GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

.

North Korea Today No. 248

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No.248 October 2008
Notice of Enforcement of New Rules for Marketplace Management Beginning January 3, 2009
Pyongyang, “No Need for Markets because the National Economy will be Revitalized in February 2009”
Pyongyang Education Lecture for City Officials, “We’re going to reject any aid that has the taint of political conspiracy”
All Markets in the Country Prohibited from Selling Domestically Manufactured Shoes
Soonchun Vinalon United Enterprises Makes Its First Distribution of Corn This Year
[Opinion] Cracking Down on Markets and People’s Right to Survive
Notice of Enforcement of New Rules for Marketplace Management Beginning January 3, 2009
The North Korean cabinet issued a directive to each city and county with a notice that “Beginning from January 3, 2009, the market hours will be changed to the schedule of a [1-day market]. So, the market will open the 1st day of each month.” In the document, it was further stressed that “in case people cause chaos, social control and legal order should be reinforced and there should be no challenges to or avoidance of the Central Party's decision.” To this end, a directive was issued to make the whole area of Pyongyang an example of the policy. Starting this past October 10th, the markets open only once a month in all areas. The latest directive is one of a number of restrictions on market activity, which previously been limited to the 1st, 11th, and 21st days of each month. An official in Pyongyang said, "This is moving the restrictions to a more elevated level from the previous policy of age limitation, and the Central Party's intention is to completely do away with the market."

Pyongyang, “No Need for Markets because the National Economy will be Revitalized in February 2009”
At a lecture for factory workers in Pyongyang, officials explained that "beginning February 2009, the national economy will be revitalized and consumer prices will fall far below what they are now. We all can live comfortably because the country's economy is growing. So, there will be no need for trading business." In addition, it was said, “People should understand the government policy banning trading business, and the workers should not cause unnecessary troubles and objections. There should be no such incident like that which happened in Chungjin." The Chungjin incident refers to the mass protest of female merchants against crackdowns on market activity in March of this year.

Pyongyang Education Lecture for City Officials, “We’re going to reject any aid that has the taint of political conspiracy”
Last October 22, a lecture was held in Pyongyang regarding “the strategy to destroy South Korean President Lee Myong Bak’s anti-republic government.” “Since Lee Myong Bak took over the office, he has allied with the imperialists and those who worship other countries to isolate our people’s republic through economic sanctions. Lee’s government says that it will support our difficult economy, but is really leading the anti-republic movement by setting pre-conditions to its support,” said the lecturer.

Furthermore, the lecturer emphasized, “Lee is laughing at our economic difficulty and trying to show off its merciful nature to the rest of the world, but our government will reject any aid that has the taint of political conspiracy from now on. We will mobilize every people from each county and party to overcome this difficulty and show our great power to Lee and his followers.” The lecturer went on to say one more provocative statement, that “The road Lee is taking is the road that will divide our Korean nation forever and provoke a war.”

All Markets in the Country Prohibited from Selling Domestically Manufactured Shoes
Last October 20, an order was sent to all the markets in the country prohibiting the selling of domestically manufactured shoes. Such prohibition is drawing criticism because they are still allowing Chinese shoes to be sold in the market. Shoes merchants are describing the market situation as chaos. The prohibition on the sale of domestic shoes comes from the tendency of such shoes to be sold illegally by the manufacturers to merchants. This happened because the workers at the shoes factories had put more effort into making the shoes that individual merchants would purchase, as they would be willing to pay a higher price. Such behavior led to the shoes that were being manufactured for the government decreasing in quality. In order to solve this problem, the government made regulations ensuring that domestic shoes are sold in government-approved stores and direct-trading shops only.

Soonchun Vinalon United Enterprises Makes Its First Distribution of Corn This Year
Vinalon* United Enterprises (비날론 련합기업소) in Soonchun City, South Pyongan Province, distributed 15 days of late October rations for the first time this year. Soonchun Vinalon United Enterprises is the biggest United Enterprise in South Pyongan Province, but did not have any workplace that could function properly. The root of the inefficiency has come from the tendency of workers to contribute to farm labor or social development, activities that were not related to manufacturing. For this reason, almost none of the workplaces distributed rations properly. When the harvest season came, 15 kg of corn were distributed to each worker who came to work every day. However, since there are no manufacturing activities, workers have yet to receive their monthly pay.

*Vinalon(비날론): A Synthetic fiber invented by North Korean scientist called Lee Seung-ki, two years after the invention of nylon. This fiber, which is similar to cotton, led to Kim Il-sung awarding Vinalon the name “Juche Fiber” (주체섬유).

[Opinion] Cracking Down on Markets and People’s Right to Survive
The North Korean government is indicating that it plans to reduce the frequency of trading at open markets to once a month, starting next year. They are trying to convince people through lectures that there is no need to do business because economic conditions will improve after February 2009. However, the hidden motive for such a move is to prevent resistance against the Central Party’s policy from those who make their living through trading at the market.

In fact, in March of this year, there were two incidences of mass protest by female merchants against a crackdown at the market place in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province. The incidents came under control after Chungjin city authorities allowed trading to resume temporarily. However, a mass protest by more than 10,000 women is unprecedented. Later, the North Korean government distributed food to urban workers before others, out of concern for potential disorder caused by workers due to food shortages.

In its internal lecture material, the North Korean government repeatedly expressed its will to crackdown on the trading business market, claiming that the “trading business market is a hotbed of capitalism.” Since the second half of last year, the North Korean government has been using a policy of restricting the frequency of market business days based on a trader’s age. Finally, they declared that the frequency for all market-goers would be reduced to once a month.

However, the North Korean government doesn’t seem to have remedies for such issues as where people can purchase food if the marketplace closes, or whether there will be a large-scale redistribution of food which will make food purchase in the marketplace unnecessary. The crackdown on trade in the marketplace will end up being an empty political slogan if these issues are not resolved. Also, the resistance from people will increase, as they will try to protect their right to survive.

As is already known, the majority of the urban residents who cannot receive food rations are making their livelihood by relying on trading at the marketplace. People are not yet interested in political issues. However, as shown in the Chungjin incident, they will not remain silent on issues that are directly related to their survival. It is not easy to predict the consequences if food rations do not resume, limitations on marketplace activity continue, and the ban on small field farming is maintained.

North Korea has been released from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and Barack Obama, who declared his intentions to resolve the problems with the North Korean government through dialogue, has been elected President of the United States. So, hopes for improved relations with the United States are also increasing. Now is the time to solve important security issues for the future. The North Korean government will have to prepare measures that can resolve the root causes of the food shortage problem rather than internally cracking down on people with measures that hinder their survival.

No comments:

There was an error in this gadget