GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 249

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No.249 October 2008

Three Teenagers Died While Mining Coal for Non-Tax Contribution
Search for Deserters Intensified in Moosan County
Desertion from the Army when Not Allowed to Attend Mother’s Funeral
Casualties of Epidemic Hemorrhagic Fever Increasing in Jeungsan Re-education Center
Dying of Epidemic Hemorrhagic Fever

Three Teenagers Died While Mining Coal for Non-Tax Contribution
On October 18, three fifteen year-old boys died when a coal mine caved in on top of them in Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province. When discovered by some passers-by, they had been dead for some time. It is said that the boys could not bring rabbit skins that the school demanded, and decided to make money by themselves.

A classmate, Jeong Ho-Cheol (15years old) said: "A teacher yelled at the students who didn't hand in rabbit skins to go and get money. The students' family financial situation was not good, and they could not ask for money. They decided to make money themselves and went to dig people’s coal. We can think only of coal mine because we all are children of coal miners.

The parents of victims came to the scene belatedly, and at the moment they saw their children’s dead body, they fainted. Their relatives and neighbors could not help but burst into tears. Even police officers lost words and just watched people crying. The homeroom teacher and the principal were suspended from their job. They were then dismissed and arrested by the law enforcement officer.

During the fall, it is very common for the schools and localities to collect rabbit skins. In Yeonsa County, North Hamgyong Province, each member of the Youth Union has to hand in five rabbit skins. If unable to do so, they have to contribute 7,500 NK Won in cash.

Search for Deserters Intensified in Moosan County
In Moosan County, North Hamgyong Province, as the number of deserters increased, police officers patrol the alleys at random and searched for any deserters.

A son of Lee Jeong-sun (52) in Moosan County deserted from barracks a while ago but was caught. Since Lee Jeong-sun lost her husband 10 years ago, she has raised her son by herself. But as she could not feed her son, she decided to send her son to the military thinking that in the army her son would have three meals a day.

Ms. Lee was in poor health to begin with but with the severe food shortage this year, she got sick. When her son found out that his mother was ill, he deserted from barracks. He was caught and was sent back to his unit. Then he was beaten, his ribs were broken, and he could no longer stay in the army.

He was eventually discharged (medical discharge) from military service. When she looked at her son and his ruined body, she wept bitterly "I sent you to the military so that you could at least eat some corn rice, but now you returned to home as a cripple.”

Desertion from the Army when Not Allowed to Attend Mother’s Funeral
Choi, Seong-jin (27 years old) who was serving his military duty at the Daehongdan County, Ryanggang Province, deserted the army in mid October, carrying loaded weapon with him. Choi is from Bookchung County, North Hamgyong Province. It is said that his father was swept off from the boat and was lost in the sea sometime in September, and soon after that, he heard that his mother had died due to food shortage, and the news shocked him greatly. His army friends believe that despite notifying his superiors about the death of his mother, he was not allowed to attend the funeral and he decided to desert.

Casualties of Epidemic Hemorrhagic Fever Increasing in Jeungsan Re-education Center
Epidemic hemorrhagic fever has been going around and spreading at Jeungsan Re-education Center located in South Pyongan Province from last October 15. As of October 20, 8 people have died of this disease and 20 people have fallen into comatose state, suffering from a high fever of 39 degrees.

Re-education center has isolated the people with the symptoms to the bedrooms used for agricultural work. However, there has not been suitable medicine to treat these patients so far and only thing they can do right now is to prevent the spread of the disease. Even with the effort to stop spreading, the number of patients keeps growing and they have come to realize they cannot resolve this matter by themselves and have asked for help. On October 21st, medical teams organized with students of South Pyongan Medical University have come and started treatment.

Because of this epidemic disease, pork and other food items routed to the Rear supporting bureau has been completely banned.

Dying of Epidemic Hemorrhagic Fever
Suh, Duck-rye (47 years old), a farm worker living in Bongsan County, North Hwanghae Province, died of epidemic hemorrhagic fever. Suh dug a hole in the ground near home and stored the grains picked from the field while working. Suh took some soybeans out and made tofu, but died a several days later, after eating cooked tofu. The hospital suspected the cause of death epidemic hemorrhagic fever and presumed that there might be paths frequented by rats or a breeding hole near the house.
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