GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 225

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No.225 October 2008

In Kangwon Province, Fortunate Are Those Who Can Afford to Eat Potatoes
At Universities in South Hamgyong Province, Students Are Rationed With 15 Potatoes A Day
Those that Sacrifice to Donate Rice
Two Corns-on-the-Cobs for a Road Construction Worker for Lunch
Party Secretaries of Cities and Counties Responsible For Apportionment in Military Provisions


In Kangwon Province, Fortunate Are Those Who Can Afford to Eat Potatoes
In counties of Bubdong, Gosan, Tongchun and Sepo, food crisis is very severe. September is the toughest month before the fall harvest. There is no external food aid whatsoever. It is difficult to say which county is the worst because most of the residents can afford barely a meal a day. Even in the City of Wonsan, the largest city in Kangwon Province, most of the residents suffer from the food shortage. Kim Hyung-jin (35) at Galma-dong says it has been a long time since he last saw a grain of rice and his family of five barely survives on 4 kg of potato a day. He, with a swollen face, said, “It was really hard for the first ten days. But we are used to it now. Fortunate are those who can afford potatoes. Those poorer residents eat grass porridge mixed with powdered corn. They even pull out and eat cabbages and dried greens from the field to suppress hunger.”

At Universities in South Hamgyong Province, Students Are Rationed With 15 Potatoes A Day
Major universities of South Hamgyong Province provide each student at the dormitories with five potatoes a meal, a total of 15 potatoes a day. Occasional rotten potatoes cause diarrhea to many students. Students themselves prepare porridge of potato in their rooms. Hunger causes some students to complain about dizziness and some students cannot even get up from their seats at the end of the class. Students complain that because of hunger no matter what they do all they think about is food.

Those that Sacrifice to Donate Rice

People’s Army political lecture series list people who donate rice to army in the middle of this severe food crisis. An elderly man, saying that the young soldiers are like his grandsons and should not go hungry, paid a visit to a neighboring army unit to donate 1.5 kg of soybean. A daughter-in-law in a family donated 15 kg of corn on the cob and her mother-in-law donated again 15 kg of corn on the cob, which was all that the family owned. Some soldiers seem to be moved by these episodes. However, the majority of the soldiers seem to believe they are all downright lies,

Two Corns-on-the-Cobs for a Road Construction Worker for Lunch
Hwang Hak-soo (57), a factory manager at City of Dukchun, South Pyongan Province, was able to visit with his son, a worker of the 8th Bureau (Bureau of Road Construction), on the way home from a business trip to Pyongyang. Hwang Jin-man (24), his son, was in the middle of unloading a truck in pajamas. They could have a talk only during lunch hour. His son’s lunch was just two corns-on-the-cobs. It broke his heart. Afterwards, he went into a mountain area where there was no one in sight and cried long and hard. Mr. Hwang realized the first time how miserable the workers lives were. He was shocked. Upon arriving home, he sent 50,000 NK won to his son immediately and decided that he would send about 200,000 NK won (approx. US $60) to his son every month.

Party Secretaries of Cities and Counties Responsible For Apportionment in Military Provisions
Party secretaries of cities and counties should be ready to be relieved of their position and fired if they fail to meet the required apportionment in military provisions. Consequently, every party secretary of city and county takes all measures to prevent any amount of food to leave their jurisdictions. These measures caused the rice dealers to carry more than 10 Kg of rice on them during night. A central party official commented, “The food situation with the military is so severe that all the possible measures will be taken to meet the required apportionment in military provisions. It will be very tough for the rice dealers, but no party secretary would have any other options but to follow instructions from above. Who would let any amount of food leave the city in daylight if you are about to lose your head?” He predicted that it would be difficult for rice to move outside the city or county for any foreseeable time.
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