GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 247

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No.247 October 2008
The Organization and Guidance Department Investigates the Loosening of Discipline among Members of the Democratic Women’s Union
Residents Turn a Critical Eye to the Inspection of the Defense Training System during the Busy Harvest Season
An Investigation on the Recipients of Social Welfare at the People’s Hospital in the North Hamgyong Province
As a Result of a Usury Investigation, Well-known Loan Sharking Brothers at Byeoksung County Arrested
North Hamgyong Province Is Intensifying their Investigation of Usurers

The Organization and Guidance Department Investigates the Loosening of Discipline among Members of the Democratic Women’s Union
Since October 15, Organization and Guidance Department (조직부) from the Central Party has been investigating all districts of Chungjin city in the North Hamgyong Province. The focus of the investigations is the members of the Democratic Women’s Union (DWU), Registration Departments and Labor Departments in each police station.

The members of the DWU have been the special focus of this investigation. Some DWU members have not been participating in the Union activities by bribing the Union officers because their business was their top priority. In the Chungarm District alone, they found that more than 30 percent of the women do not participate in Union activities. Even though women are registering to the Union to for form’s sake, some members are paying 5,000 NK Won a month to avoid Union activities. By doing this, they have time to run their business. The authorities are calling this kind of act “Anti-socialist” and have begun a strict investigation on it.

Residents Turn a Critical Eye to the Inspection of the Defense Training System during the Busy Harvest Season
Since October 21, the National Defense Committee of the Central Party started an intense inspection of the Civil Defense Training System in Yeonsa County in North Hamgyong Province. The purpose of this inspection is to ensure that the training system was running well and to check the building of the underground bomb shelter tunnel.

In the midst of the investigations, the Civilian Defense Department in the North Hamgyong has called upon the residents for emergency training sessions without notifying the National Defense Committee. The Department has also called the residents to repair the jail building and walls that are usually left unmaintained. The residents are complaining because they are being required to do all this work during the busy farming season. Since Ox carts are used to carry rocks and children are also called out to work because the lack of enough adult labor, the residents pour out criticism on the Department saying, “Even though nothing will change after this inspection, we have to do this work now just for formality’s sake.”

An Investigation on the Recipients of Social Welfare at the People’s Hospital in the North Hamgyong Province
In the North Hamgyong Province, the investigation, which mainly focuses on social welfare recipients, has been launched. There have been many cases where people are falsifying their medical certificates to get a long period of medical leave. In Yeonsa County, the head of the Preventive Medicine Department at the Second Hospital has been released from his position and arrested for providing falsified medical history certificates to several people for around 1,000,000 NK Won. His medical certificate has been away as well.

As a Result of a Usury Investigation, Well-known Loan Sharking Brothers at Byeoksung County Arrested
Jeong Cheol-soo and Jeong Cheol-hak brothers, well-known usurers at Byeoksung County, South Hwanghae Province, have been arrested by the Province Party as a result of an investigation. With money sent from relatives in China, Jeong Cheol-soo has become a loan shark by lending it out with an interest of about 20-30%. His younger brother, Jeong Cheol-hak, has joined his business since fall of 2006 and increased his assets by buying corn at 800 NK Won a kg and selling them at 1,100-1,200 NK Won the following spring. This spring, when the food shortage was very critical, he lent some people 50 kg of corn and received 150 kg back from them during this harvest season; he has made three times the profit by this illegal practice of usury.

Some residents who did not pay back the money have asked the County Party for help. However, the Jeong brothers who have maintained a good relationship with officials have not received any restraint from the authority. When people finally complained of this injustice to the Province Party, they arrested these brothers. The Province Party forfeited the Jeong brothers’ money and corn and distributed them to kindergarten and other schoolteachers of the province.

North Hamgyong Province Is Intensifying their Investigation of Usurers
The public prosecutors station of North Hamgyong Province is intensifying their investigations on loan sharks in each city and county amidst rising number of victims from October. The public prosecutors went to each area, gathered people in a public place such as school playgrounds, and warningly announced, “If you practice any usury or borrow money through it, we are going to forfeit the money.” They continuously threatened and stated, “When you pay back the debt, pay only principal. If you do not follow this order, you will receive a severe punishment.”

People who borrowed money from loan sharks still doubt the authority’s order will do any good. They are afraid that by paying back only the principle they will get on the wrong side of the loan sharks and not be able to borrow the next time there’s a food shortage. Lenders of food are also complaining about this order, “We did not have enough food, but we saved and lent it to receive as much as twice the amount.” Lee, Cheol-ho (38) living at Eunduk County complained, “When people starved to death, the country did not do anything for them. However, I lent them food that my family saved that they could have eaten themselves. Why is that wrong?”
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