GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No.271

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekely Newsletter] No.271 March 2009

[“Good Friends” desires to help the North Korean residents through humanistic point of view, and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean residents live as real as possible.]

[Hot Topics]
City of Hoeryong Deploys 70 Kkotjebis to Farms
Kkotjebi Youth Team of Hoeryong Yungsoori Farm Commended For Good Work

[Food]
People in Dancheon City Live on 'Porridge' Recently
Dancheon Gwangcheon District, “Nine Out of Ten Households Boil Only Water in the Empty Pot” Many People in Hongwon County Living on Porridge.
Most Residents of Shinpo city Barely Survive by Eating Grass Roots or Herb Gruel
Hanggudong, Nampo city, Food Situation Worsens as Trades with Japan Halt

[Economy]
A Variety of Tile Products Sold at the Soonchun Market
Cheap Corn Prices in Wonsan

[Politics]
The Police Bureau in Hoeryong Called an Emergency Measure Meeting in Response to Burning of Cow Fodder
Gaepoong County Ginseng Factory, Inspection Includes Farmers
Soonam District in Chungjin, Holds a Public Trial for 12 Societal Crime Offenders
Manpo City Holds a Public Trial for Illegal Dealers

[Society]
Shinpo City, The health of the Elderly in a Nursing Home in Danger
An elderly Couple Dead After a Life of Wandering
Families Led a Roving Life Because of Debt

[Women/Children/Education]
Pyongsung Middle School Students, Earn Meals by Bicycle

[Accidents]
Train Carrying Corn Derails at Changyun County Station
Bongsan County Warehouse Manager Murdered

[Investigative Report]
[Correspondence From Pyongyang]
What Good Will it Be to Become a Delegate?


_________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
City of Hoeryong Deploys 70 Kkotjebis to Farms
Hoeryong City sent a group of 70 Kkotjebis detained at Travelers Camp during 2007 to farms to work as laborers. The group was divided into two and sent to Yungsoori Farm and Goongsimri Farm. City Party leaders called each group an ‘Independent Youth Team.’ Members of the Independent Youth Team lodge together and essentially earn their meals. They are assigned a daily task and should finish it before they get fed. At times they may not go to their rooms even after 10 in the evening unless the task is done. Depending on the number of workdays, they might be assigned individual contract work. A vast majority of these Kkotjebis are orphans who lost their parents and siblings during the hard spring of 2007 and are from different cities. A farm manager said, “These children of city workers were never exposed to farming, and were clumsy at first. But they are pretty good now.” Another farm worker said, “I understand there are other farms that received Kkotjebis. It seems that anyone who is over 16 years old among these children and who was detained at the Camp during 2007 and 2008 is sent to the farms.”

Kkotjebi Youth Team of Hoeryong Yungsoori Farm Commended For Good Work
An Independent Youth Team consisting of Kkotjebis from Yungsoori Farm of Hoeryong City was selected as the “Citation Unit of Triple-Revolution Flag.” This Team, which was described as ‘a hard-working unit like oxen,’ received the honor of attending the national ceremony celebrating ‘triple-revolution unit citations’ in Pyongyang. However, the participants from North Hamgyong Province received poorer treatments in comparison to other area participants. Their assigned lodging was an old inn in Pyongyang that sees few customers. Rooms had neither heat nor blankets, and the participants had to endure cold nights. Consequently, most of them caught colds. The persons in charge of participants from North Hamgyong Province returned home with all their participants right after the ceremony. The original itinerary was supposed to last ten days. However, most of the members of the Independent Youth Team were so sick with colds that they had to return home after five days. The participants from other provinces were assigned to hotel rooms with heat and blankets, much better treatments received by those from North Hamgyong Province.

[Food]
People in Dancheon City Live on 'Porridge' Recently
The main staple of people in Dancheon City, South Hamgyoung Province is porridge. Rich people sometimes can eat corn meal or non-glutinous rice but almost every family has been living on porridge for quite a long time. In Geumbong-dong, many people suffer. They wish to have one meal a day. They live on thin porridge and spend all day at the outdoor market to get some food for the next. Hong Kyung-sim (40s) who sells miscellaneous goods said, “All my family members wait for me coming back home. If I bring a lump of noodle, then they become relieved thinking that they do not need to starve that day. However, they make the noodle as porridge to eat longer. I often wake up in the middle of night because of starving family. Also I cannot sleep well because of worrying about meal for next day.” People who do not have anything to sell at the outdoor market go to mountains and the field to dig herbs. In the winter, people usually peel off the pine tree. Fortunately the spring almost came so people are desperately waiting for digging herbs in the field.
People who work at the small factories and enterprises in Bokchun-dong say they have not received any food supply. Mr. Jung Pil-kyu (50s) said, “Surviving each day becomes so difficult, I wish I could eat to be full.” There are at least one or two people died from starvation in the family of Kim Ho-chul, Kim Kyung-hwan, Kim Seong-man and Lee Sang-hak. These people have been living on porridge and suffering from malnutrition since the last spring hardship season. Some of them died before the last winter ended. From the last spring austerity season to early this year, there are tens of people died from starvation in Bokchun-dong. There are also many people who cannot stand up due to the long-term malnutrition.
The situation in Deokhung-dong is almost the same. The family of Kim Chul-so, Kim Kang-ok and Kim Kwang-geun easily skip one or two meals a day. Han Young-ae (50s), wife of Kim Chul-soo, said, “It is common to cry all day long. I need to cook the rice but there is no corn rice. I only cook herbs or grass roots with very little corn powder.” Myung-hee (20s), a daughter of Kim Kang-ok, also said, “All the family members: father, mother and younger brother are suffering from malnutrition and their faces are all swollen. We do not have proper clothes, either. We collect leaves due to lack of fuels during winter. When it is so cold that we cannot go out, we have no choice but to stay in the cold room and spend the time.” Choi Ui-chul (40s), who has not received food ration since last year, said, “People in the worst condition skip the meal very often and barely eat. Others who are in a better condition also eat porridge as a main meal for two or three times a day. I am not sure whether my neighborhood is poorer than others or others are also in the same situation with us. Is my neighborhood poorer than others? I wish someone could tell me the truth.”

Dancheon Gwangcheon District, “Nine Out of Ten Households Boil Only Water in the Empty Pot”
Gwangcheon District of Dancheon City, South Hamgyong Province has been suffering from food shortage problem since last year till now. Every resident said, “Nine out of ten households boil only water in the empty pot.” They have been starving since February of the last year and are still suffering from food shortage. Due to the long-term starvation over a year, they lost their energy and many of them suffer from various kinds of diseases. Especially, there are many children and the elderly who suffer from malnutrition. There are many factories in Gwangcheon District; wood finishing factory, food factory, paper mill, soy factory, bean factory, and spicy paste factory, chemical factory, retired soldier’s factory, jar factory, and clothing factory. However, none of these factories are running properly. They cannot even imagine food ration. They were so much in short of food, clothes and fuel that they had the hardest time ever during the last winter. In place of the head of households who failed to bring money or food to home, females in every house were busy running around to look for food. Nevertheless, family members in every house from adults to children have scabs on their faces and they were all gloomy.
Jeong Se-ok (40s) who works at the paste factory said in despair, “I sigh all the time. My husband cannot go to the factory to work. He says he has no energy. So, he gets dizzy after walking a little bit. Even when he becomes sick, there is nothing we can do. We, of course, do not have any medicine, but even taking medicine would not give effect because no food was taken to give energy.” Choi Dong-seok (40s) said, “There are many families who suffer from the hunger and diseases especially in Gwangcheon District in Dancheon City. Nearly 60% of children are absent from the school.”

Many people in Hongwon County Living on Porridge
Hongwon County of South Hamgyong Province is famous for being the most affluent area in the Province. It has been evaluated as self-supportive thanks to good farming and fisheries. However, even Hongwon County is suffering from serious food shortage problem just like the old saying, “Even a strong man cannot stand a long-term illness.” For the past few years, Hongwon County's output has been much short of its self-demand. Fisheries are not well managed either. The residents barely buy corn powder and make porridge. People say, “We try our best to get one more meal, but nothing works well and all the houses are full of sigh. It has never been like this in the past. We do not know why it turned out to be this way.” A worker of Fisheries Enterprise said, “In our enterprise alone, there are countless people who have swollen faces due to a long-term starvation since last year. They cannot even sit down so they have to stay lying all the time.”

Most Residents of Shinpo city Barely Survive by Eating Grass Roots or Herb Gruel
The population of Shinpo City of South Hamgyong Province is about sixty thousand. They are mainly the family of fishermen. Although there are some factories and enterprises such as soy source companies and steel mills, these companies have not provided their workers with any ration at all. Residents want to fish out at sea, but they cannot do so because only Shinpo Fisheries Enterprise has the exclusive right. There are a submarine base at Mayang Island and a submarine factory near Bongdae Mountain. People in other areas can fish by using a barge, but residents of this district have not been allowed to use even a barge, so they have very tough time. An official said, “Currently, over 90 % of Shinpo City residents barely eat. By gathering eatable kelp and seaweed around seashore, many residents sell them and barely buy 1-2kg of corn. However, everyone gathers these products, so there is not enough seaweed left.” In the severe cold winter, these people also went to mountains or the fields to gather and eat roots or barks of trees. He described the critical situation of food shortage and said, “Since the last spring hardship season, about 40 households have disappeared on a census register until the early of this year. Many people have starved to death.”

Hanggudong, Nampo City, Food Situation Worsens as Trades with Japan Halt
Nampo City, South Pyongan Province, had relatively better food situation compared to other regions. It was because some of the food-aid that arrived at Nampo seaport has been secretly leaked out to the markets and economic situation was not that bad due to ongoing trade with Japan. However, residents say that’s all in the past now. Hanggu-dong is a home of many people who make their living by selling the products from glass factories. Chung Kyong-ran (40s) said, “They say Hanggu-dong is better than other regions in terms of food situation, but it leveled with other struggling regions since the trade with Japan stopped. We are barely making a living.” Responding to a question how much profit people make by selling the products from glass factories, she said, “We can buy 2 kg of noodles on very good days, but we actually make porridges out of the noodle and share them with entire family.” Hwang Jung-sook (40s), who was listening to this interview, said, “That is true only for the ones who sell really well. There are many households that cannot eat any food at all.” Hwang added, “Look at the seniors walking down the street. They cannot walk well. We rarely see even young people walking with full power. Our situation, however, is still better than any other regions.” When we had a conversation with Lee Keum-soon (50s), a person we met in the market, we heard the dire food situation first. Lee said, “Since we are worried so much about food, clothing is not our priority to talk about. We are just concentrating fully on figuring out how to eat. With current food crisis, there is no difference in terms of living standards, and we are all suffering from hunger every day.”

[Economy]
A Variety of Tile Products Sold at the Soonchun Market
Unlike other markets, the Soonchun market in the South Pyongan Province sells various tile products. It is usually difficult to find tile products in general markets, but residents can easily find tile products in the Soonchun market because there is a tile factory in Soonchun. However, because Soonchun does not manufacture enough number of other products, the market is usually filled with products from the North Hwanghae Province, South Hamgyong Province, and other neighboring areas. Like other markets, foodstuffs and miscellaneous goods sell well in the Soonchun market. Kwon Soon-kyung (50’s), a rubber goods merchant, complained about the on-going regulatory control of the market since last year, saying, “It is easy for us to get goods because Soonchun is so close to other Provinces. However, how can the people depend only on just the market, which opens a few hours per day? It would be very nice if the government revitalized general markets and provided necessary products for them. Kim Hyun-shil (40s) added, “The tile products don’t even sell that well in the market. There are so many people like me who get the products from the factory and sell them in the market. We have only a few customers because many people do not make repairs to their houses. Sometimes, we can’t even make enough money to purchase one-day’s worth of corn.” Both Kwon and Kim complain about their difficult life, “We wish the county would help commoners like us to eat and live. Unfortunately, the country doesn’t help us at all, but only tell us, “Don’t do it.”

Cheap Corn Prices in Wonsan
Corn is relatively cheap in Wonsan, Kangwon Province, because corn production, even in the poor-soiled Kwangwon Province, is relatively high compared to other crops. The residents in Hamhung, Kimchaek, Shinpo, and even distant Chungjin come to Wonsan to purchase corn. Some Wonsan residents sell corn in the market but those who sell a large quantity of corn often invite the buyers to their home. The residents in Wonsan purchase basic necessities by selling corn. Wonsan was a wholesale center for Japanese used products before the trade between the North Korea and Japan was suspended. After the suspension, the overall living condition in Wonsan has worsened. Some Wonsan residents lament, “Wonsan has now become the poorest area in North Korea.”
Han Eun-sung (40s), who sells corn at his home, said, “They say we had a good harvest last year. If then, we should have a better food situation. But spring has not started; yet we have already been facing difficult food situations. I am afraid people might die from starvation like last year.” Park Hae-ran (40s), who came from Hamhung to Wonsan in order to purchase corn, said, “Wonsan is not an exception. Food shortage is everywhere. Some families already do not have food. My family often ate rice two years ago, but not this year. It’s a chore to feed ourselves one meal a day.” She also added, “The cheap corn price has helped us a lot, but it might be temporary. It will go up once food shortage becomes a problem for Wonsan residents.”

[Politics]
The Police Bureau in Hoeryong Called an Emergency Measure Meeting in Response to Burning of Cow Fodder
Last February 26, the police authorities in Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province summoned an emergency measure meeting. This is due to recent increase in cow fodder fires in the face of an upcoming farming season. The police authorities decided to launch operation to sweep the incendiaries by closely investigating the cow fodder fire regions. The police authorities agreed to increase the number of patrol units and intensify overnight patrols in cow farming areas. They were also ordered to thoroughly verify identities of anyone wandering after dark. They also required all cow farms to have private guards. By repeatedly experiencing fires of cow fodder, the police authorities concluded “The enemies maneuver to prevent us from utilizing cows during farming season” and emphasized, “We need to eliminate and arrest all spies who gave money to the criminals to commit such a crime” A resident of Chungjin, Lee Sam-keun (40s) commented, “I don’t trust what they say anymore since our Republic calls all incidents ‘the Class Provocation of Enemies’. Farmers raising cow in farm are in better living situation with more food. Isn’t it possible that someone started fire because of jealousy, envy or personal grudge? It’s also possible this is caused by kids playing with fire and, in any case, who could possibly know if spies might be responsible?” questioning their calling this arson incident a political spy case. Between 2nd through 9th of last month, there had been multiple fires of cow fodder at the farm in Obong-ri, Heoryong City. The 3 offenders involved were living in poor condition with no food. They confessed, “Someone paid us $100 and had us working for them”. Between 17th and 22nd, there had been fire at two cow-raising households in Kangandong. Similar incident took place on the 27th at 12th unit Kangandong. Kangan police substation is performing an intense investigation to catch the criminal.

Gaepoong County Ginseng Factory, Inspection Includes Farmers
The Central Police Department started inspecting all ginseng farms in Gaepoong County, Kaesong City starting last month. The inspection includes all farm associates- temporary workers, administration workers and farmers. The Central Party inspection that was conducted in 2007 resulted in many of its party workers and administration managements being dismissed from their office. Studies show the Farm Management Board workers hoard an average of 30-35kgs of ginseng secretly. Ginseng is a high cost product, with 1kg of ginseng cost 200,000 NK Won. The trading companies manage it under the Central Party’s control because it is an export good. Due to this reason the Military Party cannot easily touch ginseng. Korean Chinese merchants sometimes bribe the Central Party and buy few kilograms of ginseng. There are always shortages in products during the harvesting season. The Central Party suspects the County Party officials at these times. During this inspection, they will thoroughly investigate for any illegal activities starting with the officials up to the farm workers regarding the illegal outflow of ginseng.

Soonam district in Chungjin, Holds a Public Trial for 12 Societal Crime Offenders
Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, held a public trial for societal crime offenders on the last 28th at around 1pm in Soonam district. The 12 offenders consisted of three people who stole from other houses, two who beat and stole from a bicyclist, two who sold and distributed illegal South Korean movies and dramas, two sisters who dealt narcotic drugs, and three females who were caught after fleeing to China. The public trial was held one hour before market opened; residents were rounded up to attend. The Chief of the Police Station announced their crimes, and then declared punishments according to each crime. Most of them were sentenced to labor education centers.

Manpo City holds a Public Trial for Illegal Dealers
In Manpo City, Jagang Province, there is a series of public trials going on for the illegal dealers. On January 28, a public trial was held for five workers who sold machinery equipments and parts to China. They were sentenced to 7-9 years in re-education centers and their families were banished to a rural village with no electricity. “They make such a big deal as if they caught a big criminal,” reacted some residents because there were even provincial party officials attending on this day.
On the 23rd of last month, there was a public trial for people who were accused of anti-social activities at the munitions factory. This group of people was accused of teaming up with National Border guards to sell leftover bronze from the munitions factory. They were sentenced to be re-educated and their family members were banished to a distant rural village. Meanwhile, on the 21st of last month in Haeju City, Hwanghae Province, 5 people who stole many things including rare metals, machinery equipments and parts were also sentenced to re-education center and families banished to a distant rural village.

[Society]
Shinpo City, The Health of the Elderly in a Nursing Home in Danger
The elderly housed in the Yanghwa-Li 2nd unit in Shinpo City, South Hamgyong Province keep passing away. Due to lack of food, the elderly are able to have half a bowl of corn porridge for each meal. The bedridden elderly weren’t even given such meals. Hygiene is also in serious trouble. The elderly are easily exposed to disease such as colitis, paratyphoid fever, tuberculosis, and of course the common cold. City party and government officers do not seem too concerned with this situation. There are 40 employees working at the nursing home in Shinpo City, but only 11 among 40 employees come to work. The rest of them do not come to work. Instead, they just contribute 25,000NK Won, because they can make more money on their own. The money collected is used to purchase necessary goods for the elderly.

An Elderly Couple Dead after a Life of Wandering
Choi Ho-Chul and his wife, both in their seventies, have lived by themselves after their two sons passed away during the Arduous March. Since they were already over 70 years old, they had difficulty making money by doing peddling or farming. One day they found some train passengers who couldn't afford to stay at a hotel and ended up staying at the waiting room in the train station. Mr. and Mrs. Choi let the passengers stay in their house and received a little bit of money from them. Some gave the old couple a lunch box instead of the lodging charge. They got more regulars thanks to charging lower rates than other hotels. That's how they were barely able to manage to make ends meet. All of sudden last year, they were called to the police station as anti-socialist. Young police officers called them names and ill-treated them as if they were criminals. After they went through tough interrogations, they could not run the house inn anymore. There were no other choices but to beg for money here and there. Mr. Choi couldn't make it through the spring hardship period and passed away. Mrs. Choi also passed away while gleaning in the field last winter. Their neighbors said that "It was a hard time for everyone. We felt so sorry that we were not able to take care of them."

Families Led a Roving Life Because of Debt
Lee Gil-Joonge (in his 40s) lived with his father, two kids and an ill wife in Wonsan, Kangwon Province. Since the price of food rose in 2007, their family's life got tougher. Food crisis got worse in 2008. Mr. Lee did everything he could do to support his father, ill wife and two kids. He traded vegetables and chicken in the beginning, and then he switched to trading furniture and general merchandise. In the old days, he would think he would lose his face if he does such business. But he was not in a position to be picky on what he did to make money these days. He did not spare himself and went anywhere for his trade. However, his business did not go well. Every time he came back home with nothing in his hand, his kids were frustrated. On such a day, his entire family had to skip meals. His father lost energy and finally passed away during the summer. He borrowed money to buy medication for his wife, who was getting sicker. When weather became cold, his wife also passed away. He had only debt left with him, which he borrowed to support his wife and two sons. His two kids ran away from home after suffering from hunger. He couldn't locate where they were staying even with his best attempts. He made a decision to sell his house in order to pay off his debt. Then he had nowhere to stay, and that's how he started his wandering life. He had worked hard for his family. However in the end, he lost his entire family. He said "I hope my sons are still alive so we can live together sometime soon. I will do my best to make it happen."

[Women/Children/Education]
Pyongsung Middle School Students, Earn Meals by Bicycle
It is commonly spotted that middle school students earn meals with bicycles in Pyongsung City of South Pyongan Province. They wait for a chance at Pyongsung Station and tout to people with heavy bags. They carry the bag of others or give a ride to their destination. It is relatively easy for children of fifth- sixth grade in middle school but children who are around ten years old look pathetic. Children who have bicycles are still better off. However, children who don’t have bicycles have to carry burden on their back, so it seems dangerous that they carry the burden that is two to three times bigger than their body. Kim Soonchul (16), who work carrying a burden by bicycle said, “I do not feel the hardship, if I have a work.” The hardest thing is that there are no people who are looking for me for work. Kim said that, “Price of food have no difference with the Northern area but business doesn’t pay well. I guess there are fewer peddlers for that reason. We, who work to earn meal s for the day, are also hit directly.”

[Accidents]
Train Carrying Corn Derails at Changyun County Station

On the 24th of last month, a freight train coming into the Changyun County station in South Hwanghae Province derailed 600 meters from the station. On this train, there were 11 cars full of corn. Due to this accident, six of the cars rolled over, resulting in a total loss of about 30 tons of corn. The coastal security guards of 4th Corps reported to the scene and cleaned up the accident.
Bongsan County Warehouse Manager Murdered
On the 18th of last month, a manager of commerce office who was in charge of a food warehouse located in Bongsan County, North Hwanghae Province was reported missing. On that day, the profit was only about 60 NK won, but because the accountant left work earlier that day, the manager was unable to transfer the money to the accountant. Because the manager was unable to find a safe place to keep the money, he decided to take the money home with him. Then, he disappeared. Three days later on the 21st, a body was found floating on the river and after investigation, turned out to be the missing warehouse manager. The police authorities began the investigation with the suspicion that someone had stolen the money from the manger and then murdered him.

[Investigative Report]
[Correspondence From Pyongyang]
What Good Will it Be to Become a Delegate?
This year’s election of delegates to the Twelfth Supreme People’s Assembly was held last March 8. It was supposed to be held last year, but was delayed because of unexpected circumstances in the republic. The following episode is what happened in 2003 when I was elected to be a delegate in the previous term. The hot summer was about to begin. I was walking toward the city party building in the morning earlier than usual after crossing the Daedong Bridge. While walking, something that a young party secretary had said to me came to my mind:
“Comrade Factory Manager, report to the leading city party secretary at nine on Monday morning.”
“What is the matter?”
“You will find out when you get there.”
“Report to the leading city party secretary out of the blue? I expect neither a promotion nor any commendation. What is going on?” I was concerned with these thoughts.
I arrived at the city party building, full of curiosity. The receptionist already had a list of names. There were many people waiting, but I registered quickly and entered the leading secretary’s room.
As soon as he saw me, he said, “Comrade Factory Manager, your efforts are truly appreciated. According to reports, your reputation is very good. Is that true?”
I did not know how to respond to such an unexpected question, and mumbled.
“You are recommended to be a candidate for a delegate to the Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang thanks to the trust and consideration of Our Beloved Leader, Chairman Kim Jong-Il. Congratulations.”
The news was completely unexpected. I don’t remember what I said in response. I probably must have said, “I will be loyal to Our Beloved Leader with all my heart.”
“Good. Stop by at the Department of Leadership. You might have to do something there. They will tell you what to do.”
The Department of Leadership handed me a certificate that allows a photo to be taken at the Photo Shop in Daedongmoon. I had a photo taken, but I had to borrow a uniform worn by members of the Department of Leadership, instead of wearing my ordinary clothes.
Two days later, I received a notification that I was to be a candidate the election from The Department of Delegate Activities, in The Standing Committee of The Supreme People’s Assembly.
When I got home and showed the notification to my wife, she was overjoyed, “Wow, how did our household ever have a day like this!
“What are you saying?”
“Honey, listen. You are a factory manager, but you are not adding anything to our household. If I did not do any peddling, our family members could barely afford to eat.”
“Don’t mention such things. The only reason you can peddle is because I am a factory manager.”
“I suppose you are right. You are the head of the household. I can peddle safely because I have something to lean on. Now that you are a delegate, I believe there is a new path that had been made available for us to make big money.”
“Don’t ever say anything like that. That is pitiful. Always, peddling, peddling. You never think of anything else, but peddling.”
“No, I am planning to deal in seaweed in Hwanghae Province. Nothing will block us once we have a delegate identification.”
“Don’t say that. Even the delegates are not allowed to pass through the second sentry post (Pyongyang Security Command post at the entrance of Pyongyang).”
“Hey, it won’t matter when we go to Hwanghae Province. One Sunday, you go to Hwanghae Province with me. I will get a car ready. One trip will get us at least five hundred thousand NK won after all the expenses and gasoline costs. Only the delegates can do it.”
“How dare you? Is nothing forbidden in your mind!”
“Everyone does that. What do you care?”
I was told that since delegate identifications exempt any inspections, there are many delegates peddling in this manner. Seaweed is for export only and therefore is very expensive. It is forbidden to take seaweed out of Pyongyang. Only that which is bought cheaply at the original production site can sell for a higher price in Pyongyang. Even so, I felt very bad. Only one day after I accepted the sacred responsibility as a delegate, I am told that it could help us to peddle for more money. As time went by, I felt that my wife’s judgment was correct. There was not really anything to do for the sake of loyalty. I began to develop the sense that survival is the primary thing for me, protecting our family. I feel that it is likely that this year’s delegates have all received the same advice that I received in my own home. There is nothing sacred about being a delegate, and that is the way everyone lives every day.
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