GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

.

North Korea Today No. 253

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
[Weekely Newsletter] No.253 November 2008

[Hot Topics] Wealthy Citizens Buy Up Grain to Prepare for the Food Crisis Next Year
[Food] Kaesong , “Please lower the army provisions”
[Politics]
- Man Tries to Cross Border into South Korea to See His Brothers
- Farm's Leading Secretary of Eunduk County , Discharged from Hoarding Food Secretly
- A Rumor That People Who Escaped into South Korea Were Caught Is False
- Officials' Distress, “Due to non-tax contribution, being the official is difficult”
- Prohibition on the Use of Chinese VCR
[Economy]
- Increasing Complaints over the Rise of the Winter Gimjang Salt Price
- Increase in Peddling as Strict Market Controls Are Enforced
[Women/Children/Education]
- An Elder Homeless Girl (Kkotjebi Sister) Faints at the News of the Death of Her Younger Sister
- I Want To Get Married With the Money I Make From a Few Years of Rope Making
[Society]
- Many Have Been Arrested for Cursing at the Country
- Family Stops a Father from Committing Suicide
- Word on the Street: “Gotta have an offspring in Government to glean fields”
[Accidents] A Ship Sinks Off the Sinpo Shore Due To High Winds
[Commentary] Coming Soon!
[Planning a Series] Reading North Korea 2008 Through “ North Korea ’s Nationwide Report”
In North Korea 2008, What Was Accomplished and What Was Not?
Part 1 Review of New Year’s Combined Editorial 2008

[Hot Topics] Wealthy Citizens Buy Up Grain to Prepare For the Food Crisis Next Year
In Pyongsung City, South Pyongan Province, the wealthy (돈주들) have bought grain including corns and tofu peas in bunches with the anticipation of a continued food crisis in next year. People who have been selling manufactured goods and used bicycles in the market are also buying and storing grain. These people are expecting difficult times in the market due to increased patrols and future competition from others seeking to buy grain. On the other hand, people who only make scant profits by selling food, vegetables, or noodles cannot even dream of buying large amounts of grain.

Residents expect the market price of corn to go up to 1,500 NK won per kg in next spring from the current price of 800-900 NK won per kg. Rich people are storing grain and waiting for prices to go up, whereas poor people are waiting for them to go down.

Kim Cheol-joo (44), who makes frequent trips between Pyongsung and Soonam Market in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province to sell goods by wholesale, explained what foreign food support means for poor people in North Korea: “The wealthy who buy and store grain in large amounts are hit badly when the foreign food support comes in. That is because their profits decrease when the market prices decrease. On the other hand, for the general population, foreign food support means the difference between life and death.

[Food] Kaesong, “Please lower the army provisions”
As the collection of the army provisions increased in November, farmers in Kaesong City have requested that the City Party and the Farming Management Commission lower the amount of grains needed for the army provisions. “If the army takes the entire harvest from this year, what do farmers have to eat and seed next year? Please lower the military collection amount.” After the collection, the remaining amount for the farmers may not even be 4 months worth of food. Farmers claimed that their food situation would be extremely bad if even the 4 months of worth was cut into by government collectors. The City Party of Kaesong, as with all other City Parties, said that “we cannot lower the amount that’s sent to the armies just because farmers go hungry a little.”

[Politics]
- Man Tries to Cross Border into South Korea to See His Brothers
- Farm's Leading Secretary of Eunduk County, Discharged from Hoarding Food Secretly
- A Rumor That People Who Escaped into South Korea Were Caught Is False
- Officials' Distress, “Due to non-tax contribution, being the official is difficult”
- Prohibition on the Use of Chinese VCR


Man Tries to Cross Border into South Korea to See His Brothers
Kim Yong-geun (age 80) who is from Haeju City, South Hwanghae Province, has a dispersed family. He left his brothers at Yeosoo, South Jeonra Province in South Korea. He wishes to meet his family at least one time before he dies. However, due to the food shortage problem, his livelihood has become serious. Therefore, he decided to escape North Korea and went up to near the national borderline with all his family: his son, daughter-in-law, grandson etc. He stayed at his youngest son's place in Moosan Country, North Hamgyong Province. Because of expensive cost of crossing the river, they stayed there longer than planned. The National Security Agency of Moosan County suspected them and brought them in for a hearing. Because they found that Kim's family tried to cross the river, the family was sent to the police station. Kim cried out loud saying, “It will be impossible to see my brothers' faces again before I die.” Those who watched him cry had tears in their eyes also.

Farm's Leading Secretary of Eunduk County, Discharged from Hoarding Food Secretly
An official of Booryong County, North Hamgyong Province was discharged from his job as the leading secretary of a model farm in Eunduk County. It was less than a year since he acquired this position. He was released from office due to hoarding food for personal purpose and he degenerated into labor of daily necessary-factory. With this news, residents of Booryong Country felt sorry for him saying, “Other secretaries had no trouble with 6-7 years of hoarding but he ruined himself by attempting to take too much in the most difficult times.” Farmer Ham Mi-hwa (age 45) said that the fact that people feel sorry for him does not mean that hoarding food is right, but “it is like an old saying, 'Men are blind in their own causes.' People feel sorry that someone from Booryong County is being dismissed in a time like this, when it is hard to find people with a sense of morality.”

A Rumor That People Who Escaped into South Korea Were Caught Is False
On October 30, a worker, who belongs to Bangjin-dong Fisheries Enterprise of Chungarm District, Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, disappeared with all his family. There was a rough guess that he escaped to South Korea since a barge was missing. Officers of the Police bureau asked his relatives and friends and started the pretrial interrogation process. Not long later, there was a rumor that some people who tried to leave the country were arrested. People who know the situation say that it is a false rumor and the party spread the rumor to stop people from being affected and attempting to escape themselves.

Officials' Distress, “Due to non-tax contribution, being the official is difficult”, “It is worse than being a worker”, “Being a party member does not guarantee food.”
Officials of Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, are annoyed because of the order of the upper party that they should support the construction of the Samsoo power plant. Officials say, “It is hard to tell workers who are suffering from food shortage problems to contribute non-tax payments. There are too many pretexts to demand extra contributions, which makes us feel sorry for workers.

Park Jong-geun (age 41) exposed hold-up he has to gather non-tax payments saying, “Lately it is very difficult to be an official at the factory or enterprise. Sometimes I think it is worse than being a worker.” He also says that mobilizing labor is a difficult problem. From November 1, Chungjin City ordered every factory and enterprise to send 2 workers to the construction of Samsoo power plant. Up to now, workers of the factory and enterprise took turns doing labor mobilization for half a year. But the problem is that many of the workers failed to tolerate the work and instead came back, running away from the scene. Workers who came back from the mobilization try not to go to the construction site because of the intense labor with unsuitable food. Whenever this kind of thing happens, it is the officials of the factory-party committee who are blamed Park said, “We propagate that people who work for three years at the construction site will become a party member but it does not help. Workers just laugh but nobody volunteers.” Lee Kang-cheol (age 31), a worker of the factory said, “Workers always talk about it saying, “who wants to work in the hell for three years to become a party member at this time? Does party membership give food or clothes?'”

Prohibition on the Use of Chinese VCR
North Korean Authorities banned the sale of a Chinese VCR at the market and also restricted the use of the VCR, which was imported after October, 2005. On October 29, when security guards visited every single house and checked for TV and VCRs, they confiscated them all, except ones that are registered before October 2005. People, who bought them after that time gave the security guards some money and put their items on the list just like they were registered before October 2005.

[Economy]
- Increasing Complaints over the Rise of the Winter Gimjang Salt Price
- Increase in Peddling as Strict Market Controls Are Enforced


Increasing Complaints over the Rise of the Winter Gimjang Salt Price
The distribution of the salt for Gimjang (김장)* this fall has begun in each Province. In September, the residents of Bookchung County in the South Hamgyong Province paid 350 NK Won for a kilogram of salt. However, the salt price has gone up to 400 NK Won per kilogram due to the increasing loss of salt during the transportation. As a result, the residents are being asked for 50 more NK Won per kilogram. Since the salt is badly needed, the residents have no other option but to pay more money.

Han Gap-sook (age 40) protests, “Although the salt store should be a government-run non profit store, the store owners are busy with pursuing profits under the guise of being a “public company” and are selling the salt at high prices.”

*Gimjang (김장): preparing a large amount of Gimchi for winter consumption.

Increase in Peddling as Strict Market Controls Are Enforced
In Pyongyang, the number of peddlers has increased after the government started a program of intensive control over businesses in the market. The peddlers lay out their fabric bundles in the corners of alleyways and run away quickly when they hear of control officers coming their way. One time, when someone joked that the officers were coming, the peddlers hurriedly gathered their items, bumping into each other and falling upon the ground. The scene soon became a mess. When they knew that it was just a joke, some fell unconscious from exhaustion or cursed loudly and came back to their business spots. Hwang Mi-sook (age 28), who watched all of these happenings from the beginning, laughed in despondency, saying, “In the future, this kind of incident will continue in the alleyways. Since this kind of incident occurs even in Pyongyang, we do not have to say what will be happening in other counties and cities.” Jang Hye-young (age 31) laments that, “It would be really great for common people, like me, if the government would consider our current difficult economic situations. Instead, what the government does is strictly control this kind of peddling. It is a pitiful situation to try to sell something to live, sent running in fear from a simple joke! I really hope that the authorities understand this situation.”

[Women/Children/Education]
- An Elder Homeless Girl (Kkotjebi Sister) Faints at the News of the Death of Her Younger Sister
- I Want To Get Married With the Money I Make From a Few Years of Rope Making


An Elder Homeless Girl (Kkotjebi Sister) Faints at the News of the Death of Her Younger Sister
Last November 2, a homeless (Kkotjebi) girl starved to death at Sinyang Station, South Pyongan Province. Beside her dead body, a girl who seemed to be about 12 years old was crying. The crying girl was an elder sister of the dead child.

To find their parents, the elder sister wandered about from station to station with her younger sister. Her father was sent to Re-education center for stealing a cow. Her mother went to China after leaving the children in the care of her relatives. But she was deported last year and was sent to the Re-education center as well.

Until the end of last year, the girls’ relatives, even though begrudgingly, allowed the girls to stay and eat with them while their mother was sending money but soon forced the girls out when the money stopped coming. The girls thought that they could meet their parents if they visited the Re-education center by themselves since they were only ten-year-old young kids. However, their travel was harsher than they had imagined.

After enduring much suffering, they went to the Jeungsan Re-education center where their mother was incarcerated. However, they could not meet with her because the center did not allow young children to meet with inmates.

With nowhere to go and barely alive from hunger, the girls stumbled to the Sinyang Station where the younger child eventually died of starvation. While holding the already stiff body of her younger sister, a poor girl cried so hard that passers-by and even the passengers on the train stopped and gathered with sympathetic ears for the girl’s story.

As more people gathered, the crowd became noisier which incited the police officers to disperse the crowd and take the crying child and her dead sister away. The authorities buried the younger sister and sent the elder sister to a Relief Institution for Kkotjebis.

I Want To Get Married With the Money I Make From a Few Years of Rope Making
Similar to their married female workers, unmarried women are in the habit of putting their names on the official work roster at their company while working on their part time jobs. From the beginning of November, the Euhhang-dong, Soonam District of Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province is seeing an increase in the number of young women working part time to make sandfish nets and ropes. Although men and women of all ages of every household are taking on this part time job, this is proving especially profitable to young women given their nimble, skillful hands.

Song, Hyang-yi (19) who just recently graduated from her middle school has been submitting 15,000 NK Won to her company to miss work because she thought that she could make more money through this part-time job.

Miss Song confidently said, “If I work for a couple of years, I was told that I would be able to buy things like a TV, a VCR, an audio recorder, a bicycle, etc.” She described how young women who did not take on a part-time job and just went to work were barely able to buy beddings for their weddings.

Miss Song’s mother also agreed with her daughter saying, “Lately, if young ladies just go to work, they cannot save enough money for their wedding.” Jeong Geum-oak who is a member of Democratic Women’s Union said, “The reason why every young woman prefers a part-time job to a regular-desk job is not to get married well, but to feed themselves. Indeed, many women do not want to go to work because they cannot survive if they go to only their regular jobs without having part-time jobs.”

In this context, Youth Union has intensified inspections, but the number of women who go to work in name only and have part-time jobs is increasing.

[Society]
- Many Have Been Arrested for Cursing at the Country
- Family Stops a Father from Committing Suicide- Word on the Street: “Gotta have an offspring in Government to glean fields”

Many Have Been arrested for Cursing at the Country, “It feels good to not have to worry about what I’m saying here in the mountains”, "Only if I could eat white rice and beef meat soup before dying”….

Although they often do not have enough to eat, one couple is very satisfied with their life farming in the mountain in Daehongdan County, Ryanggang Province. The husband Park Sung-duk (51) said “We have to watch our P's and Q's when we live with a lot of people. But we are now in the middle of the mountains. It is not necessary to mind whatever I say here." When asked what kinds of things he says that he would not be able to say in a more crowded neighborhood, he replied, "Nothing in particular.” However, continued with “I was told that in China, even farmers use machinery for their work but here in Chosun, we are still stuck in primitive times depending only on human labor for farming. When will we ever develop as much as China? It will take forever for our county to get to where China is today. Things like this I would not be able to say if I were living elsewhere. I have heard that many people who live below the mountains have been arrested because they blamed and criticized the government out loud but because I live above all that I don't have to watch everything I say." His wife, while lamenting, "If only I could eat white rice and beef soup until my stomach was full before I died, I’d have no other wants. I am worried about how we will get through this winter season,” also laughingly commented, “but it is easy for us to get firewood and we saved more grains than usual this year for the winter. Next to having enough food, peace of mind is the best thing.”

Family Stops a Father from Committing Suicide
Hwang Hyuk (age 14), who lives in Sinyang County, South Pyongan Province is still shaken from his father’s recent suicide attempt. His father who has been suffering from high blood pressure for more than two years tried to commit suicide after falling victim to fraud by relatives. At his young age he is uncertain of the details, but it was around mid October when he noticed his parents troubled by their relatives from Nampo. Not long after the relatives returned home his father tried to kill himself by drinking poison. Fortunately, his mother who had came home from the small patch lot earlier than usual that day asked him, "What are you drinking?" and took the poison away sparing him from fatal injury. After making sure that her husband was safe she cried, "Our children are still alive. How can you do this?" Hyuk and his brothers all heard their mother’s cry and rushed to the scene. They held their father and the whole family broke out into tears. Hyuk cried and said, “I never imagined that my father could commit suicide. I don’t know about others, but I cannot comprehend how my father tried to abandon us like that”. Hyuk’s father replied in pain,” I realize that I have to live for the sake of my children; however, I still don’t know how we’re going to survive. I lost the crops that I have worked to grow all summer to my relatives. Now, beginning next year we are not even allowed to farm on a small patch lot. I don’t know how I am going to feed my family”.

Word on the Street: “Gotta have an offspring in Government to glean fields”

Townspeople from a farming village near Jungju City in North Pyongan Province, are talking a great deal about a certain couple whose son is the chief of police in a substation. Thanks to their son, the couple has been avoiding all labor-intensive tasks in the Fall Farming Mobilization. With an excuse of ill health, they only do the easiest jobs like gleaning a field. However, instead of picking up all the leftover grains, they were seen cutting some of the stalks off from bunches of rice stalks and putting them in their backpacks, thus finishing their day early. Even knowing about this, those who are in charge of the farm cannot say anything because of the couple’s son. In the past, even when they worked only on their private small patch lot farming (소토지 농사), farm management committee (농장관리위원회) and Division Party did not stop or reprimand them. The neighbors resent the couple, but only have this sarcastic remark to make about the current state of affairs: “What can we do. If you are envious of them, you should’ve had an offspring who is high up in the government.”

[Accidents]
A Ship Sinks Off the Sinpo Shore Due To High Winds

On October 28, in Sinpo City, South Hamgyong Province, fishing ships of a Fishery Enterprise (수산사업소) and a support division (후방부) of the 8th Bureau (8총국) sunk after meeting with heavy winds on the sea. There were no survivors. Some of the bodies washed into the shore in Hamheung city during the first week of November. From this news, the families of the victims and the fisheries enterprise have been searching neighboring seashores for the remaining victims. The Ministry of Fishery consoled the families of the victims by offering them an arirang TV.

[Commentary] Coming Soon!

[Planning a Series] Reading North Korea 2008 Through “North Korea’s Nationwide Report”
In North Korea 2008, What Was Accomplished and What Was Not?

Part 1 Review of New Year’s Combined Editorial 2008
Part 2 Executive Plan on New Year’s Editorial 2008
Part 3 Making Distinction from Lee Myung-bak Regime
Part 4 Warnings against Moral Hazards by Party Leaders
Part 5 Food Crisis, To Break Through? Or To Persuade?
Part 6 Love and Hate toward United States
Part 7 What North Korea Could Accomplish; What North Korea Could Not Accomplish;

Part 1: Review of New Year’s Combined Editorial 2008
This time of year, Good Friends aims to review and assess national accomplishments. It is a time to review how the year’s worth of plans were executed, what was accomplished, and what was not accomplished. Overall, North Korea has been facing controversies surrounding the nuclear issue. Internationally, North Korea succeeded in having its name removed from the list of ‘designated state sponsors of terrorism’ by the United States in October. Domestically, however, worsening food crisis, more severe than last year, has put North Koreans in a more vulnerable situation for survival.

The United States will have a new government headed by Democrat President-Elect Obama in the New Year, and the political situation on the Korean peninsula centering around the North Korean nuclear issue remains uncertain. The World Food Program warns that the dangers caused by the food crisis will continue to exist without external aid.

Before attempting to predict what might happen in 2009, “Good Friends” feels that it is necessary to review what the North Korean government planned, what has been accomplished, and what was left undone. Consequently, North Korea Today will attempt to investigate what the North Korean government paid the most attention to and compare its actions to our New Year’s Editorial 2008 and the North Korea’s Nationwide Report.

Why Do We Review New Year’s Combined Editorial?

Since 1995 the North Korean government announces its “State of the Nation” through New Year’s Combined Editorial instead of Annual New Year’s Speech. During the month of December, New Year’s National Goals and Principles on the National Plan are announced. In response, 2.16 Group writes New Year’s Editorial and has it published on the newspapers, including the Party Reports(Rodong Shinmun), the Military Reports(Korean People’s Army), and the Youth Reports(청년 전위) on New Year’s Day.

The New Year’s Editorial mainly deals with decisions concerning political, economic, military, cultural affairs and policy toward South Korea.

The significance of the North Korea’s New Year’s Editorial is huge because it is the only method the supreme leader of the nation uses as propaganda toward the outside world and as an educational tool domestically. When reading the New Year’s Editorial, one should pay the most attention to what modifiers are used, where the core emphasis is placed and what new words are used, etc, other than the content itself.

For example, New Year’s Combined Editorial 2007 states “This year is the 40th anniversary of Great Leader’s historical 5.25 Instruction and the Party’s instruction on ideology should be enhanced.” What is new in this Editorial is that 5.25 Instruction was emphasized as never before. 5.25 Instruction was the policy of the late Chairman, Kim Il-Song. He used it to purge his political enemies and strengthen his base, in the name of preserving the roots of the revolution of 1967. What the mention of 5.25 Instruction indicated on its 40th anniversary in 2007 was to declare war. Declaration of war was directed toward the party leaders and some elite groups who were involved in anti-socialist and luxurious life styles and corruption. The declaration of war also indicated a pre-warning that punishment of ‘release from their positions, prison sentences including capital punishment’ will follow as a consequence of the complete review of the situation.

Accordingly, in the year 2007, more thorough inspections were conducted on the anti-socialist groups, Central Prosecutor’s Office, Security Agencies and party leaders of other agencies. As a result, public executions were carried out on those leaders including President of Leungra 8.8 Company of Yonsa, Manager of Soonchun Stone Processing Plant, President of Soonchun Vinalon Factory and other workers in trading industry and economics field.

Peculiarities of New Year’s Combined Editorial 2008

Year of ‘Transformation’


What was peculiar in the Combined Editorial 2008 and how did it progress? First of all, “the high spirit of steep ascending directly to the top of the mountain, shown in New Year’s Editorial 2007” is toned down in the Editorial 2008. Titles differ. Editorial 2007 states, “With high level of confidence in victory, let’s open a booming era for military-first Chosun”, which promotes an aggressive forward-moving spirit. Editorial 2008, however, states, “This year is the 60th anniversary of foundation of the Republic. Let’s shine with a year of historical transformation, to be remembered long in the history of the Republic.” The tone has softened. What is to be noted in the title is the expression, “historical transformation.”

“Transformation” is interpreted to mean that the top of the mountain will not be scaled directly but it will be reached by going around the waist of the mountain. What “transformation” indicates is that the relationships with the outside world has improved as shown by 2.13 Agreement, and yet accomplishments are not up to what was planned. The other peculiarity was that ‘internal control within the system and protection of the leader by all means’ were intensely emphasized. This reveals the seriousness of the domestic crisis within North Korea. This year’s Combined Editorial emphasizes that the nation’s problems should be overcome by the ideological struggle based on the fundamentals of socialism.

Three Crises - Economic, Party and Military

North Korean authorities in the New Year’s Editorial point to three domestic crises; economic, party and military.

Economic crisis refers to the unsatisfactory accomplishment in 2007 when the Ministry of Electricity and the Ministry of Coal were separated and foreign funds were poured into the economic cabinet.

Even after the Park Bong-joo cabinet was replaced by the Kim Young-il cabinet, the problems in with electricity were paralyzing and no visible improvement.

The most serious is the problem food crisis in North Korea. The editorial states in length that there is no other desperate and important task than feeding the people at this time. The Editorial uses the words, “desperate” and “important” to emphasize the nation’s resolve to solve the food problem. However, their plans to solve the problem seem to remain unchanged. They just emphasize the farming of potato and soybean without providing any specific solution to the problems of lack of fertilizer and soil. This makes one feel that solutions to the food problem seem so remote.

Second, the party crisis refers to weakening of system of reporting unity from the Central Party to Provincial Party to City/County Party. All this happened because of the collapse in the central food rationing system, causing the County Party, City Party, and Provincial Party, each to act independently for its own survival. Consequently, control of the Central Party over the parties in the countryside has weakened. The Central Party continues to restore control by means of intense instructions and inspections against anti-socialist activities.

Lastly, this year’s Editorial mentions in length the military crisis without precedent and it indicates its seriousness. Internal discipline has become loose. There is a lack of unity in the chain of command and the orders are so confusing that it is hard to tell who commands whom. Even though the People’s Army encourage setting an example to create a spirit of patriotism among the people, the relationships between People’s Army and North Korean residents are becoming worse and worse since the March to the Hardship. Authorities have said, “Lets maintain a highly ‘agitated state’ and protect our socialist fatherland by all means.” They try to maintain the sense of urgency by using such word as “agitated state.” Highly ‘agitated state’ refers to a state of gun without safety pin and ready to fire.

Crisis Can Be Overcome By ‘Ideology Struggle’ Only, Pre-Warning of More Intense Market Control

What does North Korea think the solution is to overcome the three crises? North Korea emphasizes ‘ideology.’

“Today’s Forward March is Forward March by Ideology”, “Crush without mercy ideo-cultural invasion and psychological warfare by the reactionary enemy”, “Core of spiritual strength of our People’s Army lies in protection of our leader by all means”

All the above statements claim that establishing a strong nation requires strengthening the struggle for ideology and rejecting all that goes against socialism. Here lies the understanding that an open-door policy will lead to collapse. Also, here lies the hidden intent to control the markets because the authorities believe the markets are not where socialism demands them to be.

Relationship between North and South Koreas with Emphasis of “Among Ourselves” - A Little Hope toward Lee Myung-bak Regime

Domestically, the North Korean government presented solutions for the three crises. Internationally, what was their intention in the relationship with South Korea? The North Korean government did not show any preference toward the new government in South Korea. They praised highly the 6.15 Common Declaration, emphasized “Among Ourselves” policy and hoped the new South Korean government will inherit the policies of Kim Dae-jung and No Moo-hyun regimes.

Their statement, “6.15 Principle is an important factor in transforming the great task of unifying the fatherland to a new level” shows that they believe the 6.15 Principle to be an historical event in the unification of the two Koreas. As expected, 6.15 Principle plays an important role to hold the South Korean government responsible for hardening the relationship between the two countries. It should be recognized that the perspective of the North Korean government is quite different from that of the South. Domestic propaganda by the North Korean government states, “President Kim Dae-jung came to surrender” shows why they so highly praise 6.15 Common Declaration. Their emphasis, “Among Ourselves” also provides a quite different perspective from that of South Korea. If the South Korean government suggests that travel without any restrictions between the two countries is the way to accomplish the intent of genuine “Among Ourselves” principle, would the North Korean government agree to it? North-South relationship is so important that it will be reintroduced through reviewing the North Korea’s Nationwide Report published in April, 2008.

The Nationwide Report states, “Let everyone join in the struggle to accomplish the aggressive tasks announced in this year’s Combined Editorial.

On our next issue, a detailed review will be provided on what the specific plans are in the New Year’s Editorial.”

North Korea Today No. 252

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No.252 November 2008
Editor’s Note
“North Korea Today”, published by “Good Friends”, increased its publications from ‘once a week’ to ‘twice a week’ as the food crisis worsened during the first half of this year. Since May 20, 2008, however, a sense of urgency in the need to spread news about the food crisis resulted in an increase in its publication to ‘five times a week’.

Now, Good Friends feel that reducing the number of issues back to ‘once a week’ is warranted. No. 252 (Korean edition, Wed, Nov 12) is the first publication on this schedule. We promise to bring you the live voices of the residents of North Korea as quickly as possible. In addition, we will try our best so that our readers will understand the scenarios in context of the North Korean society. In these efforts, we seek the support of all the readers.

Farmers at Ryongpo-ri, City of Jungju Farms Sustain Themselves with Potatoes
Only Those Who Participated in the Mobilization Allowed to Collect Leftover Grain Ears
Sale of Winter Clothing Much Less Than Last Year
Quarrel Between Police and Female Shopkeepers at Market
Good Chinese Cabbage Is Released at the Market to Raise Funds for Farming Management Commission
Residents of Baekarm County, Charged for Stealing Rice Sheaves
A Threshing Floor of Tongchun County, Kangwon Province Is Robbed Four Times in Ten Days
Farms in Kangwon Province, Protect Grains from Soldiers with All Their Might
Population Decrease in Every Local Area
Yeonsa County, Registration for Small Patch Lot Begins
Education Authorities Emphasize On Improved Control over Teenagers’ Hair and Dress Codes
Sinuiju Criticized for Harsh Punishment on a Student Caught Smoking
Son-In-Law Kills His Father-In-Law after Intense Debate over South Korea
Farmers at Ryongpo-ri, City of Jungju Farms Sustain Themselves with Potatoes
Each person at farms in Ryongpo-ri, City of Jungju is rationed six potatoes, twice a day, and ten pieces of boiled chestnuts in between. This area, a rural village, is low in population density. There are only fifteen children in the nursery and kindergarten in the village altogether. Nowadays, only five to six children show up since lunch is no longer being served. Even the soldiers trying to collect chestnuts in the area look pitifully thin. The farmers in this area are waiting anxiously for their food rations even though they do not expect much.

Only Those Who Participated in the Mobilization Allowed to Collect Leftover Grain Ears
Shingye County, North Hwanghae Province restricts the residents from collecting leftover grain ears. Police authorities check persons hanging around near the farms and confiscate any grain ears found in their possession. Their rationale is that anyone who can find time pick up leftovers should spend more time in the farm mobilization. Anyone who desires to glean should register their names at the farm management commission. Only those who can prove to have worked on the farm are allowed to gather leftovers in the afternoon.

In a similar fashion, Booryong County, North Hamgyung Province issued instructions that the residents are allowed to search for remaining grain ears after their work at the farms. After these instructions, the workers deliberately dropped bundles of grain ears here and there during their work shifts so that they can claim to pick up the leftovers later.

Sale of Winter Clothing Much Less Than Last Year

According to Kim Sun-hwa (41) who deals in used clothing at Haeju City, South Hwanghae Province, business is much worse this year than last year. Last year, the markets were already crowded with people trying to buy winter clothing early November. Even though the weather turned cold sooner this year, there are not many people who want to buy winter clothing. She looked sad, saying that business is considered good if one piece of clothing is sold a day. Goh Jeom-rye (47), who wholesales fish in Chungjin, North Hamgyung Province, says he cannot afford gasoline for the truck because of the low level of business. Since the end of October, even though amount of fish caught in Chungjin was plentiful, better than any previous year, nobody wants to buy it. Goh says a fish usually costs 600 NK Won. It cost 500 NK Won last year and an increase of 100 NK Won is nothing compared with the increase in grain price. Even so, nobody wants to buy it. When asked why, people say that they cannot afford fish and that they would rather buy corn. Everyone seems to be afraid of spending money on anything else but grain because of the food crisis.

Quarrel Between Police and Female Shopkeepers at Market
City of Pyongyang set a policy that Pyongyang should be a model in market management and have consequently control over the city markets have been tightened. On October 26, at Dangsang-dong market, Mangyungdae District of Pyongyang, a quarrel started between female shopkeepers and police. Several physically handicapped female shopkeepers were fined 1,000 NK Won each and their merchandise was confiscated, and these women did not cooperate with the police. These women tried to hold back the merchandise in their arms and grab the pants of the policemen in an effort to keep them from leaving. The policemen ended up kicking the faces of those women resulting in bloody wounds.

Other women spectators, just watching what was happening, got upset and tried attack the policemen. These policemen who tried to leave with confiscated merchandise seem to be really confused. The policemen ended up with their clothes torn apart and bloody injuries themselves. Dangsang-dong office later held a lecture session on ‘fight for ideology’ with those handicapped shopkeepers and the women who helped the handicapped against the police.

Good Chinese Cabbage Is Released at the Market to Raise Funds for Farming Management Commission
Every farm in the nation has been busy raising funds. Since October 23rd, 1.5 million NK won (approximately US$440.00) has been raised for the Farming Management. Farms have released large, good quality Chinese cabbages (배추) at the market at a price of 200 NK won per kg. To raise the funds, they also sold other crops like corn tree to merchants. Thanks to the good vegetables with affordable prices, people are talking about the vegetable-abundance for this year.

On the other side, residents of Baechun County, Hwanghae Province have received 100 kg of vegetables, including dried radish leaves for every household in order to make Gimchi (김치). People are relieved that they do not have to worry like last year.

* US$1.00 is approximately 3,400 NK won

Residents of Baekarm County, Charged for Stealing Rice Sheaves
On October 18, workers of daily necessary-factory who were mobilized for the Fall harvest in Baekarm County of Ryanggang Province, found many rice sheaves were missing from what they had previously harvested, so they reported this to the farm. Police officers followed ears of rice that had fallen on the street and found about 30 rice sheaves in a storehouse placed at the entrance of the village. According to the house owner, he heard a door knocking sound early that morning and found three soldiers asking to exchange rice sheaves for food.

The owner tried to make them leave saying that he did not have any food. However, the soldiers were about to search inside of the house. He had no alternatives but to give wheat-gluten, Tobu and some food that he prepared to sell at the market. Soldiers left the rice sheaves in return. He said, “It was suspicious that soldiers carried rice sheaves so recklessly, so I was going to report this to the police station in the morning.” However, the officer said, “Knowing that rice sheaves should only be in a farm containing different grains, leaving the rice sheaves at home is the same as robbery.” Therefore they demanded one year of the Training Center.

A Threshing Floor of Tongchun County, Kangwon Province Is Robbed Four Times in Ten Days
In the middle of October, there were robberies four times in ten days at a threshing floor of Tongchun County, Kangwon Province. Soldiers brought a car and took beans, corn and rice sheaves into gunny bags and farm laborers could not stop them. The laborers begged the soldiers not to do it but the soldiers said, “Our food condition is too bad. Please help us.”

The farm guards could not consider fighting against the soldiers but tried to soothe them saying, “Why don’t you make a formal request to the Farm Management Committee (농장관리위원회) for food.” However, the soldiers scolded the guard saying, “There are movements of gathering rations first in other areas though. Why do you talk so much?” He then took all the grain. Police officers know all the situations but stand off soldier-related matters so only farmers have to worry for themselves.

Farms in Kangwon Province, Protect Grains from Soldiers with All Their Might
Every farm in Kangwon Province put all their efforts to protect the grain from soldiers. It is more difficult to farm in Kangwon Province because of the barren soil; therefore, grain is rare there. Naturally, the condition of rations in this area is worse than any other areas. As the number of soldiers who try to steal crops is increasing, farmers also strengthen their security so as not to be deprived of grain. Security on the threshing floor has been strengthened since the middle of October because each farm keeps their grain of beans and corn in the threshing floor. The regional party of Kangwon Province assigned 5-6 guards in every threshing floor and doubled the number of guards to 10-12 at night. Nevertheless, groups of soldiers rob them every time.

Population Decrease in Every Local Area
The census that has taken place recently shows the decrease of population in every area. So the National Women’s Union(전국 녀맹) and Youth Union(청년동맹) are giving lectures to young couples about how important it is “to have many children.” A woman, who has three children, will receive the certificate of fecund mom and a heroine title of motherhood if she has more than five children. Despite this effort to promote higher rates of childbirth, young women are negative about having babies saying, “Even with all the titles, I cannot afford to raise more children. I am struggling to raise one child.” Some women say that “in this bad financial situation, women are not responsible for the substantial decrease in the population. Instead the government, which failed to supply the food, should be blamed.”

Yeonsa County, Registration for Small Patch Lot Begins
Yeonsa County, North Hamgyong Province, began registering the size of each lot owned by the residents before implementing the prohibition of small patch lot farming next year according to the environmental-friendly policies. After receiving the size of the land areas, Department of National Land Management is taking an extra step by actually visiting the lots to check the accuracy of the information received. Then, the department ordered residents to start planting larch trees in the small patch lots. At hearing this, many residents are complaining saying, “These plots of land have meant life and death to our families. We can’t give them up so easily for such a vain purpose.”

Education Authorities Emphasize On Improved Control over Teenagers’ Hair and Dress Codes
Education departments in every province have ordered their respective cities and counties to improve control over hair and dress codes of teenagers. Following this order, Sinuiju City officials are searching out girls who have long hair and forcing them to cut it into a bob as well as prohibiting all girls from wearing high-heeled footwear. The boys are restricted to hair short enough to not be grabbed and are strictly prohibited from smoking and drinking. Furthermore, they warned that even students could be sent to teenage training centers if caught singing ‘unusual’ songs or dancing strangely. During teacher’s meetings, school officials emphasized “training students to watch our own movies and TV dramas.”

Sinuiju Criticized for Harsh Punishment on a Student Caught Smoking
A teacher in Sinuiju City, North Pyongan Province, is being criticized for doling out too harsh of a punishment to students caught smoking. On November 2, teacher Kim (47), who was trained to strengthen control over students’ behaviors, caught a 6th-grade in middle school student smoking in the school backyard. Kim beat these students in front of others and forced them to drink water after putting their cigarettes in it. After the beating and drinking the water with cigarettes in it, some students fainted and lost consciousness. While the students were urgently being taken to the hospital, the school warned Kim not to give such overly harsh punishments any more.

Son-In-Law Kills His Father-In-Law after Intense Debate over South Korea
On October 24, in Jungju City, Pyongan Province, Nam Sang-cheol (39) stabbed his father-in-law and ran away after an intense debate about South Korea. While drinking with his father-in-law for the first time in a long time, Nam became drunk and commented that South Korea is a democratic and developed country. His father-in-law, lecturer of politics, got very angry and told Nam to “never say such things again.” However, despite his wife’s effort to stop him, Nam kept saying, “Even if you are a member of the Labor Party, you have to know your facts right. Everyone knows that South Korea is a well recognized country in the world.” The father-in-law responded with, “I have to report you to the National Security Agency” and tried to leave the place. While the daughter was trying to calm her father, Nam brought a knife from the kitchen and stabbed his father-in-law. He was immediately taken to the hospital but soon died. Nam ran away from the scene and the National Security Agency ordered a search near the national border, suspecting Nam will flee to South Korea. At the same time, Nam’s family was taken somewhere and his home was destroyed overnight.

North Korea Today No. 251

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Korea Today No. 250

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No.250 October 2008
Editor’s Note
What I Have Lost Is Not a Hen, but People
Editor’s Note
“North Korea Today”, published by “Good Friends”, increased its publications from ‘once a week’ to ‘twice a week’ as the food crisis worsened during the first half of this year. Since May 20, 2008, however, a sense of urgency in the need to spread news about the food crisis resulted in an increase in its publication to ‘five times a week’.

Now, Good Friends feel that reducing the number of issues back to ‘once a week’ is warranted. No. 252 (Korean edition, Wed, Nov 12) will be the first publication on this schedule. We promise to bring you the live voices of the residents of North Korea as quickly as possible. In addition, we will try our best so that our readers will understand the scenarios in context of the North Korean society. In these efforts, we seek the support of all the readers.

Issue Numbers 250 (Korean edition, Mon. Nov 10) and 251 (Korean edition, Tue. Nov 11) carry the writings of North Korean children. The original writings have been edited in translation for easier comprehension.

What I Have Lost Is Not a Hen, but People
My parents and I live in a farm village in Jaeryong County, South Hwanghae Province. I am supposed to be a 1st-grade in middle school student, but I cannot afford to go to school since last year. We have three chickens in our house. I have to stay home all day and keep an eye on those chickens while my parents go to the mountains and the fields to collect grass. This year, there were so many thieves roaming around even during the daytime I had to stay vigil for the chickens. Thieve break in even when people are in the house as long as they see something to steal.

We have three hens that lay eggs in our house. One day, my father’s friend came to visit while I was watching the hens in the yard inside my house. I was alone in my house feeling bored. So I put the hens in the cage and played with my father’s friend. And then I fell asleep when my father’s friend left. I woke up when my parents came back because they were shouting and saying that one of the hens is missing. It was obvious that someone snatched the hen from the cage while I was sleeping. We make our livelihood out of the eggs those three hens lay, and the hen that was missing was the one which lays more eggs than the other two. So I could understand why my mother was scolding me. Then my father said, “If a thief did this all hens should be gone, but only one is missing. So whoever did this must be someone we know.” And he asked me if there was any visitor. I remembered that my father’s friend came by. So I told my father that his friend came to visit.

My father said, “I don’t know about other people, but I know that he is a person with innocent mind. So he could not have done that. It has been a while since I saw him ever since the factory closed. I wonder why he came to visit.” My mother said, “Still, we can’t trust anybody nowadays,” and suggested that we go over to his house and look. My mother insisted, “Let’s take a look at his house and ask him why he came by.” However, since my father refused to go, only my mother and I went.

The moment my mother and I entered the house we could smell the scent of steamed chicken in the house. My mother grabbed my father’s friend, using all kinds of abusive language, and said, “How could you do this? You are a friend and you stole the hen when a child was alone in the house. Let’s go to the police station.” I also stepped in and swore and even kicked and spilled the bowl right by his wife that contained cooked chicken.

While my mother was holding on to my father’s friend and shouting that we go to the police station, my father showed up, and tried to stop her. In front of my father’s friend who was kneeling down and begging for forgiveness my mother criticized him and asked for compensation. My father pushed her out of the house. So my mother got out of the house with me. I felt very sorry for my carelessness with the hen as I watched my mother so upset. Later that night my father came back home and told us that his friend came by to our house to borrow some food because he had no food for his ailing wife and ended up taking the hen. My father said, “Let’s forget about it since it’s already happened.” I fell asleep while hearing my mother complaining to my father “You can’t even protect your own stuff.”

A few days after the incident, my father went out when someone at the factory called him out. He came back late in the evening and did not say anything through the evening. Then, right before he went to bed, he told my mother that he attended the funeral of his friend’s wife at the factory. He told us that his friend had to live on grass porridge for more than 15 days even though it was during the harvest. So despite the shame he felt inside he came to our house to borrow some food and ended up doing such a thing. And he asked for forgiveness again.

After hearing the story I remembered that I kicked and spilled the chicken bowl and felt very regrettable. I could not sleep a wink throughout the night when I heard my mother saying,” How hurtful he must have felt inside.” A few days later, my father’s friend whose face was thin came to visit us with a young hen in his hands. He shed tears repeatedly saying, “I am sorry, I am sorry.” In the same evening he visited our house my father went out after being summoned again by a factory worker. He told me lather that his friend also passed away. I cried under the blanket all through the night. What I have lost is not a hen, but people.

North Korea Today No. 249

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Korea Today No. 248

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Korea Today No. 247

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No.247 October 2008
The Organization and Guidance Department Investigates the Loosening of Discipline among Members of the Democratic Women’s Union
Residents Turn a Critical Eye to the Inspection of the Defense Training System during the Busy Harvest Season
An Investigation on the Recipients of Social Welfare at the People’s Hospital in the North Hamgyong Province
As a Result of a Usury Investigation, Well-known Loan Sharking Brothers at Byeoksung County Arrested
North Hamgyong Province Is Intensifying their Investigation of Usurers

The Organization and Guidance Department Investigates the Loosening of Discipline among Members of the Democratic Women’s Union
Since October 15, Organization and Guidance Department (조직부) from the Central Party has been investigating all districts of Chungjin city in the North Hamgyong Province. The focus of the investigations is the members of the Democratic Women’s Union (DWU), Registration Departments and Labor Departments in each police station.

The members of the DWU have been the special focus of this investigation. Some DWU members have not been participating in the Union activities by bribing the Union officers because their business was their top priority. In the Chungarm District alone, they found that more than 30 percent of the women do not participate in Union activities. Even though women are registering to the Union to for form’s sake, some members are paying 5,000 NK Won a month to avoid Union activities. By doing this, they have time to run their business. The authorities are calling this kind of act “Anti-socialist” and have begun a strict investigation on it.

Residents Turn a Critical Eye to the Inspection of the Defense Training System during the Busy Harvest Season
Since October 21, the National Defense Committee of the Central Party started an intense inspection of the Civil Defense Training System in Yeonsa County in North Hamgyong Province. The purpose of this inspection is to ensure that the training system was running well and to check the building of the underground bomb shelter tunnel.

In the midst of the investigations, the Civilian Defense Department in the North Hamgyong has called upon the residents for emergency training sessions without notifying the National Defense Committee. The Department has also called the residents to repair the jail building and walls that are usually left unmaintained. The residents are complaining because they are being required to do all this work during the busy farming season. Since Ox carts are used to carry rocks and children are also called out to work because the lack of enough adult labor, the residents pour out criticism on the Department saying, “Even though nothing will change after this inspection, we have to do this work now just for formality’s sake.”

An Investigation on the Recipients of Social Welfare at the People’s Hospital in the North Hamgyong Province
In the North Hamgyong Province, the investigation, which mainly focuses on social welfare recipients, has been launched. There have been many cases where people are falsifying their medical certificates to get a long period of medical leave. In Yeonsa County, the head of the Preventive Medicine Department at the Second Hospital has been released from his position and arrested for providing falsified medical history certificates to several people for around 1,000,000 NK Won. His medical certificate has been away as well.

As a Result of a Usury Investigation, Well-known Loan Sharking Brothers at Byeoksung County Arrested
Jeong Cheol-soo and Jeong Cheol-hak brothers, well-known usurers at Byeoksung County, South Hwanghae Province, have been arrested by the Province Party as a result of an investigation. With money sent from relatives in China, Jeong Cheol-soo has become a loan shark by lending it out with an interest of about 20-30%. His younger brother, Jeong Cheol-hak, has joined his business since fall of 2006 and increased his assets by buying corn at 800 NK Won a kg and selling them at 1,100-1,200 NK Won the following spring. This spring, when the food shortage was very critical, he lent some people 50 kg of corn and received 150 kg back from them during this harvest season; he has made three times the profit by this illegal practice of usury.

Some residents who did not pay back the money have asked the County Party for help. However, the Jeong brothers who have maintained a good relationship with officials have not received any restraint from the authority. When people finally complained of this injustice to the Province Party, they arrested these brothers. The Province Party forfeited the Jeong brothers’ money and corn and distributed them to kindergarten and other schoolteachers of the province.

North Hamgyong Province Is Intensifying their Investigation of Usurers
The public prosecutors station of North Hamgyong Province is intensifying their investigations on loan sharks in each city and county amidst rising number of victims from October. The public prosecutors went to each area, gathered people in a public place such as school playgrounds, and warningly announced, “If you practice any usury or borrow money through it, we are going to forfeit the money.” They continuously threatened and stated, “When you pay back the debt, pay only principal. If you do not follow this order, you will receive a severe punishment.”

People who borrowed money from loan sharks still doubt the authority’s order will do any good. They are afraid that by paying back only the principle they will get on the wrong side of the loan sharks and not be able to borrow the next time there’s a food shortage. Lenders of food are also complaining about this order, “We did not have enough food, but we saved and lent it to receive as much as twice the amount.” Lee, Cheol-ho (38) living at Eunduk County complained, “When people starved to death, the country did not do anything for them. However, I lent them food that my family saved that they could have eaten themselves. Why is that wrong?”

North Korea Today No. 246

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No.246 October 2008
Hemp Sacks Forcibly Taken for Military Food Storage at the Market
Booryong County, Ordered Three Hemp Sacks for Military Food Storage
The Best Selling Footwear is Jihajok at the Harvesting Season
Coal Price Rising as Weather Gets Colder
Onsung County, Prohibition of People’s Coal Mining to Protect Farmlands


Hemp Sacks Forcibly Taken for Military Food Storage at the Market
On October 21, large amounts of hemp sacks were forcibly collected on a market day by the authorities of Jungju City in North Pyongan Province. In the busy market, there were many traders selling their hemp sacks for the harvest season. It is the best season of the year for them because people have much need for the sacks to use them for storage. Joo Mi-young (41) felt it was wrong to complain but said, “I spared effort in cleaning some dirty cement or fertile sacks, then drying them off and kept well to sell them out. On a market day I brought them to the market for sale, but the authorities forcibly collected all of them”. In reaction to the traders’ complaints, Security Authorities in Jungju City said dismissingly, “legally these sacks are not allowed for private property. Besides, we are under an urgent situation for rice sacks for military. It is your duty to support the army by granting your sacks voluntary.” The collected hemp sacks were piled on a small commercial vehicle.

Booryong County, Ordered Three Hemp Sacks for Military Food Storage
Booryong County in North Hamgyong has made an effort to fill orders for hemp sacks used for storing for military food. The authorities ordered factories, entrepreneurs and even schools to collect three hemp sacks per person. People were depressed and said, “It’s not just three bags. Each family is also involved in either a member of Democratic Women’s Union (DWU), or some students, others labors. Therefore a total allotted sacks is to be nine if one family has thee members of family.” Originally, three sacks per family had to be submitted but the total number of sacks consequently exceeds nine pieces because the order for bags was assigned for each workshop and unit. To comply with its allocation, people are having a difficult time meeting full allocation quotas. Some families provided their own sacks, which used to store their foodstuffs.

The Best Selling Footwear is Jihajok at the Harvesting Season
According to footwear traders of Booryong County in North Hamgyong Province,
Jihajok (지하족) is the best-selling shoes at the harvesting season. Jihajok is labor shoes made of fabrics for army wear during the non-combat season. Mainly being favored by farmers, it has became more popular for women who work on small patch lot farming and even students who are mobilized for farming on the harvesting season. Jihajok has some advantages. It costs less when comparing its price with other work shoes. Also the shoes are useful for farming because the shoes are not taken off easily and prevent dirt from entering the shoes. Nevertheless, Jihajok’ selling has been banned at the market due to military supply shortages. Shoes traders cannot put them on the market, so instead they illegally sell them to people who ask for them. In summer, it costs 3,500 NK Won for a pair of shoes due to its off-season, while during harvest season the prices come up to 5,000 NK Won for a pair of shoes.

Coal Price Rising as Weather Gets Colder
As it is getting colder in the end of October, coal price have gradually begun to rise to 9,000 NK Won from 6,000 NK Won a cart. The recent price increase rapidly makes up to 15,000 NK Won throughout Saebyul County, Eunduk County in North Hamgyong Province. Residents who make a living by mining for coal strive hard to mine coal with the significant rising of coal prices. Despite this, the rich families stock up heavily with coal ahead of the higher price for the winter, and therefore it causes further increase of price for coal. Coping with the difficulties, those who can’t afford to buy coal came up with a plan called “cooking share” as a mean of self –preservation, which is to take turns using a kitchen alternately for saving fuel with one house cooking for breakfast, then the other for dinner.

* US$1.00 is approximately 3,400 NK won.

Onsung County, Prohibition of People’s Coal Mining to Protect Farmlands
Land Management Office in Onsung County of North Hamgyong Province conducted to plug holes pitted by people’s coal mining. According to the authorities, damage of farmlands as well as destruction of environment was caused mainly due to the pits. Residents’ reaction to the authorities’ conduct of plugging pits caused outrage, “At this hard time when coal prices are raising, the authorities’ preposterous work makes our life push to the edge”. They added a remark cynically that the authorities should make more effort for food distribution if they have enough time to plug pits.

North Korea Today No. 245

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No.245 October 2008
Plenary Meeting, Provincial Party of South Hamgyong Province, Declares “Get Thoroughly Ready For World Wide Food Crisis”
Security Agencies, South Hamgyung Province Reinforce Punishments Regarding Thefts of Crop
Nation Wide Efforts to Secure Electricity Needed For Harvest
Residents Lament over the Policy, “Assure Military Provisions By All Means”
To Fire Leaders Who Fail To Accomplish Planned Military Provisions
Members of Hoeryong Democratic Women’s Sign Written Promise, “I Will Absolutely Not Steal Food”

Plenary Meeting, Provincial Party of South Hamgyong Province, Declares “Get Thoroughly Ready For World Wide Food Crisis”
On October 16, South Hamgyong Province held a plenary meeting attended by all the city and county party secretaries, chairmen of People’s Assemblies, chairmen of Farm Management Commission, heads of Security Agencies. Its main discussion topic was “We should get thoroughly ready for the world wide food crisis.” Items emphasized: Firstly, harvest should be done in such a manner that even a grain may not be wasted. Secondly, some party leaders tend to have big feasts for weddings and funerals. All the wasteful practices should be stopped and simple ceremonies should be observed. Thirdly, all the authorities in security matters should reinforce their efforts to protect food storage from thefts. All the farmers on guard duties should be selected among the honest and the faithful. They concluded the meeting with a resolution that preparation for next year’s agricultural activities should begin immediately.

Security Agencies, South Hamgyung Province Reinforce Punishments Regarding Thefts of Crop
All the regional authorities in security matters in South Hamgyong Province decided to reinforce the legal punishments concerning the security of the farms in response to the provincial plenary meeting. Police department of Hamju County repeatedly emphasized in its instructions to the farm guards that not even a grain should not be lost from the farms. Its instructions were that if any residents from Hamheung or other areas are caught stealing corn or rice plants, they should be expelled from the farms or sent to the training centers. The instructions threatened that if the culprit is a member of a farm, he would be sent to a discipline center, in addition to deducting 50 kg to 100 kg of food from the distribution to the farm. People whisper that these instructions merely indicate that the food situation is so serious and that next year’s situation seems so obvious.

Nation Wide Efforts to Secure Electricity Needed For Harvest
As part of nation wide efforts to secure the electricity for harvest, the electricity distribution has been temporarily suspended to all the institutions, enterprises and factories. On October 20, all the farms of Shingye County, North Hwanghae Province declared that the electric supply to all the factories, enterprises and institutions would be suspended in order to secure electricity needed for harvest for the time being.

Residents Lament over the Policy, “Assure Military Provisions By All Means”

General Bureau of Political Affairs of People’s Army submitted a report to the Central Party concerning the state of food supply in the nation on October 19. This report was assembled by the Rear Support Beureau of Ministry of People’s Armed Force. Upon receiving the report, Central Party issued the policy to “assure military provisions by all means this year. In response to the policy, all the county and city party secretaries and administration leaders passed a resolution that they will accomplish the apportioned military provisions under any circumstances even if the farmers may end up receiving less food.” This news disappointed many farmers and caused lamentations that their chances of survival seem so bleak. The farmers look worried over their survival during winter because they experience no better food situation even during the harvest season.

To Fire Leaders Who Fail To Accomplish Planned Military Provisions
It was the stern instructions from the provincial party that made all the county and city secretaries of South Pyongan Province show their enthusiasm toward accomplishing the planned military provisions. South Pyongan Province threatened that all the county and city party secretaries, chairmen of People’s Assemblies, chairmen of Farming Management Commission (농촌경영위원회) and managers of Farm Management Council (농장관리위원회) will be reviewed and criticized if they fail in accomplishing the planned military provisions. They will be fired if severity of failure is shown in the review process. South Pyongan Province repeatedly emphasized that all the county and city parties should execute the plan for the military provisions “without an inch of error.”

Members of Hoeryong Democratic Women’s Sign Written Promise, “I Will Absolutely Not Steal Food”
Members of Hoeryong Democratic Women’s Union signed written promise, “I will neither waste food nor will I steal food” during a meeting to discuss on the topic, “Never Waste Food.” Even with these promises, as soon as the members return home, they traded 7 or 8 corns on the cob with a bottle of liquor, or 5 or 6 corns on the cob with a block of bean curd. Making liquor is an example of wasting food. Anyone who wastes food is supposed to be sent to a discipline center. However, police authorities look the other way because they received bribery from the members of DWU. Even the DWU leaders often make threats in meetings set up to fight for ideology, but they seem to run out of options.

North Korea Today No. 244

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
No.244 October 2008
Failure of a Shellfish Farming Business Leads to Dismissals
Brawl Between Military Academy Students from Kanggun and Artillery Soldiers
Soldiers Attempt Suicide to Escape Military Service
4 Dead in Bus Accident on Bangwon Hill
A Grand Wedding Ceremony Requires an Extravagant Film

Failure of a Shellfish Farming Business Leads to Dismissals
At Fisheries Enterprise in Ongjin County, South Hwanghae Province, a manager and a party official blamed each other for the failure of shellfish farming. The fisheries enterprise had invested 15,000,000 NK won (approximately US$4,411) in a shellfish farming business. As the business ended up running into debt, the party official and manager blamed each other rather than accept responsibility and even ended up scuffling, an entertaining sight for the business’s fishermen. The county party decided to discharge them from their position.

* US$1.00 is approximately 3,400 NK Won

Brawl Between Military Academy Students from Kanggun and Artillery Soldiers
On October 14, high-ranking military academy students from Kanggun in Pyongyang City fought with an artillery unit soldier while the group was on an acorn collecting expedition.

One student of Kanggun School who fell from a tree injured his spine and could not move, however, the artillery unit member ignored the student. The classmates of the injured student showed up a little late and got upset with the artillery members, leading to a brawl. As more soldiers from the artillery company and academy units got involved, the fight escalated. Two people died and fourteen were injured.

This accident was reported to The Ministry of the People's Armed Forces. Three students who were charged with the deaths were sentenced to be in a reeducation center for 15 years. All others were discharged from their positions.

Soldiers Attempt Suicide to Escape Military Service
On October 4, a solider attempted suicide by swallowing needles in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province. He has been suffering from tough duty in the military. He was resuscitated thanks to emergency treatment. Although he was rescued by a miracle, he still stated “Why did you rescue me? I do not want to live any longer. I would rather die."

Medical surgeons decided it is impossible for him to continue his duties as a soldier. They reported his case to the battalion. The brigade made a decision to discharge him from the military service, which made other soldiers jealous of him. It led three soldiers to attempt suicide by cutting an artery so they could also obtain a discharge from military service. One of them cut an artery too deeply and ended up dying from massive bleeding before he could be saved. The two others are now in a coma. Corps headquarters checked the mental condition of soldiers because they were concerned about other copycat cases.

4 Dead in Bus Accident on Bangwon Hill
On October 20, a Servi-car of Chungjin rolled down at Bangwon Hill, killing four and injuring 12. This vehicle was a Servi-car operating among Chungjin, Hoeryong, and Onsung, the accident was attributed to a brake malfunction. Because of this accident, many people injured their arms and legs and a couple of people have already died during treatment at a nearby hospital.

A Grand Wedding Ceremony Requires an Extravagant Film
With the exception of Pyongyang, the living standards of Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, are among the highest in the nation. For example, people think that a grand wedding ceremony requires the family to shoot a video. A couple of years ago, people believed that bedding sets, a variety of dishes and bowls, and banquets were the mark of a grand wedding ceremony, now one has to make a video in order to make it a truly upper class affair.

It is not easy to make a video for a wedding ceremony in Hamheung, Chungjin, or Wonsan, but it is possible to see events recorded by video cameras in Sinuiju. Although the fee is about 300,000 to 400,000 NK Won ($88 to $118), the rich pay such a big cost because they believe a wedding ceremony can happen just once in their lives. Of course, ordinary residents and farmers cannot even imagine this extravagance. Cho Hwa-soon (41) living in South Sinuiju said, “We can buy 500 kg of corn for the same price as shooting a video. Extremely rich guys can do that, but ordinary people who are worrying about each meal cannot even imagine doing something like that.”

On a different note, authorities now prevent bridegrooms from lifting their bride up in their arms and carrying them from their cars to their houses because it follows a foreign custom. People are complaining about this measure of the government.

North Korea Today No. 243

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
No.243 October 2008

People are Worried at the Rumor of “Selling Food only at Grain Policy Division”
Restore the Mountains and Fields of the Country by 2012
“We Were Able To Survive Thanks To Small Patch Lot Farming”
Bitter Harvest, Farmers Barely Manage To Live with Porridge
Young Boy Is Great Estate in Fall Harvest
[Opinion] Assurance of People’s Livelihood Is More Urgent Than Restoration of Forest

People are Worried at the Rumor of “Selling Food only at Grain Policy Division”
A rumor is around that beginning January 1 next year, food will be sold only at Grain Policy Division (량정사업소) in each region including Pyongyang. People are expressing concerns by saying that "Grain Policy Division will not raise the price of food, but we do not know whether sufficient quantities will be sold." People will find it very inconvenient if buying and selling of food is no longer allowed in the market. Banning the sale of rice in the market has been tried several times in the past, but it has never been successful so far.

Restore the Mountains and Fields of the Country by 2012
On September 29, the Central Party issued a policy that 'by 2012 all the mountains and fields of the country will have to be restored so that there will be no desolate mountains and fields.’ According to this policy, the farms on the slopes of the foothills will be confiscated and trees will be in place in every region. In some areas, this policy has already been executed. People who make living out of small lot farming say, "Not allowing small lot farming from next year is literary telling us to die." This is a disaster, they exclaimed.

“We Were Able To Survive Thanks To Small Patch Lot Farming”
People in Booryong, North Hamgyong Province say in consensus that they were able to survive this year because of small patch lot farming (소토지농사). They say that although the soil is not as good as farmland they planted crops such as corns, potatoes, soybeans, and millets in the small lots in the mountain slopes. Mr. Shim Pahn-Seok (61 years old) said, "We ate only grass porridge in the spring this year, but I really worked hard on the small patch lot farm. I earnestly worked hard this year too because if you cultivate small lot farm well you can secure at least 3 to 6 months quantity of food.” He shook his head at the news that “Small patch lot farming will be banned altogether from next year in order to restore the mountains and fields.” He said, "Then we’re all going to die."

Bitter Harvest, Farmers Barely Manage To Live with Porridge
People who have suffered from the worst food shortage in recent years tend to be stingy with food even during the harvesting season. In the past, many families used to have steamed rice in the fall as it is the harvesting season. However, this year, except some wealthy families, most people have lowered their standard by having corn mixed with grain or eating corn porridge. Goh Eun-bok (41 years) of Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province says “I heard that we shall have a bumper harvest this year, but nobody really knows until the crops are harvested. There will be no guarantee that after the collection of army provisions, there will be anything left for us. In order to buy some necessities such as clothes, soap and shoes, we need money. To make money, the only way we can make it is by selling our food at the market. We need money to send our kids to school, to pay for electric bills, water bills, rents, and firewoods in winter. Even so, people are very reluctant to sell their food unless they have an extremely urgent matter. Because we had such a hard time this spring, we feel that without the food supplies we are going to die.” She asked that would anybody have the guts to use rice only under the circumstances.

Young Boy Is Great Estate in Fall Harvest
Small patch lot owners of Seoheung County in North Hwanghae Province make every effort to safekeep their harvest. They are determined to safeguard the harvest because these harvests are all they have to feed themselves this winter and next spring. While they try hard to guard their own, they try harder to pick up anything found and to steal someone else’s. People say that boys are great fortune at times like this. Boys help family farming, guard their farm produce against thefts, but sometimes they also steal grains from neighboring farms. Although police officers strengthen the patrol, it is not easy to catch the boys because the boys are too fast. On the other hand, girls help their families’ living by picking-up some loose grains in the fields with their grandparents all day long, or dry cabbage leaves found in the farm.

[Opinion] Assurance of People’s Livelihood Is More Urgent Than Restoration of Forest
On September 29, North Korean authorities issued an order that ‘by 2012 the country's mountains and fields to be green without any desolate spot.’ If you think of the barren mountains and rivers of North Korea you cannot stress enough the importance of creating forest. However, forest recovery policy is unrealistic and not easy to achieve, as it tends to focus on enforcing the confiscating of small lots.

In order to make the mountains and the fields green the problems with fuel for heating and cooking should be resolved, and food problems of the people will also have to be dealt with. Ever since food shortage problem began most people are making livelihood by holding on to small patch lot farming. Regardless whether it was hard rock field, rough hill mountain, or steep slope, people used their bare hands to cultivate the field. In some regions, a slash-and-burn field was created from time to time. No matter how difficult it is people had no choice but to cultivate small patch lot farm field because they can secure at least 3 to 6 months’ food supply. You have to cultivate even the smallest size of field if you do not want to starve to death.

However, if there is no reduction in people’s demand for firewood and small patch lot farming, no matter how strongly the forest protection and development policy is applied there will be no effect. We welcome North Korean government’s declaration of its will to restore the forest, but a higher priority should be given to sufficient consideration on the food situation and livelihood of people.
There was an error in this gadget