungnam is investigating how the ideology of this worker has been changing by questioning his neighbors. During the investigation, the wife was said to have confessed that he had tried to cross the border several times in the past. The coastal police staff that allowed the boat to leave was found to have received money, and they were immediately arrested.

After this incident, the government prohibited all ships to go out to the ocean saying that it is a punishment to all. Suh Keum-suk (51) whose life depends on squid fishing cried out, “I can barely survive even when I go out to the ocean every day. Now, how cam I going to live?”

Masked Robbers Appear in a Mountain Trail in Rasun City
Early this September, three masked robbers attacked a vehicle that was transporting corns over the mountain trail, Juhseulryong Hill (저슬령고개), in Rausun City, Northern Hamgyong. These robbers placed several rocks on the road to make the vehicle stop, and then pulled out the driver and two female merchants. As the women protested and did not follow the orders, the robbers beat them several times, took the key, and drove away in the stolen vehicle. Two women cried out loud because they lost all the corns they bought with borrowed money.

“Thousand Miles with Our Great General? Backward Miles with Our Great General”
Last August, a new sign saying ‘Thousand miles with our Great General’ was posted at the entrance of Gogunwon, Saebyul County, in North Hamgyong Province. However, just a few days later, the word ‘Thousand’ was erased and was replaced with ‘Backward.’ The sign now reads ‘Backward miles with our Great General.’ The military intelligence office started investigating immediately. At the scene, they found a brick that seems to have been used to change the letters. The Department of Security repaired the sign while also questioning people who had recently been released from reform institutions. People who saw the changed sign were fingerprinted and wrote a statement vowing that they that they will never disclose this matter. “Report immediately if you know anyone who is discontent with the government,” requested the investigators.

“A Hill Too Dangerous to Cross Alone”
Recently, there has been a great increase in robbery in the Sohchangryong Hill (소창령고개), Jangjin Highlands (장진고원), South Hamgyong Province. The robbers not only took away the possessions of the pedestrians but also they often raped women regardless of their age. As the news spread, people shun the hill area in the afternoon. Even in the broad daylight, if one has to cross the hill, he waits at the foot of the hill until there are others to go together. The residents are complaining the lack of protection from the officials and expressing their growing fear of these robbers.

"A world where loan sharks thrive"
Jung Myong-hak (46 years old) lives at Gwangchun-dong, Danchun City, South Hamgyong Province and is well-known for his good business skills and accumulated wealth. Jung also lends money with high interest. So many people borrow from him that there may not be any in Gwangchun-dong who does not owe Jung money. He has good connections with the officials and thus is not easily caught for these actions. However, Jung recently got into a fight with a borrower who has not paid off his loan. After fiercely arguing for a while, Jung stabbed the man out of anger and injured him. He was jailed but was released three days later when he was found not guilty. The residents complained, “The law is rotten. How can a man get away for stabbing and maiming another man? The law enforcement people are blinded by money and do not implement the law.” Upon his release from the detention center, Jung took several burly men with him and went to the man’s house where he was lying on bed from the stab wounds and demanded prompt payments. The victim’s family was so scared they wrote an I-Owe-You and promised to pay back without fail.

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