GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 257

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
[Weekely Newsletter] No.257 December 2008

[Hot Topics]
Residents File Grievances against Severe Tortures Occurring at Beopdong County Police Station in Kangwon Province

[Economy]
Hamheung Paper Factory Was Decided To Close
Production in Gohgeonwon Coal Mine Slows Down by High Number of Absent Workers
North Hamgyong Province Party says, “Onsung County should take care of the problem with Gohgeonwon Coal Mine Workers”

[Food]
Gwail County's Apple Farm Distributing Apples for Food
“As Crushed Corn Becomes a Luxury, People Use Corn Powder to Make Watery Soup"

[Politics]
Moonchun County Is In a State Of Emergency Due To Stolen School Uniforms
Two Additional Border Guard Divisions Deployed To the National Border Area
Park Hyong-cheol Brother's New House Confiscated


[Society]
Military Personnel Charged With Engaging In Business
A Masked Robber Sent Back Home
Head of Household Commits Suicide after Wife and Son Gets Arrested
Bike Delivered from Pyongsung to Rajin by Rail Was Stripped of Everything but the Frame
Due To Power Shortages, Jungpyong County Has Trouble Processing Grain


[Women/Children/Education]
The Homeless (Kkotjebi) Gather Following Rumors of Good Harvest in Gohwon County
Paying to Use Private Restrooms to Avoid Kkotjebies in Public Stalls
Fellow Kkotjebies Take Shoes from a Dead Kkotjebi

[Accidents]
Soldiers Killed in a Fistfight over Stolen Potatoes

[Commentary]
Torturing at Law Enforcement Agencies Must Be Eradicated

[Planning a Series]
Reading North Krea 2008 Through “North Korea’s Nationwide Report
(Public Lecture Materials for Party Leaders and General Public)”
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;


___________________________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
Residents File Grievances against Severe Tortures Occurring at Beopdong County Police Station in Kangwon Province

Residents including the family of suspects have been complaining so much about severe tortures to suspects occurring at the police station of Beopdong County, Kangwon Province. A man in his thirties who wanted to be anonymous said, “At a preliminary hearing, if you do not answer right away or if you just say you do not know, you get kicked and punched immediately." He also said that he witnessed suspects were beaten with an electric baton. Suspects died of frequent tortures during interrogation. On November 12, a resident of Geumpyong-ri was caught when robbing a laboratory at a middle school. During a preliminary hearing, he could not bear severe torture and hurt himself by pounding his head against the wall. Consequently, he died from excessive bleeding. His family went to the police station and made an objection that he died from severe torture and threat. Before he died, his family had a chance to see him at the police station. They said that during their visit he looked terrible, abnormal, and psychologically insecure. As the family continuously protested against the police, the Safety Bureau forced the family out of the police station and prohibited the family of other suspects seeing them as well.


[Economy]
Hamheung Paper Factory Was Decided To Close
The Cabinet decided to close a paper factory in Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province. The factory machines imported from foreign countries are still working well but have not been operational for over eight years due to lack of raw materials. According to the Cabinet, about 600 factory workers will be relocated to other factories and enterprises. The Housing Enterprise (살림주택사업소) will take over and convert it into residential houses.

Production in Gohgeonwon Coal Mine Slows Down by High Number of Absent Workers
Gohgeonwon Coal Mine in Saebyul County, North Hamgyong, is experiencing difficulty in coal productions due to absent workers. Since Saebyul County became a model area for a farmer’s market and the general market was closed, it became difficult for coal mine workers to sell coals and their lives worsened. Since they could not trade coal for food, the number of people who did go to work and either ran away with their family or committed various crimes increased. Coal mine workers say the reason they do not go to work is that they cannot endure hard labor without eating. They also complain how they can survive without a market. By the end of November, less than half the workers go to work at Gohgeonwon Coal Mine. The manager and Party officials including the secretary immediately reported the names of absent workers to the police station. On November 28th, twelve people were arrested in just one day and sent to the Labor Discipline Center (노동단련대). Despite strict disciplines, attendance rate is not increasing and only complaints about party officials are increasing.

North Hamgyong Province Party says, “Onsung County should take care of the problem with Gohgeonwon Coal Mine Workers”
The secretary of the Saebyul County Party in North Hamgyong Province reported to the Province Party that the normal operation of the coal mine is difficult due to lack of labor. As a response, the Province Party ordered the Onsung County party to take care of the problem with Gohgeonwon coal mine workers. The Onsung County Party started adjusting the number of workers at each of enterprises and placing them at the Gohgeonwon Coal Mine. On December 1, party officials gathered at the playground of a middle school in Saebyul County to encourage their active voluntary participation and take initiative actions during hard times. At the same time, members of Youth Union (청년동맹) of Saebyul County is encouraging its members by saying, “We must become leaders in hard work of coal mining.” They are also promising that workers with three years of coal mining labor would be granted a party membership.


[Food]
Gwail County's Apple Farm Distributing Apples for Food

An apple farm in the Fruit-Tree General Bureau (과수총국) of Gwail (Fruit) County in South Hwanghae Province, distributed apples as food due to insufficient food rations. The farm provided 200 kg of apple per farmer for food as stored rations only consisted of 4-months worth of food. This was the first year to ration apples as food. Many farmers are already moving away from farming to retailing apples in anticipation of next year’s food shortage. The Fruit Farm police station said, "We are going to send those farmers who resist working to the Farm Discipline Center (농장단련대)."

“As Crushed Corn Becomes a Luxury, People Use Corn Powder to Make Watery Soup"
An official of Sepo County, Kangwon Province said that grain production has increased this year as compared to last year. On the contrary, workers at a grain-milling factory revealed that this was hard to believe despite an increase in cereal production this year. This is because they witness fewer people coming to the grain-milling factory as compared to last year. It is normal for this time of year to see bags and bags of processed corn, but this year we are lucky to see even a few in a day. In addition, many people are requesting powdered corn instead of crushed corn. A woman in her forties came to a grain-milling factory at Bookchung-ri for corn powder and said, "Eating crushed corn for a meal is a waste. Pulverizing the corn into flour will help to make the rations last longer. Watery corn soup is much better for digestion, and by adding some vegetables into the soup we can also increase the quantity." Old people do not come to the grain-milling factory. Instead, they grind the corn into flour themselves. They believe grinding grains of corn at home is much more efficient than sending them to the mill.


[Politics]
Moonchun County Is In a State Of Emergency Due To Stolen School Uniforms

On November 27, the Safety Bureau issued a state of emergency after more than 80 sets of school uniforms and 60 pairs of shoes were stolen from the distribution warehouse at Geumchun Commercial Management Center (금천상업관리소) in Moonchun County, Kangwon Province. After investigation, the Safety Bureau announced that a group of military soldiers were responsible for the theft. It asked residents not to let any military personnel in their house and to report if stolen goods are brought to them. In the meantime, it mobilized all patrol officers, including the police officers regulating bicycle riders and pants wearing women, to catch the thieves. The reason is to search for any signs of thieves who might come to the market to trade the stolen goods. During its concentration on catching the thieves its regulation on general residents loosened relatively, residents in the area commented, “It is so much better to live our lives now.” They also said, “It is unfortunate that things were stolen, but our lives are so much better without harsh regulations”. Lee Jeong-soon (age 42) commented, “I hope the police officers no longer care to harass the residents anymore.” She also said laughing, “I heard women are freely riding bicycles and wearing pants in other counties. I don’t understand why they are enforcing such strict and harsh regulations in our county. I know the thieves must be caught, but I hope they won’t be caught any time soon.”

Two Additional Border Guard Divisions Deployed To the National Border Area
Starting mid-November, two additional board guard divisions were being deployed to the national border area including North Pyongan Province, Jagang Province, Ryanggang Province, and North Hwanghae Province. According to an officer of National Border Guard in Hyesan City, Ryanggang Province, this was due to the increasing number of river crossing and illegal trading as, after autumn harvest, the winter started and the river froze.

Park Hyong-cheol Brother's New House Confiscated
In Dukchun city, South Pyongan Province, newly built luxury houses have been under investigation by the Anti-Socialist Activities group. Chief Manager of Party Member Registry Department, Park Hyong-cheol was also investigated about how he funded the construction of one of the biggest and most luxurious homes in Dukchun City; which was reported to have cost at least $26,000 to build. He asserted to have borrowed the money from his younger brother who is working for the Pyongyang Rakwon Trade Company (평양락원총국). Led on by Park's testimony, his younger brother, Park Geum-cheol, was immediately called in for further interrogation by the police. According to the investigation, Park Geum-cheol accepted three bribes of 300,000 Yuan for helping a Chinese shipping company acquire trade concessions. The house has been confiscated while a final decision is pending.


[Society]
Military Personnel Charged With Engaging In Business

In Danchun City in South Hamgyong Province, an artillery corp. was ordered to procure military provision from Hyesan City, Ryanggang Province. The price of corn in Hyesan city was 750 NK Won per kg, while it cost only 570 NK Won per kg in Bookchung and Leewon Counties in the same province. The battalion commander realized the large price difference and decided to buy the cheaper corn. He shared the profit of about 8,000,000 NK Won* with some high-ranking officials, which became a problem at the military unit. The military officer stated that, "They didn't carry through orders from the higher ranking officers and engaged in business as military personnel". As a result, they were punished severely. The battalion commander of Support Bureau was ordered to face a military trial and all soldiers who shared the profit were discharged from the military.

*US$1.00 is approximately 3,400 NK Won

A Masked Robber Sent Back Home
On November 22, around 6:00 pm, at Gwangjooryong Hill in Chungarm District of Chungjin City in North Hamgyong Province, a woman in her forties ran into a masked robber while she was delivering bags of corn by bike. The masked robber said to her, "Turn around, sit down and stay put". She was afraid of getting hurt in the middle of nowhere so she just did everything that she was told to do. A while later, she turned around to see the robber stumbling away with her bike and at that time two men in their thirties were walking towards her from the other side. She shouted at the two men, "Get the robber there!" The men hurried over to where the woman was and caught the masked robber surprisingly easily. When they uncovered the mask, an emaciated man in his seventies was squinting from the pain of being hit on the forehead.

The old man pulled himself together and gave excuses as tears swelled up in his eyes," My children cannot support me. Nobody feeds me. I have been barely surviving by selling sunflower seeds until they were confiscated by a sheriff who kicked me in public, yet nobody stopped to help me...." The woman got her bike back and decided not to report the old man to law enforcers. “He was abandoned by his own children. I pity him. His life must be tough. I got my bike and corns back, so there is no need for me to press charges." She thanked the two men who helped her and left the scene. The two men also said that they felt pity for the old man. Even young people have a hard time surviving and continued on their way.

Head of Household Commits’ Suicide after Wife and Son Gets Arrested
Last November 27, Moon Gwan-pil (58), a railroad worker of Seoheung County, North Hwanghae Province, committed suicide by jumping in front of a train while working on the rail. He was depressed and discouraged by the arrest and sentencing of 12 and 8 years of reeducation received by his wife and son respectively. According to statements from his co-workers, Mr. Moon has mentioned that he did not have any courage to take care of his remaining two children after his son got arrested. On the other hand, his co-workers who were on site with Mr. Moon were criticized for not doing enough to stop the suicide.

Bike Delivered from Pyongsung to Rajin by Rail Was Stripped of Everything but the Frame
Recently, an outlandish thing has happened to Kim Seong-ho (35) at Rasun in North Hamgyong Province. He waited for a bike that his eldest brother living in Pyongsung sent him to help him transport goods to trade in the market. Before the train arrived, he went to the station and anxiously waited for the bike, but he received a skeleton with no chain, wheels, and other useful parts. Kim Seong-ho immediately went to the freight office to complain about the bike, but the staff turned it down and said, “Sending a bike by rail is a stupid thing to do.” There was no one to take responsibility for the bike, so he could not complain anymore. Lee Young-sun (38) said, “When people send packages by rail, many items get stolen. Maybe nine packages out of ten are not delivered properly by rail, so it is impossible to trust the system to send any parcel. Although it may cost a little bit more, but it’s much better to ask a person you know to deliver the item rather than rely on the freight system.” Kim Seong-ho said, “My brother did not think of sending the bike by rail in these days. We are not idiots and we understand the situation. We asked a friend working at the station to insure that the bike arrived in one peace and gave him some money, hence this was unexpected.”

Due To Power Shortages, Jungpyong County Has Trouble Processing Grain
Since November of this year, electric power shortages have become a worsening problem in Jungpyong County in South Hamgyong Province. Districts in Jungpyong County such as Goochang-ri, Dogsan-ri, Bongdae-ri, Hyangdong-ri, and Jangheung-ri have received power only once a week. Residents are also affected by these shortages. Above all, farmers are tremendously concerned about not being able to process the newly harvested grains. Due to this situation, mortars for grinding the grain have been selling well in the market.

[Women/Children/Education]
The Homeless (Kkotjebi) Gather Following Rumors of Good Harvest in Gohwon County

In Gohwon County, the border area of South Hamgyong Province and Kangwon Province, the homeless (kkotjebies) are remarkably growing in numbers caused by rumors spread that farmers in Gohwon County succeeded in a good harvest this year. It is easy to commit a theft because there are many places where grain is left to dry along the roadside or around fields. Ordinarily, about 40-50 homeless (kkotjebies) reside near Gohwon station but on many occasions; this number can jump to over 150. These people, loafing around in groups and committing random thefts gathering up even laundry hanging out on clotheslines, are becoming a growing problem for residents in the area. The homeless (kkotjebies) exchange information at the station, which is their base, about places that are more abundant to steal from than others are. A teenage kkotjebi who is new to Gohwon County said, “I moved after hearing rumors that farming went well this year at Gohwon at Wonsan station.”

Paying to Use Private Restrooms to Avoid Kkotjebies in Public Stalls
Passengers at Pyongsung station in South Pyongan Province pay 100 NK Won to use the restrooms in nearby private homes instead of public toilets at the station. As the weather continues to get colder, the kkotjebies loitering in Pyongsung station are swarming, even in the restrooms. The homeless (kkotjebies) have set up their spots in restrooms, despite the bad smell to stand the cold and keep out the wind. As nature calls, passengers have been forced to resort to nearby restrooms at private residences to avoid the kkotjebies. Due to the frequency of demand, many residents have started to charge 100 NK Won per use.

Fellow Kkotjebies Take Shoes from a Dead Kkotjebi
On December 2, a 10-year-old kkotjebi boy was found frozen to death at Wonsan station in Kangwon Province. According to station employees, a few days earlier a child was rolling on the floor, complaining of stomach pain after eating raw tofu beans from his pocket. There was a foul odor on his pants, which were contaminated with excrement and urine because he was unable to move around. He could not eat the beans due to stomach pain and ended up freezing to death because he could not bear hunger and cold. There were some leftover beans and kernels of corn in the pocket of the dead child. As their friend died, fellow kkotjebies gathered to scavenge food from inside his clothes. Some of the children strived to remove the shoes from the frozen feet of the dead child. Another child took the corpse's jacket off, as all the beans were gone.

[Accidents]
Soldiers Killed in a Fistfight over Stolen Potatoes

One of the soldiers from Ranam Automobile factory in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, was killed in a fight that broke out while he was stealing potatoes in the Daehongdan County of Ryanggang Province. The soldiers were on their way back to Chungjin after working at a potato farm in Daehongdan County. The fight broke out when the potato farm patrol stopped 3 vehicles that had been loaded with potatoes. One of them ended up dying, and the police officers from the potato farm who arrived later arrested 14 soldiers at the scene. The soldiers were charged with the crime of severely damaging military-civilian relations and were turned over to the 9th Corps Security Bureau (9군단보위부).


[Commentary]
Torturing at Law Enforcement Agencies Must Be Eradicated

It has been reported that a crime suspect killed himself because he could not endure torturing during interrogation in Beopdong County. The family of the dead man protested against torture, but they were kicked out of the police station and other family visits to the station were denied as well. This case adds to the serious nature of this issue as it demonstrates that the authorities in Beopdong County have no consideration for human rights in the treatment of suspects and their families. The protests against torture by the police also demonstrates the human rights abuses people have to endure all the time.

Among the human rights treaties of the United Nations, North Korea has already joined the 1981 International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which was also embraced by approximately 2/3 of all UN members. As such, in order to uphold the universal value of human rights, they must adhere to the principle of a ‘torture ban’ that they have promised to the people of the world, and they have the duty to guarantee the right to a fair trial as well. In addition, the Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law amended in 2004 also contains a ban on the torture of citizens by government agencies and the right to receive a fair trial. Nevertheless, it appears that the use of torturing during interrogation is widespread and blatant among law enforcement agencies and their agents.

We don’t know the details of the investigation that provoked the protest at the police station, or what interrogation might have been needed. However, the use of torture was obviously too cruel. Now, the majority of people are facing a food shortage problem. Under the current circumstances, many of the crimes are related to the issue of physical survival. There is an old saying that 'a starving tiger never cares about the prey.’ In a situation where people die of starvation, we cannot force people to unconditionally obey the societal and legal order.

Therefore, the law enforcement agencies of North Korea ought to use discretion and leniency. This is not the time to use torture for the sake of investigation. Moreover, the North Korean government should make efforts to inform front-line law enforcement agents about the country's Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Code and strengthen their education about human rights. In order to prevent other unnecessary deaths like this, they should punish the responsible parties and provide compensation to the victim’s family so as to resolve the grievance of the people.


[Planning a Series]
Reading North Korea 2008 Through “North Korea’s Nationwide Report
(Public Lecture Materials for Party Leaders and General Public)”
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 5 Food Crisis, To Break Through? Or To Persuade?

“Confronting the Worldwide Problem of Food Shortage, Let’s Initiate A Struggle with Our Utmost Efforts to Resolve the Food Crisis among Ourselves” - Public Lecture Materials for Party Leaders and General Public, July Juche 97 (2008)

Cause and the Current State of Food Crisis

The tragic reports of deaths due to starvation, which started last April, seem to have finally started to become less common, with the start of the harvest season. 2008 reminded people of returning to the days of the March of Hardship as consecutive years of huge floods damage in 2006 and 2007 on top of the reduction and suspension of food aids from outside world. The new year has not brought any improvement in food crisis. Instead, a worsening situation has brought more fear for survival and pains in everyday life as well as more social unrest. It became necessary for the North Korean government to explain to its residents why the food crisis lingers. To the North Korean government, the food crisis is a not an obstacle to overcome, but an issue to persuade its residents about. The worldwide food shortage has given the North Korean government a rather persuasive excuse: it is not only the residents of North Korea, but also people all over the world who suffer from the same problem.

“Many nations in the world are trying to escape from the food shortage that is getting more severe. They ask for help from different countries as well as international organizations. However, the current situation is that food cannot be purchased even with money.”

The Lecture Material states: “Worldwide, eight hundred million people suffer from chronic hunger. Seventy three million people in Africa, including Congo, Sudan and Kenya, struggle to survive. Seven and a half million people in central America are suffering from malnutrition.”

They cite two causes for the food crisis threatening the world. Firstly, global warming causing a reduction in crops. Secondly, steep increases in crude oil prices and demands in bio-fuel are the culprits. Therefore, “People all over the world facing food crisis are shouting for help, and of course they are trying their best to find the solution.”

North Korean Food Crisis 2008

Last March, the Labor Bureau of the City of Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province announced that there are about sixty thousand families of various enterprises and factories, including the Gimchaek Steel Mill, who are suffering from hunger. This figure amounts to around two hundred thousand people, considering each employee represents a family of three to four. Supposing the population of Chungjin to be around eight hundred thousand, a quarter of the population is suffering from hunger officially. The situation is more severe in the areas of Haeju, South Hwanghae Province and Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province, which can be considered to represent agricultural silos. Those farmers who work in the fields were physically unable to do so because of hunger. All they could do was roam around the plains and mountains to find any plant that could serve as food.

How about grain prices? Rice that used to cost 800 to 850 North Korean Won (NKW) per kg in 2007 jumped to 2,500 NKW in April, an increase of almost 300%. Corn used to cost 300 to 350 NKW per kg and now costs 1500 to 1700 per kg NKW, which was the highest price in 2007.

In June, the price of rice in North and South Hwanghae Provinces went above 4,000 NKW. Even though the price fell between 2,500 to 2,700 NKW in July, it is still difficult for ordinary people to pay such prices. Suicides, disintegration of families, and the number of Kkotjebies (homeless) and deaths from starvation noticeably increased and consequently social unrest as well has become more severe. During May, under these circumstances, improvement in U.S-North Korea relations has brought U.S. food aid of 500,000 MT. In response, the central party sent the following unprecedented cabinet directions to all the provincial parties;

“Under the influences of our Beloved Leader and powerful People’s Army, the United States has provided a food supply of 500,000 MT of grain, starting at the end of June in Pyongyang. Everyone should do their utmost to prevent any unexpected incidents until the end of June. Spread the word of U.S. food aid as wide as possible so as to calm down the sentiments of people.” In fact, even though the initial shipment of U.S. food supply provided some breathing room to some areas, it was only a level of ‘blood in a bird’s feet.’

When the North Korean authorities did not know where to turn, the lecture material on the worldwide food crisis started to come out in July. North Korean government received the U.N. Food Inspection Team in July with a welcoming attitude. An unprecedented nationwide visit was allowed and even the poor residents were exposed, which surprised many North Korean residents.

This proves that international aid was so critical under the hardened relationship between North and South Koreas. Nevertheless, North Korean authorities kept ascribing the causes of the food crisis to external conditions; “the food shortage problem is not only with us but also many people in the world, causing deaths from starvation. The price of grain keeps increasing daily.”

The Problem of Food Shortage Is Ours to Solve

“At the present time, a worldwide shortage of food has become a serious problem. To find the solution is a critical task for us. Under any circumstances, the problem is ours to solve and no one else’s.”

Our only solution is to follow Chairman Kim Jong-Il’s guidance as above and find a solution that will feed ourselves through improved farming. Here again, North Korean authorities come back to ‘ideology.’ They claim, “Finding a solution to feed people is a ‘life or death’ request to maintain our socialism.” Feeding the population has become vital to maintaining socialism, a territory in ideology.

“Our Beloved Leader has taught us that finding a solution to feed people is as important as defending the nation. He has taught us that the breakthrough in establishing a strong nation starts with finding solutions for the problems in electricity and food.” He places the problem of food and the problem of national defense side by side. This is hardly imaginable in a nation where national security is considered the utmost. This shows how serious the food shortage was in July.

Solution by self-reliance, but business as usual

As they keep saying that finding a solution by self-reliance is as important as industry of national defense, their means of achieving it is business as usual. Specific alternatives are only for the workers assigned to the task. A big picture is presented to the workers and they are to set up the policies and execute them. Carrying out thoroughly the “seed revolution,” “agricultural revolution of potato,” and “two-crop policy” is the fundamental direction in our style solution for feeding people.

The problem is that the presentation of fundamental directions is not realistic. The current situation prohibits small-plot agriculture and lacks fertilizer, vinyl sheets and other agricultural material. There is not a thing that might motivate people to increase agricultural products. Of course, there exists a direction for this particular aspect, too.

“Leaders and workers assigned to importing and producing agricultural materials are responsible for establishing revolutionary policies so as to be able to provide the farms with electricity, oil, chemical fertilizer, pesticides, agricultural machinery and other equipment and material. They should also guarantee a timely supply of agricultural equipments and material in cooperation with other political organizations and production facilities.” This statement may sound sensible. Guaranteeing a supply of agricultural equipments and material is important enough for enhancing agricultural production, important enough to attach ‘revolutionary’ as part of the task. However, it is not realistic. The North Korean government may believe that ‘ideology’ may work as a magic wand to create ‘something’ from ‘nothing.’ The truth is that no matter what revolution may be invoked and what political organizations might be organized, no agricultural equipments could be produced out of thin air.
The North Korean government is trying to persuade its residents to calm down in the midst of a food crisis, providing the excuse of a worldwide food shortage. But it can only be a patchwork solution. It is true that food shortage is a problem worldwide. However, it appears that North Korea’s food crisis is the result of its failed policies in agriculture. North Korea should recognize that the food crisis is of the utmost importance and that the solution can be found only through combining the wisdom of both North and South Korea together.

North Korea Today No. 256

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
[Weekely Newsletter] No.256 December 2008

[Hot Topics]
Output of Geomdeok Mine in the Second Half of the Year Doubled
Some Miners of Geomdeok Mine: A Slowdown Strike

[Food]
Yeonbak Plain--Only 4-6 Months of Supply to Farmers

[Economy]
Ongjin County, Sea Cucumbers Are Abundant This Year
Accidental Deaths of Unskilled Divers Due to Sea Cucumber Catches
Intensified Body Search at the Aluminum Factory in Bookchang, North Pyongan Province

[Politics]
A Policy to Inspect All Newly Built Houses in Deokchun City
Harsh Criticism after Insisting the Implementation of Bonus Pratice
Hamheung City: Security Office Bustling with Traders Recovering Confiscated Items
Construction Supervisor Faces a Hearing for Suspension of Power Supply

[Society]
After Harvest, Time for Getting and Paying Off Debts
Sanitary Conditions Worsen in Jeongurri Re-Education Center
Jeongurri Re-Education Center, a Police Officer Discharged Due To Sexual Assault

[Women/Children/Education]
“Government Officials! Why Don’t YOU Help Yourselves to Corn, the Health Food!”
Blind Chidren are Doing Rough Labor to Earn Food

[Accidents]
Four Hundred Fifty MT of Rice Lost in the Fire at Yeonahn Collective Farm
Explosion Accident at the Institute of Microbes of the National Sciences Academy in Pyongsung

[Commentary]
Attention Needed for Increasing Productivity and Improving Working Conditions

[Planning a Series]
Reading North Korea 2008 Through “North Korea’s Nationwide Report
(Public Lecture Materials for Party Leaders and General Public)”
In North Korea 2008, What Was Accomplished and What Was Not?
Part 4 Warnings against Moral Hazards by Party Leaders

___________________________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
Output of Geomdeok Mine in the Second Half of the Year Doubled

An official of Geomdeok United Mining Factory (검덕광업련합기업소) in Danchun City of South Hamgyoung Province announced that output in the second half of the year increased by twice the size of the first half. In the case of the transportation platoon that is in charge of Geomdeok mine, where the ore is of high quality yet miners worked with point chisel (정대) and hammer due to the shortage of dynamite. Choi Yong-cheol, one platoon leader switched from a three-shift schedule to a double shift in order to increase productivity. If there were a shortage of food for the miners, he would supply the workers with nourishments from his own stockpile to encourage them to continue producing. Sometimes he beat those who were absent to force them to work. Geomdeok Mine created a teomporary shock- troop- brigade named Cha Gwang Soo death-defying corps (차광수결사대) to increase productivity. However, beginning in October the productivity is dropping off because of the increasing number of people who are leaving the mines to care for their private small patch lot farming.

Some Miners of Geomdeok Mine: A Slowdown Strike
Some miners of Geomdeok Mine are intentionally slowing down the production process by sabotaging the mining drills. It is because the compensation was not enough even though they really did their best and doubled their output since the first half of the year. Miners said, “It is not worth working for the country. I work hard, but I have not received any food for my efforts.” With the frequency of the machine breaking down, the police have warned, “Our fourth-quarter output is seriously being impacted. If we catch the person who broke the machine, we will send them to the Re-education Center.” However, miners persist to argue, “we have no choice but to take care of our bodies in order to survive if they continue to work us hard without compensation,” questioning who would not work hard if food distribution is guaranteed.


[Food]
Yeonbak Plain--Only 4-6 Months of Supply to Farmers

An official of Haejoo City, South Hwanghae Province said that this year food for farmers of Yeonbak Plain (연백벌) such as Yeonan, Baechun, and Chungdan Counties is sufficient for only 4-6months. Many farms have not finished cash distribution. Hwang Jae-soon (age 41) of Baechun County said that residents were very disappointed saying, “we did not expect for the full food-distribution, but we thought it would be better than last year because farming was good this year.” This area is known to be a rich grain district and war-frontal area (전연지대). The grains are primarily used for military rations and the remainder is taken to Pyeongyang. This is why there is never enough for the farmers. A staff of Haejoo City said, “Food production increased since last year, but there is no farm in Hwanghae Province that reached its production goals.”


[Economy]
Ongjin County, Sea Cucumbers Are Abundant This Year

It is a peak season for catching sea cucumbers for the Fishiers Enterprise in Ongjin County, South Hwanghae Province. The Fisheries Enterprises are very joyful this year because normally the actual amount harvested is only about 10% of the anticipated harvest amount. Divers catch the sea cucumbers within 10 m in depth. A diver can get catch an average of 4-5 kg of sea cucumbers in a day and can make a pretty good profit.

Accidental Deaths of Unskilled Divers Due to Sea Cucumber Catches
Because the managers of the Fisheries Enterprises have been hiring unskilled divers in order to increase sea cucumber catches in Ongjin County, the number of accidental deaths has been increasing. Even with the lack of fishing instruments, diving boats and equipment, the unskilled divers jump into the water at the risk of their lives. There were 10-20 accidents from the end of October to November. More than ten of the accidents resulted in deaths. Although the divers are aware of the dangers, they continue to dive in order to try to make a living. A diver can keep half of his catch when he catches 5 kg of sea cucumbers, which will net him a decent pay. Kim Jin-cheol (54 years), who has been diving for over 20 years, says, “No matter how much money one can make diving, these people should not be forced to work without proper diving equipment or protective measures. The Fisheries Enterprises should educate the unskilled divers better and provide more protective equipment using the profits they make from their sea cucumber sales.”

Intensified Body Search at the Aluminum Factory in Bookchang, North Pyongan Province
The aluminum factory in Bookchang, North Pyongan Province, used to be a successful factory. However, the production rate of the factory has begun to gradually decrease due to the lack of raw materials and electric power supply. The factory could distribute food rations only for three of the five months of pay for its workers this year. Although these conditions are far better than those of closed factories, the workers complain about their terrible living conditions. It has been common for the workers to hide aluminum plates under their clothes and then sell them in markets. Since they can make 900 NK Won by selling the plates, they can manage to live. Starting from mid-October, the factory has set up guard posts and has intensified body searches of the workers because aluminum plate thefts have drastically setback the production rate. Because some workers have begun to jump over the wall to avoid the guard posts, the factory, which put the glass on the wall to prevent such jumps, and the workers, who try to jump over the wall, have started a kind of a brush-fire war.


[Politics]
A Policy to Inspect All Newly Built Houses in Deokchun City

In Deokchun City, South Pyongan Province, a new policy has been established regarding inspection to all newly built houses this year. This is because a statement was reported to the central party that over a hundred houses owned by some government officials in this region spent over $5,000 in the wave of ‘build your own houses’. After an initial report was issued by the Anti-Socialist Inspection Patrol of the central party, it was then directly reported as No. 1 Report (1호보고) , and authorities enforced a policy to inspect all newly built houses. All related persons are required to give a full account of their total expenditures on building their new houses according to this policy. With this incident, the residents cannot purchase old houses or new housing construction sites hereafter.

Harsh Criticism after Insisting the Implementation of Bonus Pratice
Last November 10th, the meeting at the Association of Coal Mines in North Hamgyong Province was held in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province. The participants of this convention included secretaries and managers of North Hamgyong Province coal mines. The main agenda for this meeting was “to propose a plan to reach the production goal with nation’s increasing demand for coal as the weather gets cold”. They discussed the need for all coal mine needs to implement a full scale operation (100 % operation: 만가동 만부하), to exceed their production goal. A secretary of Saebyul County’s coal mine stood up and suggested an introduction of bonus practices as a proposal to reach their goal. He said, “Our current method of psychological encouragement by presenting a salutation of hard work and honoring their effort fails to motivate the workers to greater productivity. Wouldn’t our workers become more motivated if we award them bonus money in accordance with their surplus amount?” He was then heavily criticized, “Why do you want us to promote capitalist productivity management style?”

The residents of Chungjin City who received the news responded, “It is satisfactory for our mines to exceed its coal product goal for this is beneficial for the nation and this is profitable for the laborers. But every time we propose something, it gets disapproved by calling it damned capitalist so there is no way to examine the proposal”. They continued, “How can we call ourselves Democratic People’s Republic(민주주의 인민공화국) when we get criticized for suggesting any new idea?” A coal mine workers added, “With our current management style, it is hopeless to reach our production goal. Although there is nothing wrong with that secretary’s suggestion, it gets condemned immediately for its capitalist characteristic and as a result, improvement is impossible.”

Hamheung City: Security Office Bustling with Traders Recovering Confiscated Items
In Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province, the market control has become stricter than any other city since it was assigned to an exemplary zone for the abolition of general markets. Anyone caught selling food or manufactured goods at a market by the officers got their goods confiscated on the spot. Each security office was packed with traders trying to take back their seized items. It is a common sight to find traders pleading with officers with tears in their eyes. Despite of their eager supplication, so far no one has been allowed to recover their goods.

As patrolling increases to over 10 times a day, the officer’s crackdown is getting tighter to catch those selling manufactured goods or food. In parallel with this situation, the office is becoming crowded with more and more people. Last November 15 someone wrote a critical statement “Authorities, Squeezing the People” on the wall of the office. Security agents called people caught selling goods so that they could track down the perpetrator with handwriting analysis from the writing on the wall. The citizens are actually pleased saying, “The wall says exactly what I feel”

Construction Supervisor Faces a Hearing for Suspension of Power Supply
November 15th, managers responsible for managing the Youth Power Plant in Samsoo County of Ryongang Province were reprimanded for the suspension of power supply. Water was found to be leaking from a crack at the bottom of the mud dam. Authorities are suspecting that less than standard quality mud was used for the dam and is the cause of this crack. So far, even though the plant never met its max generation capacity, there could be even less power supply for the future. Its inability to produce enough power is even affecting neighboring districts including Hyesan City. Recently, it was reported as No. 1 Report to the authorities that the dam of this plant was in seriously poor condition. As authorities began an investigation into suspicions revealed on the reports, chief supervisor and managers who were in charge of the construction were brought in for a hearing. Under North Korean system of disciplinary action, criticizing does not result in legal action, but a formal hearing always does. As a short term fix for this situation, workers pump the water out of the opening gates of the dam little bit at a time. The repair work of the dam has not yet been undertaken.


[Society]
After Harvest, Time for Getting and Paying Off Debts

As harvest season ends, people paying off high interest rate private debts or getting into new debts is increasing significantly. The residents who farmed in private small patch lots have tried to sell harvested grain to pay off their high interest rate private debts. In areas where the public markets are strictly controlled, traders get grain from farmers and then sell them in areas where the market is not yet controlled. In these ways, they pay back their loans but because they end up paying back twice and even up to three times the amount they borrowed the farmers that actually toiled to grow the food end up not having enough to get food for themselves. Households that farmed on private small patch lots are in better situation by comparison. Those who did not farm private small patch lots are borrowing more money to buy corn and rice because corn is relatively cheap these days and so they need to buy what they can to save for harder times. They also dig for cabbage roots in the now harvested farmlands and preserved them with salt or dry them, so that they can be saved for emergency next year. They make porridge with cabbage and corn even now when life should be easier after the harvests. Lee Myong-hee (34), who did not have a private small patch lot, said "We are rarely able to eat oil. Our main dish is porridge cooked with dried radish leaves and our snack is the raw root of cabbages."

Sanitary Conditions Worsen in Jeongurri Re-Education Center
The sanitary conditions in the Jeongurri re-education center in Hoeryong city, North Hamgyong Province, are worsening. According to witnesses, detainees are so badly infested with lice in their bodies that the first task they do in the morning is called 'kill lice'. In November, a doctor, who visited the center to treat a patient with uterine cancer, left without seeing the patient. A female detainee with uterine cancer was not treated in the early stages of the cancer. As complaints kept increasing about how they left the patient behind, the center called in the doctor. However the stench of the rooms as well as the detainees was so overwhelming that the doctor left without even fully examining the patient.

Jeonjurri re-education center is supposed to hold about 1,000 occupants. However, as of November 2008, 2,000 occupants (male 1,200 female 800) are staying in the center, twice the appropriate number. In July, five units for women and three units for men were newly built, but space is still a problem. Forty females sleep tightly in a small room.

They are able to wash their face at the river during summer, but in winter it is not even easy for them to wash their hands let alone face. Once the river is frozen they have to break ice to use the water, which takes a lot of effort. That is why most of them have not taken a shower since summer. In particular, women, who need to keep themselves clean, are often suffering from 'woman's disease' such as uterine cancer. Those who witnessed Jeongurri re-education center commented, "Female on menstrual period need to wash with water, but they do not have enough water to wash themselves. We do not have enough water to drink but still women need water for washing." An officer of the centerr said that, "The number of female detainees has been increasing too quickly for us to prepare proper facilities for them."

Jeongurri Re-Education Center, a Police Officer Discharged Due To Sexual Assault
In Jeongurri re-education center, sexual assault issue has emerged. From last year until now, nine police officers have been discharged after they assaulted female detainees. The center enforces strict control over sexual assualts; however, it is tough for the center to have it under control since some police officers have no respect for human rights.


[Women/Children/Education]
“Government Officials! Why Don’t YOU Help Yourselves to Corn, the Health Food!”

The audience reacted against the lecture about health food. The speech received a chilly reception from the audience when corn was mentioned as health food:"Why don’t YOU officials help yourselves to the health food?! The chief of the Department of Scientific Technology insisted corn as protein-rich food is very healthful. The chief lectured that every food that has corn in it is good for health such as corn-rice, corn-soup, and so on at the Democratic Woman Union's regulation on November 12th, 2008 at Deokchun City, South Pyoungan Province. The lecture was all part of an encouragement for promoting corn's appeal as one of the best in the world. But many members who attended the lecture made complaints about their food situation. "I am really eager to eat corn food, but I don't have money, and it’s difficult to get even corn soup. Don't advertize the health food. I can buy corn if we have money. I don't expect rice. I would rather you lecture to official officials or rich people about corn, not to us." They said with one voice. A person who was in the lecture said, "instead of corn, why don’t you suggest even alternatives such like wild greens. That’s more appropriate for us." The chief does not seem to have much answer.

Blind Chidren are Doing Rough Labor to Earn Food
There is a school for blind children in Onsung Country, Sambong District in North Hamgyong Province. It is supposed to be a school, but students are not there for studying. Because there is not enough food rations the children go out to do rough labor to make a living. In spring and fall, they can at least get some porriage three times a day by working at small patch lots or by helping with the harvest. However, it gets very tough in winter because there is no such work available. Now the harvest is over. So they are diligently doing gleaning and collecting corn stems and bean stems to be used as fuel. However, that is not good enough work to earn a meal or two for the day. As such, the mortality rate of children increases in winter. By gender, girls are more vulnerable than boys. Girls don’t get the opportunity to work for food because the tasks like small patch farm work and collecting firewood in the mountain are usually given to boys. Girls are barely surviving with a small amount of food they get by begging people to hire them to work in the kitchen.


[Accidents]
Four Hundred Fifty MT of Rice Lost in the Fire at Yeonahn Collective Farm
On the evening of November 14, a fire broke out in the 3rd work unit of the collective farm in Yeonahn County of South Hwanghae Province and burned 450 MT of rice. The rice bags containing rice that needed threshing were completely burned. Not being able to determine the cause of the fire, the security authorities arrested 3 of the workers to question them. It was reported that the three men arrested are not admitting the guilt despite severe torturing. So their lives are in danger. A farm member, Mr. Lee (age 48) said that the reason for torturing seems to be” because of the suspicion of arson." "There are many incidents like that in other places. They secretly hoard the rice with the excuse of keeping it for next year, and they set fire. They tell the government that they are unable to donate rice because it was all burned. Then there is nothing they can do. Such incidents happen so frequently they seem to assume that this incident is the same as the other cases. That’s why they are torturing people," he said.

Explosion Accident at the Institute of Microbes of the National Sciences Academy in Pyongsung
On November 8, an explosion occurred in the synthetic fertilizer research lab at the Institute of Microbes of the National Sciences Academy (국가과학원) in Pyongsung city. All six researchers at the scene died when the high-pressure steam furnace exploded. Toxic gas from the gas explosion spread to other labs and the dormitory. As a result, other researchers and their family in the dormitory lost consciousness as they suffocated. Many children fell victim of the accident among the family. With the special care of authorities in Pyongyang, they were sent directly to the Red Cross hospital. The city is making efforts to put down the fire, and dispatched two chemical defense platoons under the 3rd commanding army corps to disinfect the scene. The following day, several students from Pyongsung College of Science were promptly dispatched to a microbial biology lab to reduce the impact of the accident on the research.


[Commentary]
Attention Needed for Increasing Productivity and Improving Working Conditions

Recently, there was a discussion in the meeting at the Association of Coal Mines in North Hamgyong Province regarding plans to achieve targeted coal production. At this meeting one of the officials who proposed to give bonus payments to workers based on the amount of production was severely criticized by other executive secretaries and managers for spreading the idea of capitalism.

Around the same time, during the harvest of sea cucumbers at the Fisheries Public Enterprises in Ongjin County unskilled divers become casualties of insufficient education and training prior to being sent out to catch the sea slugs. These unskilled people are jumping into the sea despite the risk because they can make a lot of money through this kind of work.

Meanwhile, an official at Geomdeok coal mine is trying to encourage greater production by providing for the workers using his own money and beating those who do not show up to work. Although the production level has doubled compared to the first half of the year, the workers have started to sabotage the production process due to insufficient compensation. In response, the officials are threatening to send the workers to the Re-education center.

These types of problems are pervasive in North Korea. It is difficult to achieve increased production if they are unable to inspire enthusiasm among the workers to produce more. Nonetheless, the authorities only call for socialist ideas, emphasize political propagandas, and ask for unconditional sacrifice on the part of the workers. As such, the workers, who have suffered from long-term food shortages and economic hardships, have very little motivation to produce more. When the managers of the factories try to cope with difficult situation by selling some of the factory equipment and products to starving workers they often get caught by an anti-socialist inspection patrol, and is bound to receive punishment.

Even on the farms, if officials try to set aside some food for farmers they are blamed for not adhering to the plan of reserving rice for the military. One way or another, people in the workforce are caught between abiding by the orders from the Party and addressing the needs of the people. Worker causualties are continuing in the industrial workplace as well as in “Servi-Car (서비차)”companies because they are operating without heeding safe working conditions under the pressure of increasing productivity. Despite these efforts, loss of productivity is a serious problem in large factories. Furthermore, unreasonable conditions of employment and exploitation of labor are at serious levels in small businesses.

Those in charge of the economy of North Korea should resolve difficulties in the workplace and make efforts to increase production by actively incorporating suggestions from the workers. In addition, they should not neglect improving working conditions of workers and farmers and make efforts to prevent workplace accidents to encourage greater production. North Korean authorities should listen to those in charge of the economy by adopting their suggestions based on their experience in the workplace, and through decentralization. Increased production can only be attained through improved working conditions and the prevention of labor exploitation.


[Planning a Series]
Reading North Korea 2008 Through “North Korea’s Nationwide Report
(Public Lecture Materials for Party Leaders and General Public)”
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 4 Warnings against Moral Hazards by Party Leaders

“Lecture Materials for Party Leaders, May Juche 97(2008) ‘On Adhering To Principles of Party and Class Struggle”

The Problem of Moral Hazards - Why Party Leaders?

In the previous issue, we reviewed the Public Lecture Materials that initiated waves of attacks on the Lee Myungbak government. Once the North Korean government broke with the Lee Myungbak government in April, they turned their attention to the moral hazards of the party leaders in May. The audience for this Lecture Material is not ‘party leaders and the general public.’ This material is meant for party leaders and party leaders only.

Why, at this point in May, did they mention the ‘Principle of Party, Principle of Class Struggle’ in the Lecture Material for party leaders?
In April, they declared war toward the South. In order to secure victory, warriors at the frontline should be examined. The warriors on the frontline of idelogical warfare are not the soldiers in military uniform, but the party leaders.

So what is the state of the party leaders? Are they in a shape that could lead them to victory? The answer is an emphatic no. The very fact that ‘Principles of Party and Class Struggle’ are mentioned is direct evidence that those principles are largely ignored.

Even though the party leaders should be the greatest contributor to a victory on the battlefields of ideological warfare and establishment of a strong nation, their behaviors seem to contradict those principles. Consequently, the party’s conclusion is that their cadres need to be reminded of the strength and solidarity of the party line.

“Principle of Party means the leaders live according to the request of the party and maintain the interests of the party.” What is the party’s request? It refers to the ‘request of the people according to the principle of democratic centralism.’
Maintaining the ‘Principle of Party’ means protecting ‘our style of socialism, the center of which is people.’ And this principle is ignored, which allows the ‘imperialists and their puppets (South Korea) to act viciously, according to the North Korean authorities.

How Should The Party Leaders Behave?

“The principle of revolution cannot be thrown away and the revolutionary struggle cannot be stopped.”

How should the party leaders behave? The above statement makes it self-evident, ‘the Party line and the execution of its policies reflect accurately the will and desires of the people. Therefore, party policies should be executed unconditionally and carried out thoroughly.’ The important point in this statement is ‘the will and desires of the people.’

The Lecture Material never uses the expression of ‘the will and desires of the Leader.’ It repeatedly uses ‘the will and desires of people only.’ It implicates that the policies and the instructions of the party are the collective request of the people, not those of the Leader.

Who then sets an example? The Leaders are the ones. ‘The Parent Leader’ and ‘The Great Leader’ are those exemplary individuals. Learning from these Leaders and living accordingly are precisely the way to maintain the ‘principles of party and class struggle and also to reflect the will and desires of the people.’

Even though the expression, ‘the policies of the Leader’ is never used, ‘learning from the Leader’ is identical to ‘following the policies of the Leader.’ In this context, ‘the collective request of the people’ is identical to ‘the request of the people’ as seen by the Leader. It is not the request of the people from the bottom but the conceptual and abstract request of the people seen by the top.

For example, take the issues of the markets and agriculture on small patches of fields. People request to have freedom for commercial activities and rights for agriculture on small plots of land so that they can survive, a request that is frequently ignored and suppressed. This shows that there is a huge gap between the real request of the people and the collective request as seen by the Leader. ’The revolutionary principle that cannot be thrown away’ and the real request of the people are not compatible. They cannot coexist and the only way left for the people to take is to to suppress their real requests and follow the policies presented by the Leader.

Moral Hazards Among Party Leaders


Specifically what are the problems of the party leaders who need to follow the Leader and learn?

Firstly, the party leaders work without passion.
Secondly, they treat state property as their own and are likely to process it illegally.
Thirdly, they use the aid materials for the people as an excuse to burden them with illegal collection of fees.
Fourthly, they break the rules and regulations in management and administration following their own self-interests.

The party leaders should apply their efforts in their assigned tasks with passion. Yet, their first complaints are about their own lives; we do not have rice, we do not have clothing, we do not have oil, etc. They do not show any confidence in the party’s policies and do not apply their sincere efforts in carrying them out. They only pretend to work hard during the initial implementation peiord and then ignore their assigned tasks.

Party Leaders treat state property as if they were the owners. Frequently they burden the people with extra fees and they take care of the interests of their own units without considering the interests of the people as a whole. This is nothing but a self-centered way of life, one focused on individualism. It is like abandoning the principles of party and class struggle.

However difficult their personal lives may be, they should never look the other way as long as ‘the enemies of revolution’ keep plotting whenever possible. The idea that striving for a good personal life and taking care of only those people who are close to you will swiftly result in complete defeat.

This is the manner in which the North Korean government warns against self-centeredness by its party leaders. In the past, they used to select some specific individuals as to be identified as negative examples. Now they do not mention any specific names of individuals. That tells us that one particular phenomenon has become widespread, so widely that it would be very difficult to pick a few individuals.

Some party leaders make comments, “the economic situation is not just difficult, but completely destroyed. We are not facing hard times, but cannot survive. The economy is destroyed. In this situation, what can the party leaders do? ‘Restoration through self-support’ is nonsense. We have to take care of ourselves first before the people.” Crises of economy and food for more than ten years have driven the party leaders to poverty, to a situation where all they could care about is themselves. This has not happened overnight. It has happened over a ten-year period.

Already Dead Are Those Who Tried To Keep the Party Principle

The Party’s requested that its leaders find ways to solve various problems of requests by their citizens according to the interests of the people, to continue the struggle maintaining the principles of party and class struggle and to refuse to negotiate when it comes to these principles.

Regarding these requests, the party leaders declared, “those who tried to keep the principles of party and class struggle are already dead. Asking us to continue to struggle in carrying them out is like telling us to accept death. Those who are still alive could survive because they did not keep those principles. This is the truth the party cannot make known to the outside world.”

North Korea Today No. 255

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
[Weekely Newsletter] No.255 December 2008


[Hot Topics]
People Expect “development of US-North Korea relations,” with Obama winning the Election.

[Politics]
Hamheung No. 109 United Investigation Patrol, for the Third Quarter of the Year Control Narcotic Criminals

[Obama Elected]
"Intervention with Our Human Rights Subject will lead to Bold Action"
Residents of National Border areas, "No Need for Civilian Defense Force Training"
Sinchun County-"America is Still the DPRK's Sworn Enemy, Whoever May the Elected President Be"

[Economy]

Diverse Opinions among Pyongyang Central Party Officials over the Abolition of General Markets
Lack of Rice for Sale in Local Grain Enterprises
Soonchun City, a Showcase for Farmer’s Market
Massive Confusion over the Sudden Closure of the General Market in Hamheung City

[Women/Children/Education]
Moosan Kindergarten Closed Due of the Coal Shortage
An Official’s Wife Who Was Threatened with Divorce Sets Fire
An Outbreak of Paratyphoid at Wonsan Welfare Institution for Kkotjebi

[Society]
Factory, Public Enterprise Distribute Vegetables for Gimjang.
A Thief Left a Party Identity Card behind "He still has a scrap of conscience."
The Rich Family's Gimjang Expense up to 300,000-400,000 NK Won
It’s Gimjang Season, but the Only Thing Growing Are Worries
The Needy Make Gimjang Salted Radish Leaves.

[Accidents]
Jungpyong County’s Derailed Train Accident Causing Heavy Casualties
Fire Incident at a Munitions Factory in Kanggye City

[Commentary]
Outbreak of Paratyphoid Results from Food Shortage

[Planning a Series] Reading North Korea 2008 Through “North Korea’s Nationwide Report (Public Lecture Materials for Party Leaders and General Public)”
In North Korea 2008, What Was Accomplished and What Was Not?
Part 3 Making Distinction from Lee Myung-bak Regime

___________________________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
People Expect “development of US-North Korea relations,” with Obama winning the Election.
The people of North Korea are busy talking about that Obama. The fact that an African American has been selected as the next president of United States of America says many things. A person interviewed from Wonsan City market of Kangwon Province said, “Since he is an offspring of people who were sold to America as slaves, he will not be arrogant and impolite like white presidents who are from rich capitalist families.” They all agree that, “this is a good chance to develop a new, positive relationship between North Korea and the U.S.A.” Kim Young-deok, 48, who sells Japanese secondhand goods said, “If the two countries develop good relations, North Korea does not need to spend much money and human labor on development of nuclear weapons and long distance missiles. The burden that people hold will decrease and life here will improve a lot.” His high expectations were visible as he spoke.


[Politics]
Hamheung No. 109 United Investigation Patrol, for the Third Quarter of the Year Control Narcotic Criminals

No.109 Untied Investigation Patrol* (109호 련합지휘부) of Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province enforced regulating narcotic criminals for the third quarter, with leading and directive secretaries(조직비서) of the Provincial party attending on October 23. No.109 Untied Investigation Patrol transferred felony criminals to local police stations, and sent misdemeanor criminals to the City Training Center, or released them. Criminals who were caught during the third quarter from July to September are mainly narcotic criminals, smugglers across the border, marketers of illegal records and anti-socialist activists that were absent without notice, watching illegal videos. Thirty people were arrested for narcotic crimes, and sent to local police stations. College students who manufactured the narcotics were expelled from school. Workers who participated in superstitious behavior to receive money, and who were absent without notice, were sent to the City Training Center. Those who disseminated illegal videos were deported to farming village of Boojeon County, South Hamgyong Province. Viewers of the videos, even though they watched it three years ago, were punished if there is clear proof.

* What is No. 109 United Investigation Patrol?
It is a temporary formatted control-organization formed on January 20, 2005, around the national border areas after the policy was applied on October 9, 2004. In May of this year, No. 109 United Investigation Patrol was established in every city and county, and operations are in full swing. It appointed a capable person from the party members of each city and county to the head of No. 109 United Investigation Patrol, and organized the group with members from the local police station, the public prosecutors station, the courthouse, and the People's Assembly. No. 109 United Investigation Patrol divides itself into several departments, and regulates the details from non-socialistic elements to evident criminal acts. It has a partial punishment-function too.


[Obama Elected]
"Intervention with Our Human Rights Subject will lead to Bold Action"

Although a better and improved relationship is anticipated between the U.S. and North Korea than the current Bush administration but the essence of the U.S. will not change, according to one Pyongyang government official. He added, "We need to show our stronger military strength so that the U.S. will not look over us. We will consent to their reasonable proposals but if they meddle with our human rights issues, we will take strong and drastic measures. We cannot show any signs of obsequious behavior."

Residents of National Border areas, "No Need for Civilian Defense Force Training"
In response to the newly elected president, Barack Obama, the residents of the national border areas in North Hamgyong Province openly expressed their anticipation for the U.S. and North Korea's peaceful coexistent relationship for the upcoming year. Residents of Moosan County, Yeonsa County and Hoeryong City, who came to North Hamgyong Chungjin City's Soonam Market as wholesale traders, discussed and exchanged their opinions: "There will probably be no need for Civilian Defense Force Training if the U.S. and North Korea have a peaceful relationship. Eliminating coercive military duty will ease our lives' harsh and heavy burdens. Ending this war is our only hope for our survival. We only speak of war now because we are living through devastating conditions. If our living conditions improved, why would we want to inflict conflicts onto others. We are talking of war because our current situation isn't any better than an actual war. We are hoping that the President-Elect Obama will develop a more peaceful relationship with our country.

Sinchun County-"America is Still the DPRK's Sworn Enemy, Whoever May the Elected President Be"
"America is still the DPRK's sworn enemy whoever the elected president is", this statement was the response to a recent U.S. Presidential Election by the residents of Sinchun County in South Hwanghae Province, where the biggest scars of the Korean War still remains. Lee Ki-nam, who is now 78, lost his entire family by the U.S. bombing missions during the Korean War. He said, "The U.S. coyote-like ambition will never change. We should not hope for any changes to their imperialist nature." After Lee's comment, other elderly added, "He's right. We cannot live in the same world with the American imperialist. If our intention and determination softens by expecting any goods from the Coyotes, we will suffer another disaster." Even the relatively younger generations, those in their 40's and 50's said, "The reason our country is divided and the DPRK is struggling with poor living conditions is due to the U.S. adapted anti-communist scheme and the economic sanction. We should never let our guards down." agreeing with the first generations of the Korean War.


[Economy]
Diverse Opinions among Pyongyang Central Party Officials over the Abolition of General Markets

Although there are no reported objections to the Central Party's decision to abolish the general markets, it is known that there were conflicting opinions about such decision. One Pyongyang official says, "The officials, who openly object to general markets, expressed loudly that since the establishment of the general markets, the increase of self-interest and the widening gap of the wealthy and the poor are not consistent with the principles of socialism. They report that it is causing an increase in the crime rate as well as the increased production of imitation brand products. Also, the people are not faithful to their jobs and farm work, rather they are far more interested in making profit from small, private farms. In order to stop further damage to society, they say that is essential to abolish the general markets." These officials do not have anything to say about the government's inability to provide food and wages for the people. They just insist that the general markets should be prohibited because the acts of the people striving for survival on their own are the acts of anti-socialists. Although there were many officials who had different opinions, they had just kept silent on the matter. However, one official spoke out, saying, "Although nobody said anything publicly, many are saying that 'under the current food crisis, if the military provisions are taken from farms and seed for the next season and livestock fodder are set aside, there won't be enough food for farmers. Although the government prohibits the selling of food immediately, the local grain enterprises do not have enough food to sell." The Central party has decided that starting next year, factory items will be sold in state-run stores, food will be sold in a distribution center in each area, and agricultural products food will be sold in the farmer's market. The Party allows only three-day openings (the 1st, 11th, and 21st) a month, which used to open every day.

Lack of Rice for Sale in Local Grain Enterprises
Due to the new policy that prohibits the food sales in markets but allows the sales only through distribution centers, the local grain enterprises worry about the lack of food they can provide to the centers. One official in Pyongsung says, "There is enough food for the military for the moment because the counties can buy food from the many surrounding farms as well as from those individuals who are willing to sell their grains. However, the local grain enterprises in the big cities have problems. Since the military strictly controls the flow of food out of each county, big cities can't buy their necessary food unless the government sanctions them the food." Some officials, who oppose to the abolition of the general markets, say, "Those officials who advocate the abolition politically go to extremes. Their arguments do not reflect reality. Local grain enterprises do not have enough rice to sell. Under these circumstances, how could they issue the immediate ban of rice sales? They have no interest in the difficult situations of the people, but only have the interest in spreading ideological propagandas. Another official also says, "If the government tries to control people too much, there might be a sudden change of public sentiment and cause uproar."

Soonchun City, a Showcase for Farmer’s Market
Soonchun in South Pyongan Province was chosen as a model area for a farmer’s market that opened for business in November. On the 11th, there were only selected vegetables, meat products and fruit for sale – cabbage, potato, sweet potato, local eatable plants, ground red pepper, duck, chicken, rabbit, persimmon, apple, pear, honey, medicinal herbs, and more. Police officers were out in force that day standing in all the street corners making sure no one was selling or buying any industrial machine parts or grains. When they saw any of these forbidden items, they confiscated them. The police also stopped anyone who was carrying a large load, and searched them. Even in the midst of this, there were still some who ran a black market selling daily necessities and industrial goods. Though the city has not allowed a general market, it cannot sell food items through public distribution centers (배급소). Whenever the residents get together, they complain, “They tell us to buy farmed products, but not grains or industrial products! From where can we get food? It is really frustrating to hear the government, which cannot provide food for us, telling us not to purchase food. We cannot get involved in commerce now; and the next year, according to what we are hearing, we will not be allowed to do small patch lot farming anymore. There is no way for us to survive.”

Massive Confusion over the Sudden Closure of the General Market in Hamheung City
Many residents of Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province, were thrown into a great confusion because of the sudden shut down of the general market. The city was chosen to be a model area for a farmer’s market from November. Many wholesalers who bought a large quantity of goods are suffering the most. Not only are they having a difficult time selling the goods, they are having a hard time dealing with the harsh reality that they can only open for business three days in a month. Since they are not allowed to deal any industrial products, daily necessities or food items, their businesses are facing a bleak future. A woman in her 40’s, who has a clothing business, shows her deep frustration over the situation: “It is absolutely driving me insane – how can they allow people to sell only farmed products and nothing else? I have no idea where and how I can sell my cloths… I feel like my insides are being eaten away from all the worrying.” Many business people, who find themselves in the same boat, are selling their goods at cost in hope that they can get rid of them as fast as they can. Those who have a large quantity of goods to sell, are either peddling in the street corners or engaging in black market tactics. They would approach a perspective buyer and show him a product or give him a note asking, “What are you looking to buy?” If the person is interested, they take him to where their goods are stored. Many business people who did not bother with door-to-door sales, are now doing it. They carry a big load of goods on their back and go around knocking on people’s doors. Ironically, as it was in the case of Soonchun, Hamheung, Grain Policy Enterprise and state-run stores are not being run smoothly due to the lack of goods.


[Women/Children/Education]
Moosan Kindergarten Closed Due of the Coal Shortage

Since November 10, the kindergartens in Moosan-town, Moosan County of North Hamgyong Province have been closed because of a shortage of coal. The kindergarten has decided to send nursery teachers to children’s home to help them learn. At the end of last October, many students caught colds in this kindergarten because the temperature dropped drastically. Because of the severe cold weather, some children had a nervous problem and had paralysis around their mouth. This institute has requested People’s Assembly for aid, but it has not received any clear answers yet, so they decided to close the kindergarten until next February. To make up the loss, teachers will visit and teach their students once a week at their homes.

An Official’s Wife Who Was Threatened with Divorce Sets Fire
Onsung County, North Hamgyong Province, began inspections of registration of the staff of each government office, enterprise, and farm. When the registration department of the police station found illegal conduct by staff and their family, they were punished. For example, an official can lose his position if there is record that his wife or children have been to China. In fact, the authorities instated this policy several years ago, but they have not been applied to officials. An official of the Farm Management Committee of Onsung County had a record that his wife and her sister visited their relatives in China to secure trading items. He sued for divorce in order to avoid losing his position. His wife, Ms Kim, cried and begged his forgiveness by saying, “Did I do that just for myself? I did it for my family. How can you give me the cold shoulder?” But he did not accept her, so she became angry and set a fire to their home. Fortunately, her family and neighbors put out the fire at the initial stage, so it did not cause major damage. When police officer who investigated the site and found the fire was set intentionally, they arrested her on the spot because the fire almost burned portraits of their leaders.

An Outbreak of Paratyphoid at Wonsan Welfare Institution for Kkotjebi
Last November 12, paratyphoid broke out at Wonsan Welfare Institution for Kkotjebi (homeless children) in Kangwon province and the number of infected children has increased gradually. They quarantined children who have had high fevers and illness from fatigue without providing them any treatment. Because they did not have any solution for this disease, seven children died.


[Society]
Factory, Public Enterprise Distribute Vegetables for Gimjang.

Every city and county factories and enterprises distributes radishes and Korean cabbages for Gimgang* (김장). The portion for a person varies depending on the situation of each factory and enterprise. Workers could receive more than the expected amount if the managers of each factory and public enterprise make a good negotiation. The powerful public enterprises can provide more than enough vegetable for Gimjang. However, most of them distribute only 20-30% of vegetable needed for Gimjang. The farmers are able to use small fields to grow radish, Korean cabbage, green onion, and pepper on their own. However, city workers need to buy everything at a market. That is why it is significantly important how much of vegetables are distributed by factories and public enterprises for the workers.

*Gimjang (김장): preparing a large amount of Gimchi for winter consumption
*Gimchi: pickled Korean vegetables

A Thief Left a Party Identity Card behind "He still has a scrap of conscience."
In Sinpo City, South Hamgyong Province, a thief broke into the house of a man in his forties. The thief broke the lock to get into the house and ran away with nice goods such as clothes and handbags. While the owner of the house looked through what was stolen, his party identity card came to mind. A person who lost his the party identity card (당증) is considered to lose his 'political life' and will eventually be excluded from the party. As they could not find it after digging through their house, they began to worry. Three days after the break-in, their identity card was found on the door. The thief brought it back and left it at the door. The owner of the house said, "The thief is the one who knows about the domestic situation. He at least had a scrap of conscience not to ruin my life." He has been on everyone's mouth as “a thief with a good heart".

The Rich Family's Gimjang Expense up to 300,000-400,000 NK Won
It is the season for Gimjang in major cities including Pyongyang city. Government officials or wealthy families spend around 150,000 NK won* for Gimjang this year. Some rich families make Gimchi up to 700-800 kg or buy a kind of sandfish and 20-30 pollacks for over 5,000 NK Won/each, so the cost for Gimjang reaches up to 300,000 - 400,000 NK Won. Some residents who gathered around the Seongyo market in Pyongyang city complained about high cost for Gimjang. Park Ki-jeong (35), who was at the market to buy vegetables said, "My family is going to make 200 kg of Gimchi. I am able to save some money because we receive about 80 kg of Korean cabbages from the enterprise. We are five people in our family. In order for our family to get through this winter we need a total of 500kg of Gimchi, 100 kg for each person. However, we don't have enough money for that." When people changed the subject to Gimjang this year, they laughingly commented that “I wish I could taste Gimchi made in government officials' family."

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

Table. The cost for Gimjang in party official household in Pyongsung city



It’s Gimjang Season, but the Only Thing Growing Are Worries
As the Gimjang season sets in, people have begun to make Gimjang in earnest across the country. Gimjang is considered as an essential source of food, probably one of the top two. In North Korea, people have mostly grains with Gimchi in almost every meal due to no other side dishes. The amount of Gimjang that is prepared is obviously an important determinant of how well they could live through next spring.

For all that, residents of Yeonsa County in North Hamgyong Province sighed deeply as Gimjang season approached saying, “We can’t afford to make much Gimjang this winter”. Last year, the number of Korean cabbages prepared for every household was usually about 300~400 kg ( about 200 Korean cabbages) even the poor families, but this year most of households could barely afford 200kg of cabbages for Gimjang due to the rising costs. The number of Korean cabbages and amount of preparation for Gimjang has become smaller for most families this year than last year.

The situation is even worse for farmers. They sell their best cabbages at the market to make as much money as they can and then make Gimjang with what’s left over, usually radish leaves of about 100 kg. Of course, the wealthy can still afford over 400 kg of cabbage for their Gimjang.

The Needy Make Gimjang Salted Radish Leaves.
The needy and the homeless children (Kkotjebi) make every possible effort to glean in harvested fields for dropped heads of grain or cabbage and radish leaves. Because they cannot even think of actually making Gimchi they preserve what they gather with salt to help last them through winter.


[Accidents]
Jungpyong County’s Derailed Train Accident Causing Heavy Casualties
On November 8, the train leaving Rakwon County from Jungpyong County in South Hamgyong Province derailed. Two carriages of the passenger train overturned. 40 passengers were reported to have been killed and 60 critically injured. The cause of the accident, which took place on a bend, remains unknown. Meanwhile, Railway Authorities and Security Officials were busy trying to shift the responsibility to others.

Fire Incident at a Munitions Factory in Kanggye City
On November 2, a fire broke out in a munitions factory located in Kanggye city in Jagang Province. The fire started in a place where 5.45mm automatic rifle bullets were produced and ammunition boxes were packed. A female worker was using oil to clean packaging hardware and placed some of the oil near electric motor wires. Fire ignited because of the wires short-circuiting. Then, the fire spread to the bullet boxes. There were no big casualties. However, because the room where the fire started was in a tunnel, there were workers who fell and suffocate because they could not evacuate in time. Security officials at the factory conducted interrogations for a few days against the day-shift workers in order to find the cause of the accident. Meanwhile, the workers in this factory work for 9 hours 30 minutes a day in day and night shift work. Last month, they received some rice and corn, corn nutrition powder, and noodles.


[Commentary] Outbreak of Paratyphoid Results from Food Shortage
There was an infamous plague, which took the lives of many kids at the kkotjebie (homeless) camp, called ‘9.27 Camp’ during the Arduous March. This disease is a simple fever epidemic called ‘paratyphoid’ in South Korea. However, this is a fearful disease in North Korea that spread, along with cholera, during the severe food shortage.

According to "North Korea's food situation report," published by the Good Friends in 1999, 60% of those who died of long-term nutritional deficiency diseases during the arduous march were deaths due to the disease. Followed by tuberculosis (5.9% of the total death toll), paratyphoid (4.2% of the total death toll) had the second highest fatality rate. The prevalence of this disease lowered in 2000 for a while, thanks to improvements in the food situation. However, the disease re-emerged in Wonsan in Kangwon Province.

Being infected by the Salmonella paratyphoid is similar to typhoid fever, which is accompanied by diarrhea, and headache. However, it is classified as group 1 epidemic with minor symptoms. Adults with enough nutrition can recover from it in a few days after suffering from cold-like symptoms. However, it can be fatal to the children or the elderly with weak immune system. Due to continuous diarrhea, the mortality rate is high when there is not enough nutrition. You can lose consciousness when the temperature goes up and can cause irreversible brain damage. The price of the medicine for this disease was so expensive that this disease was nicknamed ‘10,000 won disease (만원병)’. It cost 10,000 NK won when the price for 1kg of rice was 80 NK won. Moreover, due to strong resistance it can persist even in low temperature in the winter.

Once the disease attacks, it spreads quickly because there are no follow-up measures other than the quarantine of the patient from others. The prevalence of the disease is especially high in homeless (Kkotjebi) camps. Once the disease occurs it spreads in no time because the Kkotjebis suffering from chronic nutrition deficiencies are cramped in a small room.

A prompt initial response is very important when it comes to dealing with infectious disease. As such, the North Korean government must actively support the supply of medicine and the initial treatment in order to prevent the spread of paratyphoid. We urge them to improve the sanitary conditions and to pay attention to nutritional supplements.

The city government of Wonsan, where paratyphoid broke out should increase the distribution of food aid to homeless (Kkotjebi) camps in order to improve the nutritional condition as well as the sanitary conditions.

The South Korean government and the international community need to keep an eye on North Korea's outbreak of the epidemic and actively support its treatment and prevention efforts. The international community should not overlook the fact that a humanitarian crisis from a disease epidemic is derived by a humanitarian crisis from food shortage.


[Planning a Series] Reading North Korea 2008 Through “North Korea’s Nationwide Report (Public Lecture Materials for Party Leaders and General Public)”
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 3 Making Distinction from Lee Myung-bak Regime

The Lecture Material for the party leaders and general public, published April, Juche 97 (2008) with the title, “Concerning the Inevitability of Bankruptcy of the Anti-North Confrontation Policy Set By Lee Myung-bak Group.”

Every day seems to bring the relationship between North and South Korea closer to disaster. North Korea suspended tourism in Kaesong and train service between the North and South as of December 1, and informed the South Korean government that it would halve the permitted number of South Korean personnel on November 24. It has not even been a year since Lee Myung-bak took office and already mutual exchange efforts between the two governments are suspended and the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the symbol of economic cooperation between two Koreas, appears to be in danger closing forever.

From Wait-and-See to Aggressive Confrontation

Since Dec 19, 2007 when Lee Myung-bak was confirmed as the elected president to the end of March 2008, the North Korean government maintained a wait-and-see attitude. Because the Grand National Party (한나라당) came to power, a party which had traditionally been aggressive toward the North, the North, while not worried, appeared to be cautious in the early days of Lee Myung-bak’s government.

For example, since the election in February of 2008, the North used the expression ‘South Korean authorities’, referring to Lee Myung-bak government. The expression ‘South Korean authorities’ is a term which implies the most respect from North Korean government. However, the attitude of the North seemed to become more confrontational following some statements made by the South Korean government. During March, ‘South Korean authorities’ changed to ‘Those in power in South Korea.’ There is no denying that the South Korean government, in its early days, gave the North the excuse to unnecessarily harden its relationship with the South, whether or not South Korea intended to do so.

In an early statement, Kim Ha-joong, Unification Minister of South Korea, said “expansion of the Kaesong Industrial Complex would be difficult without resolution of the North Korea’s nuclear issues” at an informal meeting on March 19. On March 26, at a Unification Ministry briefing, President Lee disclosed that “the most important relationship concerning the North and South is the Basic Agreements that were concluded in 1991.” He added, “with unresolved nuclear issues, unification of North and South and full-scale economic cooperation will be difficult.” He formalized the linkage of nuclear issues and economic cooperation.

The North’s interpretation of this statement is that Lee’s was actually going against the 6.15 Joint Statements and 10.4 North-South Summit Agreements. On the same day, Yu Myung-hwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, made a statement, “our time and patience are running out regarding the North’s nuclear issues” at a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Rice. His statement strongly suggested a policy of pressure toward North Korea. On this very day, another notable statement came from General Kim Tae-young, Chairman Designate of the Joint Chiefs Commission. General Kim was asked a question at a parliament hearing, “What could be done if the North develops a small nuclear weapon and attacks South Korea?” His reply was, “We would locate the storage of the enemy’s weapon and destroy it.” This statement could be interpreted to mean a preemptive attack on the North, and therefore potentially an aggravating statement. North Korea responded immediately to these statements. On Mar 27, eleven South Korean staffers out of the thirteen at the Kaesong Industrial Complex were expelled. On the following day, a missile was fired off the west coast. On April 1, beginning with an editorial entitled, “The Only Thing South Korean Authorities could gain from an anti-North confrontation is ruin,” the Rodong Shinmun started a large-scale confrontation. The situation looked like a pot of boiling water that just had its lid taken off.

Aggressive Tactics in Full Scale
“No More Expectation from Lee Myung-bak Government”


Public Lecture Material published this past April with the title, “Concerning the Inevitability of Bankruptcy of the Anti-North Confrontation Policy Set By the Lee Myung-bak Group of Traitors”

Annual aid in fertilizer from the South has ceased and the South Korean government is not expected to deliver any other aid soon. This assessment of the situation by North Korea has incited an intense hostility toward the South. Here are shown the typical, ideological tactics by North: ideological warfare with the North means making up an incident out of the current issues and attacking with a concentrated fire.

Beginning with Lecture Material in reaction to particular statements made by the leaders of South Korea, North Korea explains what has recently raised their ire.

“We expelled eleven staffers of the puppet authorities from the Kaesong Industrial Complex and conducted a military exercise that will scare the enemy. Our Headquarters of the Navy issued statements toward South Korean puppets claiming the Northern Limit Line (NLL).”

Regarding the statement by the puppets that the South would initiate a preemptive attack on our nuclear base, we sent a telephone message clarifying our position that South Korea’s preemptive attack would cause the whole South Korea to end up in ashes.” This is what they call ‘utmost firm resolution in responsiveness’ in the early stage of ideological warfare. There is no room to move backward because it is ‘a matter of principle in a fatal win-or-lose situation.’ There is only one way to go, that is, ‘win.’ North claims they won the initial mental battle.

On April 1, the Rodong Shinmun commented on the lack of response from the Blue House. “The puppet authorities and the politicians of the South would normally have made immediate comments. So far, they keep quiet, perhaps, because they lost spirit. Even if Lee Myung-bak was branded as a ‘traitor’ by the Korean people, he cannot find any word with which to speak out. This is evidence of our initial victory.”

North Korea keeps claiming that the enemy was put into a dilemma, the dilemma being that the enemy cannot respond to these strong measures without adding to worries of a war breaking out. Furthermore, if Seoul does not respond or begs for forgiveness, it will cause them to lose face badly. Once the ideological warfare gets started, they try to justify why they have to strike and also they describe what the enemy’s situation is like. They try to show that their strike caused the enemy to be in that particular condition.

Even though the Lecture Material was developed for domestic propaganda toward North Korean residents, the attitude in the material makes a clear distinction between the governments of Kim Dae-Jung and Noh Moo-hyun and that of Lee Myung-bak as a hostile regime. This attitude will linger and forecasts a worsening North-South relationship.

“Why Does the South Interfere in the Matter of Nuclear Issues?”

North Korean residents do not have any idea the what Lee Myung-bak government said or what ‘[non-nuclear open-door 3000 (비핵개방 3000)]’ means. They don’t even know who Lee Myung-bak is. However, they clearly recognize that Lee Myung-bak is the one the Lecture Material claims as the leader of the reactionary anti-North confrontation policy of South.

The reasons why North Korea considers the South’s policy to be confrontational:

(1) It insists on a relationship with the U.S.A first and relationship between North and South second
(2) It insists on abandonment of nuclear weapons first
(3) Its focus on human rights and open-door policies
There is also irritation due to military and security issues

The North took issue with President Lee’s previous statement that is interpreted to negate the 6.15 Joint Statements and the 10.4 North-South Summit Agreements. This is considered by North Korea to be the most serious anti-North and anti-unification item. In addition, North does not understand the South’s position of ‘abandonment of nuclear weapons first’. ‘Abandonment of nuclear weapons first’ is already a consensus opinion in South, whereas it is unacceptable in North. South believes that ‘abandonment of nuclear weapons’ is essential for maintaining peace in the peninsula, whereas the North, even ordinary residents, believes it will make the situation more dangerous. “With nuclear weapons, we feel more secure and confident. “Nuclear weapons are necessary for protecting not only the North but also South.” This seems to be widely-held opinion among the residents of North.

This suggests that South Korea should approach the nuclear issue with more strategic emphasis. Many residents of North Korea consider ‘abandonment of nuclear weapons’ unacceptable. The South Korean government eventually will have to deal with the opinion of North Korean citizens as well as their government.

The North’s hardened attitude of, “even if we may break, we will not bend,” might bring a situation where the public sentiment of the residents of North may turn against the South Korean government. This is because the North Korean government will keep trying to persuade its residents of the necessity to keep nuclear weapons. The pressure brought on by the South’s strict bargaining tactics might be enough of a pretense to justify having a nuclear weapon.

Thirdly, the issues of human rights and open-door policies bring out distinctive differences in understanding between the North Korean government and its residents. The nuclear issues bring the two sides together, whereas the issues of human rights and open-door pull them apart, even creating unrest between them.

It is the North Korean government itself that is to blame on this issue, no one else, not the Lee Myung-bak government, and not the international community. Whatever ‘our style of human rights’ might be to North Korean residents, it is the North Korean residents who experience beatings by security agents in public, who have their property taken away at will by police, and who must suffer humiliating violence. The sight of a neighboring family being arrested and taken away during the night will easily scare residents. In addition, North Korea executes convicts in public. There is no way on earth that the residents of North Korea may feel that they are protected by law and that they have human rights. They feel resentment, expressing the sentiment, “what human rights are there when living in fear!” In the past, the residents never heard of the word, “human rights.” Since the passage of the “Resolution on Human Rights in North Korea” at the United Nations, there have been many instructional classes on human rights. Opposite to the intentions of North Korean government, the classes on human rights raise the level of sensitivity about how bad the situation really is when it comes to human rights in North Korea. Residents say, “We doze off during the class when they talk about human rights.”

There have been other incidents that aggravated the North Korean government. One is raining leaflets by balloon, leaflets containing accusations against the North and written by a group of North Korean defectors in South. Another issue is South Korea’s introduction of the U.N. resolution on human rights in North Korea. It is not easy to confirm their effectiveness in improving the level of consciousness on the part of North Korean residents. Rather, there is a claim that the above incidents so irritate the North Korean government that they end up chilling the North-South relationship and making the survival of North Korean residents more difficult. The immediately apparent effects seem to agree with this claim.

As far as the human rights issues are concerned, it might be better to let the North Korean government make their own mistakes than trying to force them to change their course of action. Unlike the nuclear issues, the relationship between North Korean government and its resident is rather clear on the issue of human rights. Therefore, it might be best to wait for the North Korean government to reform its behavior on its own.

So far, we have reviewed the reasons why the North Korean government has been carrying on its ideological warfare against the South.

North and South Governments, What Do They Fight For?

The second half of the Lecture Material deals with press quotations about critics turning their back on North Korea as well as other quotations from South Korea. The Lecture Material tries to generalize the resentment toward the South Korean government by means of quotations from newspapers, including The New York Times.

As usual, those so called “quotations” are not trustworthy because the sources are not revealed and the interpretations are not consistent. What is clear is that the residents of North Korea do not realize the disparities and this approach apparently is believed to work.

“All sectors of South Korean society believe that there is no issue of the Korean nation or any economic issue that can be solved without the cooperation of the North. Therefore, the only way to resolve the situation is for President Lee to ask for forgiveness and declare his intention to respect the 6.15 Joint Statements and 10.4 Agreements.” The North tries to make this request look like as if it was suggested by the South. At this point, it seems that there is some room left for the Lee government. Considering the short time left in 2008, it seems that the South will not summon the initiative to further interact with the North soon.

The North-South relationship started stretching due to some unnecessary irritable statements made early on. Instead of progress, communications produced further acrimony. We do not understand what was intended with the March 26 statements by the President, an army general and a foreign minister. It would be worthwhile to review what was gained from them, that is, what contribution to unification or what economic gain to the South.

More than anything else, consider how many North Korean residents have perished because of starvation during this consuming mental battle. Even if they could count a few gains, it definitely would be a strategic failure.

The South Korean government could stop the ideological warfare in advance. However, it seems to permit the continuation of the ideological tactics by giving the North excuses. The South Korean government claims not to respond to them, but they end up irritating their counterparts in the North. All of these actions push the two parties farther from the path of unification.

In 2008, a wave of attacks by the North restricted the South’s options. If the Kaesong Industrial Complex is forced to close, the investment worth W 500 billion will be lost and along with the international community’s trust.

It seems necessary for the North Korean government to maintain a perspective that is not focused a short-term gains but on long-term benefits regarding the whole Korea. It would not matter much whoever remains after a fierce battle because both will be losers in the cold reality of the international community.

What North Korea fears is unification by absorption, that is, North Korea being absorbed by the South. An evidence of this fear is shown at the end of the Lecture Material. It states, “We should never develop any delusions about South Korea or any tiny bit of attachment to the South Korean economy. We should stick with the principles of revolution and class struggle.”

The South Korean government ought to understand this fear. The North Korean government must learn to understand that the only way to overcome this fear is not to accuse the South but to obtain substantial economic capabilities. That cannot be achieved by engaging the South in ideological warfare. It can only be achieved by cooperation with its counterpart. After having its name removed from the list of sponsors of terrorism, the North will need a guarantee by South for securing any investment from the Asian Development Bank or any other international fund. Any investment would not be possible without a guarantee by the South.

North Korea always shouts “Among Ourselves” or accuses the South of being “dependent on the United States.” And yet, when it is time for both Koreas to talk to each other, the North seems to choose United States as partner. This very fact speaks clearly that it is the North itself that depends on the United States.

It would be an empty dream if the North desires to develop its economy and build a strong nation either by ignoring or alienating the South. It is also a dram best abandoned if the North ever believes that the United States would provide funds or help develop its economy. The only country that is willing and able to invest in North is South Korea. North Korean authorities do not tolerate any accusations or insults toward Chairman Kim. However, the North is too quick to deliver a personal insult to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. It is not too late to start sharing mutual respect toward both leaders of North and South Korea. This will be a good way to initiate a conversation.
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