North Korea Today No. 237

No.237 October 2008
○ Pyongyang City’s Population Reduction Act Receives the Cold Shoulder
○ Train Services Suspend in Chungjin-Onsung by the Central Party
○ Five Women Publicly Executed for Human Trafficking
○ Sariwon City Executes Drug Offenders
○ An Improper Remark in a Drinking Party results in Disappearance of the Whole Family

Pyongyang City’s Population Reduction Act Receives the Cold Shoulder
In October, Pyongyang city gave an order promoting “rural settlement” to help alleviate its population size but the people are paying little or no attention. Although the city is offering additional incentives to move to the rural settlements, people remain unaffected about the offer. They are worried that trying to make a living in a new town would be even more difficult than staying in Pyongyang and feel that it is not a necessary risk to take.

Even with the shortage of food, electricity, water, gas, fuel, and transportation in Pyongyang city, its situation is still better than the rural areas. From their point of view, those who live in the city are at least able to afford some corn porridge, while in the rural areas people make survive only on grass porridge. The people respond with rage at the authorities’ attempt to move them out of the city boundaries.
Train Services Suspend in Chungjin-Onsung by the Central Party
On October 14, train services linking Chungjin to Onsung were suspended. The Central Party performed train inspections, which resulted in the ban on commuter train services to the Railroad Bureau of the North Hamgyong Province. The reason for the ban was that when the Central Party made the train services free for the village students to use for commuting to school from distant areas, the station workers took advantage of the situation in an attempted to make pocket money.

However, local authorities justified their actions saying, “Where do we get money for fuel if we are to provide the train service free of charge? With the rising fuel costs and the cost of maintaining the trains, there are many expenses related to providing the train service. The local authorities cannot afford all the expenses after providing free train services to students. There is nothing left for us to do except to charge higher fares to the regular paying customers”.

Five Women Publicly Executed for Human Trafficking
On the afternoon of October 8, there was a public execution on five women accused of human trafficking in Hoeryong city of North Hamgyong Province. These women were convicted of selling 5-to-10 year old children across the border to China, each for 1,600 Yuan. Among the convicted was a woman who sold her own child. The families of the convicted were not allowed to witness the execution. After the execution, the North Korean National Security merely notified the family of their death, citing the Law of the Republic.

Meanwhile, the families of the executed petitioned to the municipal government and then to the central government claiming that “the crime was not death penalty worthy”. The families promised revenge by saying, “We will make sure the security members who are responsible for the execution resigns”. However, the municipal government insisted that the execution decision was made solely according to the Law of the Republic and have not responded to the petition.

Sariwon City Executes Drug Offenders
On October 11, in Sariwon City, North Hwanghae Province, publicly executed a drug offender around 4 pm. One of four people who received an open trial was publicly executed while the rest received 11 years of sentences. They were convicted of handling and selling drugs to mid-level staff members of Pyongyang City.

During the three-month trial, some of the staff showed symptoms of drug addiction, even pressuring Sariwon Police station to release the accused. Pyongyang City authorities are trying to decide whether the addicted city staff should be excommunicated or receive another punishment.

An Improper Remark in a Drinking Party results in Disappearance of the Whole Family
In Songjeong-ri, Liewon County of South Hamgyong Province, party secretary of Songjeong-ri, Mr. Jeong Taek-soo and his family disappeared overnight after some misspoken words during a personal drinking party. Mr. Jeong has a good reputation among the Songjeong-ri residents for his role in significantly improving the daily life of its residents. Every autumn, when inspectors from central government came for inspections, he would take good care of them. As a result, even though it was a kept secret, compared to other areas Songjeong-ri residents received bigger shares of the government allotment.

Last October 2, early evening, Jeong in a personal drinking party said, “The reason why Songjeong-ri has less worries about shortage of foods and doing better than other areas is because I have performed good business. We need to have a person who is more capable of running business, this way we will have less suffering and our country as a whole will get better”. People who know him well said that after those remarks, Jeong’s whole family disappeared. They believe that he was taken to a holding cell because of his counter-revolutionary remarks.