GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

.

North Korea Today No.293

Research Institute for North Korea Society
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekly Newsletter] No. 293 August 2009

[“Good Friends” aims to help the North Korean people from a humanistic point of view and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean people live as accurately as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]

_________________________________________________________

[Hot Topics]
Spurred by Letter, “A Party Member’s Confession,” Party Increases Scrutiny of Officer Conduct
The Central Party Committee Fabricated the Complaint Letter
After Receiving Complaints, Kangwon Province Conducts Investigation of Anti-Socialist Activities
The Officers of North Hwanghae Province are Criticized for “Looking Down on the People”
“Government Officials Will Not Easily Change” –Stipulates an Official of North Hwanghae Province

[Food]
Special Food Rations Provided to War Veterans on “Anti-American Battle Day”
Food Rations Discontinued for the 118th Missile Engine Factory in Kaechun since February

[Economy]
Competition for Employment at Foreign Goods Store is Stiff among Families of Officials
New Farm Work Units are Formed to Provide Raw Materials to Ganggye Basic Food Factory

[Politics]
Detection of Unregistered Residents in Sariwon
Intense “Investigation of Anti-Socialist Activities” Conducted in Sariwon to search for evaders of organized labor continued throughout June
Drug Traffickers with Nationwide Network Arrested

[Society]
Wonsan Harbor Bright with Electric Light, Sailors Joke They Thought It Was South Korea
The Political Bureau of People’s Armed Forces Send Military Police to Heecheon City
Discharged Soldier Commits Suicide out of Poverty and Despair

[Women/Children/Education]
Scarcity of Swimming Pools
Residents Applaud Expulsion of Drug Dealers
Students Assigned to Sell Grass Seeds

[Accidents]
Two-Thirds of Rice Lost After Truck Overturns
Telephone Pole Repairmen Receive Electric Shocks While Working in Sariwon

[Investigative Report]
Pyungyang News – Ryukyung Hotel or Ryukyung Tower?
_________________________________________________________

[Hot Topics]
Spurred by Letter, "A Party Member's Confession," Party Increases Scrutiny of Officer

Recently, the ideology of the party and government officers has been scrutinized nationwide. During the 150-Day Battle, officers have been attending meetings every day before they leave for duty. The Central Party announced that it had received a letter entitled “A Party Member’s Confession” from a soldier who had been recently discharged from the army. After studying the contents of the letter, the Party decided to intensify their scrutiny of the ideology of officers nationwide. Set forth below are the condensed contents of the letter:
“It was difficult to find the true spirit of the society as I entered into the workforce for the first time. Illegal trade and bribery happen frequently everywhere, the country is ridden with nepotism and excessive drinking, and discharged soldiers who have served for more than 10 years are living in goat sheds, cow barns or other people’s warehouses because they do not have a house of their own. Discharged soldiers will not receive distributions of provisions or a house without offering a bribe; the people suffer because they do not have anything to eat. On the other hand, the officers who hold power in each field are busy using their position to spend lavishly. Many officers own several houses even though they have a small family. I sense a big gap between the rich and the poor, which is not supposed to exist in a socialist state.”
The Central Party Committee said that this complaint letter No.1, which describes the gap between the rich and the poor, cannot be handled casually because the contents are sincere and the names of important members of the Provincial and the City Party are explicitly mentioned. The Committee reviewed the officers who were mentioned in the complaint letter and undertook an investigation nationwide. With this incident looming large, officers make sure to note even the most trivial irregularities that have occurred since 2007.

The Central Party Committee Fabricated the Complaint Letter

An officer in Pyongyang said that the complaint letter which was allegedly written by a discharged soldier was in fact, a fabricated letter. He said that it was impossible for a discharged soldier to write a letter No.1, and that it was deliberately fabricated by the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Central Party Committee. “Things like this happened a lot in the past. When the Central Party Committee realized that restlessness was prevailing among the people, it tried to control the situation by devising a countermeasure. The Committee came up with the idea of scapegoating the officers, so it fabricated the complaint letter,” he said. “The Central Party Committee understands that restlessness has taken hold of the people during the 150-Day Battle. In order to win the hearts of the people, the Committee started scrutinizing the ideology of officers by creating a letter from a discharged soldier. In short, it was created by the Central Party Committee.”

After Receiving Complaints, Kangwon Province Conducts Investigation of Anti-Socialist Activities

As the ideology of officers has come under scrutiny nationwide, it has been reported that the Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol was dispatched to Kangwon Province after receiving people’s complaints. The residents of Kangwon Province already sent many complaints to the Central Party in the first half of this year. Most of them were reporting about the illegal activities of the officers, police, and soldiers. There have been several investigations in the past regarding the irregularities and corruption of the officers, but the enforcement of the law was insufficient. The lack of enforcement was due to officers either overlooking each other’s offenses or mitigating the punishments. Set forth below are the contents of the complaints, according to an officer of the Central Party:
“The lives of the officers and the rich people are getting better every day, and the lives of the public are getting worse every day. The Central Party must take care of this problem as soon as possible.” (Munchun City in Kangwon Province, A man in his forties)
“The illegal activities of the ordinary residents have been punished thoroughly, but the illegal activities of the officers have not been addressed in time. If people are not able to go to work because they have to get something to eat, the responding security agents interrogate those people at their convenience, even sending them to the Re-education Center, but the illegal activities of officers have been justified. The law must be applied equally to everyone.” (Wonsan City in Kangwon Province, A man in his fifties)
“Many officers who hold an important post in our city (Wonsan) and the cities in other provinces are competing with each other to build up luxurious houses. They are eager to look after their own interests by abusing their power. They pay attention to how to live in abundance and indulge in luxury, but they are indifferent to other people’s distress. The people’s grievances are getting louder every day.” (Wonsan City in Kangwon Province, A woman in her forties)
The residents who have sent the complaint letters are mostly general clerks, teachers and other laborers. They have written the name, position, time and location of the officers and listed many instances in the complaint letter, thereby revealing the irregularities and corruption article by article. They have thoroughly described the incidents, such as officers embezzling public goods, demanding money or other articles, and looking after their own interests by abusing their position.
As the complaints against the officers escalated, the dilemma of the Central Party escalated as well. The criminal activities of the officers have not been rooted out even though the Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol was mobilized several times to enforce strict regulations and mete out punishment. The Central Party discussed and analyzed this complaint letter several times and dispatched the Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol of the Central Party to Kangwon Province again, starting in the middle of May. As of this July, approximately 80 officers were detained and underwent a preliminary hearing as a result of this investigation of anti-socialist activities. Some were relieved of their office or punished through dismissal; others were forced to forfeit their properties and house, and were banished along with their families. In addition, approximately 20 people were sentenced to re-education and some people even received capital punishment. The Central Party decided not to slacken the investigation of anti-socialist activities in order to “raise the people’s level of trust in the Party and the government and to gain the great support of the people”. In addition to Kangwon Province, other regions in the country are also conducting investigations of anti-socialist activities.

The Officers of North Hwanghae Province are Criticized for “Looking Down on the People”

The officers of the Provincial Party in North Hwanghae Province and the workers of the City People’s Assembly and the Farming Management Commission were criticized by the Central Party for “looking down on the people”. The claim comes from the fact that the majority of residents in North Hwanghae Province are currently living a life of half-starvation by eating potatoes, ears of barley, and some grains, but the officers “have been eating well and living well using their privileges”. The Central Party criticized the officers of the Provincial Party and each City Party of North Hwanghae Province: “The officers speak impolitely and ignore the people because a majority of the people who are the peasantry in North Hwanghae Province are of a low class status. The officers do not try to resolve problems when they receive a complaint. The officers are supposed to work as a connector between the Party and the people, but on the contrary, they alienate the Party from the people.” The officers of this region have been addressing people rudely, saying words like “hey, you” to 70-year-old seniors because they are the families of a defector or a Chiandae. (Meaning ‘Security Patrol’ in Korean is equivalent to low capacity civil militia that used to help the US army and the Korean army during the Korean War (1950-1953). Thus, when someone was found to take part in the Chiandae, he or she was almost always put to death or imprisoned and all their families became part of a ‘hostile class’ that was discriminated against by the rest of the society).

“Government Officials Will Not Easily Change” –Stipulates an Official of North Hwanghae Province

A governmental officer from Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province unveiled his opinions on the ideological foundations and the effectiveness of the Central Party. He asserted that the Central Party creates polices without ever implementing them. His assertions are exemplified in the fact that the Central Party does very little to address intelligence on people suffering and of the growing distrust for the government. He claimed that this was due to the fact that many senior government officers have lived a comfortable life and would be disinclined to initiate any changes that would compromise the status quo. “They may preach certain policies and principles, but in the back, bribery, nepotism, and cronyism are commonplace.” He suggested that the high ranking officials from Pyongyang must take initiative. “There are more government officials who don’t work than those that do. This may be the main reason why we are unable to resolve the food crisis. Anybody who can think can figure this out.”

[Food]
Special Food Rations Provided to War Veterans on “Anti-American Battle Day”

On Anti-American Battle Day, June 25th of last year, special food rations were distributed to the war veterans in Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province. The City Party ordered the People’s Assembly Local Grain Policy Enterprise to distribute 3.8-kilograms of unglutinous rice to each of the 80 war veterans. Three veterans who arrived a day late only received 6-kilograms of corn noodle per person.

Food Rations Discontinued for the 118th Missile Engine Factory in Kaechun since February

Food rations have been discontinued since February for the 118th Missile Engine Factory located at Kakamro Dongjagu in Kaechun City, South Pyongyang Province. The last distribution consisting of five days worth of whole corn to approximately ten thousand people was made on April 15th in celebration of the Day of Sun – Kim Il-Sung’s Birthday. In July, three tons of unglutinous rice were distributed, but they only reached the managerial positions and the higher ups. The workers barely manage to work and make out a living on potatoes. Since there is no food at home the workers do not go home for lunch. Many of them bring 3 to 4 potatoes in the morning for lunch and rush to take a quick nap before returning to work in the afternoon. The government warned the workers that absence will not be tolerated during the 150-Day Battle period; however, since mid-July, attendance has been dropping steadily. The primary party’s secretaries and some workers would visit the homes of the absentee workers to bring them back to work; however in vain. Jang Dong-Ik (alias, in his fifties) says “we ought to bring back these absentee workers, but they are not in any physical condition to work. Regular food rations need to be distributed soon to nourish the workforce. During our visit, we witnessed entire families malnourished and barely able to move.”

The other workers experienced similar situations. One primary party worker says “it feels more like a consolatory visit rather than a labor mobilization visit. We do deliver the Committee’s message to the sickly workers, but at the end of the visit we usually tell them to take care and get well soon. The Factory Party Committee received many of these similar reports saying, “it is better that these malnourished workers stayed home because they would not be able to physically carry out the work.” Without any food rations soon to be released the current situation will pose as an obstacle to mobilizing the workers.

[Economy]
Competition for Employment at Foreign Goods Store Stiff among Families of Officials

Getting a job at the foreign goods store in Pyongyang which is run by Unification Bureau of the Worker’s Party is almost like searching for a needle in a haystack. Officials of the Central Party and high ranking officials in Pyongyang are desperate to get jobs for their children and their wives in the stores. That’s because of excellent employee benefits. In fact, the goods provided to employees on special holidays are diverse and in good quality. The goods are worth about 200,000 NK won, if converted to actual currency. Every quarter when employees meet the sales target, big ticket appliance items such as a television, or a washing machine are given to employees as a bonus. The goods sold at the stores run by the Unification Bureau of the Worker’s Party are mainly food, industrial goods, and building materials imported from Japan, Singapore, and Thailand. When the goods arrive from abroad, employees from the foreign goods store go to the airport or to Nampo port in person to pick them up. From August 3 to 13, they worked hard to transport 1,300 tons of sugar from Nampo port.

New Farm Work Units are Formed to Provide Raw Materials to Ganggye Basic Food Factory

At the basic food factory in Ganggye city, Jagang Province it was reported that new farm work units are formed at three locations for the delivery of raw materials in order to facilitate the provision of basic food such as soy bean paste and soy sauce for the residents. This is creating new work units which specialize in corn farming to produce corns to be used as raw material for soy bean paste and soy sauce. In these units more factory workers than farm workers were assigned. Each unit is made up of 90 workers which is larger than the size of existing work units. Forming a company can cause several problems with labor administration. So, the workers decided to form work units after long discussions. Seven subunits with 12 people in each unit were formed and they started farming last March. The work units belong to the raw material base manage 25 to 30 Jungbos of land per unit.
They crop corns in 90 Jungbos of land and use all the corns harvested here to produce soybean paste and soy sauce. The workers here are not receiving dividends like farm workers but receive rations from the government. All the rations they received is one week’s worth of corns they got as a special provision for the April 15 holiday, but they are receiving potato rations since August. The laborers live on two meals of porridge made with a mixture of potato and corn powder each day.
Nevertheless, the prospect for the upcoming harvest is not bright. The quality of the soil is not good despite the large land. Within Jagang Province this area is known as “infertile land for farming,” pointing to the infertility and high acidity in the soil. The farm workers in this area say, “No matter how much fertilizer we put in there and work hard on weeding the best we can get during the harvest in the fall is only about 1,300 kg.”They also say, “Even the kernels are like husks. So, the corns won’t be good raw materials for soy-bean paste.”

[Politics]
Detection of Unregistered Residents in Sariwon

On July 29th, an interim meeting was held in Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province, placing emphasis on “building a moral and solid foundation for our society during the ‘150-Day Battle’ by detecting criminals who can corrupt it.” Officials announced that they would continue investigations on unregistered residents, insisting that “when we commence the ‘Strong and Powerful Nation’ in 2012, it is necessary to organize Sariwon such that only appropriate citizens and cultured, reeducated residents can stay.” To date, the city has uncovered and expelled sixty unregistered households, who have lived alongside registered residents. The city police and local subsidiaries conducted comprehensive investigations, fining forty households and expelling another twenty to their registered locations. These displaced households did not provide appropriate reasons for staying in the city nor did they meet the required conditions for residence.

Intense “Investigation of Anti-Socialist Activities” Conducted in Sariwon to search for evaders of organized labor continued throughout June

An interim meeting was held in accordance to the “Investigation of Anti-Socialist Activities” which began on May 30th. Twenty-five investigators who were selected from a group of city party officials and police, as well as members from the Youth Union, Democratic Women’s Union (DWU) and Farmers’ Union rigidly inspected each neighborhood unit. Even the Organization Secretary of the City Party was subject to regular check ups twice a month. According to reports from the investigation that took place in June, people who did not work for specified organizations or run a personal business were thoroughly looked into. A member of the DWU said, “They punished fifty-eight people who did not participate in organized labor, twenty-seven members of the party, thirty-seven members of the Youth Union and thirty farmers who refused to work by giving them summons to report to the City Discipline Center. They also exposed and held a public trial for ten prostitutes who were seduced by immoral people, lost their chastity, and sold their bodies to make money.”

Drug Traffickers with Nationwide Network Arrested

In June, a gang of six drug traffickers were arrested. Their unlawful activity is being regarded as ‘the biggest drug bust’ because their operations extended throughout the entire country from Hamheung in South Hamgyong Province, Pyongsung, Pyongyang, Sariwon, Kaesong, etc. The cartel ran its business by transporting drugs manufactured in Hamheung to Pyongsung, while selling them in Pyongyang, Sariwon, and Kaesong. Starting in February of last year, up until their recent arrest, the traffickers maintained inappropriate and intimate connections with high ranking officials of each district. Provincial Prosecutors Offices of South Hamgyong Province, South Pyongan Province, North and South Hwanghae Provinces are directly investigating this case, exercising their authority without going through the local police or public prosecutors. They are attempting to expose suspicious officials who received a large amount of bribes from the drug traffickers, providing them with every possible advantage to conduct illegal activity. The city of Sariwon transported its suspects to the Provincial Prosecutors Office for further in-depth investigations. Upon the conclusion of the “150-Day Battle,” the suspects will be tried and punished appropriately. The leader of the cartel himself may be subject to execution by hanging. Depending on the severity of the crimes, his associates will be sentenced to reeducation and life imprisonment. During prosecution of these domestic drug dealers, city party officials, police officers, or lawyers who are found to have involvement with the crimes will be dismissed from their positions.

[Society]
Wonsan Harbor Bright with Electric Light, Sailors Joke They Thought It Was South Korea

The Wonsan Chungnyun Power Plant was built in Kangwon Province at the beginning of this year. It provides local residents and industries with so much electricity that people can work longer and more efficiently. For example, those working at Wonsan Harbor now have a 24 hour-a-day lighting system. Fisherman, returning from a couple of weeks of deep sea fishing, were so surprised by the illumination that they joke that they must have mistakenly sailed into a harbor in South Korea. The provincial party in Kangwon Province suggested that a part of the electricity generated should be reserved for the use of Pyongyang residents who have an insufficient supply of electricity. The Central Party, however, declined the suggestion because, even with the new power plant, the situation in terms of the supply of electricity is worse in Kangwon Province than in Pyongyang. Because the people of Kangwon Province have been able to retain all of the newly generated electricity for themselves, it has helped them a lot with daily living, agriculture, and manufacturing.

The Political Bureau of People’s Armed Forces Send Military Police to Heecheon City

On July 9th, a company comprised of East and West Pyongyang military police was sent to Heecheon City, Jagang Province, to strengthen the security in the city. There was a large military presence in Heecheon City working in Heecheon Power Plant construction, and the crime rate of soldiers against civilians skyrocketed. The company of military police that arrived on June 2nd was not enough to curb the crimes committed by soldiers. While working on the construction site, the soldiers raid civilian homes and steal food and other items, exacerbating military-civilian relations. The Political Bureau of The Ministry of People’s Armed Forces examined the reports submitted by local police station and the People’s Council of Heecheon City and ordered the Military Police Headquarters in Pyongyang to send an additional company of military police.

The military police stationed in Heecheon City is attempting to “stop the liberal act of stealing and taking food and cigarettes from civilians by force that undermines the honor of the military.” When a soldier is arrested by the military police, he is reported to his company and battalion, and that will be considered in the corps evaluation. No matter how strong and efficient the corps performs, it cannot get a good result when an evaluation is conducted by the general headquarters if the corps has a record of undermining military-civilian relations.

Discharged Soldier Commits Suicide out of Poverty and Despair

July 6th, a young man killed himself by running into a cargo train bound for Namyang from Onsung, North Hamgyong Province. A recently discharged soldier, he had returned home just a few months ago. His sister, Kim Ok-Hwa (alias, in her twenties) said that “when he came back home, he realized how poor we were and lost hope for a better life.”

He returned home to find that both of his parents were ill, and Ok-hwa was tending to a small plot of land by herself to grow food, barely making enough to feed their family. She would travel into the mountains to collect wild vegetables and herbs during the spring when food was not readily available, gathering wood in the winter to sell at the market in order to survive. She could barely afford medicine let alone medical care, resorting to making herbal medicines for her parents. Their father could not move well and their mother sustained numerous injuries to her frail body while trying to help her daughter with domestic chores. Ok-hwa herself became emaciated while putting her all of her efforts into caring for her parents. The young man was left speechless.

When their mother passed away, he did not go to his job at the mines for several days and kept drinking at home out of despair. Ok-wha said her older brother felt guilty that he was unable to do provide for his ailing parents. The next day, after drinking himself to severe intoxication, he ran into an oncoming train and killed himself.

[Women/Children/Education]
Scarcity of Swimming Pools

On May 20th, schools enforced swimming into physical education programs. A statement was made that, “During the summer, students have been swimming to benefit their health.” There is a focus on swimming, but very few schools actually have swimming pools. In North Hamgyong Province, Hoeryong City, there are no small or outdoor pools to use for swimming classes. In July, a large amount of rainfall caused the nearby river to overflow, making it impossible to hold swimming classes there. Luckily, there is a small pool with shallow water for swimming classes near Kangandong police subunit office. So, almost everyone goes there. Students ranging from elementary to college learn to swim at this pool, and about three to five schools take turns using this pool everyday.

Residents Applaud Expulsion of Drug Dealers

On June 28th, in Sariwon City, North Hwanghae Province, three groups of drug dealers were judged and expelled to a rural village approximately 60-km away from the city. These drug dealers had sold drugs to middle school students in fourth through sixth grade, which in turn caused several drug addicted students to commit serious crimes to fund their drug habit. Students stole money from home or took valuables and clothes from weaker students. For years, parents have reported the drug dealers to the city authorities and city police office. However, the drug dealers bribed officials to receive protection and were never seriously punished. This time, officials from the central government were put in charge due to the 150-Day Battle and took care of the problem.
On the drug dealer’s court day, First Sariwon Middle School was filled with people waiting to hear the judgment of the accused. When the drug dealers were sentence to expulsion, people cheered loudly welcoming the decision. Some people sent thank you notes to authorities that said, “You eliminated a huge harm for the future or our children. You did a very good job indeed.” The prosecutors of the 150-Day Battle were pleased by the results as they opened these letters from the public.
Another meeting was held to discuss current problems and future solutions. Officials said, “We must continue curbing various crimes with all our might. Check if there is any corruption within the management, and take care of all the crimes in a stern and fair manner.”

Students Assigned to Sell Grass Seeds

In July, in South Hamgyong Province, students at every school were assigned to sell grass seeds. Elementary students were required to sell 1-kg of grass seeds and middle school students were required to sell 2-kg. At the Sapo Market, in Hamheung City (which is located in South Hamgyong Province), the poor sell a kilogram of grass seeds for 3,500 NK won. One can see many young students at the grass seed markets, where children gather together to sell clovers to the adults.

[Accidents]
Two-Thirds of Rice Lost After Truck Overturns

On July 4th, a truck carrying goods from the Restoration Management Bureau in Rasun City, located in the North Hamgyong Province, accidentally overturned. While driving by a ridge located between Eunduk County and Saebyul, the truck experienced a problem with its brakes and rolled over. Two of the three Saebuyl patrol officers escorting the truck died in the accident, while the third officer, a driver, and a merchant were seriously injured. About eight tons of rice had been loaded onto the truck, all of which spilled out during the incident. A worker from the Restoration Management Bureau, who had come to help rescue the victims, said that only three of the eight tons of rice were able to be saved.

Telephone Pole Repairmen Receive Electric Shocks While Working in Sariwon
At approximately 4 p.m. on June 4th, in the North Hwanghae Province, three electricians were involved in an accident while repairing a downed telephone pole that was linked to a munitions factory. The men had been working at the site for about three hours with the electricity disconnected; they were about to attach the last wire, when the electricity was prematurely turned back on due to miscommunication between the electrical director and the workers. The two workers on the telephone pole were immediately killed by the strong electric shock, while the third was paralyzed when the shock travelled through his lower body. Fortunately, he was quickly taken to the hospital and survived. The news of this accident was reported to the Organization and Guidance Department, which arranged a funeral service, as well as “patriotic sacrifice” awards, for the victims.

[Investigative Report]
Pyungyang News – Ryukyung Hotel or Ryukyung Tower?

One day in July, at around 5 am, the Pyung-Kang (Pyungyang – Kangye) train slowly approached the main terminal in Pyungyang, cutting through thick fog. After a big stretch to awaken my muscle, I collected my luggage and stepped out of the Sleeper (Hard) train. It was a homecoming for me after a year. Last year I worked on the design, construction and review process of hydroelectric power plants in the northern area and went to various hydroelectric power plant construction sites located in the provinces of Jagang, Ryanggang, and North Hamgyong Province, for about a year. My return to Pyungyang was due to personnel rotation. At the platform a staff from our department was waiting to welcome me.
After exchanging pleasantries, the staff said, “Comrade Deputy Director, you’ve worked really hard. How about going home today to get some rest and do the reporting to the Party Committee tomorrow? I’ve got the car waiting and can take you home.”
I responded with a smile. “It’s 150-Day Battle period now. If I went home, wouldn’t you guys criticize me at the Party Activities time? Let’s go to the Bureau quickly. Going home is not important.”
The car was a Whistle. I asked what had happened because when I was here it was a Nissan.
“What happened to Nissan? Why was the car replaced?”
“Nissan was turned in already. As the import of Japan-made automobiles was prohibited, (we received) a Whistle manufactured by the Pyunghwa Automobile Company.” he said. He then added, somewhat awkwardly, “It has run 8,000 kilometers and it’s all right. The Whistles are not inferior in terms of quality to Western cars.”
When we arrived at Sinseol Bridge over Botong River, the gigantic Ryukyung Hotel appeared before my eyes. Up until a year ago, Ryukyung Hotel looked gawky, but now glasses were installed and the crane at the top of the building was gone. It had been completely upgraded.
Being excited by the good-looking exterior, I asked: “If the exterior was finished like this, the interior work must have been done over 80 percent. This is a real miracle. How did they complete it so quickly?”
The staff said: “Oh, you don’t know what happened. The design has changed. In particular, the interior has been completely restyled. It’s no longer the original design for Ryukyung Hotel.”
In its original blue print, the Ryukyung Hotel had over 5,000 rooms, and about 47 elevators. I was curious how it had changed.
The staff immediately declared, “We shouldn’t get involved in it.” However, he added, “From now on we don’t know whether we should call it Ryukyung Hotel or Ryukyung Tower.” After I asked him a further explanation, he said: “According to the instruction from the Central Party, Mt. Bakdu Architect Research staff collaborated with the Italians to change the design. They completed several floors up from the ground and the viewing area at the top floor, and got rid of all the rooms in between, leaving only the elevators. It’s more like a tower than a hotel.”
I asked him what happened to the five thousand rooms and he said, “They wrapped the outside with glasses to make it look good, and the rooms in between became useless.” I was so flabbergasted, and unconsciously raised my voice: “How can they do this? It’s like mewing with the eyes covered (an expression similar to putting one’s head into the sand -translator.) How could you call this Ryukyung Hotel? We bragged this would be the largest hotel in the world, but if there are only several rooms in the lower floors and the top floor available, what’s there to boast about? How are we going to explain it to our future generation?”
The immediate response was: “Comrade Deputy Director, it was decided by the Central Party based on Chairman Kim Jong-Il’s command. Is it all right for you to criticize it?”
“Now that you are saying Chairman Kim commanded, I have nothing further to say. But don’t you guys have common sense? How could you do this?” I spilled out all my concerns. How come Ryukyung Hotel, symbol of the “Strong and Prosperous Nation” in Year 2012, has turned into a grotesque tower? No matter how insufficient money is, what a shame! We can no longer boast about the Ruykyung Hotel in the future.

No comments:

There was an error in this gadget