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North Korea Today No. 196

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No. 196 August 2008

Yeecheon County, Kangwon Province, “This year we must distribute to the farmers”
More Hills Means Bigger Difficulty in Kangwon Province
Pyongyang Holds a Discussion-Lecture Regarding the Food Situation
North Hamgyong Holds Discussion Regarding Farming Progress in the Provincial Party Member’s Meeting
Harvest Yield, North Hamgyong Little Better But South Hamgyong Is Of Concern
Sinuiju Already Has Many Households with No Food
Haeju Nursing Home, 120g of Corn Porridge Delivered Daily to Seniors
Ontan-gu in Onsung County, People Barely Survive On Potatoes


Yeecheon County, Kangwon Province, “This year we must distribute to the farmers”
On August 2 of last year, heavy rainfall devastated the farmlands of Songjeong-ri and other villages, Yeecheon County of Kangwon Province. Half of Yeecheon County’s farmlands were damaged, which erases hopes of any harvests in the fall. The farmers of this land cries out: “We weren’t able to harvest either last year due to flood damages and we don’t harvest again this year. If no food support comes to us, we are hopeless. Nobody seems to be able to survive until next year.”

The members in farmland committee are also worried. One member says, “We weren’t able to distribute food for support to the farmers last year and thus food crisis came earlier this year. When people have no food, they do not want to come to work. Therefore, we had to use all measures necessary to make them work. Few days ago, our committee had a discussion and concluded that we must take extra care on the places with less damages and at least distribute 8months worth of food to each farmers this year so they can farm again next year.

This discussion’s conclusion was that “if farmers don’t receive food distribution from us, nobody has right to force them to work. How can anyone force hungry and ill farmers to the workplace? Therefore, after the discussion, the committee ordered the directors of each work areas to “put all the efforts in making sure that absolutely no food gets thrown away carelessly”


More Hills Means Bigger Difficulty in Kangwon Province
There are not many differences in food situations of between the county in Kangwon Province, but it gets worse as more hills there are in the county. Gosan, Anbyon, Tongchun, and Bupdong Counties are the ones in serious situations.

Pyongyang Holds a Discussion-Lecture Regarding the Food Situation
Last July 26, lectures were held for the workers and the members of Democratic Women’s Union(녀맹) in Pyongyang, South Pyongan, South Hwanghae, and North Hwanghae. “Food crisis is not just our crisis; it is a global crisis. Countries like U.S. make oils out of corns, which shortens global food supply as result. Furthermore, natural disasters disturbed production yield in some countries that were expected to do well. Thus, we must acknowledge these facts and support our villages. In difficult time like this, we must save as much pieces of grain yields as we can and try to be self-dependent. Not getting food support or distribution should not be the reason to skip works at factories. Let’s all have strong sense of responsibilities.”

North Hamgyong Holds Discussion Regarding Farming Progress in the Provincial Party Member’s Meeting
Last July 21st, a discussion was held in the Provincial Party Member’s meeting of North Hamgyong. The main topic of this discussion was on the progress of current farming; how much of Heungnam fertilizer, which was provided to them; whether there were any areas that did not receive fertilizers; if so, what were the sizes of areas that did not receive Heungnam fertilizers. Besides these issues, disputes regarding town clean-up project (꾸리기사업) were discussed before land decisions (국토판정).

The following lists were mainly discussed at the meeting.
1. People with homes near railroads are going to be relocated in new dwellings.
2. Until July 27, laborers reported to work on the construction of apartment buildings in Hoeryong City. However, since then the laborers have been relocated to work on a new project involving building roads for tourist development in Mt. Baekdu.
3. People were encouraged to maintain roads and landscaping in the cities and in smaller counties.
4. People were encouraged to support he homeless shelters (꽃제비 구제소).
5. People were asked to support the education system, especially in these difficult times.
6. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the DPRK, people should be proud of social and physical accomplishments.

On other note, responsible party secretaries or chairman of cities and counties which did not receive good rankings on land decisions should resign and be criticized for his failures. For this reason, each city and county was busy doing last-minute checkups on residence houses and towns until July 28 and received inspection from the Provincial party on the next day.

Harvest Yield, North Hamgyong Little Better But South Hamgyong Is Of Concern
This years yield in North Hamgyong is predicted to be little better than last year. Up to this point in August, Chungjin City and Hoeryong City’s farming are doing relatively well. Although this year’s fertilizer came in little late, Heukbosan fertilizer (흙보산비료)[1]) was there as alternatives and weather wasn’t that bad either in most of the areas. However, Gimchaek City is having a difficult year in its corn farming due to lack of rainfalls in April and May and warm weathers. Furthermore, sudden hailstones in May forced them to plant beans again because most of the corn trees were ripped down. In Southern Hamgyong, severe drought has caused farmlands to crack apart and left many farmers in despair.

Sinuiju Already Has Many Households with No Food
In Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, this year’s new grain has already depleted leaving people to struggle to survive on just soups once again. Consequently, divorce and suicide rates have gone up. In early August, one woman committed suicide after struggling to live, leaving behind a little sister. Another woman in the same neighborhood was finally able to take her youngest daughter, who is suffering from malignant lymphoma, to the hospital because her friends collected money to help her. Unfortunately, doctors told her it was too late. Neighbors shared their sympathy by saying “We may live because we can’t die. However, this is too harsh to let the little girl to die first. We feel sad just by being around this situation. How would the mother feel?”

Haeju Nursing Home, 120g of Corn Porridge Delivered Daily to Seniors
Grain Administration Department (량정부) of the People’s Committee in Haeju City of South Hwanghae has made a rule to make each senior’s share of food to be 150g per day. However, even this little amount was robbed by the workers on the rear side, making real distribution of food to each senior in nursing home (양로원) to become mere 120g. Porridge made of crushed maize (짝옥수수) is all a senior eats for one meal. Such situation makes seniors want to run away from the their asylums like the homeless children (꽃제비) escaping from their asylums. Therefore, asylums place guards so that seniors cannot escape. Some seniors with money lobby for more food, but it is a rare case.

Ontan-gu in Onsung County, People Barely Survive On Potatoes
Most of the residents in Ontan-gu, Onsung County of Northern Hamgyong are living on potatoes. One neighborhood unit (인민반), for example, has only two or three households that eat corns. Many lecture being continued to be held to encourage people. “Let’s overcome the suffering and follow those who overcame. The suffering will pass by and we will surely construct a strong nation under our great general’s leadership. Let’s overcome every obstacles by holding our faith of revolution together like all the leaders that was hidden or appeared during the march of sufferings”

[1]) A fertilizer made by North Korea, it contains an ingredient used to restore the soil
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North Korea Today No. 195

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No. 195 August 2008
Working To Prevent Flood Damage
Pyongyang Gives Aid to Restore Flood Damage of Kaesong
Pyongsung’s Spring Forest Fire Destroyed 28 Jungbo (units of area)
Catching Squid is in Seasonal Prime and Piracy Is Also at Its Peak
Missing Fishermen Found Captive in Russia
Train collision at Jungju Station
Increase in Deportation during Beijing Olympics




Working To Prevent Flood Damage
In July and August, Kaesong and its suburban farming villages had unexpected damage caused by floods and torrential rainstorms. The local party organized and sent ‘prevention team for flood damage’ to the City Management Department of every City and County People’s Assembly. They ordered that cities should repair railroads, bridges, and levees that have the possibility of damaging the farming areas and cities, and to rebuild banks if there are any problems. If any district does not follow this directive, they will punish the people in charge immediately.

Pyongyang Gives Aid to Restore Flood Damage of Kaesong
Pyongyang has mobilized workers of factories and enterprises to restore the flood damaged areas of Kaesong. Pyongyang has also given 300 tons of cement produced by Sangwon Cement Factory of Sangwon district as part of the rebuilding effort. On the other hand, this heavy rain in Kaesong destroyed cornfields, so it will be impossible to harvest corn in Kaesong and its surrounding farming villages such as Kaepoong County. They plowed over the flooded paddy fields and cornfields and planted vegetables such as Korean cabbage and daikon in order to make the most of the situation.

Pyongsung’s Spring Forest Fire Destroyed 28 Jungbo (units of area)
On July 12, the Ministry of Justice of Pyongsung City People’s Assembly, South Pyongan Province, analyzed that the area destroyed by a forest fire reached 28 Jungbo (about 910 ㎡) from April to June of this year. For example, a forest fire that broke out in Dongbook-ri, Pyongsung on the morning of May 27 suffocated and burned to death as many as 13 farmers. This area is forest conservancy that is close to residential areas, so protecting trees is very important. For the severe damage of materials and casualties, the Justice Department punished forest rangers with 3 to 6 months mining works without payment.

Catching Squid is in Seasonal Prime and Piracy Is Also at Its Peak
July 29, when a boat belonging to Gimchaek Steel Mill, Songpyong district, Chungjin, North Hwanghae Province, returned from catching squids, pirates attacked and robbed the boat. They robbed the boat of its fishing nets, batteries, tools, and all the squid on board. The robbed boat was out of gas and drifted out to sea until it was rescued around 4 o’clock of the next day, July 30, by a boat of Urang Fisheries Enterprise. Since last year, there were about 120 reported piracies in the sea around Chungjin and Rajin. Furthermore, they have an unprecedently good harvest of squid in this year, so the piracy is at its peak. La, Geum-cheol (41) living by the sea of Chungjin said, “Scamps who do not like to work get together and go out to sea by carrying lethal weapons. They pretend to fish and all of a sudden catch the other boats. They kill people who resist and throw them to the sea, so most fishing boat give up their earnings when they encounter the piracy. Because it is not easy to survive, we experience all kinds of things.” In order to solve this problem, Chungjin has decided to locate a shooter on each boat from August.

Missing Fishermen Found Captive in Russia
The missing fishermen whose whereabouts were unknown until now since their disappearance on June 29 have reportedly been detained by Russia. This group of fishermen, who left their home town of Raksan-dong Chungarm District of Chungjin City in Hamgyong Province for a squid fishing expedition, was captured by Russian coast guards when it entered Russian sea. This latest news brought much relief for the family members of the fishermen who have agonized over uncertainty of their whereabouts. However, the family members are now faced with yet another apprehension for their fishermen’s safe return since no definitive date is yet to be set.


Train collision at Jungju Station
On July 27, a train collision occurred at Jungju station located in Jungju County of North Pyongan Province. Fortunately, no civilians was hurt since it was a war victory memorial day (전승기념일), but this military freight train crash took the lives of three military personnel. A brake malfunction on the freight train carrying anthracite coal crashed into another haul freight filled with crops and derailed two of its cars carrying corn. The Jungju station train conductor, stationmaster, and the engineer from the freight train that caused the accident have resigned.



Increase in Deportation during Beijing Olympics
Many North Korean defectors, who have crossed the river into China, are being deported. Citing the need for heightening security and keeping social order in light of 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Chinese government has begun enforcing a track-down and deportation of defectors. As part of this massive hunt, the government has imposed a strict fine of 5,000 Wan to those who secretly provide shelter and/or subsidy ranging from 500 to 1,000 Wan to a defector. Also, it entices defectors with a promise of a safe residency as part of new human right’s effort and then arrests them when they come to apply for the residency. The North Korean authorities have deployed its security guards in the national border area to launch an intense investigation with the Chinese.

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North Korea Today No. 194

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No. 194 August 2008
Nampo City, 35 Farmers Die in Farms within 3 Months
Jungbongni Farm, 32 People Died During the Spring Lean Season
28 Farmers Died in Hukgyori Farm
Hospital in Jangyeon County, 70% of Death Certificates Belong to Farmers
Spring Lean Season, 70% of Deaths in Haeju Farmers, this year
Farm Workers in Kangsuh County Die of Grass Poisoning

Nampo City, 35 Farmers Die in Farms within 3 Months
The number of farmers who lost their lives this year from April to June in Taesungri (Currently included in the Kangsuh district of the Nampo Special city), Ryongang County, North Pyongan Province, is reaching 35. The individuals who lost their lives were greatly affected by the food shortage and died after suffering from severe malnutrition. This farm suffered from an unproductive harvest last year and was only able to provide its farmers with two months worth of food supplies. The number of casualties rose during the spring period of farming hardships, but stopped during July when the limited amount of the new harvest was released. However, with the start of August, reports of deaths are beginning to appear once again. After a death was reported on August 3rd, four more deaths were recorded by August 13th.

The Taesungri farm is the farm that the Dear Leader Kim Il-Song and the Chairman Kim Jong-Il has visited numerous times to show how to farm in person and this is the farm where he met the Great Patriot Taesung Granny. Currently, the farm is a Model farm, which makes it the object of much attention from the military. Because of this, the workers on this farm are not able to avoid military enforcement and not report to work, even if they are weakened to such an extent that they cannot work. As a farm that was the birthplace of a patriot and is a model farm, if workers do not report to work, the unit foreman and even the unit secretary go out to find and bring the workers to the farm. As of right now in August, the farmers continue to starve because of the food shortage, but have no option other than to report to work because of orders that say “Even if you are going to faint, report to the fields and faint there. It’s ok even if you can’t work, but make sure you report to the fields.” There are accounts that farmers in serious weakened conditions report to the fields, only to sit there the whole day before returning home.

Jungbongni Farm, 32 People Died During the Spring Lean Season
During the spring Period of Hardship from April to June of this year, 32 people were reported to have died at the Jungbongni Farm located in Shingye County, North Hwanghae Province. This individuals who work on this farm, which suffered severe food shortages from the beginning of this year, began eating greens like mugwort, mulberry leaves, and lettuce to stave off their hunger, but suffered greatly when grass poisoning began to spread. The faces of the afflicted individuals swelled and when the poison spread, different parts of their bodies became inflamed. The individuals were unable to find proper medication or receive proper treatment at hospitals because there was no proper medication and died painfully. At the Chihari farm in Pangyo County, Kangwon Province, 29 workers were reported to have died.

28 Farmers Died in Hukgyori Farm
At a farm located in Hukgyori farm in Hwangju County, North Hwanghae Province, 28 workers died during the Spring Hardship Period (춘궁기). Last year, this farm was only able to distribute three months of rations to its workers for the entire year, which caused many farmers to say “If they continue giving us food rations like this, how do they expect us to live?” Upon hearing this, the workers in charge of the food distribution went so far as to lie to the farmers in an effort to settle them and told them that “For the time being, if you accept the 3 month rations, you will receive more rations from the government once it has instituted a new foodstuffs policy.” Following these assurances however, no new food distributions were made, and after the farmers suffered immensely after running out of food in spring. Some farmers even borrowed 1kg of maize after promising to repay the loan with 5kg of maize in the fall. Even though it is currently August and unripe maize is becoming available, most people can only dream of eating maize rice, and at best, can only subsist on grass porridge a little maize mixed in. After realizing that the promises made by the food distribution workers were lies, statements such as “they made us starve with lies, resulted costing so many lives” can be heard and reflect the deteriorating atmosphere. The workers who are in charge of food distribution do not have to worry about eating porridge even when food supplies are low. Because of this increasing gap in lifestyle between these workers and farmers, the complaints issued by farmers are increasing.

Hospital in Jangyeon County, 70% of Death Certificates Belong to Farmers
Upon the death of a farmer or a farm worker, the individual’s family must formally declare the incident and receive a death certificate from the hospital, but in the region of Jangyeon County, it has been revealed that roughly 70% of the deaths are of farmers and farm workers. According to one official, “The number of people who have died in 2008 has visibly increased compared to 2007. The people who died this year usually died of starvation because of food hardships, or were ill because they couldn’t eat, and farmers constituted most of the death. If you look at the family members who come to pick up the death certificates, you can see many people who also look like they are close to death because of malnutrition.”

Spring Lean Season, 70% of Deaths in Haeju Farmers, this year
It has been revealed that even in the city of Haeju, South Hwanghae Province, farmers accounted for 70% of the people who died. Compared to last year, the total number of deaths has slightly increased, but the percentage of farm workers who died is considerably high. One citizen said, “I heard that the death rate in Haeju this year is around 1.4%. However, the death rate for farmers is about 5 times this amount. More farmers are dying right now than they did during the Arduous March. I wonder if the flood damage last year, which led to the suspension of food rations to farmers, didn’t cause this current situation,” and continued that farmers are currently facing the direst conditions.

Farm Workers in Kangsuh County Die of Grass Poisoning
The number of farm workers from Jamjini, Kansuh County, South Pyongan Province who died from April to June due to grass poisoning currently stands at 6, and there is an additional 8 people who suffer from the same conditions. People who are afflicted with grass poisoning suffer deep injuries when the inflammation spreads to their faces and bursts, but the condition is readily treatable with the proper medication. However, most of the people who suffer from grass poisoning are poor and don’t have the money to buy medicine, and these people usually die while trying to suffer through their condition. The farmers visit their local farm clinics to ask the doctors to help them, but the doctors can do little more than administer some tranquilizers.

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North Korea Today No. 193

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No. 193 August 2008

Productivity Hits Bottom at the 2.8 Vinalon United Enterprise
Gas Leak Incident at 2.8 Vinalon United Enterprise
Arguments over Trading of Scrap Metal with Food at Iron Mine in Euiju County
Production Difficulties at Bookchang Thermal Power plant due to Absentee Workers
Only Two Work Units at Danchun Magnesite Factory Are in Operation
More Than Three Quarters of Absentee Workers are Unexcused at Forestation Office in Yeonsa County

Productivity Hits Bottom at the 2.8 Vinalon United Enterprise
Operation almost came to a halt at the 2.8 Vinalon United Enterprise in Hamheung, South Hamgyong Province. Only carbide and gas are being produced at this point, but that too will stop within a month. The officials at the united enterprise are not doing anything about absent workers because they are unable to provide food rations for them even if they do come to work. In fact, in June the workers were given 10-day vacations. Nowadays, with a small fee of 500 wons (NK won) the absences are tolerated. Since there isn’t any work or pay even if there is work, the officials feel that the workers should be allowed to do things on their own to try and make a living.



Gas Leak Incident at 2.8 Vinalon United Enterprise
On July 16, there was a gas leak from a gas tank at 2.8 Vinalon United Enterprise in Hamheung, South Hamgyong Province. Two workers at the equipment room died of suffocation from gas and four women in the preparation room fell unconscious. The police arrested the two workers, who caused the gas-leak, immediately.

Arguments over Trading of Scrap Metal with Food at Iron Mine in Euiju County
Recently, 10kg of scrap metal was traded with 1kg of ground wheat in Dukhyun iron mine in Euiju County, North Pyongan Province, and each worker received 3kg of ground wheat. However, some of the machines that were sold were still useful. This started an argument between the managers of the mine and the Support bureau and the party secretary. The party secretary claimed that useful machines that need a little bit of repair were sold for wheat. The mine manager and the Support bureau managers fiercely defended their actions saying, “It is easy for you to say that because you are in the comfortable position of supervising in the back. Hasn’t it been already too long since we were able to give out food rations? Can’t you see the workers suffering from lack of food?” In the mean time, the factory police arrested the scrap metal traders from Sinuiju, and confiscated all the scrap metal and ground wheat. Because taking the parts of good machines to trade with wheat is illegal, all perpetrators caught will be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

Production Difficulties at Bookchang Thermal Power plant due to Absentee Workers
Heavy absenteeism at the Bookchang County thermal power plant in South Pyongan Province is starting to affect daily production. About 80% of its workers are not from the local area, so discharged soldiers in good physical conditions have been placed here. There is no assistance from the Bookchang County party, which is the local party. They do not have a subsidiary business either. Therefore, no help is available locally when they are out of food. Many workers left for other regions to get help from their hometown or from relatives when food ran out due to severe food shortage this year. As more and more people leave the area for similar reasons, the party secretary and the manager declared this time that they would prosecute those who fail to show up to work unexcused for more than two months. Not giving a second thought to the announcement, the workers are still refusing to come out of their house asking, “Why do they want to force us to stay when it only makes us suffer?” Many other workers simply took their entire families left to go back to their hometowns to live with their parents.

When those families arrive at their hometown, the local registration office advises them to return to the Bookchang thermal power plant region where they are registered residents, but this request simply goes in one ear and out the other. No matter how difficult it is to deal with the harassment, they have a better chance for survival staying in their hometown where they have some land available for farming. The power plant officials are also trying to bring the workers back with harassment and threats, but the workers are standing firm in their disposition. The Bookchang thermal power plant has the reputation of ‘the largest thermal power plant in the republic.’ However, the workers’ morale is so low the reputation has lost its meaning.

Only Two Work Units at Danchun Magnesite Factory Are in Operation
Currently, there are only two work units in operation at the Danchun magnesite factory in Danchun, South Hamgyong Province. Workers in non-operating units are not even showing up to work anymore because one, there is no work to be done and two, because they know that there is no pay to be earned whether they work or not. Those workers must try to make ends meet by working odd jobs like loading and unloading freights for private home construction companies. If these types of jobs are not even available, the foremans at the non-operational work units tell the workers to pay 400 won and take a vacation day. The money collected in this way is used to purchase more material for the factory. In May and June, many workers stayed home from work due to the famine and many missed meals. Thanks to newly harvested grain from private farms, that phase has passed. Today everyone is at least able to eat 2 meals of porridge.

More Than Three Quarters of Absentee Workers are Unexcused at Forestation Office in Yeonsa County
There are 42 employees at Forestation office (조림사업소) in Yeonsa County of North Hamgyong Province including the party secretary and the officials. Ever since the intense food shortage this year only about 7-8 workers showed up to work on average for the past few months with only a hand full of days when more than 10 workers were present. More than thirty people are already out to look for other means of sustenance such as lot farming or starting a small business. The office manager and the party secretary are visiting the workers and threatening to either fire them or send them to training centers if they do not show up to work, but these threats are going unheeded. And now due to a recent announcement from the central party that the Forestation Division Chief will be visiting the area for an inspection the harassment has turned to pleadings. The party secretary and the office manager are often found visiting homes of former workers in the middle of the night to beg them to show up to work.

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North Korea Today No. 192

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No. 189 August 2008
Haeju City, "Don't stop giving porridge to children”
Haeju City Admitted the Homeless Children to Elementary School
Increase in the Adult Homeless in Wonsan City
About 20 Permanent Homeless at Soonam Market of Chungjin City
The Homeless at Ranam market, Chungjin Have Arisen Due To Food Scarcity of Last Spring
In Gimchaek, the Adult Homeless Settled Around Train Stations
Eunduk County, the number of Homeless has increased to 15 for 2 Months
Residents in Sapo District, Hamheung, “the homeless became so because they hate to work”
In Heungnam, the Elderly Homeless Enrolled In Nursing Homes

Haeju City, "Don't stop giving porridge to children”
Haeju city of South Hwanghae Province commanded the City Party and administrative government officials of the elementary school "provide porridge to children, even in light of the food shortage." The city had been providing children food by turning its food supply from the construction shock troop brigade (건설돌격대) of Mt. Baekdu to support the bureau of elementary schools. Elementary schools in Haeju City are providing three meals a day. The food is a mixture of wheat and corn in a ratio of 7 to 3 and amount of the food is a little less than the provisions. Vegetables and Korean cabbage soup are served as side dishes. Residents of the city are pleased with the news and grateful to Party's decision saying, "I cannot stop crying due to Party's thoughtful care for our children at this difficult time."

Haeju City Admitted the Homeless Children to Elementary School
South Hwanghae Province has commanded government officials of the school "to take good cares of children who have no parents." Haeju city admitted 28 homeless children (kkotjebis) who came to the homeless shelter (꽃제비구제소) to the elementary school and those children were arranged to each grade according to their ages. Government officials of the City Party personally participated at the entrance ceremony to celebrate homeless children’s’ entrance into the school. The officials gave the children the necessities of life and encouraged them saying, "Although you do not have home and parents, you should endure the difficulties and study hard to become workers who render devoted service to General Kim Il-Song. Special lunch was also provided to the children.

Increase in the Adult Homeless in Wonsan City
Since last May and June, the number of adult homeless has been increasing in Wonsan City, Kangwon province. At present, the number of adult homeless who have steadily appeared has doubled from 4 or 5 to about 10. It is hard to figure out how many homeless there are because they usually come in from somewhere and leave the city during the night. However, the homeless who have constantly showed up since last May have been wandering around Wonsan station, car and bus parking lots and market without disappearing.

About 20 Permanent Homeless at Soonam Market of Chungjin City
There are about 20 homeless who steadily appear at Soonam Market of Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province. 9 to 10 out of the homeless are juvenile at the age from 8 to 15. 7 to 8 of them are adult at the age from 20 to 40. One old homeless is wandering around the market and he is singing and begging in front of market shelf. A female homeless who lost her mind is also seen there.





The Homeless at Ranam market, Chungjin Have Arisen Due To Food Scarcity of Last Spring
When the food shortage was severe during the last spring, from April to June, the number of homeless in Ranam District of Chungjin City had increased. There are about 15 homeless people. 8 to 9 of them are young homeless and 5 to 6 are adult. According to young homeless, most of their parents died while them working for iron mills or sold their houses and left for the mountain or somewhere else due to the difficulty of obtaining food. Sarocheung (Socialist Working Youth League: SWYL) of the district was told "to seize the homeless and send them to the homeless shelters" by the party but disciplinary teams of SWYL say that it is useless because they escape soon.

In Gimchaek, the Adult Homeless Settled Around Train Stations
In Gimchaek, North Hamkyong, the residing homeless usually gather together around train stations. They intend to get some food dropped while being uploaded on trains. Especially, the adult homeless are quick. They act outside markets because they are not allowed to go inside the markets. The young homeless in groups of 10-12, and adults, by 5-6, and therefore, the longer residing homeless usually have stronger power than those less residing in particular regions.

Eunduk County, the number of Homeless has increased to 15 for 2 Months
In Eunduk, North Hamkyong, the number of homeless has increased to 15 for 2 months. There are about 9-10 minors and 5-6 adults. They are hanging around looking for food around markets. Meanwhile, in Hoeryong, Lee Soo-cheol (42) has become a homeless after he went broke. He is begging for food around markets, and people who know him feel pity for him. He was seen hanging around with the disabled homeless children for begging.

Residents in Sapo District, Hamheung, “the homeless became so because they hate to work”
Hamheung, South Hamkyong, has abundant the homeless people due to food shortage. In Sapo District, 10 or so the adult and minor homeless are regularly haunting around markets. However, residents are not sympathizing with the adult homeless while being so with minors. Cho Hak-cheol (48) deplored saying, “the adult homeless are corrupt people who can’t handle their food shortage. They are not disabled. I cannot understand them. It is enough to be bothered by the minor homeless.”

In Heungnam, the Elderly Homeless Enrolled In Nursing Homes
In Heungnam, South Hamkyong, the homeless in their 60s were forced to enroll in nursing homes by the police. In Heungnam, there are 9-10 minor homeless and 7-8 adult homeless including seniors. The senior homeless usually ran away from homes because of abuse from their children, or for fear of being a burden on them. However, even if they are enrolled in nursing home, it is still possible that they will run away soon due to the food shortage of the nursing homes.

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North Korea Today No. 191

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng

No. 191 August 2008
In Pyongyang City, Long Delays Affect Food Distribution
In Kangdong County, The Party Punishes Farmers for Gathering New Corn
In North Hamgyong Province, Food Distribution Only for a Select Few
In Eunduk County, Villagers Cope with Four Months of No Rations
Hoeryong City Suspends Food Distribution in August
In Heungnam City, Corn Distribution Limited to Teachers Only



In Pyongyang City, Long Delays Affect Food Distribution
This past July, Pyongyang City distributed 10-day rations of long grain rice(안남미), polished wheat (밀쌀) and crushed maize(짝옥수수;옥수수쌀) to residents in the center of the city. City officials had publically announced that they would distribute food in August. However, the distribution is still pending. People in the outskirts of the city have not received any rations since last month. Moreover, the stored food supplies have nearly run empty. City officials have ordered that residents should be guaranteed rations, but a majority of executives share the gloomy view that any guarantee is impossible unless the army also turns over some of its food to civilians.

In Kangdong County, The Party Punishes Farmers for Gathering New Corn
On Victory Day, July 27, some farm workers in Kangdong County, Pyongyang city, were reprimanded by the Military Party and Agriculture Management. The Party punished the workers for receiving maize that had been harvested early. Because of the floods of last year, the expected corn harvest has decreased dramatically, resulting in rations of at most three months and 15 days for farmers. Many farmers suffered from side effects caused by toxins in the grass they eat or malnutrition due to drawn-out periods of starvation. As the number of farmers unable to come to work has decreased, managers have made a strenuous effort to come up with a solution, such as serving porridge for lunch. Farmers have been grateful for the lunch, but the shortage goes on during the current early harvest period.

These days, stealing handfuls of maize on the way home from work has become an ordinary scene in daily life. During the July 27 holiday, farms provided the early-cropped corn seeds gathered from barren fields to their desperate farmers. However, The Military Party has severally reprimanded the farm managers for not having consulted the Party before making the decision to release seeds.

In North Hamgyong Province, Food Distribution Only for a Select Few
As of August, food distribution in North Hamgyong Province is reserved for educators and health workers. The distribution priorities come from an order announced at a North Hamgyong Party Committee meeting. Meanwhile, deeper inside North Hamgyong Province, more teachers are absent due to the prolonged food crisis. North Hamgyong officials are seriously concerned that this absenteeism will place education in critical danger, which is why the Party decided to release food to teachers. Although the rations differ from county to county, most teachers and doctors have been provided with 15 days’ worth of baby potatoes for August. In order to provide rations to teachers, schools send students out to the farms to dig potatoes. On average, each teacher receives 30 kg of potatoes.

In Eunduk County, Villagers Cope with Four Months of No Rations
In Eunduk County, North Hamgyong Province, 10-day rations of potatoes were distributed to teachers and doctors. When it comes to the villagers not in a professional field, they have not received any rations since April. Only the munitions workshop of the July 7th public enterprise (7월7일기업소) distributed 7-day rations of 50 MT of polished wheat to its workers. Any food remaining after the distribution has been used at the factory cafeteria. Since the middle of August, noodles made from the mixed corn and wheat has been served to workers at lunch in the factory cafeteria. Meanwhile, due to the continuing food shortage, this year has seen a striking increase in the number of women leaving their homes to go to work. In addition, North Hamgyong Province reported a record high number of people trying to pass the national border by crossing the river.

Hoeryong City Suspends Food Distribution in August
Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province, has distributed a half-month’s ration of food to residents, distribution that is limited to schools and health departments. According to workers in the Local Food Administration Department (량정부), the city’s potato reserves cannot feed all of the residents. If there is any food left after the distribution to teachers and doctors, only then will it be given out to other residents. Low potato reserves at the farms mean that it will be difficult to decide what food can be given to residents.

In Heungnam City, Corn Distribution Limited to Teachers Only
Heungnam City, South Hamgyong, has issued an urgent order to the Local Food Administration Department of the City People’s Committee, instructing them to give early August rations to teachers only. In complying with the order, a half month’s ration of whole corn which had been saved as emergency food was distributed to teachers.

In Heungnam City, the long-term absentee rate among teachers was still high. In addition, there are many teachers who have retired early so that they may earn a living giving private lessons to the children of the wealthy or party officers. Ko, Hwa-soon, a 40-year-old middle school teacher, says, “starving teachers are so weak that they can’t afford to teach their students in the classroom. This order is a tough decision based on the belief that education for future generations should continue no matter how difficult the food crisis is. I am thankful for even a handful of corn in this hard situation.” Hwa-soon was deeply moved.

The Party Educational Department mentioned that the teachers’ attendance rate should increase as they receive their rations. The Education Department emphasized that educators should also improve their teaching ability.


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North Korea Today No. 190

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No. 190 August 2008
A Fire Accident at a Chemical Factory in Chungdan County
The Elderly Resort to Marketing Resale of Farm Produce
The Old Ask, “Should we die because we cannot Work?”
Soldiers Trying To Steal Are Weaker Than an Old Man
Having a Rest Day is a Big Celebration Event
Mrs. Kim’s Unlucky Encounter with a Security Guard
People’s Life Relying on Illegal Medical Services & Folk Remedies

A Fire Accident at a Chemical Factory in Chungdan County
Last July 15, around 8 o’clock in the evening, a fire broke out at a chemical factory in Chungdan County, South Hwanghae Province. After the methyl alcohol used to produce paint had been secured for the day, a security guard stole some of it and spilled it on the ground. The factory’s manager who did not know about the dropped chemical on the ground smoked, threw away the cigarette butt on the ground, and accidentally started the fire. The flames were so intense that nobody could even think of putting it out and all they could do was watch. The fire engines were called, but the fire station did not have enough fuel to operate the engines, so the fire trucks did not arrive on time. Because the chemical was highly flammable, it completely burned down the 2-story factory. The fire spread so rapidly that it burned the accounting office of the factory, the hall of the primary party, and the fire destroyed all the party documents. The police officers inspected the cause of fire and immediately immediately arrested the security guard who had tried to steal the methyl alcohol.

The Elderly Resort to Marketing Resale of Farm Produce
Lee, Jeong-sook (68) who lives in Mangyungdae, Pyongyang said, “Recently food shortage has worsened, so I have been a big burden on my son and daughter-in-law. I have not received any retirement pension, just a little amount of money, so old people like me, who do not have any incomes, are worried about their children’s moods. The traditional virtue of respecting old people and taking care of parents has disappeared. Because I am getting old and my physical condition is getting worse, I need to take medicine more often, but I cannot ask my children for help whenever I need. I am selling summer vegetables such as napa, cucumber, garlic that farmers have grown on their patches of land”.

Like Mrs. Lee, it is easy to observe anywhere in Pyongyang many old people who buy summer vegetables at nearing farms to re-sell them on a street stalls around a market or in front of apartment complex. Because they did not receive any official permit for the trade, police often inspect them. Some families receive public criticism because they did not take care of old people properly and the old people violated the regulation of trading. Some old people do not care about the inspections and continue the trades because they think, “Without selling these vegetables, we will get ill-treatment from our children.”

The Old Ask, “Should we die because we cannot Work?”
After harvesting new barley, Maejeong-ri, Bakcheon County, North Pyongan Province, distributed 3 kg of it per person according to the family size of a household. However, they did not give it to old people because they did not work. Thus, some old people complained about the decision, “Well, should we die because we cannot work?” This complaint was finally reported to the directive officers of the Central Party, so Chief of the Management Committee of the Li got fired and Secretary of the Li Party received punishment of the Party.


Soldiers Trying To Steal Are Weaker Than an Old Man
In Keumgang County, Kangwon province, starving soldiers often broke into peoples’
homes to steal rabbits and chicken and sometimes forced open a lock of a vacant house to steal food. Thus, when residents living around military bases go out, they put their chickens in a cage and hide food and rice in the ceiling of their room or bury them in urns underground. No matter how carefully they hide them, they worry a lot when they go out.

Last July, four soldiers came in to a house and said, “Let us have some water.” However, when they found that there is only one old man in his 60s in the house, they asked the man for food and searched the house. At this behavior, the old man got angry, grabbed two men by their collar, and smashed them on the ground by saying “What are you doing?” When he pushed another soldier on the ground and tried to grab the last, the soldier said, “Let’s get out” and ran away. Neighbors observed that even young soldiers cannot win over one old man and said, “Young soldiers in their prime time do not have any strength to compete an old man because they have not eaten for a long time. It is natural for them to be so weak because they do not eat well like us. We cannot curse only the soldiers because the young soldiers who could eat a horse can have only two meals a day. We can understand the reasons for their deeds.”

Having a Rest Day is a Big Celebration Event
The food factory workers in Yeonsa, the North Hamgyong Province, have continuously been forced in to the mobilization for farming and road repairs since for several months. To commemorate this special year marking the 60th Anniversary of DPRK’s founding and Supreme People’s Assembly members election, extensive repair work has been done throughout the nation. It pushed workers to work extremely hard. Eventually, this immense compulsory mobilization enrage workers because they faced food shortages and were required to stop their small private farming for the mobilization. Workers often say, “The year with a big national celebration event makes people’s poor life much more severe. Political celebration events are not held for us. A celebration day for us is to take a rest even for one day while staying at home or get some rationed rice to feed us. ”

Mrs. Kim’s Unlucky Encounter with a Security Guard
A few days ago at Yeonsa , North Hamgyong Province, a middle aged man came to Mrs. Kim Mi-hwa, who was selling clothes in the market, and asked for the price of pants he pick out . Though she replied it costs 5,000 won, he threw 3,000 Won at her with a rough manner, and then grabbed the pants to leave. Mrs. Kim took the pants from him saying “I can’t accept your price” and gave money back to him. As he left he said, “Don’t be stern to me, someday you will need my favor and I bet you will regret what you have done to me today”. Not much later, two security guards came up to her, singled her out, and demanded that she pack up and leave immediately. They took her to the market management office. They imposed a fine of 50,000 won on her unregistered trade. It is a rule that no one is allowed to sell any merchandise in this area except paying 50,000 won for a market space. She appealed to have the penalty waived saying “How can I afford such a penalty payment when I didn’t even sell anything yet”. So they asked her to buy them cigarettes. When she said she didn’t have the money to buy them cigarettes, they took her to a cigarette store asking the owner whether they knew her. As soon as they heard the owner knew her, they took four packs of cigarette costing 1500 Won per a pack and said that this woman will pay for them. She realized later that the very man who tries to buy her pants at a reduced price was one of the security guards. She said with a very grave face, “It is not my lucky day”.

People’s Life Relying on Illegal Medical Services & Folk Remedies
Around North Hwanghae, Kangwon and Jagang Province, people who suffer from some sorts of diseases such as a cold, diarrhea, dysentery, and headache are getting increased.Rather than people can afford to access to a medical treatment, there are more people to leave being ill with no medical treatment saving money or relying by practicing folk remedies. In accordance with this situation, some interns’ poor practice who hold an only intern license obtained after the air and correspondence college graduation was quite prevalent. Actually, they are interns in place of a doctor, but most of interns practice with barely learned injection skill. Without proper medical supplies, it is almost impossible for them to practice a proper medical treatment. People used to call them as “a maiden proxy doctor” due to the majority of unmarried young woman. They go a round to their clients around villages carrying with a syringe and general medication and visit a door to a door touting “We have a good medication. We charge 500 won for one time injection. With having no money, you can pay with maize ’’. Usually they charge 500 Won for one time injection and 1000 won for medication taking for a few days. So people prefer a maiden proxy doctor’s service because it costs less than a medical office and is convenient by their visiting


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North Korea Today No. 189

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
North Korea Today No. 189
Food prices going up again in August
Table of Rice Price in Three Major Cities from end of June to August 2, 2008
Chart of Rice Price Variation in Three Major Cities from end of June to August 2, 2008
Kaesong Asks the Military to Farm Flood-damaged Lands
Residents of Kaesong Suffering in the Downpour; “We will leave here when the winter comes.”
Exemption of Army Provisions in Seoheung County Due to Severe Flood Damage
Flooded Farming Fields Due to Heavy Rain in Pyonggang and Kimhwa County in Kangwon Province
[Opinion] The food Shortage for Farm Workers Must Be Urgently Dealt With.


(Image by Google earth)
Food prices going up again in August
Beginning in August, food prices began to rise again in the markets. This was because the food that came in from the outside was not as much as what the authorities had previously led the people to believe. Further, there was rumor among the import/export traders that even smuggled rice from China would not be allowed starting August. All these led to a one-day jump of from 200 to 300 won in prices. The authorities had previously announced that plenty of food would be coming into the country once June was gone. However, when rice merchants saw that not as much food as expected came in during July, they are holding on to their stocks and just raising the prices. In effect, the food merchants are in constant contacts with one another across different regions and coordinating the price increase.

Rice prices, which had gone up all the way to 4,000 won in late May, began to drop in June and stabilized around 2,500~2,700 won in July. As American food were being distributed in July, prices crept down to 2,300~2,400. However, when people realized that external aid was not enough, food prices began to jump again in large increments. For example, in Hoeryong, rice price was 2,400 won on July 31st and went up to 2,700 won on August 1st before going up to 3,000 the following day on August 2nd. In Hamheung City, rice price was 2,600 on July 31st and went up to 2,800 on August 1st and 3,050 on August 2nd.

Table of Rice Price in Three Major Cities from end of June to August 2, 2008
(unit: won/kg)

Chart of Rice Price Variation in Three Major Cities from end of June to August 2, 2008


Kaesong Asks the Military to Farm Flood-damaged Lands
The heavy rains on July 24~25th severely damaged the farmlands and destroyed the crops. Therefore, they brought in tractors to turn over the land and get ready to plant cabbages and radishes needed for the winter Gimchi-making season. The Kaesong authorities - judging that the farm collectives would have trouble working the flood-damaged lands because they have enough trouble currently making farm workers show up to work because of the acute food shortage situation – asked the local military based in the region to farm the land themselves and use whatever they harvest for their own use and also grow their own vegetables that they were supposed to receive from the local farming collectives. Local military, fully aware of the difficulties faced by local farm collectives, agreed. They agreed that the military would farm for their own food and only receive support from locals if necessary, so as to lessen pressure on the local farm collectives as much as possible.

When the local farms heard of the agreement, they replied, “it’s good that we are under less pressure for now, but we don’t know if this is good for the long-run.” Kim Jong-ae (43), who lives in Gaepoong County, said, “We understand that this decision was made because they realized that we couldn’t possibly fill the mandatory order to supply the military in our current situation. Since we cannot even make farm workers come to work, it is obvious that we could not do anything to grow the winter vegetables, so I heard that they decided to give the farmland to the factories and military to plant and grow on their own. Perhaps this is for the best. However, although this looks like the optimal solution for now, I really do not know what we are going to live on when now we will not even have anything over the winter. I understand that they tried to lighten the burden on us farm workers, but perhaps they should have forced us to farm the damaged farmlands so that we would something left over for the winter.”

Residents of Kaesong Suffering in the Downpour; “We will leave here when the winter comes.”
The residents of Kaesong and surrounding farm areas suffered great damages due to the heavy rains on August 2-3, on the heels of downpour in July. The farm workers who will have trouble with fall harvests are saying, “We will gather up as much food as possible during fall and go to another region over the winter to try to make a living as merchants or whatever.”

Ko Jung-nam (39) said, “The government didn’t compensate us for the rain damages at all. Many farms are so damaged that they will not be able to harvest even a single grain. I have no idea what we will do.” Although workers are not coming to work because the collectives don’t have any food to give them, the collectives are nevertheless trying to convince the farm workers to show up for work by promising them one-year’s worth of food. However, the farm workers won’t buy the promise, saying, “Don’t try to fool us with false promises because we won’t work if we see no effort to give us food or there isn’t enough to give us any.” Right now, they are weeding the fields of pebbles and sand. As soon as they are done, they will begin planting winter vegetables.

Exemption of Army Provisions in Seoheung County Due to Severe Flood Damage
The constant heavy rainfall in the farming villages has caused severe flood damages to 180 Jungbo of the rice field (about 441 acres) and 80 Jungbo of the cornfields (about 196 acres) in Seoheung County of the North Hwanghae Province. The army authorities say that the severely damaged farms will not have to provide army provisions or pork to support the People’s Army. They plan to collect the crops from the least damaged farms to distribute to the farm workers.

Flooded Farming Fields Due to Heavy Rain in Pyonggang and Kimhwa County in Kangwon Province
On August 2nd and 3rd, the heavy rain that was pouring all across North Korea brought flood damage to both Pyonggang and Kimhwa Counties in the Kwangwon Province. The Kangwon Province, mostly made up of infertile mountainous areas, needs farmlands more than any other province. However, the heavy rain almost destroyed approximately 200 Jungbo (about 490 acres) of farmland in Pyonggang County making it almost impossible to harvest anything from there. After a week, the water has drained but the damage to crops is severe due to the run over of sand and gravel all over the farmlands. The cornfields have also been severely flooded, making it difficult to glean the grains. The few ears of gleaned corn kernels are in such a condition that they are too smelly to eat. However, it was decided that whatever grain can be gathered will be to be distributed to the farm workers.

[Opinion] The food Shortage for Farm Workers Must Be Urgently Dealt With.
Anything more than 80mm per day of rain is terms to be a downpour. This past July 24th, regions that include Kaesong and parts of South Hwanghae Province, experienced more than 100mm of average daily rainfall. From August 2-3, 27 regions throughout North Korea experienced another downpour. North Korean reports say that some regions experienced more than 300mm of rain.

Flood damage has now become an inevitable part of life in North Korea. Flood damage control measures such as planting trees in the denuded hills, refurbishing dikes, and shoring up levees must be started with utmost effort. But even more importantly, it is critical that the farm workers, who have lost their will and energy, are rejuvenated.

Farm workers have been surviving through the hardship season, ever since spring, by going out to the field and mountains and gathering up grass and roots to eat. July, with the first crops and external aid, seemed more hopeful. But the floods came again without fail and swept away whatever harvests they had been waiting for.

Although they might bring in hundreds of other workers from factories, schools, and army to farm, the experienced hands of a farmer are an essential ingredient to a successful growing season. The food shortage for farmers must be resolved so that the farmers can focus on farming again. Food should be distributed to the farmers on a priority basis and encourage them to farm private plots so that they are given the resources to take care of themselves first and foremost. Like in Seoheung County, obligatory remission of pork and military rations should be forgiven so that the farm workers would not have to bear so many burdens. We must remember that the farmers must work in order to increase any food production.
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North Korea Today No.188

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No. 188 August 2008

Sinchun
County Crops Harmed by Pesticides
Fertilizer Agent Sells Confisticated Fertilizer

Workers Rejoice after Cancellation of Labor Mobilization

Euiju
County
Farmers Report to Work Only to Eat Lunch
Nampo Army Training Camp’s “Ground Corn-cob Meal”

Ingye-ri Farmers’ Life of Sharecropping

To the Families of the
County Party Officials, “Stop Lying through Your Teeth”
Ranam Mining Machinery Factory Workers Farming on the Side




Sinchun
County Crops Harmed by Pesticides
In farms in Myongsuk-ri of Sinchun County, South Hwanghae, insects have caused extensive damage to this year’s crops. After having sprayed agricultural chemicals on rice plants, they soon became yellow and died. Sinchun County asked for an explanation from the Microbiology Institute at Pyongsung Science Academy, which manufactured the pesticides. The Institute’s researchers have not yet responded to the investigation. With no way to stop the damage to their crops, farm members and the Ri (village) Party are forced to just sit and watch their rice plants die.



Fertilizer Agent Sells Confisticated Fertilizer

The price of fertilizer has risen during the corn-planting season, from 1,100 won per kg to its current price of 1,400 won per kg. The fertilizer trade has been managed by the government, but this year, farmers are trying to purchase it on their own because private small farming (소토지 농사) has become the only way to survive. In every region, Fertilizer agents (비료 단속원) are confisticating fertilizer as soon as they discover private sellers. However, it is said some agents are selling the confisticated fertilizer, which annoys the people whose fertilizer has been confiscated.

Workers Rejoice after Cancellation of Labor Mobilization
On the morning of July 18th, hundreds of workers, members of Democratic Women’s Union (DWU;녀맹) and students who have been mobilized for farming were waiting for the train to leave from Moosan Station in North Hamgyong. Power outages prevented the train from leaving. People said to one another: “I hope it will rain today,” “I am already hungry even though it is before 10 AM,” and “I hope the power doesn’t come back for the rest of the day.” Around noon, some governmental official came out and told them today’s labor mobilization had been cancelled. The gathered workers cheered and even gave out a hurrah. Some students went so far as to dance with excitement. They said that the day was one of the rare joyful days in the year and returned home with big smiles.

Euiju County Farmers Report to Work Only to Eat Lunch
It is commonly said that workers at farms in Euiju County, North Pyongan only go to work for their lunch. However, the farms have seen many workers not come to work because of the food shortage. Due to the lack of labor, the farms decided to provide corn noodles (옥수수 국수) for lunch. Since the decision to provide food, workers have started coming back to the farm, as it is hard to survive on nothing but grass porridge at home. Farm workers said that if not for the lunch, they would not come to work.

Nampo Army Training Camp’s “Ground Corn-cob Meal”
91 Army Training Camp located in Dojee-ri (도지리) of Nampo City, South Pyongan Province has been feeding its trainees two meals (breakfast and dinner) a day. Each meal consists of a ground corn-cob meal with 30% of corn-husks mixed in along with a salt soup and salted cabbage pieces. Army soldiers are complaining that they do not even have enough energy to work on the tanks.

Ingye-ri Farmers’ Life of Sharecropping
Many farmers living in Ingye-ri of Hoeryong, a city in North Hamkyong Province, have stopped going to work at the town community farm since the food ran out. Instead, many have been working at the private small farming fields of several well off households to eat breakfast and lunch, and to get paid with 2 kg of whole corn. Hakpo farm in Hoeryong has also run out of food, and are seeing more of its farmers doing some form of sharecropping (소작농). Though Hoeryong is the only other city other than Pyongyang and Kaesong where Public Distribution System (PDS) is available, the food shortage is making the farmers’ lives there (not unlike other places) very difficult.

To the Families of the County Party Officials, “Stop Lying through Your Teeth”
The factory workers of Gilju County in North Hamkyong Province are expressing their frustration publically saying, “They abuse us as if we were no better than common prisoners in Re-education Center(교화소) or Labor Discipline Center(노동단련대).” Their frustration comes from that fact that no matter how hard they work, they are unable to get their immediate needs met. Thus, when they see that all the bureaucrats (the factory managers, Secretary of the Party, and the County Party officials) and their families are eating and living well without a worry, they cannot help feel anger and resentment.

Kim Jong-hwa (51) points out, “They (the bureaucrats and their families) must’ve sensed the hatred from the common people. Sometime ago, they made a County Party Work Unit made up of the party officials’ wives to show the common people that they are just like us. Since they always had plenty, they never used to come out to Family Work Unit; but now many of the wives are coming out to work there. We know that this is just a façade and that they are taking all the harvested vegetables and grains, and even pork and goat milk to be distributed among themselves. We all work together; but it is only them who get to eat the fruit of our labor. So, how are they our equal? I wish they would just stop lying through their teeth



Ranam Mining Machinery Factory Workers Farming on the Side

A machinery factory in Ranam District of Chungjin City,
South Hamkyong, has not been able to pay its workers. Instead, they were each assigned to a small bean field and told that they would be paid according to the success of the harvest in the fall. Last year, a worker was paid 10 kg of beans for a month’s work. As of now, only about 10 workers are working in the bean fields. The rest are either absent without excuse or have invested their last bit of income to try and make a living squid fishing.

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North Korea Today No.187

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No. 187 August 2008

In Wonsan, On Average, One Kkotjebi Child Dies Every Day
Gimchaek Steel Mill sets up a fence to block Kkotjebi from coming inside
Do not Waste Time with Inspections, Find a Solution for Kkotjebis

Police Officers Aid Kkotjebis in Theft
Children Placed in Orphanage by Their Own Parents
Severe Punishment for
Yeonsa County Middle School Students
Teachers in
Yeonsa County Given Time Off to Pick the Grass
“It is heartbreaking to see kids from other families go to school”

In Wonsan, On Average, One Kkotjebi Child Dies Every Day

Many residents of Wonsan City survive on corn porridge. Some organizations and public enterprises try to provide their employees with some rations of potatoes grown on their own plots of land, but a majority of the employees have yet to receive anything. A situation like this in the largest city in Kangwon Province provides a good indication of the situation elsewhere in the province. As the children living nearby have been gathering in Wonsan, the situation in the large city has deteriorated. Kkotjebis (homeless children) continue to beg for any food items. It has been claimed that Kangwon Province is suffering the worst food crisis in the nation, but as of yet no food supplies have arrived there from the United States.


The lingering food crisis in Wonsan has led to the daily appearance of dead Kkotjebis in the marketplace. A city official commented, “We have not counted them in detail, but it seems that an average of one dead Kkotjebi a day is found. Kkotjebis fight amongst themselves for small amounts of food, the smaller and the weaker children get pushed aside and go hungry. Kkotjebis are getting more organized, those who do not belong to any group are pushed aside and eventually lose the battle to survive.”

Gimchaek Steel Mill sets up a fence to block Kkotjebi from coming inside
An ash treatment plant of Gimchaek Steel Mill (
김책제철소), located in the Songpyong District of Chungjin City of North Hamgyong Province, has been used as a sleeping place for groups of Kkotjebis. This year, there was a huge increase in the number of Kkotjebis, which pressured Gimchaek Steel Mill to prevent them from living at the plant. Problems arise as the Kkotjebis have been stealing coals and coke from steel mills. As a response, the steel mill built a four-meter high wall to keep Kkotjebis from coming inside. After the walls were raised, Kkotjebis were unable to get inside the ash treatment area.

Do not Waste Time with Inspections, Find a Solution for Kkotjebis
The Central Party of Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province is planning a month-long inspection for the public status of
the Anti-Socialist Activities. The new inspection plan, as it comes immediately after an inspection into the economic status, has elicited many complaints from residents. The residents complain, “If the authorities have time for an inspection, they had better spend it figuring out solutions for Kkotjebis. The inspections are only causing difficulties for those residents trying to make a living. What is the use of inspections when they ignore the number of Kkotjebis?”

The Dongsang-dong District of Sinuiju has a Kkotjebi relief center. The center does not deserve to be called a relief center, a more appropriate name would be concentration camp. The young Kkotjebis are not allowed to go out of the center and they are provided only one meal a day. Three children died this past June and two more died in July. Many older children end up fleeing the center because of the horrible situation. The City of Sinuiju collects goods in the name of helping the Kkotjebi children, but nothing has reached the children yet. Many residents believe that the authorities need to pay attention to finding a way to deliver the goods to the Kkotjebi children rather than inspections.

Police Officers Aid Kkotjebis in Theft
As the food crisis worsens, the number of Kkotjebis has increased throughout the country. More wanderers and Kkotjebis have appeared at Wonsan Station in particular. These wanderers and Kkotjebis beg or pick the pockets of train passengers for survival. Once in a while, some Wons
police officers aid and abet these wanderers and Kkotjebis in their theft. The police officers send signals to them when the trains are about to arrive. Then the Kkotjebis pick the pockets of the passengers in the confusion of the crowd or steal other things. They have to offer more than half of the valuable spoils to the officers, otherwise they are arrested for theft. These Kkotjebis move freely under the protection of the officers. Occasionally, when some Kkotjebis are in danger of being arrested by other officers ignorant of the arrangement, those policemen are moved to other stations.

Children Placed in Orphanage by Their Own Parents

The orphanages and nurseries located in Pyonghwa-dong, Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province have recently seen an increase in the number of children newly admitted. The increase is an indication that new orphans and abandoned children have become more commonplace, which has become a problem for orphanages. Nowadays, many parents leave their own children at orphanages because they can no longer take care of them. In early June, a mother brought a child and asked the orphanage, “Please take care of this child abandoned at the station” then the mother left.

Ham Mi-hwa (33) sighed, “Such a horrible situation that drives parents to do a thing like this! The parents want to come to the orphanage to get their children back when things get better. But will that day come?”

According to Ham, when the children who are cared for at the orphanages reach middle school age, many run away because of the horrible situation and the lack of freedom. Many of the children at orphanages cannot stand more than two years and eventually the orphanages are left with only those who are physically disabled. There are too many younger children in orphanages and too few middle schoolers.

Severe Punishment for Yeonsa County Middle School Students
A middle school in Yeonsa County, North Pyongan Province has been suggesting that each student pay a sum of five thousand won for repairs to the school buildings and old furniture. Parents of the students are against the idea, saying, “Our survival is at stake under the food crisis. Five thousand won is not a meaningless amount.” With no students responding, the school authorities made the suggestion that the payments may be made in small installments or in kind, with roofing tiles, lumber or lime powder, etc. Consequently, around ten students attempted to remove roofing tiles from a house that used to be a military watchpost. Even though the house has not been in use for a long time, the soldiers arrested them as thieves. Male students were beaten severely and female students were forced to work for half a day on the plot of fields run by the soldiers. The students were embarrassed, saying, “We didn’t have any money. We did not know where to get it. We were really pressured.” The teachers did not try to scold the students.

Teachers in Yeonsa County Given Time Off to Pick the Grass
Schools in Yeonsa County are having a hard time because of the food shortage. Recently, teachers made a request to the elementary schools, stating, “We can’t go to work and teach until we resolve the food shortage problem. Please shorten the afternoon working hours and give us time to pick the grass.”
In response, the principal allowed teachers and staff to go pick the grass three times a week in the afternoon.

“It is heartbreaking to see kids from other families go to school”
The family of Baek Myong-sun (41), who works at the fish selling center (
물고기판매소) of Fisheries Department (수산성) in Wonsan City of Kangwon Province, are struggling to make enough money to survive. The fish selling center is not a reliable employer because goods are only available once or twice a year, during festive seasons. Ms. Baek’s husband was honorably discharged from the military after he was injured. Last year, her husband received money from the military, money that was not provided again this year. Baek, with her seventeen-year-old daughter, makes some sweet beverages with saccharine and food colors. The mother sells her product for 10 Won per cup. She buys the ground Korean-style popcorn (펑펑이가루) and licorice (쇠투리;감초) and made some gruel with them. Her family members make their meals with those products. Ms. Baek has already become used to starving and is able to endure her own hunger. However, she feels terrible about her daughter, who helps her mother sell drinks. She says, “My heart is torn out when I see kids from other families go to school while my daughter is out selling sweet drinks. I just feel sorry for not taking responsibility as a parent. There was a better time when I sent my daughter to school, commuted to work by myself, and received food. Now, I am not sure when those times will come again.” Her daughter, walking with short quick steps, seemed to be busy encouraging passengers to buy sweet drinks, ignorant of her mother’s worries.

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