GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 251

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No.251 Nobember 2008

Editor’s Note
“Our friendship was ended over a rice cake.”
“I Want To Be an Elder Brother Who Can Help My Younger Brother”

Editor’s Note
“North Korea Today”, published by “Good Friends”, increased its publications from ‘once a week’ to ‘twice a week’ as the food crisis worsened during the first half of this year. Since May 20, 2008, however, a sense of urgency in the need to spread news about the food crisis resulted in an increase in its publication to ‘five times a week’.
Now, Good Friends feel that reducing the number of issues back to ‘once a week’ is warranted. No. 252 (Korean edition, Wed, Nov 12) will be the first publication on this schedule. We promise to bring you the live voices of the residents of North Korea as quickly as possible. In addition, we will try our best so that our readers will understand the scenarios in context of the North Korean society. In these efforts, we seek the support of all the readers. Issue Numbers 250 (Korean edition, Mon. Nov 10) and 251 (Korean edition, Tue. Nov 11) carry the writings of North Korean children. The original writings have been edited in translation for easier comprehension.
“Our friendship was ended over a rice cake.”
I am a female 2nd-grade middle school student at Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province. The day after Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) was my birthday. My best friend came over to my house and while we were playing, I gave her two rice cakes without telling anybody. She asked me for more rice cakes, telling me she was still hungry. I told her I couldn’t give her anymore because I only had one plate of rice cakes left. I also mentioned to her that my family would criticize me for eating all of the rice cakes if I gave her more. My friend became angry, saying, “I am never going to meet with you again” and left. My mom had made the rice cakes for my birthday. Although I was hungry, I didn’t eat them because I wanted to eat with my elder brother. Still, I gave her the rice cakes. I think it was really harsh of her to say she would not meet with me anymore after I gave her such cakes. Afterwards, when we pass each other at school we just look the other way. My friendship with my friend ended over a rice cake.

“I Want To Be an Elder Brother Who Can Help My Younger Brother”
I am a second-grader in a middle school and live in Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province. I do not go to school anymore because my family has financial trouble.

At the end of July when we had a very bad food shortage, my father and I visited my aunt who lives in Saepo County, Kangwon province to get food. My father, who had never traveled in his life, made his first trip to secure food. When my aunt met my father, she welcomed him with an open heart and was so glad that she forgot to put on her shoes in the yard. My aunt was moved by the visit and asked, “Why do you visit us? I cannot believe it.” This was the first time they had seen each other since my aunt married.

But, during the few days of our visit, my aunt and her husband, who were a very nice couple, sometimes lost their temper with each other. Because my father and I felt uncomfortable and very sorry for the trouble, we stayed just for a week and then left, despite the fact that it had been 20 years since my father saw her. My uncle is a high-ranking officer in Saepo County, so we expected some help from him and brought three big backpacks with us, but we did not get any food. We received 30,000 NK Won and filled the backpacks with their old clothes. When we came back home, we traveled and behaved like the homeless (Kkotjebi) for 9 days to save the money. However, we used the money within 2 weeks.

Not long ago, my uncle who has been living in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province, visited us. He said he also went to my aunt in Saepo to get some food. He brought some dried squid and fish as a gift for my aunt. But he received only 10,000 NK Won and grumbled that it was less than the price of the fish. Because he did not get any help from her, he was greatly discouraged and said, “Even the elder sister who married a rich and promising person has a tough life like us.” My father apologized, because even though he was the eldest brother, he could not offer any help. My uncle told my father that my father should not think or say such things and he should take care of himself first. Then the brothers together drank some leftover alcohol through the night. This situation reminded me of my 9-year-old brother. I want to be a rich person who can help my brother whenever he is in need.

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