GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 112

Research Institute for North Korean Society
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng

North Korea Today
112th Edition February 2008

Retreating Eyes, Advancing Cheekbones
How Many Farm Workers Will Survive This Year?
Wives Battle to Keep the Families Alive in Farms
People Pay Back 1.7 Times of What They Borrowed from the Government
Foreign Exchange Earnings by Sub-military Corporations Reduced
Parents Use Their Own Children in Drug Sales
Construction of Additional Mental Hospitals Due to a Higher Number of Drug-Related Mental Health Patients
Revision to Punishment for “Ice” Related Crimes
Seven Crime Precepts of Anti-Socialism
Strict Punishment for Receiving Money from Children in South Korea
Distilling Alcohol from Food Prohibited
North Hamgyung Province Distributes Long-Grain Rice to Celebrate 2.16 Holiday
Kkotjebi Sent to Welfare Institutions with No Exceptions
Kkotjebis Beg Even If They Have Parents
Luck after Being Hit by a Wealthy Company’s Car
Fighter Jet Crashes in Taetan County Airfield
Train Derailment in Jungju Station in North Pyongan Province
Woodcutters Charged with Slaughtering Cattle Sentenced to Re-education
Electricity Short Causes Explosion


Retreating Eyes, Advancing Cheekbones
The soldiers in Kangwon Province강원도 coined a phrase that’s catching on in the country. Since they have so little to eat, they often refer to themselves as having the stomach of a coyote, “with retreating eyes and advancing cheekbones.” Some citizens hold those soldiers returning from duty in Kangwon province in extremely high regard, since many soldiers there are commonly discharged in the middle of their tour due to malnutrition from the acute lack of food. Although they supposedly receive food in the fall, it gets so pilfered throughout the process – from being stolen on the train to the high officials taking their cuts – that the frontline soldiers are lucky if they get corn-rice mixed with powered corn cob묵지가루, 1-2 radishes, and salty soup. Driven by their hunger, soldiers frequently steal out of their base and filch crops and grains from neighboring farms and private plots, leading to a bad relationship with the locals. Some locals buy the soldiers food and drinks out of sympathy for the young soldiers being so far away from home, but most of them try to stay away from the soldiers because many have been victimized by the soldiers’ food-hunting forays.

How Many Farm Workers Will Survive This Year?
Food has run out already in some collective farms in North Hamgyung Province함경북도. A three-member family unit received 500kg of foodstuffs for the year, if they did really well. However, after paying back for the corn borrowed during the summer and contributing their share of pork to the People’s Army 인민군대 among other contributions, some families paid 530kg worth of foodstuff, which is more than what they received. Therefore, some families are starting to borrow corn again starting in January just to survive.

North Korean authorities say that 20% of the families have run out of food currently. They predict that 40% of households will be out of food by the end of March. Because of a rumor that food will be even scarcer in the coming months, it has become even more difficult to borrow food. The farm workers who are out of food now are surviving daily by eating the leftovers they gleaned from the harvested fields. One old man confided that he is only waiting to die, saying that “I feel guilty to my family for living into my 70’s.” Other farm workers also agree that it’s more difficult to live day by day instead of dying and being done with it. They don’t think that better days are coming anytime soon. They say with a collective voice that the promise of a better life has become a sad joke, an outdated mantra from yester years. “How many farm workers will survive this year?” they ask plaintively. The female farm workers all say, “We must survive this year but we don’t know how to keep our husbands and children alive.”

Wives Battle to Keep the Families Alive in Farms
The wives in the farm are shedding bloody tears trying to keep their families alive. Last year, the wives did everything to put their husbands’ welfare ahead of theirs on the thought that a family cannot hold together without the head of the household and that children should not grow up without a father. However, the lack of food often took a toll of the nerves of the family members, resulting in a lot of fights with the wives often beaten by the husbands. Even this winter, it’s common to see women without even a pair of cotton-filled shoes roaming out in the barren fields looking for leftover grains to glean and carry it back to their children. Things are so bad that they can’t even eat a bowl of rice on the lunar New Year, the biggest holiday of the year. Many women cried when they couldn’t afford to feed their families this past lunar New Year. They are only hoping that their husband’s or children’s birthdays won’t come up soon since they can’t afford to celebrate it in any way. “Even during the Arduous March고난의 행군 we didn’t suffer across the board like this,” one woman cried.

People Pay Back 1.7 Times of What They Borrowed From the Government
Last May, many farm workers were too hungry to go out and work during the rice planting season. They could barely drag their bodies. Therefore, the authorities lent ears of corn (the ‘No.2 Rice’2호미) for them to eat and recover their strength so that they could plant the rice. The terms were that the borrowing households – receiving from 50~80kg each - would pay back 1.7 times the amount of food they borrowed when the harvest season rolled around in the fall. Those households that borrowed the corn ears all paid back the authorities without fail according to the terms.

Foreign Exchange Earnings by Sub-military Corporations Reduced
Foreign exchange earnings by military-related corporations are due to be reduced. This past December 23rd, a directive was issued to decree that military-related export companies and those export companies not officially designated as such by the central government will be reorganized immediately across the board. The Central Party cabinet officials, meeting on February 1st, sent down directives to all the provincial institutions that stated, “All military units should eliminate military-related foreign currency generating export companies and reduce the number of entities in order to strengthen the strong export companies. Also, regional party institutions should be put forward the military units of each region.” The justification of the new directive is: “Until now, under the auspices of the military-first policy선군정치, various military units have been setting up export companies and engaging in business without proper authorization and oversight from the central government, resulting in great waste of national resources and negatively impacting national property.” This is the first time that the central government has spoken out in favor of the party over the military ever since the Arduous March times when the military-first policy was first emphasized. One official opined, “I think the policy has dual purpose. It wants to assuage the rising tide of outrage by the people at the corruption endemic in the military. It also wants to check the rising power of the military. Many officials are wondering at the timing of the policy announcement but they all agree that it’s about time.” However, he cautioned that it remains to be seen how the policy will be implemented since it will affect the self-viability of the military.

Parents Use Their Own Children in Drug Sales
A recent case investigating illegal drug sales has exposed the involvement of several teenagers. Four 6th grade students of a junior high school in Jurye-dong주례동 in Pyungsung City평성시 were arrested for the sale of illicit drugs. The teenagers are currently undergoing further investigation. Two of those arrested said that they sold the drugs because their parents asked them to do so. This confession caused a considerable stir within the North Korean society. Parents who produce drugs illegally are using their own children to sell the drugs in order to avoid inspection. Further investigation has revealed that they sold their drugs, costing 2,000-2500 won per pill, to their regular clients—mostly drug addicts. The case is still under investigation. Due to a high rate of sales in addition to the investigators’ discovery of various types of products in the homes of the parents, severe punishments are likely to be imposed on these parents.

Construction of Additional Mental Hospitals Due to a Higher Number of Drug-Related Mental Health Patients
North Korean authorities have made a decision to construct additional mental hospitals in certain parts of the country, due to an increase in the number of patients with ‘Ice’얼음(빙두) (a kind of amphetamine) related illnesses. Hamheung City함흥시 in South Hamgyung Province함경남도, is a city with one of the largest populations of drug addicts and has faced difficulty due to the lack of facilities for mental health patients. In response, the City has decided to expand the 49th Mental Hospital 49호정신병원 on Jomak Mountain조막산 in Gowon County고원군 by building two additional wards. Because the increase in ‘Ice’ addicts has exceeded the capacity of the existing facilities, Chungjin in North Hamheung Province also met with the Health Department of Provincial People’s Assembly 도인민위원회보건부 in order to assess the situation. As a result of the meeting, authorities developed a plan to construct a separate mental ward near a farm village in the 3rd unit of Oryu-ri오류리 3반 in Hoeryung City회령시.

Revision to Punishment for “Ice” Related Crimes
In response to Chairman Kim Jong-Il’s recent and repeated calls for effective restraint on ‘Ice,’ authorities have revised existing rules on ‘Ice’ related crimes. People who are charged in ‘Ice’ related crimes are punished as follows: First, those who sell or trade more than 3 kg of ‘Ice’ are executed by firing squad. Second, those who deal more than 2 kg and under 3 kg of ‘Ice’ are sent to a Labor Education Center (LEC) for life무기노동교화형. Third, those who sell 1 kg of ‘Ice’ are sent to LEC노동교화형 for 10-12 years. And fourth, those who sell less that 1 kg of ‘Ice’ are sent to LEC for 5-10 years. A key feature of the recent revision specifies punishment based on the quantity of ‘Ice’ a suspect sells. Since then, North Korean authorities have called for legal affair units to follow the revised rules and to tighten controls specifically over middle to high ranking officers, due to an increase in the involvement of high-ranking officers’ in ‘Ice’ related crimes. Some take part in ‘Ice’ sales while others are addicted to ‘Ice,’ which causes low job performance.

Seven Crime Precepts of Anti-Socialism
Since February 2008, lectures on the Seven Crime Precepts of Anti-Socialism have been provided during normal and document-based study classes정규화학습시간 for the members of Democratic Women’s Union녀맹원 in national border areas. The Seven Anti-Socialism crimes are: 1) Human trafficking 2) The abscondence of family members to South Korea 3) Individuals receiving money transferred from China, South Korea, and Japan 4) Receiving commissions by connecting families in the North and South through China (by using mobile phones) 5) Drug sales or trading with Chinese drug dealers 6) Unemployment and 7) Unregistered lodging무단숙박. Authorities have called for prompt and forceful action against any of the aforementioned anti-socialist activities as these activities are considered the primary way to leak national information.

Strict Punishment for Receiving Money from Children in South Korea
The Central Government has issued an order through the meeting of the Neighborhood Unit인민반 in the national border areas that no resident should receive any money from children who live China or South Korea. If authorities discover that anyone receives money from their children in China, they will be sent to the Training Centers단련대 or sentenced to Re-education교화형, depending on the seriousness of the crime. If residents receive money from South Korea, the punishment will become stricter and could result in the maximum penalty.

Distilling Alcohol from Food Prohibited
The North Korean authorities annually inspect the brewing and selling of alcohol. At the beginning of last February, the authorities issued a nationwide order prohibiting the distillation of alcohol from food. They warned that people who brew alcohol for money will be caught and the offenders will be exiled or sentenced to 6 months in the Labor Training Centers (Nodongdalnyundae)노동단련대, based on the seriousness of their crime. Generally, people distill liquor from corn to sell for money. The government has emphasized that people must not waste valuable food to brew alcohol. Some locations have already started the inspecting for distilling, but most locations will not start inspections until after the Lunar New Year. Police officers보안원 in charge of each district will seize those households who distill alcohol from corn for money. In locations where the inspections occur, police officers generally search households that make alcohol professionally and confiscate the devices.

North Hamgyung Province Distributes Long-Grain Rice to Celebrate 2.16 Holiday
To celebrate Chairman Kim Jong-Il’s birthday on 2/16, North Hamgyung Province officials distributed long-grain rice안남미 to the households of laborers’ who are currently working. Adults seemed to be glad for the small amount distributed, even though they were not completely satisfied. However, the children were extremely delighted and welcomed the distribution. One resident stated that his child was happier than he was and the child has persistently asked him to cook the rice. Although the distribution could not be a big assistance, the resident continually stated that the food distribution in honor of a major holiday is still gracious when considering the pleasure it brings to the children.

Kkotjebi Sent to Welfare Institutions with No Exceptions
At the end of last January, officials of Gowon County 고원군, South Hamgyung Province 함경남도 met with the Secretary in charge of the County Party군당책임비서 in regards to the Kkotjebi (homeless children)꽃제비. At the meeting, they discussed the solutions for the increasing number of Kkotjebi in the county’s public places, such as in railroad stations, the station concourses, and at markets. Gowon County is an intersecting spot where South Hamgyung Province, South Pyongan Province 평안남도, and Kangwon province강원도 are all adjacent to each other, and as a result, this county has a remarkable amount of Kkotjebi. If a city or a county has many Kkotjebi, it is assumed that the secretary in charge of the city party or county party poorly performs his duties. With this information, the secretary in charge of the Gowon county party issued an order after the meeting, stating that Kkotjebi should be apprehended as soon as they are found and sent to Welfare Institutions구제소, starting in February. After obtaining the Kkotjebis’s hometown, the authorities will send the children to the Welfare Institutions in the appropriate districts, making no exceptions. Based on this order, first police officers of Gowon County will catch Kkotjebi and send them to Welfare Institutions after which they will then attempt to find the children’s parents, or send them an orphanage if they do not have parents. At the same time, the Youth Union청년동맹 at Gowon County will select outstanding members of companies and enterprises to organize a committee that will investigate delinquent teenagers. They will generally examine teenagers’ clothing styles and their appearances and investigate suspicious and unwholesome teenagers.

Kkotjebis Beg Even If They Have Parents
The more we travel to the agricultural villages, the more we find that many children beg even though they have parents, because the parents do not secure food for their children. Children usually beg at the market or steal food to feed themselves. Since children under 10 years old do not have the ability to steal, they beg and eat soiled food that has fallen on the ground. Children who are slightly older pick the pockets market goers by using a certain type of tongs. When caught by adults, the children are usually beaten until they were covered in a mass of bleeding flesh. Some Kkotjebi beg at every house. They loaf around from door to door and beg for leftovers. Most landlords coldly expel the children and do not even want them in their yards. On rare occasions, a few kind households will feel pity for these children and give them scorched rice or a handful of cold rice. But by and large, these children are generally treated with contempt.

Luck after Being Hit by a Wealthy Company’s Car
On February 7th around 11am, a car accident occurred in Younjin-ri연진리 Chungjin City, North Hamgyung Province. Daesung Trade Company대성총국 in Pyongyang hit a farmer in Sagu-ri farm collective and the farmer died at the scene. Daesung Trade Company has offered 1,500,000 won to the survivors as consolation and has promised to provide them with a TV, VCR and a refrigerator from their headquarters in Pyongyang. After hearing the news, the residents in Yonjin-ri and Sagu-ri have said, “If you die in a car accident, it’s better to be killed by a rich company’s car.” Compensation is large enough to help the survivors. There are many residents who are still following the actual resolution results, doubting whether the company will keep their promise.

Fighter Jet Crashes in Taetan County Airfield
On January 18th, a fighter jet exploded in Taetan County태탄군 airfield in South Hwanghae Province황해남도. While landing after a training session, the jet crashed into a tractor in the airfield due to a problem with the rudder. As a result of the accident, the pilot was injured and the jet and tractor were both damaged.

Train Derailment in Jungju Station in North Pyongan Province
On the morning of January 27th , a train derailed near Jungju station정주역 in North Pyongan Province. The train, loaded with cement, derailed just before arriving at Jungju station. Four train cars out of ten rolled over and two cement workers were killed. Soldiers in Jungju County정주군 cleared the accident.

Woodcutters Charged with Slaughtering Cattle Sentenced to Re-education
In late-January, it was discovered that woodcutters from the Forest Public Enterprise 림산사업소 in Daekwan-town대관읍 Daekwan County대관군 North Pyongan Province slaughtered and ate a steer that grazed in a nearby farm to a mountain where they traveled to cut timber. Charged with slaughtering and eating a farm-owned steer, the leader and his four partners were sentenced to 8 and 5 years of re-education respectively. During the time of the Arduous March, many of the criminals that were charged with slaughtering and eating cattle were openly executed. Compared to that time, the punishment is much lighter than before. However, some residents say that the lives of cattle are still more highly valued than those of humans.

Electricity Short Causes Explosion
On February 5th, an explosion occurred in a family house in Baekma town백마읍 Baekma County백마군 North Pyongan Province. The resident, Mr. Jo sells gasoline as a specialist. Electricity short caused a fire to start near five drums of gasoline and led to the explosion of the whole house. Three family members including Mr. Jo, along with two soldiers were killed in the accident. Only the son of Mr. Jo, who attends school as a guard, luckily avoided the accident. The only property that was not lost in the tragedy was a photo of Chairman Kim Jong-Il.

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North Korea Today No. 111

Research Institute for North Korean Society
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng

North Korea Today
111th Edition February 2008

Stronger Oversight of Managers of Local Farm Collectives in South Pyongan Province
Children in Welfare Institutions Survive on Powdered Corn Cob Porridge
“Let’s Enhance Our Education with Full Confidence in Our Victory”
Personal Ghost Companies No Longer Allowed
Railroad Transportation Instructed to Solve Problems
National Defense Committee to Inspect Railroads
Well-off Hamheung 5.18 Enterprise
Electronic Goods Not Selling Due to Lack of Electricity
Car Batteries and Candles Substituted for Electricty
Inspection of Retired Teachers’ Extracurricular Tutoring
Extracurricular Tutoring goes Against Principle of Educational Equality.
Border Patrol Soldiers Allowed Party Membership When Catching a Runaway (Defector)
‘Ice’ Smugglers Now Responsibilty of Province Police Station
Seasonal Life Story of Ordinary House Wives
Ignorance is Not Bliss about Relatives’ News
Family Abusers are Suspected ‘Ice’ Addicts
Trading the ‘No.1 Picture’ Inside Army Camps


Stronger Oversight of Managers of Local Farm Collectives in South Pyongan Province
On December 5th of last year, the provincial party office of South Pyongan Province 평안남도 directed the local city party offices to strengthen oversight of the managers of farm collectives농촌간부, especially in light of the Moonduk County문덕군 ideological sedition case종파사건. They were instructed to target the division party secretaries리당비서 and chiefs of management committees관리위원장 who appear to be better off than their fellow farm workers, especially those with wives who appear to be housewives that do not need to work in the fields or spend time engaging in market activities. They were also told to fire or hold accountable any division party officials리당간부 or workers일꾼 who did not produce or add efficiency and value, since those workers are useless to the business. In farming divisions농촌 리, it is common for party officials and chiefs of management committees to siphon off several tons of corn and other grain for their own personal use. North Korean authorities have been warned that these cases will now be treated as an ideological sedition matter if these people are caught. These directives point to a trend in the strengthening oversight of local farm collectives and the tightening of party discipline.

Children in Welfare Institutions Survive on Powdered Corn Cob Porridge
Children in welfare institutions구제소 in Yangduk County양덕군 in South Pyongan Province survive daily on porridge with powered corn cob옥수수묵지가루. Many lack strength from eating only these runny porridges that lack any solid chunks of food. Many are escaping the welfare institutions, even though the children do not have any other particular place to go during these coldest months of the winter. The institution in Yangduk County previously housed 38 children as of last December, but now only houses 23 children as of January, a drop of 15 children. The children who have escaped, live a life of Kkotjebi꽃제비(homeless children). The situation is the same for the Welfare Institution in Chungjin City청진시 in North Hamgyung Province함경북도. Chungjin City used to house around 120 children in the beginning of January but now only has 88 children in February. Children say that they prefer starving and begging while being free on the streets instead of starving while living captive “in a strait-jacketed life” inside of the institution. In Hoeryung City회령시, in commemoration of the Day of Mother Kim Jung-Sook김정숙탄생일, officials handed out winter clothing, shoes, gloves, and hats to Kkotjebis and children in welfare institutions. The children were happy but some of them immediately bartered clothing for food because of their hunger.

“Let’s Enhance Our Education with Full Confidence in Our Victory”
Last December 23rd, in Chungjin in North Hamgyung Province, doctorate and masters degree holders and excellent professors in universities, proven school teachers in junior and senior high schools, and doctors from the public health sector gathered together to attend a 4 hour lecture. The lecturer came from Pyongyang평양 and delivered the following message: “With just a little patience, everyone here will live well soon. Until now, we have allowed people to abuse the National Trade “Wak” 국가무역와크 (a type of trade permit) to engage in uncontrolled trade and do whatever they want, some even setting up ghost companies. But now all these people who thought they were above reproach because of their money are being investigated and prosecuted according to the law, which I think serves them right. If you wait just a bit longer, our nation will live well. Let’s all have full confidence in our eventual victory and do our best to enhance education.” Reporters from Rodong Shinmun노동신문 and the Korean Central News Agency중앙통신사 were sent to other major cities by the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the KoreaWorkers Party 당중앙선전선동부to deliver similar lectures.

Personal Ghost Companies No Longer Allowed
North Korean authorities once again reiterated their intention to prohibit individuals from creating ghost companies. Since last year, there have been several cases of exporters무역거래자 being investigated and even executed publicly. Up until now, organizations기관 and public enterprises기업소 allowed individuals to use their name to set up companies in return for investments and payment. This occurred in many places around the country between wealthy individuals, organizations, and public enterprises. However, the authorities previously turned a blind eye to people engaging in a totally unrelated business, such as restaurants, service centers, bus operations and fishing boat businesses, etc., from the public enterprise in which they were officially registered. But last year, the authorities began to crack down on these activities and even executed several people, instead of just taking away their licenses and seizing their property, as was the accepted norm up to that point.

Some exporters say that they do not understand the sudden crackdown on these practices that officials had previously allowed for so long. One said, “The government allows individuals to build up their business using the National Trade “Wak” without saying anything and then they bring down the blade without warning. They cannot stand to see individuals do well and they seize their property or kill them as a result. This shows the true nature of North Korea’s laws. Without the people who were executed in this latest crackdown, most of the North Korean people would have starved to death by now.”

Railroad Transportation Instructed to Solve Problems
North Korea’s Rail Authority철도성 is busy these days answering Chairman Kim Jong-Il’s김정일국방위원장 call to solve the nation’s railroad problems. The Authority said that they lack engine cars in order to improve the situation. When passenger cars come into a station, train operators have to take an engine off of freight cars in order to lead the passenger cars out of the station. In order to solve the railroad problems, the Rail Authority needs more engine cars and freight cars, in addition to a steady supply of electricity. Also, to prevent derailing, the wooden beam supports for tracks need to be upgraded. One official of North Korea’s Rail Authority sighs, saying, “They want us to solve the problem but we don’t have the wood, electricity, or freight cars. We don’t have any tools to solve the problem.”

National Defense Committee to Inspect Railroads

The National Defense Committee국방위원회 has begun to inspect railroads. Recently, the Committee sent inspectors to the railroad authority office철도국 in Chungjin, North Hamgyung Province. They were told to inspect whether local offices were doing well in meeting Kim Jong-Il’s directive to stabilize the nation’s railroad problems. They will be making sure railroad operations are running normally, repairs are being done on time to both passenger and freight cars, materials are not being stolen by managers and laborers, and workers are coming to work on time. They will especially watch that managers do not siphon off coal while loading it onto the trains. Because of the rumor that inspection teams will go to local railroad stations, stations are working through the day without turning on their fireplaces or stoves, making the workers shiver through the day. At the same time, Kim Jong-Il supposedly reiterated his wishes for the railroad operation to improve dramatically this year.

Well-off Hamheung 5.18 Enterprise
Hamheung city함흥시, South Hamgyung Province함경남도 has a city construction enterprise도시건설사업소 called 5.18. This enterprise is one of the companies that provides laborers with the highest standards of welfare. This enterprise currently delmolishes one story houses in Hamheung and constructs 6-7 story apartments. The 5.18 enterprise secures its construction laborers enough food for a month and two meals a day, lunch and dinner. Furthermore, the enterprise will guarantee the workers a salary and a food ration by selling 3 stories of each apartment unit when the construction is completed. The salary is 3,000 won per month, and the enterprise continuously secures the salary and food supply for its laborers. Usually, officials or rich people live in the 1st story to the 4th story and laborers or poor people will use the 5th to the 7th stories. Because most companies cannot give their workers food and salary, 5.18 enterprise workers’ have the highest level of living standards in Hamheung. Therefore, other residents envy the workers for being so well off.

Electronic Goods Not Selling Due to Lack of Electricity
Retailers are upset because electronic goods are not selling due to a lack of electricity nationwide. One foreign goods retailer in Pohang District포항구역 Chungjin City said that he has sold hardly any electronic goods between last October and this February because there is no electricity. Salesmen have not been able to meet their quotas for the last several months. No change is predicted for February as the electricity situation has not improved.

Car Batteries and Candles Substituted for Electricty
As it has become harder for residents to obtain electricity, they are now looking for substitutes such as 12V rechargeable batteris produced by China, car batteries, and candles. Usually, rich residents use car batteries. When oridinary laborers go to work, they bring flashlights or small rechargeables with them and recharge with industrial electricity from their companies and then take their recharged items back home. Staff at companies and workers at relatively good companies usually have 5 recharchable batteries and sometimes more than 10 batteries in their offices. Since it is rare for even companies to use electricity, many people cannot obtain industrial electricity. The poor buy candles for light. Soonchun City순천시, South Pyongan Province, has not had electricity since last year October. On last January 1st, residents had only 5 hours of electricity for New Year’s Day and that was the only electricity supply. We easily hear the lamentable complaints of suffering at any company, such as, “When we go home at night, we do not have any light at home or any food, so we feel too uneasy to endure this suffering. We cannot survive anymore.”

Inspection of Retired Teachers’ Extracurricular Tutoring

As a nationwide inspection of extracurricular tutoring과외 is conintued, the tutoring activities of retired teachers receiving a pension are also under scrutiny. Of the retired teachers, some gather and teach a few children of officials or the rich and receive 10,000 to 20,000 won to maintain their living. Each local police station지역보안서 has stationed police officers주재보안원 to investigate teachers who tutor students in their homes, issue the teachers with fines, and severly criticize them for the tutoring. A retired teacher complained that while even teachers in service work as extracurricular tutors to feed their families, the retired teachers’ extracurricular tutoring could not possibly be a big problem. But then he restrained his word. The teacher stated that the authority’s inspections did not start suddenly or unexpectedly, and he will continue the tutoring if he is not caught. He cynically stated that as people sacrifice their lives to feed their families and themselves, “I should kill myself if I complain about this situation and give up the job.”

Extracurricular Tutoring goes Against Principle of Educational Equality
The North Korean authorities have maintained a very strong stance about the inspection of extracurricular tutoring. An official stated that the inspection is based on the rule, “In North Korea, no individual should receive any special treatment and everyone should learn on the foundation of educational equality.” It is true that the highest quality of educational services, facilities, and teachers are concentrated in Pyongyang and many children of officials study there, so extracurricular tutoring is likewise allowed in the city. Many officials also look for highly qualifed teachers to tutor their children, no matter how much they have to pay. The authorities in North Korea do not inspect extracurricular tutoring in Pyongyang because they seem to believe that the city has a generally high quality of educational services and even if some students pay for tutoring, they do not show any difference in their academic performance. On the other hand, other cities heavily inspect for tutoring because teachers seem to provide instruction only to a few students in order to make money from tutoring. The teachers only help the students who pay for tutoring because if they taught properly to their entire class, they would not have any students needing to pay for the service. Because of this situation, the North Korean authorities have emphasized again that teachers should teach all of their students fairly and in an environment without bias.

Border Patrol Soldiers Allowed Party Membership When Catching a Runaway (Defector)
From this year, any Border Patrol국경수비대 soldiers can enter the Party after they catch a defector crossing the river to China. In a lecture from high ranking officiers군관 for officers사관군인, they instructed that the soldiers should use any strategy to lure and catch those who want to flee or be smuggled, without any exception. Then the officers informed the soldiers that they will be able to appear as Party members to their parents after they finish their military service and return home, adding that this would be a very glorious recognition for the family. The content of this lecture was also published in a magazine for the Border Patrols.

‘Ice’ Smugglers Now Responsibilty of Province Police Station

North Hamgyung Province함경북도 has decided to handle those convicted of carrying more than 100g of ‘Ice’ 빙두(얼음) (a kind of amphetamine) directly on the province police level and no longer on the city or county level. If any suspects are caught selling more than 100g of ‘Ice’ to other dealers or addicts by City or County Police Stations보안서 in a national border area, the suspects are tranfered to a Province Police Station도보안서. This change is based on the recognition that city and county police stations tend to release suspects too easily due to close connections in the charge areas.

Seasonal Life Story of Ordinary House Wives
Male workers must go to work even without salary or rationing for fear of being punished in a Re-education Center단련대 if they do not. This does not change, even in a busy farming season. After all, it is not the role of the husband to feed the family but that of the housewife가두여성. In the early morning, together with their children, mothers travel to their personal plots on hillsides far from the villages. The children prefer plot-farming over attending school because of the many school requirements that they cannot afford. During farming, the lunch menu, at best, consists of a small amount of corn-rice옥수수밥 balls with soybean-paste된장or Korean Cabbage Gimchi배추김치. After a long day of arduous farming mothers come down the hill at dusk. At home, women prepare dinner for their families using extremely valuable long-grain rice안남미 or barley corn 보리쌀in dark kitchens without any electricity, relying only on candlelight. After eating dinner, which is hardly enough to satisfy her appetite, a completely exhausted mother must take care of her overdue laundry and cleaning.

At the same time, women members of Neighborhood Units인민반 also must participate in rural farming campaigns during farming seasons. From mid-May, the women must participate in all kinds of public farming, such as rice planting, weeding, rice reaping in the autumn along with moving rice-sheats. Last autumn, farms announced that they will no longer use a laborforce of mobilized housewives. Mobilized housewives hide ears of rice in their pockets in their spare time. Eventhough the farms search their pockets thoroughly before the housewives leave for home, many women bring the rice home with them. Some women even dredge a few ears of rice in their headtowel to use as chicken feed. When housewives work as part of farming mobilization농촌동원, old members of family tend to personal plots on the hill in place of the housewives. Even during the idle winter season of farming, a woman’s works does not decrease, due to continuing projects with Neighborhood Units and the Democratic Women’s Union 녀맹. The Democratic Women’s Union holds a lecture meeting every Thursday. Anyone absent from these meetings will face a Fight for Ideology사상투쟁 and as a result, housewives attend Thursday meetings even with fatigue. There are many women who lament that they cannot eat fully even though they work every day without vacation from early morning to midnight. In spite of lamenting their every day lives that have no hope, housewives move their exhausted bodies again to feed their families and themselves the next morning.

Ignorance is Not Bliss about Relatives’ News
For ordinary North Korean residents, the chance to hear about their siblings and reletives who live far away is rare because of huge travelling costs caused by inconvenient road systems. Due to frequent electricity failures, traveling is difficult and takes more than 3 to 4 days, in addition to meal preparation for the travel time. Road travel can incur fees of at least 9,000 won per person and 1,000-2,000 won per bag. Visits are also difficult because familes must consider food shortages. Their relatives may look happy to see you, but they might think, “how can I afford enough for for everyone?” As living conditions get worse, there is little contact among relatives. Missing his parents and brothers, a forty year old man’s eyes were inflamed with fresh tears. “Who does not miss their parents and brothers? It is the hard living conditions that keep us from helping and contacting each other. For more than a decade, I’ve cried only in my heart, lamenting the given situation and missing them.”

Family Abusers are Suspected ‘Ice’ Addicts
In an effort to strengthen restrictions on ‘Ice’, the North Korean government has ordered that investigations on suspects with frequent family quarrels and large debt be given first priority. After observing groups of ‘Ice’ addicts in confinement, the Neurology Research Center신경환자연구소 of the 49th Mental Hospital 49호정신병원 located in Euijoo County 의주군 North Pyongan Province평안북도 found that ‘Ice’ addicts share common characteristics like family violence and debt problems. Based on the research, ‘Ice’ that is produced according national standards does not cause any symptoms of neurological damage. On the contrary, many long-term addicts who use privately made “Ice” display symptoms of neurological damage. The Research Center reports that these types of addicts are easily angered, abuse their families, and display symptoms of paranoia. In addition, most of them borrow large amounts of money to buy ‘Ice’ and suffer from debt problems as a result. Following the research results, the party has distributed guidance with priority consideration given to households rumored to have frequent family disputes and large amounts of debt. Tapping devices will be installed in those households in order that they may be monitored. If any information is found regarding ‘Ice’, suspects will be arrested immediately. A staff member complained, “Now no family quarrel will be allowed following these stupid instructions. Isn’t it pathetic to look at stupid research results and to try to catch suspects with such absurd clues?”

Trading the ‘No.1 Picture’ Inside Army Camps
Photos taken with Chairman Kim Jong-Il, so called ‘No.1 Pictures’ 1호사진, are traded at prices around 25,000 -30,000 won per photo. Recently inside the People’s Army인민군, several Political Directive Officers정치지도원 sold their pictures to other soldiers that were taken with Chairman Kim Jong-Il when he visited their company, as having a picture taken with the chairman will bring good chances of a promotion. In reality however, it is very hard to distinguish each figure in a group picture except in special cases. Some people often buy the photo to hang on the wall, lying that it was taken in their military term when Chairman Kim Jong-Il visited their camp.

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North Korea Today No. 110

Research Institute for North Korean Society
North Korea Today
110th Edition February 2008

Shot to Death While Stealing Rice
Haeju Citizens Are Angry at the Death of the Railway Laborer
Railway Laborers in Haeju Without Food for Three Months
Increase in Domestic Conflicts Due to Food Shortages
“Never Get Married to Farm Workers!”
Some Workers Voluntarily Go to Farm Because of Food Shortages
”Don’t Trade in the Market Means Escape North Korea ?”
“Individual Farming Is the Only Hope”
President of Jangsaeng Export Company in Chungjin Arrested
President of Jangsaeng Export Company in Chungjin Dies During Preliminary Hearing
Gimchaek Steel Mill Stopped Food Rations to Workers
Chungjin Trolley Bus No Longer Running
College Student Wounded as a Result of Excessive “Ice” Inspection
Hoeryun Residents Indignant at Undeserved Death
Old Men in Pyongyang Going to the Subway Hall to Survive Severe Cold Weather



Shot to Death While Stealing Rice
On the night of January 6th, one of 2 railway laborers who were trying to steal rice was shot to death. They did not stop stealing rice from the train carrying rice in the Haeju station 해주역 even though the escorts호송원 were firing blank shots공포탄 at them. The escorts were annoyed by their resistance and shot one of them, who died immediately. The other one was arrested at the scene.

Haeju Citizens Are Angry at the Death of the Railway Laborer
Citizens in Haeju are angry at the death of the railway laborers. They criticized the government’s extreme measure on those who were trying hard to feed their family. Some of them say, “Why did they kill him? They could have scolded or sentenced him for what he had done. If they kill people who are stealing food for their survival, it means that they regard people who are starving as their enemies.” Some in the neighborhood say that the railway laborers did not do something that deserves death considering the tough life they were living. Some requested that the government also punish those carriers for killing the laborer, and blamed the railway administration and the government who did not care about their employees and could not prevent them from stealing food.

Railway Laborers in Haeju Without Food for Three Months
Railway laborers in Haeju and their families are having a very difficult time making ends meet because they haven’t received food for three months in a row. As their difficulties become publicized because of the recent shooting death, many sympathize with their plight. They are saying “Whose fault is it that we are too poor to eat?” and criticizing the government by pointing out that the government’s lack of ability has led to a situation in a supposedly socialist country in which individuals have to risk losing life for food.

Increase in Domestic Conflicts Due to Food Shortages
Because people in North Korea do not have enough food to feed themselves and their families, they have lost smile or laugh in their homes and easily lose their tempers. When many couples have conflicts and arguments, they blame their spouses for these tough situations. It is not rare to see people take out their anger on their children and even shout at them to leave home in order to ease the food burden., Kids who do not go to school often get together and say simply and openly, “It is not possible to trade in the market without money, so we will go to China by using all possible connections.”

“Never Get Married to Farm Workers!”
Lately, young marriageable women do not want to get married to farm laborers. When they marry these workers, their children and they cannot get out of the farm to get non-farming jobs. First of all, working in the farm is very arduous and laborious, so most women want to avoid the job. Female farm workers in their prime put on soldiers’ shoes covering up to their ankles called by Jihajok지하족[1] or men’s sneakers because of the short of money, and weed in the stuffy corn field even in hot and humid weather. Even if farm workers have a violent fever with a temperature of up to 38°C, they need to work in the farm to not lose the work points for worth of labor(노력)공수. If they are absent from their work even one day a year, their share will be reduced so much that they go to work stubbornly even with the awful physical condition. When it is absolutely impossible for them to go to work in the farm, their parents and children go as replacements in order not to have their work points reduced. Under such circumstances, female farm workers are trying to quit and leave their work, and young women who are in poverty are eager to get married to ordinary workers or office employees. Female farm workers can leave the farm as they get married, but male farm laborers cannot leave the farm until they die even though they get married to office workers.

Some Workers Voluntarily Go to Farm Because of Food Shortages
Workers of some companies voluntarily go to work in the farm as they can barely feed their families and themselves. Because they cannot receive any payment from their work, they seem to think that working in the farm is better than in their companies because they will get distributions. In general, parents send their daughters to the farm because their daughters can quit the farm work when they get married. Sometimes men go to the farm when they do not have women or daughters. A small number of people go to work in the farm to feed their wives and children even though they know that they cannot leave the farm once they join.

”Don’t Trade in the Market Means Escape North Korea?”
So far, most people have been making their living primarily by farming from spring to autumn. Besides farming, market trading has been the most important livelihood for them. Usually, young women could feed their family by trading in the markets. However, many people’s livelihood has been severely affected after women under 49 have been banned from trading the market since last October.

Women generally complain that the recent ban on market activities means driving them to South Korea or China. Some of them cannot help but make their old mothers go to the market and sell something. Some of them join old ladies as their trading partners. Those old ladies just stand behind and when market patrols시장관리원come, they step forward and then step back again when the patrols are gone. They share profits from trades, too. Those young women trading like this complain that since they have to give some share to those old ladies, it would make them much harder to feed themselves.

“Individual Farming Is the Only Hope”
For individual farmers, farmland is everything. In spring, they plow the land and sow seeds. And farmers do weeding during the growing season in summer and harvest the crops in fall. This is the only way to maintain their living. Thus, they work desperately and hard. During the dog days of summer, farmers begin their days at dawn to avoid working under the fiery glades of the sun. Their farmland is usually located on a hill. In evening, on their ways home from hard work, farmers often find difficult to descend the hill due to sore legs. Sometimes, they fall down and even feel that they are never able to get up again. Despite such physical exhaustion, they try hard to snap out of it and take steps forward. Finally, when get home, they collapse from exhaustion. In autumn when ears grow on corn stalks, farmers build huts to patrol their harvest. Later in mid-October, they gather in crops. To bring these corns to home, farmers must have a permit, which is considered evidence that those corns are not crops of individual patches of land farming개인소토지농사. In that way, they can avoid inspection, otherwise the crops from their year’s hard work are confiscated to the state. Farmers cannot be more dependent on individual farming개인농사 for a living when there is no land for the Non-Public Distribution Management비배관리, no rations from the state, and a strict control on local trade activities

President of Jangsaeng Export Company in Chungjin Arrested
The steel mill industry in North Hamheung Province함경북도 suffered greatly when Kim Chul김철, the president of Jangsaeng Export Company장생무역회사, which was housed within Gimchaek Steel Mill김책제철소 in Chungjin청진, was arrested by the National Security Agency국가보위부 last August. Until then, he had earned a lot of foreign currency through his business savvy and was considered a patriot, having received a commendation from Chairman Kim Jong-Il김정일국방위원장 himself. He had resolved the food and energy problem in Gimchaek Steel Mill by selling steel sheets철판 in exchange for corn and oil. Because of his business acumen, he once was responsible for over half of all steel export from North Hamheung Province. He had also fortified the mill’s internal capacity by obtaining 5 steel melting furnaces, 3 fuel oil tank trailers연유유조차, 15 fork lifts자동적재차량, and 8 container trucks, earning big praises in the process.

The National Security Agency found out that part of the pig iron선철, steel plates열강판, and scrap iron파철 was being imported into South Korea through China and arrested the president last August. The focus of the investigation was whether the president knew that his products were going into South Korea at a time when all economic activity with the South was supposed to go through the Unification Bureau of the Worker’s Party 통전부. However, some quarters are saying that the real reason the well-regarded president was arrested was that he neglected to do his “National Security Business” 보위부사업 well by not regularly paying bribes to the agency officials. In actuality, the National security Agency had originally asked the Bureau of Overseas Counter Intelligence 해외반탐국 to look into the matter of pig iron exports. When they found out that part of it was being sold to South Korea, the matter was elevated to Kim Jong-Il and arrested the president.

President of Jangsaeng Export Company in Chungjin Dies During Preliminary Hearing

The arrested president of Jangsaeng Export Company in Chungjin died during his preliminary hearing예심기간 while in custody of the National Security Agency. Some say that he was shot to death in the Interrogation facility구류장 of the National Security Agency, but others say that it was diabetes that killed him while being interrogated. Then again others also say that “he was healthy in his sixties without diabetes… he must have died because of the harsh interrogation.” His death came as a huge shock not only to the employees of Gimchaek Steel Mill but also to the residents in neighboring cities and counties who knew him by reputation. One resident was angry, saying, “No matter how much money you earn for the country, they find out something behind your back and find an excuse to kill you. That’s what the National Security Agency does. They kill those whom they decide to get rid of.” Another official sighed, “When I hear of these things, I wonder why go on living in this dirty land without freedom. Good people are killed through entrapment while obsequious villains live well. It’s only our lives that must be pitied.”

Gimchaek Steel Mill Stopped Food Rations to Workers
As Jangsaeng Export Company in Chungjin has recently been faltering, it has affected Gimchaek Steel Mill as well. Since October 2007, Gimchaek Steel Mill has had no food rations to its workers. Even in difficult times, workers were able to at least receive corn on the cop thanks to Jangsang Export Company. These days, however, as the company’s president was arrested and food aid from South Korea significantly cut, the food distribution stopped completely. With no food rations, the increasing number of workers does not go to work despite police officers 보안서’ warnings. Local steel traders were also affected by this; sales of any kind of iron or steel, including scrip iron, pig iron, and steel sheets, have been banned. Meanwhile, the authorities decided to place Jangsang Export Company under state management and appointed a new president.

Chungjin Trolley Bus No Longer Running
Trolley buses무궤도전차of Chungjin city stopped operating on January 11, 2008. These old trolley buses made about 25-30 years ago often broke down during in operation. Buses looked too shabby to distinguish if they were buses or big pieces of scrap iron. Even though the city tries to fix them, it has neither the needed parts nor money to purchase them. The original plan was that the city was going to buy the parts with bus fare; yet, there are only a few buses operable. Even operable buses stop for 3-4 hours in the middle of streets due to electricity cut-offs. As a result, not many people are willing to take buses. The trolley car enterprise전차사업소expects difficulties in re-running trolley buses in the future.

College Student Wounded as a Result of Excessive “Ice” Inspection
A few days ago, the “Ice”(a kind of amphetamine) Investigation Patrol 단속조 in Chungjin City received criticism from people for going overboard with the inspection. The investigation patrol searched passers-by for smuggled “Ice” from 9:30 pm to increase their performance results. They even had stakeouts in front of suspects’ houses, and secretly watched people coming in and out of the houses. In addition, Mr. Kim, , who lives in Pohang district포항구역and a junior of College of Mining광산대학 was caught by the police patrol on his way home from his friend’s place. During the body search, they found a tool for taking the “Ice”, so took him to the police inspection unit. In the process of questioning the source of the “Ice”, he was severely beaten and wounded by the police for the reason that he was reluctant to reply. In the end, he was cleared of the smuggling suspicion and could come back home, but he could not go back to school because of severe injuries. People said they have nothing against inspection, but criticized the inspection patrol for catching the wrong person and physically hurting him during the questioning.

Hoeryun Residents Indignant at Undeserved Death
Last December 28th, an electrician전공 in the Department of Electric Power Supply배전부 died from a car accident. Mr. Kim, director of the Mangyang police substation망양분주소 in Hoeryung city회령시, was on his motorcycle when he crashed onto the electrician on his bicycle. The electrician fell down immediately. The Police officer보안원 riding on the back seat of the motorcycle kicked the electrician’s body couple of times to check if he was alive. After realizing that the electrician had difficulty breathing, they hastily moved the electrician’s body to a guardroom경비실of the City Construction Enterprise시건설기업소 and then returned home. The electrician’s intestine was burst from the crash. Seeing interrupted breathing, a security guard경비원in the enterprise reported to the local public clinic 진료소and the Mangyang police substation.

Although the police officer and the medical doctor of the local public clinic moved him to the city people’s hospital시인민병원, the doctor did not even touch him any possibility of survival. Eventually, the electrician died 3 hours after the car accident. His wife who was on a business trip to Hyesan혜산of Ryanggang Province량강도returned immediately after the death notice. Running to the police station 보안서 to question her husband’s meaningless death, she cried out “bury the director by my husband’s grave, I will kill the criminal.” The police station, initially doing nothing about the accident, reluctantly had to put the substation director and the accompanying police officer into an interrogation facility as the wife continued to cry for punishment. However, until now, there has been no specific punishment for them. So far, town people are strongly pushing for legal punishment of them raging “All police officers are bugs벌거지milking people’s oil. The dead electrician was a qualified individual and was excellent at electrical engineering disciplined through a systematic education of the Department of Electric Power Supply. All the persons who knew him lamented the death of a talented man.

Old Men in Pyongyang Going to the Subway Hall to Survive Severe Cold Weather
Like North Hamgyung Province, Pyongyang city평양시 is in a bad situation because of the water heating service온수난방 shortage caused by lack of electricity. When it is extremely cold, some old people go to the underground railway with something to eat and a blanket to put around them because the underground is much warmer than their home. These elderly people stay in the underground railway all day long and go back to their home around 6 or 7 pm. Police officers in charge of keeping order or security guards검열원 of subway stations let them return to their homes when they are found. Even though the elderly people pretend to go home when they are ordered to, they come back one after another after police officers and security guards are gone. Some aged people beg them not to order them to go home because of no heating system at home. As the number of the old people in the underground has increased, the subway patrol단속원have begun to report them and the names of their children and work places to the party committee당위원회. The intention of such actions is to shame the sons and daughters for not taking care of their parents and to take them back to home immediately. The old people go to the underground railway only because their houses are too cold, but unfortunately, their sons and daughters have been labeled as undutiful people불효자 and sometimes called to account by the Secretary of the Party당비서.

[1] Jihajok지하족; They are labor shoes and made of fabrics. North Korean Soldiers usually wear them during the non-combat season.

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North Korea Today No. 109

Research Institute for North Korean Society
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng

North Korea Today
109th Edition January 2008

The Price of Food Has Gone Up Due To the Trade Issues with China
The Price of Flour Gone Up to 700 Won
Increasing Complaints about Rising Non-Tax Payments Instead of Food Rationing
No Food Rations in Wonsan Kangwon Province since Last October 2007
Food Rations Must Be Sacrificed for the Army in Jungpyung County in South Hamgyung Province
Hoeryung Is the Only City Having Food Rations to Its Citizens“South Korea Provides a Large Amount of Food in Aid to North Korea” Mentioned in a Provincial Trade Meeting
Nationwide Control over North Koreans of Chinese Origin
Arrested Chinese Residents of Hoeryung City Sent to the Municipal Re-education Center
Management Team at Soonam Market in Chungjin Overhauled
Interrogation Begins for Officials Connected to the Disgraced Former Manager of Soonam Market
A Tug of War between Authorities and Residents over Age Restrictions for Commercial Activity
“Thank God That the Enforcement Is Not As Bad As Before”
Writing Supply List for the 2.16 Holiday Set Off
Table1. Grain Prices in Five Major Cities as of January 25, 2008.


The Price of Food Has Gone Up Due To the Trade Issues with China
These days, the prices of rice, flour, and corn with the cob통옥수수 keep increasing. This is because the government has adjusted the system regarding trades with China. With the Beijing Olympics ahead China has dramatically increased the duty on food by 5% on rice, 20% on corn, and 20-25% on flour since the New Year. In addition, the Chinese government requires export certification 수출허가증on food. In case of rice and corn, last year’s export certification allows them to export to North Korea, but in case of flour, it cannot get into North Korea because export certification on flour had not been required until now.

The North Korean customs also requires a quality verification report on par with international standards (SGS quality certification SGS검사서) on Chinese food imports from this year. Most of the Chinese food traders do not follow the new standard because it is difficult to acquire those certifications. Thus, the shortage of supply in market keeps increasing the prices of food in North Korea. Currently, it is hard to buy rice even for 1,400 won per kg. The Chinese food traders are expecting that there will be a huge food shortage if the food trading with North Korea stops.

The Price of Flour Gone Up to 700 Won
The price of flour has hiked up within just a month. In December of last year, the price was generally 1,000 won and at most 1,200 won. However, it has gone up to 1,700 won this year due to increased duties on food items by the Chinese government. People who have once sold snacks 꽈배기, bread, and dumplings 만두for a living cannot do business any more because of lack of flour. The prices of rice and corn have gone up by 50 won within a week. People are concerned that the price of corn might become 1,000 won soon considering the current high price, 700 won. They believe that the prices of food will continue to go up.

Increasing Complaints about Rising Non-Tax Payments Instead of Food Rationing
In Giljoo County길주군 of North Hamgyung Province함경북도, residents are complaining openly about increasing non-tax payments 세외부담. In case of the Democratic Women’s Union 녀맹 each member of the Union has to make 2,600 won each to the Organization and Guidance Department 조직부after repeating order for the uncollected pork last year. Besides, the residents are grumbling because of other mounting non-tax payment burdens such as farmyard manure퇴비and iron fragment 파철 . Naturally they complain among their close friends, but when people sitting near them look nervous because of the complaints, they refuse to keep their voice down. Instead, they say, “We have no fear. We will die regardless. Why are they poking us without giving us anything while we are starving? Why are there so many orders to collect things from us even though they do nothing to help us? We cannot live any longer with their exacting demands!”

No Food Rations in Wonsan Kangwon Province since Last October 2007
Wonsan원산 in Kangwon province강원도 has had no food rations to its residents since October 2007. Wonsan has been in a dismal condition because there are no more used goods coming in from Japan since the trade ban with Japan. Once it was a lively city where people from all over the country gathered to buy used goods from Japan. Now there is no trace of the liveliness. The residents’ living condition has deteriorated since they can no longer sell used goods from Japan and trade with other foreigners. Meanwhile there have been no food rations in Pihyeon county피현군, Kwaksan county곽산군 and Yeomjoo county염주군since last October 2007.

Food Rations Must Be Sacrificed for the Army in Jungpyung County of South Hamgyung Province
The food distribution has stopped since last November in Kowon County고원군and Jungpyung County정평군of South Hamgyung Province함경남도. Especially in Jungpyung county, they provides all the produce of its farms to the army stressing that the army provisions군량미 should be guaranteed, even though there is not enough food for the residents. Each farm could not ration the food to its farmers. Farmers are despondent because government procurement officers 수매원 from Grain Policy Division (Local Food Administration Unit)양정사업소 took away all the food by including it in the army food provision plan.

Hoeryung Is the Only City Having Food Rations to Its Citizens
Except Pyongyang평양, Hoeryung회령 is the only city distributing food rations to the citizens. The city had also a special benefit last December 24th because of Kim Jung-Sook김정숙’s 90th birthday anniversary celebration. But another reason for the special benefit is because too many people have escaped to China from this city. After the investigation on the reasons for defection by the central party officials중앙당간부, the main reasons are the poor living condition without food rations and the difficulty in controlling workers who do not come to work.

As a result, the central party exempted Hoeryung City from providing military provisions and ordered food rationing to its citizens for 2 years under the special care of Chairman Kim Jung-Il김정일. According to the central party’s direction, a little amount of corn has been distributed to the people. At the same time, the organizational controls on residents to prevent any fantasy about and/or longing for China have been on residents have been strengthened through laborers and the Democratic Women’s Union. To do this, “you cannot let them have any free time. Continue to discipline people through education. The Democratic Women’s Union should continue social mobilization사회동원 and tighten its organizational life and activity to make sure not a single member deserts and defects to China.”.

“South Korea Provides a Large Amount of Food in Aid to North Korea” Mentioned in a Provincial Trade Meeting
“We do not have to import rice, flour, and corn from China any more. We will remove rice trade from the list of the foreign currency-earning Wak외화벌이와크(Wak: a type of trade permit)” was mentioned in a provincial trade meeting도무역회의, according to a local trade officer무역일꾼. The officer went on to say that North Korea, in other words, does not have to waste its foreign currencies on purchasing food items from China. Instead, we will receive a large amount of food in aid by the United Nations and South Korea. The officer, however, seemed to be wondering if the food aid was actually discussed in the six-party talks and other countries agreed on it. The National Trade Agency국가무역성 which had pressured to make every effort for food purchase until the end of last year no longer mentions about food.

Each province called local trade officers to review the proceedings of a Central Party meeting this year. In explaining and assigning the New Year’s tasks and roles, the food aid was mentioned, and it appeared implausible to officers. Some said that since no details about the South-North talks and six-party talks broadcasted or were publicized, they barely knew about what was actually discussed in those meetings. It is thus difficult for them to believe what the authorities just informed. Many expressed their concerns that a disaster might occur due to serious food shortages if the rumor about the food aid from the international community, including South Korea, is false. Moreover, an officer questioned the credibility of the statement by saying that North Korea needs at least two million (2,000,000) MT of food import. It might be the government’s “empty” propaganda to relieve people’s increasing concerns about food purchase as China tightened its control over the food export to North Korea.

Nationwide Control over North Koreans of Chinese Origin
Starting 2008, the government has tightened its control over North Koreans of Chinese-origin(Chinese residents)화교 nationwide by passing a new regulation enabling the local police 지역보안서 to handle any unlawful activities of Chinese ethnic groups without the bonds of the immigration law외국인관리법. Yet, people rather expressed their sympathy toward Chinese residents on this new regulation: North Korean people have survived many difficult situations with Chinese residents’ help since those days of the Arduous March고난의 행군 (the massive famine of the mid 1990's), but the Chinese in North Korea now seem to have become victims of the diplomatic clash with China.

Arrested Chinese Residents of Hoeryung City Sent to the Municipal Re-education Center
As the Investigation of the Anti-Socialist Activities began in national border areas such as Hoeryung회령and Chungjin청진, at the end of last year, Chinese residents became a main group to be arrested. Kim, a North Korean of Chinese-origin, was arrested by the provincial Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol (ASCIP) 도비사회주의그루빠검열 for his illegal activities last year in Hoeryung; Kim had been doing a Songee mushroom 송이버섯business with the chief officer’s connivance at the Pungsan checkpoint풍산초소 during the Songee mushroom season, and sold more than a half of the total Songee mushroom procurement of the Fifth Management Department 5호관리부 to China illegally. Moreover, investigators discovered Kim’s additional illegal activity: Kim had delivered money from South Korean family members to their North Korean family members. With the disclosure of Kim’s illegal activities, ethnic Chinese residents became a target group of investigation. As a result, the border trade변강무역, the main business of the Chinese-ethnic group in North Korea, had been paralyzed. This trade cut with China has caused the increase of the price of particular products, including glucose포도당, injection medicines주사약, and pills알약. The thirty ethnic Chinese arrested by ASCIP last year are still detained in the municipal Re-education Center시단련대. The Hoeryung City Re-education Center even created a new “Chinese North Korean only” work unit작업반. Meanwhile, another Chinese North Korean Kim was arrested by ASCIP in Chungjin simply because he owns a big-size house.

Management Team at Soonam Market in Chungjin Overhauled
After the recent conviction of the manager 관리소장 of the Soonam Market수남시장 in Chungjin청진 for misappropriation of official funds, all the members of the market management team was exchanged for a brand new team of freshly appointed people. Furthermore, the secretary of the Provincial Party’s Organization and Guidance Department도당조직부has been fired and is undergoing questioning – he has been replaced by someone new from the Central Party’s Organization and Guidance Department중앙당조직부.

Interrogation Begins for Officials Connected to the Disgraced Former Manager of Soonam Market
As the true scale of the former market manager’s wrongdoings is revealed, the investigation into the officials connected to him is also expanding. Besides the secretary of the Provincial Party’s Organization and Guidance Department, the directive officer in charge책임지도원 of the same department and the vice-chief부서장of the Police Station보안서 at Soonam District수남구역are also under questioning. 12 officials from the Provincial Party도당, People’s Assembly도인민위원회and the Police Department도보안서have been fired already from their positions. Besides the people named, other officials who have partaken in the former market manager’s bribery pot are now in a state of heightened anxiety.

A Tug of War between Authorities and Residents over Age Restrictions for Commercial Activity
Although the official directive late last year banned people under 49 from trading in the market, but it has been revealed that some market managers are allowing people from 40 years and above to engage in trade. This is because the demand for market shelf space매대 has been dramatically reduced, negatively impacting the market income stream. Also, the market managers cannot realistically control the flow of younger people coming into the market to trade. Even the officials who are tasked to enforce the restrictions say that, “we all know these people and that they are just trying to make ends meet. If you are too tough on them, all you do is create unnecessary hatred. So we just warn them and send them along.” There have been cases reported of desperate women who physically attacked the officials when the latter was too by-the-book in enforcing the rules. Another woman reports that it’s common to see women ignoring the officials, saying, in effect, “you do what you have to, and I will do what I have to.” Younger women are now bringing along their elderly moms so that they can continue trading. When officials come, the elderly mothers tell them not to touch the merchandise because they are the traders, not their daughters. All the residents agree that the age restriction on market activity is a stupid policy.

In response, the authorities once again reiterated their age restriction policy this past January 6th and 7th. In the city of Hamheung 함흥시, the police officials보안원used a bullhorn to warn women under 40 to quit working in the markets and enter a factory. They threatened with legal punishment for anyone caught trading in defiance of the age restrictions.

“Thank God That the Enforcement Is Not As Bad As Before”
Although residents still complain about the various restrictions on market activity, they thank God that the enforcement is not as bad as before. In markets in the cities of Hamheung, Chungjin, Sariwon사리원, Pyongsung평성, and others, the store hours are usually from 1:30-5:30pm or 2:00-6:00pm. During these hours, the enforcement officials 단속원, although they might see banned merchandise openly displayed on the shelves, usually turn a blind eye. Currently, the North Korean authorities ban on trading cigarettes, cosmetics, provisions, used clothing, leather jackets, women’s straight-leg pants 여성용일자 바지, clothing with South Korea labels, various household items, CD’s, recorders, hand-knives, privately-manufactured medicines, bicycles, food, and more, leading to complaints by the traders that the authorities are basically telling them not to trade. In some markets, the store owners collect anywhere from 300-1,000 won per merchant to buy cigarettes and liquor to give to the market management officials and the market police officials in return for them to turn a blind eye to the violations. Then the officials only go through the motions of enforcing restrictions.

Writing Supply List for the 2.16 Holiday Set Off
In Sunchun순천 and Pyongsung평성 of South Pyongan Province평안남도, the heads of the Neighborhood Units인민반장are checking birth certifications of children. It is to write a present supply list for the upcoming 2.16 holiday, the birthday of Chairman Kim Jung-Il. On February 16th, children will be presented with 8 types of sweets and confections such as candies, cookies, fried glutinous rice confection강정, gum, and starch jelly엿사탕, and bean candy콩사탕. However, because the holiday presents are supplied by local governments, there will not be many regions which can present children with more than 2 items.


Table1. Grain Prices in Five Major Cities as of January 25, 2008.
(Unit: kg / North Korea Won)

City Soonchun순천 Pyungsung평성 Gimchaek김책 Giljoo길주 Chungjin청진
(South Pyongan)(South Pyongan) (North Hamgyung)(North Hamgyung)(North Hamgyung )
Rice쌀 1,450 1,450 1,450 1,450 1,400
Flour밀가루 1,750 1,750 1,700 1,700 1,650
Corn with the Cob 700 700 680 700 630
통옥수수


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