GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No.265

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekely Newsletter] No.264 February 2009

[Hot Topics]
Hemorrhagic Fever Epidemic in Areas of North Hamgyong Province
Increasing Number of Patients with the Hemorrhagic Fever in Hamheung City

[Food]
A New Year Has Arrived, yet There Are No Rations at Soonchun Cement Factory
Chungjin Food Distribution Center, the Price of Rice 100 NK won cheaper Than the Markets
Grain Policy Bureau of Chungjin City, the Price of Rice Expected to Go Back Again
Sinuiju Food Distribution Center Having Difficulty to Sell Food

[Economy]
Difficulty in Operation Due To Lack of Fuel at the Fisheries Enterprise in Leewon County
Residents of Sangwon District in Pyongyang Survive Via the Peddling Business

[Politics]
Sooseong Re-education Center of Chungjin Examines Prison Terms to Extend Them
Management Officials Concentrate Inspection at Soonam Market in Chungjin
The Announcement of “The Policy of January 11” Regarding Forests
The Release of a Prisoner after a 21 Year Imprisonment at Sooseong Re-education Center

[Society]
A Breakout of the Pig Foot Disease at Jeungsan County
The Police Officers Had Their Guns Stolen By Bandits
A Family of a Suspected Person Complained about His Death

[Women/Children/Education]

Parents Are Burdened When Their Children Join Boy Scouts
Welcoming Reception for the Women Farm Works in Ahnju, South Pyongan Province

[Accidents]
Anthracite Freight Car Derailed in Geumya County
Rakwon County Fishing Boat Sinking Accident

[Commentary]
South and North Korea Should Make Joint Effort to Control Communicable Disease

[Investigative Report]
[Correspondence from Pyongyang] Drinking Party on New Year’s Eve





_____________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
Hemorrhagic Fever Epidemic in Areas of North Hamgyong Province

Recently, the health department of North Hamgyong Province verified that a hemorrhagic fever epidemic has developed in various areas. The Medical School Hospital located in Pohang district of Chungjin City clarified that 55 people have died because of the fever from November of last year to January 19. Nineteen patients are also hospitalized with the fever. There are 7 people hospitalized in the People's Hospital of Hoeryong City. Doctors quarantine patients who are diagnosed with the fever for 20 days as a precaution. After that, if the symptoms do not aggravate, the patients are discharged from the hospital. Due to shortage of proper medication, some patients die in quarantine.

Increasing Number of Patients with the Hemorrhagic Fever in Hamheung City
The number of patients of the epidemic hemorrhagic fever is increasing in the People's Hospital of Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province. The city health department ordered the quarantine of patients in an old building which is temporarily prepared and far from the hospital. Doctors had several urgent meetings on this issue as there are no proper means of treatment. The situation is the same in Hamheung. First the patients are quarantined for 20 days and if they do not find any aggravation on the symptoms, they are discharged from the hospital. Some family members of the patients criticize the careless treatment saying, “the hospital staff is not trying to save patients but instead cares more about hospital beautification.”


[Food]
A New Year Has Arrived, yet There Are No Rations at Soonchun Cement Factory

Soonchun Cement factory in South Pyongan Province is still unable to distribute any rations. The factory is continuously producing cement, but the workers are not receiving their rations. Since there are no official rations, the workers are again trying to survive by stealing cement, as they did last year. The workers steal on average 30-40 kg per day sell to the peddling business dealers. The representatives of the factory are actually aware of the stealing but just let it go because they cannot give rations to the workers. However, the representatives are very harsh on the workers who miss their workdays. Sometimes they yell to these workers quit their jobs instead if skipping work. Workers still want to work at the factory even without rations and salary. One of the workers in Soonchun factory said, “Unemployed people run into inspections all the time which create so many problems. It is better to steal the cement as a worker than become a gang member or unemployed.

Chungjin Food Distribution Center, the Price of Rice 100 NK won cheaper Than the Markets

The Food Distribution Center under the Grain Policy Bureau of People's Assembly in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, sells rice at 100 NK won cheaper than at market price. Chungjin city received 300 MT of rice from China that caused the price of rice to fall to 1,750 NK won/kg from 2,000 NK won/kg temporarily. The rice is selling for 1,650 NK won/kg at the distribution center.

Grain Policy Bureau of Chungjin City, the Price of Rice Expected to Go Back Again

On January 18, Grain Policy Bureau of North Hamgyong Province held a meeting with officials in each city and county. The authorities pointed out that they people should conserve food as the rice shortage will likely reoccur. The food situation this year is likely to be dire as in past years. The reason that the rice price dropped down to 1,700 NK won in mid-January was that there was a temporary increase in food supply from abroad. Therefore, the food price is projected to go back up once the food is consumed supply runs low again. On January 30, the rice price went up 2,000 NK won. One official of the Grain Policy Bureau of Chungjin City stressed that the amount of food that arrives from overseas will be the key to maintain a lower rice prices. He said, "Whoever take more rice in from China by cooperating well with Chinese Trading Company would be the best capable official this year."

Sinuiju Food Distribution Center Having Difficulty to Sell Food
At the Major cities, such as Sinuiju in North Pyongan Province and Pyongsung in South Pyongan Province, the food distribution centers have not been operating very smoothly. The distribution center was to eradicate rice trading at the markets, however, the residents do not usually go to the center for food because there is usually no food there. Moreover, the price between markets and distribution center is not significantly different. According to the original plan, they were going to buy food for less from farms and sell it to the residents at a low price. There was not significant price difference from market price because of high shipping cost. The quality is also another reason. The residents said, "If I need to spend the same amount of money for food, I rather buy from private sellers whose food's quality is better." he did not purchase from the distribution center. This is why the distribution center's sales are not faring well.


[Economy]
Difficulty in Operation Due To Lack of Fuel at the Fisheries Enterprise in Leewon County

Fisheries Enterprise in Leewon County, North Hamgyong Province is suffering and bemoaning due to the recent decrease in fishing harvest. The officials recently decided to take 35% of the fishing harvest and give the remaining 65% to the fishermen. According to an official at this Fisheries Enterprise, “We have no fuel for our fishing boats to go out with because the Enterprise failed to financially organize and manage the system. We were only able to go out three times for fishing last month. We proposed a new plan because the Enterprise does not have enough capacity to reach the government’s planned goal. We collect 15 kg of fuel from each fisherman in order to go out fishing. We submit 35% of our fishing harvest to the enterprises and the remaining 65% is the fishermen’s share. Fishermen equally divide the 65% of their harvest after subtracting their fuel cost. The captain is fully responsible for the boat maintenance due to financial difficulties of the fisheries enterprise. The Fisheries Enterprise is only responsible for the Sea Entry Certificate and the boat.

However, Party Officials criticize such methods calling them ‘capitalistic financial management’. The administrations and the Enterprise Managements defended themselves saying, “What choice do we have? We have no money to pay for the fuel and this is better than doing nothing. It is much better than failing to submit anything to the government’s planned goal.” They added, “The government is not helping us reach the production goal. If we do nothing to improve this crisis, we cannot help the country and cannot pay our fishermen. Then who is going to pay us?” indicating they will continue to follow this system. An official commented, “The Party Officials only verbally criticize them and can do no harm to them because they need these fishermen to work for them to get paid. Therefore, there are no serious conflicts here. Whenever a physical struggle breaks out, it usually involves other matters. This system has been launched in many other places for quite some time.

Residents of Sangwon District in Pyongyang Survive Via the Peddling Business
Most of the residents from Sangwon District in Pyongyang are surviving through the peddling business. They resell the cements produced at Sangwon Cement Factory to North and South Hwanghae Province and South Pyongan Province. Thus, when the production level decreases at the factory it hurts their living. Kwak Sang-ho (46) said, “At least 7 or 8 households out of 10 households are probably making their living with cement. The residents are all wishing for the factory to operate well. “Unfortunately, this factory is currently experiencing slowdown in productivity due to malfunctioning of the furnace. The party committee of the factory decided to avoid shutdown of production at all costs and continue the production through line balancing, but it is difficult because they cannot afford to import parts in order to fix the furnace. For the time being, they are focusing their production at the furnace that is not malfunctioning. Park Soon-geum (41) said, “Thank God we do not have complete shutdown of production. This factory is the only source of income out there. Whether we can eat or not depends on the well-being of this factory.”


[Politics]
Sooseong Re-education Center of Chungjin Examines Prison Terms to Extend Them
On January 21st, the Sooseong Re-education Center of Security Agency at Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province examined its prisoners with prison terms near termination and extended the term for most of them. The officials of the standing committee of Central Supreme People's Assembly and members of the central courthouse personally visited the Sooseong Re-education Center and made over two complete examinations of all terms coming due. 3 ~ 4 extra years were added to terms for prisoners who received 3 years and 4 extra years were added to terms for prisoners who received 4 years originally.

Management Officials Concentrate Inspection at Soonam Market in Chungjin
Management Officials at Soonam Market are under inspection due to suspected market fee embezzlement in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province. It was recently reported to the Province Party Office at North Hamgyong that some officials embezzled the daily market fee. Immediately following the Lunar New Year, the Province Police began their intensified market inspection starting on the 29th Soonam Market had gone through a similar scandal a couple of years ago, that led to a major layoff. The Province Party commanded, “We have to prevent any illegal activities like the last head manager’s embezzlement scandal. The police need to inspect thoroughly.”

The Announcement of “The Policy of January 11” Regarding Forests
“The Policy of January 11”, which aims to protect forests in the provinces of Ryanggang and North Hamgyong, was announced. The main idea of the policy is “to value and cherish forests such that illegal tree cutting should be eliminated this year.” To implement the policy, two Forest Inspection Forces were formed under the Ministry of National Land. In the case of both provinces, both the Department of Forest Planning and National Construction Planning under the Environment Protection Bureau of the Ministry of National Land control and manage tree consumption. On January 4, the People’s Safety Agency established the new Department of Forest Inspection and Control in each city and county’s police station. Last year’s inspection into the protection and development of forests found that there are not many trees in the mountains and that, at the same time, trees are cut down without any proper plan, which is why the new policy was announced in the first place. The Department of Forest Planning announced that those who cut down trees without permission will be forced to pay a fine or face other legal punishment.

The Release of a Prisoner after a 21 Year Imprisonment at Sooseong Re-education Center
In Chungjin City, two people were released from the Sooseong Re-education Center. One of them, who originally came from Jaeryong County in the South Hwanghae Province, was imprisoned at the age of 33 and released 21 years later. He was put behind bars as a political prisoner, but received the title of “model prisoner” at the Center. Hearing the news, one government official said, “What an emotional state the person has! After confined to jail at the age of 33, he is now being released at 54. It’s amazing he’s lived through so many years at the Center. A person like him won’t have much trouble living in the real world. Many people these days are starving to death because they can not make money in difficult economic conditions. Those who do survive at the Center must be very clever. Anyway, the person deserves congratulations.” The Center examines the prisoners once a year to decide whether they should be released. Prisoners who have served more than 10 years are usually released. Sometimes, however, no prisoners are released in a given year, which indicates that many are not qualified for release.


[Society]
A Breakout of the Pig Foot Disease at Jeungsan County

On January 17, an infectious foot disease for pigs (whose feet split open) broke out at a pig farm in the Jeungsan Re-education center, South Pyongan Province. From the next day, the center has butchered the infected pigs and sent them to the nearby military bases or sold them in the markets. With the money from the sales, the authority of the center bought a disinfectant and sterilized the pig farm. Because it was just before the Lunar New Year Day, the pork was sold out quickly at the market. Since the 20th of the same month, the disease has begun to spread to the civilian pigpens. The medical inspections office recommended to the residents to bury the infected pigs and butcher the unaffected ones, and eat the meat after boiling it in high temperature for many hours.

The Police Officers Had Their Guns Stolen By Bandits
On January 20, two police officers of Pyongyang went to Wonsan City to receive a murderer and they had their guns stolen. They arrived at Wonsan Railway Station after receiving a report that a fled murderer was arrested at Chilbok-ri, Wonsan, Kangwon Province, but a gang of bandits hanging around the station stole their guns. The authority of Wonsan City regarded this incident as a political issue which was planned prior to the election for representatives of the Supreme People’s Assembly on March 8, and put out all efforts to recover the stolen guns. They mobilized officers of Wonsan police station as well as members of Security Agency and the public prosecutors office, to arrest and imprison Kkotjebi (homeless) and delinquent teenagers that loiter the vicinity of Wonsan Station and investigate the where-aborts of the guns. They also decided to increase the number of guards more than twice to protect the polling places. They immediately reported this incident to the Central Party.

A Family of a Suspected Person Complained about His Death
In the afternoon of January 24, a suspected person died during the preliminary hearing at the police station of Ranam district, Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province. A police officer of the Preliminary Investigation Department had beaten the suspect to force a confession, and the suspect died in the detention room from the rupture of internal organs. When the police office informed the family of his death, the family came to the police station and demanded the facts surrounding the death. As the police office denied their involvement, the family filed a complaint at the City Party and the Province Party.


[Women/Children/Education]
Parents Are Burdened When Their Children Join Boy Scouts

Doomoo Elementary School in Pyongsung of South Pyongan Province prepared a list of Chosun Boy Scouts ahead of ‘February 16 Public Holiday’. There were about 10-12 scouts in each class and the parents of these scouts complained that meeting the scout’s obligation is too much burden for them. School principals instructed the teachers to collect 20,000 NK won per a scout in order to decorate Kim Il Song study-room and the school. The teachers in turn assigned each scout to bring three rabbit furs. If the students are unable to bring the furs, they should pay 15,000 NK won per each fur. Some teachers even encourage students to pay cash in lieu of rabbit furs. To become a boy scout, students have to pay at least 45,000 NK won. Parents say that, “The reality of today’s education is that unless you are wealthy you cannot become a boy scout no matter how good your grades are or how capable you are.”

Welcoming Reception for the Women Farm Works in Ahnju, South Pyongan Province
On January 23, town offices of Ahnju County in South Pyongan Province organized a welcoming reception for about 220 Democratic Women’s Union members who became farm workers. Because there were not many women farm workers, the city officials have done all kinds of advertisements such as providing explanation or lessons. Only after they offered to provide 5-months ration in advance by the end of January, volunteers begin to appear. Majority of them are from poor families that have not much food. One farm officials of Ahnju County said, “Farm workers are needed in large numbers because farms in the open field area had lost many workers last year.” Also on January 20, there was a welcoming reception for the women farm workers in Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province. The volunteers of Hoeryong are to receive 350 kg of corn. The women farm workers said that in view of the fact that the farm members receive less than 300 kg of ration in one year, 350 kg of corn is not too bad.


[Accidents]
Anthracite Freight Car Derailed in Geumya County

Freight train cars loaded with anthracite derailed near Geumya County, South Hamgyong Province. Train operations were suspended because 100 meters of the rail collapsed 5 km ahead of Geumya station. The railway ministry ordered that the repair would be done within 10 hours. However, the recovery action was not well coordinated. Therefore, the repair work took more than 20 hours. As a result, the railroad station officials were punished with a warning. Later it was reported that security agents from the Events Bureau were at the scene and checked the condition of the railroad. No. 1 Event Train passed the inspection by security agents. An official who was told the news said, "Being punished for a delayed recovery was unusual because collapsing railroad beams is something that happens quite often. We only learned later that the No. 1 Event Train had passed.” Meanwhile, on February 3, the North Korean Central News Agency announced the news of Chairman Kim’s visit to Dongbong cooperative farm in Hamju County, South Hamgyong Province.

Rakwon County Fishing Boat Sinking Accident
On January 25, there was an incident of a fishing boat that belongs to Rakwon County Central Party Communication office in South Hamgyong Province sinking in the sea. The boat was on fishing expedition in preparation for the new-year holiday, but it drifted out to sea for 3 hours due to engine failure, and then sank after crashing into rocks. One of the fishing boats from Eudajin happened to be nearby when they approached the scene of the accident and engaged in rescue operation. However, 3 of 11 crews were missing and the other 8 floating in the water were rescued safely.

[Commentary]
South and North Korea Should Make Joint Effort to Control Communicable Disease

It has been reported that the epidemic hemorrhage fever is spreading continuously in some areas of North Korea. This epidemic already has reportedly claimed the lives of 8 prisoners and put 20 inmates into comatose inside Jeungsan Re-education center in South Pyongan Province in mid-October last year. From November of last year until January, this year people died in many counties in North Hamgyong Province and the news about the outbreak of the epidemic was coming from other areas as well.

The initial symptoms start with headache and fever, then fever and blood pressure falls, which may lead to derangement and comatose state. Those infected may have difficulties passing urine, may vomit, or in some occasion have hemorrhage in the digestive system. By the time the kidney function is recovered, a large quantity of urine is released and this may lead to death due to dehydration and complications in the lung.

With the name of the new symptomatic epidemic hemorrhage fever, this disease is mainly transmitted through dry feces of mice. The feces are flying in the air, inhaled through the respiratory tract and then one becomes infected with the virus. In South Korea, the symptoms of the disease were reported in the late fall or in the late spring among those who work in the field or hill, namely farmers and soldiers. As preventive measures, farmers and soldiers were recommended to get immunization in advance, to avoid hills or grass, and avoid lying in the grass or dry clothes. The best preventive measure is to take a shower whenever you get home from outside.


In North Korea, it is quite natural that prisoners work at re-education centers outside. Farmers collect compost and glean, and kkotjebies (homeless) sleeping on the street without suitable shelter are more easily exposed to the disease. The reality in North Korea is that they do not have resources to take care of patients, let alone work on preventative treatment.

It does not make much sense to emphasize disease prevention to the majority of people who do not even receive food rations. Some have to wander around the harvested fields and patch fields to glean and go to far away mountains to collect wood in order to earn meals while withstanding the cold. They dry the grains harvested in the alley, on the roof, and along streams. They dig holes in the ground to preserve kimchi in a cellar. They have to mix up human feces, cattle feces, straws, and soil to make compost and fill the quota imposed on them. Because the water supply has stopped and there is a subsequent lack of clean water, it goes without saying that it is very difficult to maintain sanitary condition.

In the absence of sufficient medical benefits, patients are driven to the crossroads of life and death. People are in situations where they have no choice but to face death due to lack of medicine and malnutrition even in the case of a simple disease. The South and North Korean governments must stop the political game designed to protect their pride, and work together to control infectious diseases for the North Korean people.


[Investigative Report]
[Correspondence from Pyongyang] Drinking Party on New Year’s Eve
*[Correspondence from Pyongyang] intends to convey to our readers how the residents of Pyongyang behave in society, economics, politics and international affairs without holding back any information. The Correspondence will take different forms, such as letters, diaries, and essays, depending on the persons involved. For the sake of personal security, the real names of the individuals, places or employers might not be used.


There is a comrade in Pyongyang who becomes very busy when people greet Lunar New Year’s Day[1]). His name is Kim Man-soo, and he works for the People’s Service Bureau. On the occasions of national holidays, this service bureau provides raw material for the restaurants in Pyongyang, such as Okryugwan, Chungryugwan and Pyongyang Myonok, and Kim Man-soo is in charge of this project. This year’s project was a difficult one, like many other years. The service bureau’s party committee assigned an additional task to Kim Man-soo. The additional task was to provide a sufficient quantity of chicken legs to a drinking place on Changgwang Street so that every guest could be served, even if they did not have ‘the ticket’[2]) (표족지).

Kim Man-soo knew that even if the service bureau had provided the allotted quantity, it would not have been sufficient. He sighed, saying ‘I will be a target of self-criticism later when the time comes to officially review party behavior.’ He had another worry. He was to be the host of the New Year’s Eve section party at his home. It was as if he were assigned an additional task of providing side dishes in sufficient quantity. His wife complained, ‘I know there are several drunkards in your section. Any misbehavior on their part will put all of us in an awkward situation. Why did you invite people to our place? We cannot control how much they drink.’ Kim Man-soo then tried to persuade his wife, saying ‘Please stop it. Comrades in our section have already considered that. You women talk too much. After all, they concluded that our place is the safest.’

Kim Man-soo’s place is of the ‘Saekja’ style[3]) and is quiet because of its location on the fifth floor, the highest floor in the building. His neighbor is an old man living alone. All these factors were considered in the decision to have the party at Kim Man-soo’s place.

The New Year’s Eve party turned out to be for comrades in his section as well as those of the supply section of the farm. After all, these people are working for the service bureau, and consequently the tables were full of delicacies, including special 40% Pyongyang liquor as well as different kinds of meat and cakes. Several rounds of alcoholic beverages led to raucous conversation. Someone started with the Beijing Olympics last year.

“The opening ceremony was fabulous. China displayed its power. It must have cost a lot of money.”
“China changed a lot. They are so rich.”
“I agree. Chinese-North Korean (JJanggola) vegetable farmers in Sadong District already got rid of vegetable farming. They had their own houses built, and enjoy their own cars …”
“Don’t call them ‘JJanggola’ anymore. China is a new creation. Look how they live. How can we compare?”
“I hear that the Vietnamese live well, too.”
“Right. Didn’t you go to Vietnam last year?”
“Wow! We cannot compare. Any worries about food? During rush hour, the procession of autobikes is a fabulous sight.”
“Didn’t General Secretary, Doi Moi of Vietnam come to Pyongyang last year? Didn’t our Beloved Leader say we will learn from Doi Moi?”
“We should not look at others. We should live in our own way. We should follow our Beloved Leader’s teaching as shown in this year’s Combined Editorial and move forward.”
“We are so confused. We do not know which way to turn. We are supposed to leap forward as a second Chollima Movement, with the most advanced technology. I do not know what to say. I know what will happen this year.”
“What will happen then?”

This particular question silenced the conversation. A little while later, someone started to speak again.

“We need not talk about revolutionary openness. But don’t we have to learn from China, Vietnam, Cuba and Laos about their experiences with economic construction?”
“Have you heard recently? I hear that the path of 21st century socialist construction is the path of revolutionary openness utilizing market strategies.”
“I heard that, too. Other countries maintain socialism with revolutionary openness. But our Beloved Leader says, ‘Why should we have revolutionary openness when there is nothing wrong with our party policies?’ Is he not strongly denying revolutionary openness?”
“Well, we have been trapped in the whirlwind of stagnation for fifteen years. In the meantime, other countries are changing beyond recognition.”
“Heaven forbid! It is because of our revolutionary tradition, perhaps our sense of dignity. Do you realize that we are the only socialist country in the world now?”
“Now do you realize that China, Vietnam and Cuba are not countries of multi-party political system? All those countries are under the control of just one party, the communist party …”

Another silence ensued.

“These conversation topics are too heavy. It is a waste of time to talk about those things while drinking. If by chance someone reports to the party, we are in violation of the Ten Principles.”
“Don’t misunderstand it. In fact, are we not following our Beloved Leader consistently and faithfully?”
“We never practiced our party’s policies wrongly, did we?”
“As we all talked about countries which prosper with revolutionary openness, we never slandered our party’s policies.”
“Everyone is correct.”

They were concerned about the state of the nation while drinking overnight. They were envious of countries such as Vietnam, China and Cuba, which have become rich. Man-soo’s wife provided alcoholic beverages throughout the night without pausing for sleep. Fortunately, any problems Man-soo’s wife was worried about did not occur. Those drunkards never made any fuss and fell asleep one by one.

[1]). Starting this year, New Year’s Day is a one-day holiday but Lunar New Year’s Day is a three-day occasion.

[2]) North Korean authorities distribute tickets which allow meals at restaurants, such as Okryugwan, Chungryugwan and Pyongyang Myonok. The tickets are in short supply. Therefore, the People’s Service Bureau issued instructions that people may be fed without tickets during the holidays.

[3]) In the ‘Saekja’ style, the floor has only two apartments facing each other.

North Korea Today No. 264

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekely Newsletter] No.264 February 2009


[Hot Topics]
Military Units in Many Regions Unable To Secure 100% of Military Provisions
Military Provisions Apportionment Assessment Based on Fields with the Best Yields
45th Division of the 9th Corps, North Hamgyong Province Receives 86% of Military Provisions
[Food]
Farmers in Sagoo-ri of Chungjin City Received 230kg of Whole Corn
Residents of North Hamgyong Province Are Expecting Special Distributions for Lunar New Year’s Day
Sinuiju Imports Cooking Oil 100 MT in January

[Economy]
Agriculture Department Gives Notice of Extensive Induction of High-Yield Variety
Can’t Work Despite Enough Ships
Labor Discipline Center Guards Secretly Hoard Prisoners’ Private Food

[Politics]
Soonchun, Worried over Low Turn out at Lectures
Jungju City, 200 kg of Humus Soil Assignment Gets Half Accomplished

[Society]
70 Workers Diagnosed with Tuberculosis Patients Isolated at the Chollima Iron Works United Enterprise.
Most Illegal Computer Users Are the Children of Government Officials
"Go Away, We Have No Change.”

[Women/Children/Education]
[Letter from Sinuiju] We Are Proud of the Section Chief at My Younger Brother’s Factory

[Accidents]
Onsung County Family Murder Case Re-opened

[Commentary]
A Story of a Section Chief Re-affirms Korean Custom of Helping Each Other






________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
Military Units in Many Regions Unable To Secure 100% of Military Provisions
As of the middle of January, it has been reported that there are many military units that could not secure 100% of the planned military provisions. Even though details of the amounts have not been released, there has been word from some military units, including those in the war-frontal areas of Kangwon, South Hwanghae and North Hwanghae Provinces as well as North Hamgyong and North Pyongan Provinces. Failure to secure 100% of the planned military provisions has led to frequent quarrels between the military collectors and the local grain policy officials. Local officials are often angered by the demands of the collectors of military provisions. Military collectors, in response, shout back, “You people should do your job right.” This sort of exchange keeps going on.

Military Provisions Apportionment Assessment Based on Fields with the Best Yields
An official in North Hwanghae Province complained, “Reports from outside keep claiming that this year’s crop exceeds 4 million MT and that does not make sense. If it really exceeded 4 million MT, there wouldn’t be any problems with the military provisions.” In fact, some of those collectors of military provisions in North Hwanghae Province commented, “as soon as the grains are threshed, they are collected as military provisions at every farm, and many farmers are lucky to have corn meal left afterwards. Those farmers could usually enjoy some bowls of rice, if only at this time of harvest. But this year, they will be lucky if they can afford bowls of corn. As the task of securing military provisions becomes critical, farmers’ allotments during the harvest have been reduced.” Farm official at Baechun County, South Hwanghae Province added, “High ranking officials came down here one day in the fall and did calculations for military provisions based on the acreage of the land and yields. Their assessment was based on the fields with the best yields, and consequently we had a terrible time filling the military provisions. Once the assessment calculations were done for the amount of military provisions, the inspectors never showed up again. At harvest time, military collectors showed up and pressured everyone claiming, ‘there’s still a great deal missing from the estimated military provisions.’”

45th Division of the 9th Corps, North Hamgyong Province Receives 86% of Military Provisions
The support bureau of the 45th Division of the 9th Corps, stationed in North Hamgyong Province reported to have received 2,600 MT of grain as military provisions between December 22 of last year and January 15 of this year. This represents 86% of the total requirement of 3,000 MT. When asked by a local grain policy official how the army is going to handle the shortage of 400 MT, the support bureau official replied, ‘soldiers will be fed with porridge for about three months. Also, barley is supposed to be planted in the fields, which will become a supplementary source of food.’ In the meantime, soldiers have been waiting in the City of Hoeryong for about fifteen days. They ran out of money and had to sell about 15 MT of whole corn to prepare for the expenses of staying and also transporting the grain.


[Food]
Farmers in Sagoo-ri of Chungjin City Received 230kg of Whole Corn
The Sagoo-ri farm of Chungarm District, Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, gave farmers 230kg of whole corn, a year’s ration. The farm did not give other food to the farmers’ families or even the farmers themselves because it gave the military provisions, so only corn was obtained for the farmers’ 1 year food supply. There were no other grains to give at all. Although this is usually the season that farmers can secure food as a reward for their year of hard work, they haven’t received enough food for their family or even themselves, so their lives are still tough.

Residents of North Hamgyong Province Are Expecting Special Distributions for Lunar New Year’s Day
As the lunar New Year’s Day approaches, the residents of North Hamgyong Province are expecting special distributions to observe the holiday. Although they do not expect so much because the holiday distribution has decreased every year, anything will help, especially in these tough days when even a single handful of corn kernels will not be turned down. To celebrate this lunar New Year’s Day, the government is going to give out ordinary residents 1kg of white rice, 1kg of noodle, 100g of cooking oil, 1kg of bean paste, a cake of soap, etc. However, depending on districts, factories, enterprises, or units of organization, the amount and numbers of distributions can vary. On the other hand, each dong-office has begun to make a list for the holiday distribution for Seolnal holiday of January 16. To gather holiday gifts for children, the office had each household contribute 5kg of an item from tofu beans, black-eyed beans, or corn. If they do not contribute, their names are to be dropped from the gift list, so poor parents are worrying that their children will be disappointed.

Sinuiju Imports Cooking Oil 100 MT in January
As of January, about 100 MT of imported cooking oil, made in two shipments of fifty-tons each went from Dandong to Sinuiju. The payment was a month late. On the one hand, Jilin-sheng of China permitted 20,000 MT of food and Domun (Tumen) permitted 7,000 MT of food so North Korea is able to import 27,000 MT of food.


[Economy]

Agriculture Department Gives Notice of Extensive Induction of High-Yield Variety
The Agriculture Department of North Korea decided to induce high-yield varieties fit to characteristics of farm areas and soil conditions extensively this year. Its intention is that they accept advanced agriculture techniques positively, while new corn and a variety of rice are planted to increase grain crops per unit of area. This spring, collective farms of Mangyungdae, Pyongyang City will plant new varieties of vegetables first, Pyongsung City and Soonchun City of South Pyongan Province decided to plant new varieties of corn and rice. If results of harvest are good this autumn, it will spread from South Pyongan Province to South and North Hwanghae Provinces and North Pyongan Province.

Can’t Work Despite Enough Ships
There is little work available on sea even though many ships are still floating in the east cost of Kangwon Province and Hamgyong Province. Oil price is too expensive; ship facilities are outdated creating lots of wasted oil. Large Fisheries Enterprise repair ships selling fish on time but small incomings and outgoings are not profitable enough to provide income for all the necessary accessories and oil. Small boat fishermen catch squid, anchovies, billfishes, and Atka mackerel. Catches are not plenty because the size of their ships. So instead residents of fishing villages are attempting to make a living selling brown seaweed (미역), tangle (다시마), and shrimp.


[Politics]
Soonchun, Worried over Low Turn out at Lectures

The low number of participants at lecture classes held every Saturday troubles some Neighborhood Units (인민반) in Soonchun City, South Pyongan Province. Due to low participation rates, one head of the Neighborhood Units received signatures from people pretending to have attended the lectures. The lectures these days are titled, “Let’s support the generation with food deficiency” and “Regarding our Party and nation’s policy.” Lectures to Democratic Women’s Union are no different. During one of the lectures in the middle of last January, there was discussion on how to achieve the goals emphasized in the New Year’s Combined Editorial. There were discussions on buying a scrap iron, the manured soil making project, preservation of environmental health, destroying of anti-socialist practices such as bystreet trade and street vending business. There was much laughter after all the women who attended answered “Yes” following the statements. Since nobody paid attention while just waiting for the lecture to end, it is almost impossible to have any meaningful discussions. All the participants thought that simply answering yes to all the questions would be the fastest way to end the lecture. One of the participants Kwak Soon-young (41) said, “Discussions are boring because we hear the same things over and over again. I pity those lecturers who give lectures to the bunch of housewives who want to leave as soon as they check-in.”

Jungju City, 200 kg of Humus Soil Assignment Gets Half Accomplished
Ryongpo-ri in Jungju City, North Pyongan Province, gave residents assignments to collect 200 kg of humus soil every day. Those successful in collecting 200 kg would receive 400 g of rice or 800 g of corn. Less than half of the people who went up to the mountains to find the humus soil are said to be capable of managing the job. Digging snow-covered and frozen land is difficult and sorting out the leaves from the soil is very time-consuming. Working all day without any rest would only give about 80-90kg. Among the people who went up to the mountain in search of the humus soil, the person with the most amounts had 90 kg. He received 400 g of corn in return for his labor that day.

Labor Discipline Center Guards Secretly Hoard Prisoners’ Private Food
Some prison guards of the Labor Discipline Center (Nodongdalnyundae) are receiving complaints by prisoners’ families for hoarding prisoner’s private food in Jungju City, North Pyongan Province. It has been two months since Choi Sang-cheol’s (42) younger brother Sang-hak (40) was imprisoned at the Labor Discipline Center called ‘Kkangpan’(깡판). Daily meal plan at this place is only about 30 corn kernels. Choi commented, “I saw a man who stayed at the facility for 9 months and he was just a bag of bones. It was a desperate scene to witness. We are trying our best give them some prisoner’s private food but it is costing too much.” It costs at least 10,000 NK Won every time we visit to deliver corn with some other food and service money for the guards to make sure these foods goes to the right person. Because the prison guards keep good food and distributes only portion, the food sometimes never gets delivered. Choi said, “I gave more than enough last time I visited but he cried that he did not receive anything. It broke my heart seeing that. According to some elders, the current situation is worse than the Japanese colonial period because things sent to the prisoner actually were delivered then.” Then he added, “How desperately hungry are these prison guards when they are stealing prisoners’ food?” pitying the situation.


[Society]
70 Workers Diagnosed with Tuberculosis Patients Isolated at the Chollima Iron Works United Enterprise.

Last January 8, the 3rd prevention tuberculosis hospital in Pyongyang City performed complete physical exam on workers of the Chollima Iron Works United Enterprise under the order by the North Korean Health Department. The medical official announced that 70 tuberculosis patients were being isolated due to hemoptysis after the physical examination. They also reported that an additional 90 patients were found to have the same diagnosis. The medical crew had shortages in supplies and returned to Pyongyang after giving 100 tablets of isoniazid to patients.

Most Illegal Computer Users Are the Children of Government Officials
Although internet is not available in North Korea, the number of computer users has been on the increase among the children of government officials who use the computer to play games or watch movies. Other than some domestic games, Tetris is about the only game from abroad that is available in North Korea. At first Tetris was banned, but later when it was found harmless, it was allowed to be used. Other games are strictly under control because they have illegally come in from abroad. As more than 90% of movies were produced overseas, in countries such as South Korea or China, they are on the banned list. Security agencies and schools have cracked down on illegal trade but it does not seem to be effective.

A teacher in a junior high school, Jeong Hee-jin (28), in Pyongsung city, South Pyongan Province, said that "the junior school students are teenagers and they become more rebellious when we apply controls. Teachers and parents ask them not to watch the movies or play the games, they don’t listen.” She also revealed that “when we investigate the source of these illegal games or movies, in most cases it is the children of high-ranking officials or law enforcement staff. So it is hard to tell who is cracking down on whom.”

"Go Away, We Have No Change.”
Park Kwang-hyuk (35) in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, was upset because he had undergone two outrageous experiences recently. On the day he took a trolley bus, he paid 500 NK Won because he did not have any small change. Since the bus fare is only 5 NK Won he expected to receive his change, but the bus driver told him to go away because he had no change. "You must give me my change. What the heck is going on?” he shouted, but the driver did not want to be bothered with and told him to get off the bus quickly. He was going to confront the driver but other passengers stared at him and some of them got mad at him for delaying the bus, he got off without his change. Park said, "I felt absolutely vexed, it took me a long time to swallow my anger."

A few days later, he went to the post office to send something to Pyongyang by registered mail. He was told that his envelope was the wrong size and that he cannot mail it. Park said, “I asked how much does it cost to buy an envelope with registered mail stamp. They told me it is 10 NK Won but it was sold out. I gave them 100 NK Won and pleaded them to sell me one; even though they said the quota for that day was all gone, they gave me one very discreetly. They took 100 NK Won for a10 NK Won envelope. Very sharp businessmen! What kind of socialism is this? It is (a society of) lawlessness. Nobody observe the rules of official sticker price that is determined by the government."


[Women/Children/Education]
[Letter from Sinuiju] We Are Proud of the Section Chief at My Younger Brother’s Factory
My name is Kim Soon-hee (alias) of Sinuiju. I have a 55-year old mother, a widow, and a 28-year old unmarried younger brother. My mother peddles fruits, I work at a shoe factory and my younger brother works at a small factory. Living in a small old house, we can barely afford food. My mother is more concerned with my brother getting married than she is for me. My brother does not seem to be trying to find a girl to marry because our family cannot afford the marriage ceremony financially. The New Year has brought good news concerning my brother.

A section chief at my brother, Hyuk’s, factory offered to help him gets married. That news made my mother’s face shine brightly. My brother’s factory produces lime powder and blocks. The City of Sinuiju is considered the dirtiest city in the nation even though it is the gate at the border. The city gets submerged under water in flood season because of poor drainage. During winter, wind spreads coal dusts all over the city. In response, all the apartments and public buildings are painted with white lime. This is the beautification project by the city. Painting is done many times annually. My brother’s factory produces this powder.

The section chief at this factory is the one I want to thank. He is respected by many as a person who really love and cares about his own people. Hyuk says the work is hard and physically demanding. They bring lime stones from the Dukhyun Mine at Uiju County, located 80 Li (32 Km) away. The amount the factory produces cannot meet the demands. A bucket of lime water costs 1,000 NK Won. Those who buy it, such as cosmetic factories, iron ware factories, chicken farm and duck factories, all pay in kind, with their own products.

This section chief distributes these products received as payments to employees evenly and fairly. Not only that, coal is supplied during spring and fall. Each employee, not the other family members, gets rations of rice grain and corn annually. Consider that there are many places where the employees do not receive wages, not to mention the rations of grain. On national holidays, he makes arrangements for each employee to receive some meat and soap.

My brother says he feels so fortunate. Even with hard work, my brother is sure it is worthwhile as he works faithfully. Hyuk spoke well of his section chief so often that all of us in the family ended up being fond of him. Now that such a respectful section chief made a promise to help my brother in getting married, how can my mother and I not be assured and rejoice ourselves? He promised that he will get enough blocks to remodel our house. We are grateful that he spoke those encouraging words. We wanted to convey the news that our republic still has people like him.


[Accidents]
Onsung County Family Murder Case Re-opened

Onsung County police authorities in North Hamgyong Province recently started to re-investigate a family murder case. On July 10 last year, a man and his wife died on the scene. The couple’s 12-year-old daughter was transported to the hospital immediately, but she died two days later. The residents who witnessed the case said that they still tremble when they think of the case because the family was murdered in such brutal manner. The autopsy was performed at the North Hamgyong Province level, and an order was handed down asking to resolve the case at any cost. However, there was not much of a lead to solve the case. The investigation had difficulties making progress because the daughter who was the only witness had died. The police authorities investigating the case formed a special unit dedicated to this case and continued to interview the residents. In October of last year, they finally apprehended the suspect. Youth Union leader Choi (27 years old) was found in possession of 80 paper bills tainted in blood. Thirty of the paper bills were smeared with a lot of blood, and the blood was of the same type of the victims. Mr. Choi was arrested immediately. However, he denied his involvement in the crime. As such, the police authorities are actively investigating the crime in order to build the case by questioning Mr. Choi and others involved. The residents of Onsung County remember the brutal nature of the family murder case and wished in unison that the case be solved as soon as possible and that the killer pays the price for his crime.

[Commentary]
A Story of a Section Chief Re-affirms Korean Custom of Helping Each Other

A story of a section chief at a factory in Sinuiju is really heart-warming and touching. The section head is neither an official nor a party member. He is just a section head of a small factory that produces lime powder and blocks. He takes care of a dozen workers under his supervision although he is not self-sufficient financially. Perhaps it is because he himself is a worker who can relate to the situation the workers are in. The workers and their family members are showing respect and gratitude for his character.

The North Korean authorities have been educating people to develop communist moral character for a long time. Even though they are strengthening the ideological education frequently each year, it is difficult to encounter those with communist moral characters as people go through Arduous March. The realization that there will be only death if you cannot take care of yourself in the face of hardships taught people how to outsmart others and strive for survival at any cost. The reality of today and yesterday is to ignore the dying Kkotjebis (homeless) because people have to worry about feeding themselves as well everyday. However, what of the officials who are in better situations? They are barely taking care of themselves and their families, not to mention looking after ordinary people.

We live in a world where caring for others is not a virtue anymore. Today’s society is a place where it seems quite natural for officers and people in higher positions to use their power and position to get what they want. One has to know how to use private connections, how to flatter, and how to do backdoor dealings in order to be perceived as somebody who knows how to take care of himself. Otherwise, it is hard to survive and that is the reality. The story of the section head in Sinuiju who takes care of others instead of minding only himself gives very touching feelings. No one will blame him even if he cares only about himself and ignores others. Nevertheless, like the old saying, “one can only appreciate the green of the pine trees only when all the leaves fall in the cold winter.” His warm-heartedness shines even more because he cares for others like his own family in these difficult times.

We see a ray of hope in him. We believe that there are still many people who have this type of great moral character. This coincides with the nature of Korean people who did not mind sharing a bowl of barley with neighbors during the spring hardship period. The story of North Korean people caring for each other gives us a chance to look at ourselves. It is no doubt that South Korean society is experiencing a difficult time with economic crisis. However, no matter how difficult the situation is we have the ability to help North Korean people. Perhaps it is about time to revive the beautiful custom of our ancestors who helped each other even during the toughest times.

North Korea Today No. 263

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
[Weekely Newsletter] No.263 January 2009

[Hot Topics]
The Whole Nation Suffers Under the Compost (Toebee) Making Plan
Residents Frowned Upon at the March to Deliver the Compost

[Food]
The Law Enforcement Authorities in Pyongan and Hwanghae Provinces Secured One Year Worth of Food
Jilin-Sheng, China, Gives Permission for 20,000 MT of Food

[Economy]
The Economic Slump (Recession) Brings a Cold Wave over the Markets

[Politics]
Studies on Conversation Contents of the Peoples Army Spokesperson for the Department of the General Staff
“New Year’s Combined Editorial Not Inspirational At All”
March 8, Official Announcement of Election of the Delegate at the Supreme People’s Assembly
21 Young Gamblers Were Sentenced To Be Re-Educated in Haeju City
Chungjin City Discharged 9 Division Party Secretaries Related Military Food Incident

[Society]
Sinuiju Residents Who Received Punishment for Bribery to File Petition to Pyongyang
[A Letter from Sinuiju] What Can I Rely on after Selling My House?

[Women/Children/Education]
Chungjin Kkotjebi (Homeless) Transferred to Gilju Elementary School

[Accidents]
The family of a Chungjin Police Officer found dead
An Elderly Woman Dies in Public Bathhouse Used AS Temporary Shelter

[Commentary]
Fertilizer Aid Should Resume for North Korean People

[Investigative Report]
How Are We to View the January 17 Statement by the General Staff of the People’s Army?
Full Text of the Statement by the Spokesman of The General Staff of The People’s Army of North Korea







__________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
The Whole Nation Suffers Under the Compost (Toebee) Making Plan
The Compost (Toebee) Making Plan has kicked off in honest and the whole nation is busy with the production of Toebee. People make Toebee by mixing ashes collected from the dumps with feces. As some people produce fake Toebee that only looks like Toebee, the officials often demand people to supply “just plain feces.” The cost of producing Toebee, mixture of coal-ashes with feces, is about 5,000 – 6,000 NK Won* per ton, including delivery costs when the distance is not too great. The major cities such as Chungjin, Hamheung, Sinuiju, Pyongsung, have been collecting two tons of Toebee from each factory, public enterprise, and neighborhood units. As almost all residents from factories, public enterprises, and neighborhood units have to make Toebee in a couple of days, feces from the public toilets are running out.

Those who could not make the allotted amount of Toebee are chastened for not carrying out the Party policies and people’s loyalty is judged by how fast one pays for the cost of Toebee production. This has been a great burden to the residents. In Sinuiju, twenty people in one unit paid 5,000 NK Won each for 1 ton of Toebee and gave the money to the chief of the unit. If 2,000 households pay 10,000 NK Won each for 2 tons of Toebee, the total sum would be 20,000,000 NK Won. This amount of money should be more than enough to meet the goal of Toebee production. However, it is very common that the farms receive only a portion of this money while the officials keep the rest. Since not all the households would be able to pay money, the total sum collected would be lower, but usurping money by the officials became almost public practice. That is the reason why, upon inspecting the farms that reported achievement of their Toebee production plan, there is a big difference between the amount of Toebee planned and collected.

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

Residents Frowned Upon at the March to Deliver the Compost
On January 15, a march took place in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province to deliver the compost collected by the members of the DWU (Democratic Women's Union). The whole process was even videotaped. The march went through the city, beating the gongs noisily and some residents frowned upon it. Lee Geum-hee (36), who had hard time swallowing corn porridge after paying 5,000 NK Won for the cost of compost, said, "No one can beat the members of DWU when it comes to putting a show,” a comment that could be either complement or complain. Jung-hee (33), a sister of Lee Geum-hee, said, “They just got so used to brownnosing. The high-ranking officials do not know the reality and would be happy to hear that compost making plans have been achieved. Everybody knows the march is just a showoff. Only those (in Pyongyang) have no idea."


[Food]
The Law Enforcement Authorities in Pyongan and Hwanghae Provinces Secured One Year Worth of Food

The law enforcement authorities in the North and South Provinces of Pyongan and Hwanghae have secured the amount of one year worth of food in the form of unhusked rice. The amount of the secured food is sufficient for the staff in prosecution, the police, the National Security Agency, high-ranking military officers as well as their families. This is in sharp contrast with the general food situations in which there is almost no food rationing for commoners and only 6-7 months worth of rationing for the farmers that actually farm. As the members in the education and health care units receive mixture of corn, beans, and others etc (though not a year’s supply), rice ration is a great privilege for those who get it. The residents rebuke the authorities, saying, “Although the authorities always talk about the importance of resolving this food crisis, they only care about how they can eat well, regardless of whether the residents die of starvation or not.”

Jilin-Sheng, China, Gives Permission for 20,000 MT of Food
DPRK has agreed upon importation of food at 20,000 MT. Official permit will come out on February 18.


[Economy]
The Economic Slump (Recession) Brings a Cold Wave over the Markets

Those markets that have avoided conversion to Farmers’ Market had only short sigh of relief because they have to face tough times due to the deep economic recession. There are more stores than the number of customers, who purchase only a few limited agricultural products. Song Jae-geum (44 years), who runs a general store in Pyongsung, says, “Although they ban the sale of industrial products this year, everyone here sells anything. The bigger problem than the enforcement of the regulation is the reduced number of customers.” Lee Jung-hee (47 years), who sells shoes, says, “My uncle, who works at the policy station, told me that the economic recession is a world wide problem and that all other markets in this country also face the same problem. I could not understand exactly what he meant, but it seems that I am not the only person who has difficulties these days.” She also adds, “Many people these days have a hard time in living from hand to mouth.” Kim, Man-deuk (43), who is a wholesale travel vendor in Sinuiju, Nampo, Wonsan and other cities, tells, “The terrible market situation is everywhere. Because of poor sales, I can barely provide the gas price for my service-car. I am thinking I should purchase fewer products than before and not travel to distant cities unless I have to.” He also mentioned that he marked up the prices of his products by 50-100 NK Won more to compensate his gas price, but that he could not sell the products because no one wanted to purchase them. He also said that without making any profits, he had to bite the bullet by selling the product at much lower prices but almost no products were sold. He finally said that this suffocating situation will be eased only after this recession is over.


[Politics]
Studies on Conversation Contents of the Peoples Army Spokesperson for the Department of the General Staff

On January 17, each national security agency held an emergency meeting and an educational forum regarding the announcement of conversation content (담화내용) of the Chosun People’s Army spokesperson for the Department of the General Staff (총참모부). At this meeting, they passed along the announcement made by the spokesperson from the Department of the General Staff on Chosun Central TV along with the North-South state of affairs and a measure to “Destruct the Enemy’s Anti- Communist Maneuver”. The National Security Agency Official who attended the meeting shortly commented, “I think there might be something going on near the Chosun’s Yellow Sea. The situation seems to be tense.”

“New Year’s Combined Editorial Not Inspirational At All”
The New Year’s Combined Editorial does not inspire the residents in Pyongsung City because it is not very explicit. A DWU member, Kim Mi-wha (44) said, “It used to be very easy to understand when our Great Leader was alive because it clearly showed us the numbers, such as the GDP level. However, since his death, I can’t figure out what they are saying any more.” One staff member from Pyongsung City said, “Even though it lists the overarching goals for the New Year and people are made to memorize them, people are getting bored of the same old story every year.”

Han Keum-Rye from Soonchun City said, “I cannot see any hope even after reading the editorial multiple times. I just memorize what’s in it because they tell me to do so, but once the book is closed I am in the dark once again.” He went on to say, “Sometimes even the teachers are not reading it thoroughly. Because it is full of political jargon and seriously lacks in explicit goals regarding economic development, they do not feel like teaching it at all. I am just learning it because I don’t want to fall behind in political issues.”

One staff member in Soonchun City sympathized with the residents. He said, “It is very hard to find one staff that really cares about the political agendas. People obey on the surface but they are busy taking care of their own living in the back.

A trading working official in Siniju, North Pyongan Province, who was visiting Soonchun, said, “People in Siniju say that the economy will likely worsen this year. People sometimes even say that they want to see a war. I thought it was only in Sinuiju, but looks like residents in Soonchun feel the same way.” He further explained, “Combined Editorial should not be just full of difficult political jargon. It should be able to give hope to the people. In order to do that, they should include economic figures and present some realistic goals.”

March 8, Official Announcement of Election of the Delegate at the Supreme People’s Assembly
Although the Supreme People’s Assembly made an official announcement regarding the election of the delegates for March 8, the residents have been unresponsive. An official near the Central District of Pyongyang commented, “All the officials say that the Supreme People’s Assembly is meaningless because the Party is holding the power.” Park Jeong-hak (39), who lives in the Seongyo District, said, “They are only creating a tense atmosphere to try to intimidate us. We vote with no purpose. We do not know whom we are voting for because we do not even know the names of the delegates.” Pyongyang residents think that the election is just a formality and has no meaning.

21 Young Gamblers Were Sentenced To Be Re-Educated in Haeju City
Last December 21, Haeju City, South Hwanghae Province held a Public Trial for 21 young men involved in gambling activities. The trial was held under supervision of the Province Courthouse and these 21 young men were sentenced to be re-educated. The Public Trial processed as a Self-Struggle Form.

Chungjin City Discharged 9 Division Party Secretaries Related Military Food Incident
North Hamgyong Province Party Commission discharged 9 farming division (Ri) secretaries due to their insufficient collection of military food. While reviewing military food collections by the National Defense Committee, the Directive Officers from the Central Party, the North Hamgyong Province Officials and Chungjin City Agriculture Department decided to release these secretaries from their office. These 9 discharged secretaries were sent to the Organization and Guidance Department of the City Party for their Ideology-Investigation (사상검토)


[Society]
Sinuiju Residents Who Received Punishment for Bribery to File Petition to Pyongyang

More people among those who were caught last year in the Sinuiju anti-socialism inspection are filing petitions to Pyongyang. They are filing petitions directly to Pyongyang because they received nothing in return even after giving large sums of money to anti-socialism inspection patrols, police, and national security agents. The money they paid ranges from $1,000 to $3,000. Regarding filing petition to Pyongyang Mr. Kim Pan-gun (age 41) said, “I don’t expect to get the bribe money back. However, those who didn’t do any work even after receiving the money should be punished. I will never give up.” Mr. Kim continued, “The total amount of money I have paid here and there is more than $5,000. The petition process is going slow because the other party is a national security agent. I am so angry that nothing was done even though I paid that much money. So, I am taking the petition all the way no matter what it takes.” He said it is obvious that he can tell how difficult it could have been for those with no money because a wealthy person like himself had such difficulties getting the sentence reduced.

[A Letter from Sinuiju] What Can I Rely on after Selling My House?
I am Jang, Keum-oak (a pseudonym), 65 years old, and live in Poongsuh-dong, Sinuiju. After my husband passed away in 1997, I raised a son and a daughter by myself. Now they are married. Currently I live together with my son, daughter-in-law, and a grandson. Although my son goes to work, he has not received any ration or payment, so my daughter-in-law has sold cosmetics by traveling between Nampo and Manpo in Jagang Province. When the business was good, everything was fine, but the number of her customers has decreased because the economic condition has worsened since last fall. In this economic depression, if she is caught by inspection, she has to lay out more money than she can bring in. With declining income from her business, she and I frequently argued and the number of troubles increased. Since she made money by herself to feed all the family, she seemed to feel a big burden and stress and got mad a lot, becoming easily angry with me. We argued almost everyday, so my son who could not endure the situation anymore moved out with his wife and son last fall.

Since I had a house with two bedrooms, I could maintain my living by threading beads. If I worked hard day and night, I usually earned about 1,000 NK Won. Every resident, young and old, of Sinuiju, feeds his or her family and themselves by doing this job. Because we have not had power for two months, most people put on a lantern on their head to work in the night like miners. But we had only a general meeting at the end of last year, I was told that the work would come in March from China. Most women in South Sinuiju used to work for this job and feed their family, so all of a sudden they became jobless and complained a lot about this situation. Many households are worrying and discouraged, saying, “Until March, where can we get two months’ worth of food to live on?”

Because there is no way to make money, women go to markets to earn some money by helping out with carrying baggage or stuff, but it is not easy to find customers in this depression and severe cold weather. In the market, there seem to be more sellers than buyers and more job seekers than sellers, so getting even a simple job is not easy.

Because I was old and I did not have any way to solve this situation, I ate only thin gruel for my meals. To make matters worse, the son who moved out visited me to ask for help because the trade was not good, he had no food, and he cannot pay back the 1,500,000 NK Won that he borrowed for their moving expenses. He asked me to forgive him and to live together with him after selling my apartment. Although this was the son who moved out for his own comfort and did not visit me at all, I nevertheless felt really sorry for several days and cried for him. In the end, I decided to sell my house. It is easily worth 6,000 to 7,000 US dollars for the same size apartment as mine in downtown Sinuiju, but I barely got only 1,000 dollars in South Sinuiju.

When I moved in his house, I found that three more families lived on the same floor with us. In any case, our situation was better than they were because we had money by selling the house. However, I was shocked and felt bad when I saw old people of every house get beaten and bleeding from the fight; they were kicked out with only their underwear in the severe cold. I realize that saying bad things about my son is only hurting myself, but I worry about my future if we use up the money from the house and he might kick me out, too. Whenever I think of it, I become discouraged. The number of the homeless in this cold is increasing in Sinuiju. Like us, many people sold their houses to buy food and most of them do not have any hope when they use up the money. I feel bad because the government has clearly known the number of the homeless, but does not do anything to address this issue. What can these people who sold their houses and used up the money rely on? I feel so sorry and desperate that I am writing this letter.


[Women/Children/Education]
Chungjin Kkotjebi (Homeless) Transferred to Gilju Elementary School

In the Welfare Institutions, Ranam District, Chungjin City of North Hamgyong Province, 42 Kkotjebis caught last December were placed in different facilities as appropriate to each circumstance. 3 one among the Kkotjebi who are 40 years or more were diagnosed with a mental disease and sent to the No. 49 mental hospital, and 6 old people were sent to a home for the aged. In addition, the rest of the Kkotjebi children were transferred to Gilju Elementary School. The principal of Gilju Elementary School, after receiving notice of this situation, declared that all those students would need to be tested for any contagious diseases and those with such illnesses will not be accepted into the school. This decision comes from a previous experience of accepting homeless children into his school when even some of the original students ended up contracting fatal illnesses due to diseases spread by the homeless children. The principal showed unwillingness to accept Kkotjebis without any set guidelines because even though the Welfare institutions say they will take care of any problems brought on by the kkotjebis, when the school turns to them for help, no one is there.


[Accidents]
The family of a Chungjin Police Officer found dead

On December 26, the entire family of a police officer was found dead in Chungjin City of North Hamgyong Province. The wife of the police officer had been bedridden, and his 12 year old daughter was taking care of her when they suffered this horrible fate. Investigators noticed that the property and valuables were left untouched so are investigating further, keeping the possibility of a revenge murder in mind.

An Elderly Woman Dies in Public Bathhouse Used AS Temporary Shelter
Kim Jeom-soon (78), who was forcibly removed from her home and assigned to live in a public bathhouse, passed away finally after trembling in the cold in Poongsan town, Hoeryong City of North Hamgyong Province. The City of Hoeryong has been working on a housing community of 1210 houses and for that purpose has been working to clear the houses around the railroad station and the railroad tracks. If people refuse to leave their homes, they removed the houses by force by calling out police officers from the police substation. Following the ‘birthday of Kim Jong-sook’ event on December 24, Kim was forced to leave her house and was assigned to a public bathhouse as her temporary home. Kim passed away after she became ill because the bathhouse did not have proper heating during the winter and she could not get medical treatment at the right time.


[Commentary]
Fertilizer Aid Should Resume for North Korean People

People in all areas of North Korea are being mobilized for making Compost (Toebee) for this year’s farming. North Korea's chronic food shortage is primarily caused by lack of fertilizer. North Korean government is also aware of it, and declared that ‘resolving the food problem is desperate needs of the current reality. As such, they addressed in this year’s combined editorial that the whole population should take part in the production of organic fertilizer to send it to the farming villages. Following the order of the authorities people are busy collecting feces and ashes to implement what was asked in the joint editorial as soon as they are being mobilized in mass rallies.

North Korea has already emphasized for several years the importance of agricultural production and self-sufficiency of food in the combined editorial. However, the lack of fertilizer has always been a barrier for increase in food production. North Korea's fertilizer plants such as Heungnam fertilizer factory have either stopped production because of damage to equipment, or factory utilization rate has dropped significantly due to the lack of electricity and raw materials. According to the government statistics the required amount of fertilizer is 1,550,000 MT, but the current production amount is only about 20% of that, always lacking at least 1,000,000-1,200,000 MT.

The officials who get blamed or reprimanded every year for poor performance in compost production press residents for more compost. Innocent children, students, housewives, workers, and farmers all suffer from the pressure. The authorities want to guarantee the quality and quantity of compost. So, they test it thoroughly and issue certificates for those who passed test. However, the assigned quota is too much for people. So, they mix feces with soil to increase the amount of compost.

The residents dig up frozen human manure in the public toilet in the winter, and in the spring people dry compost in every household and every corner of the village despite serious sanitary concerns with flying powder of feces. In the summer, people become mobilized to grass cutting work to collect grass to be used with compost. The suffering of people is heart breaking, as they have to take the burden of paying extra money beyond taxes and deal with compost production when their livelihood is difficult enough with cold, hunger, and disease.

The South Korean government has been giving 300,000 MT of fertilizer for free every year as humanitarian aid. The fertilizer was used to produce more than 600,000 MT of grain and made contribution alleviate food shortages. Since last year, the inter-Korean relations deteriorated rapidly, and they only exchanged political disputes and slandering, while ignoring the issues of humanitarian crisis and the livelihood of North Korean residents’ suffering. For South Korean government, the idea of providing aid in case of humanitarian crisis, has disappeared, and their attitude has shifted into that of we will provide aid if you ‘apologize.’ Now, the terms of humanitarian aid depends not on the suffering of North Korean people, but on the change in the attitude of the North Korean government.

We once again have to go back to the root of the problems. The only criterion for humanitarian aid should be whether a humanitarian situation is a real crisis. We need to remember that the humanitarian aid is the shortcut for the unification. Unification is not a business transaction between individuals or commercial trade. It will be difficult to achieve unification if South Korean government and people are concerned only about the immediate economic crisis they face and become indifferent to the pain of 20 million North Korean people.


[Investigative Report]
How Are We to View the January 17 Statement by the General Staff of the People’s Army?

On January 17, the spokesman for The General Staff of People’s Army, North Korea issued a statement on Chosun Central TV about its ‘Willingness to Wage a Total War against South Korea.’ At 10 PM on the same evening, North Korea’s national security agencies in all of the major cities held emergency meetings and received counter-measures ‘on how to thoroughly smash anti-republic conspiracy by the enemy.’ This implies that the issued statement was not only for international but also domestic consumption.

Why Did North Korea Issue Such a Statement Early in the New Year?

It seems to be an attempt to cause changes in its relationship with South Korea by means of high-pressure policy, a relationship that is currently at a stalemate. Starting with an editorial in the Rodong Shinmun last April 1, North Korea has regularly issued strong statements against the new government of South Korea. Since then, the North-South relationship has been hardening with each passing week. South Korea has not shown any particular reaction, following its current policy of ‘calm measures,’ which North Korea equates with ‘intentional disregard.’ This lack of reaction by South Korea has resulted in even greater hardening of North Korea’s policy toward South Korea. The statement of ‘Willingness to Wage a Total War against South Korea’ is the high-water mark of the current aggressive policies. On one hand, these tactics stimulate the security crisis within South Korea, raising level of real fear. On the other hand, the also precipitate changes in the hardened relationship with South Korea.

The belligerent statements of The People’s Army can also be interpreted as an attempt to resolve domestic confusion and restore control. North Korean leadership considers ‘openness to reformation’ to be a very sensitive issue, to an extent that it is equivalent to ‘overthrowing the governing system’. Within North Korea, more and more people believe in secret that the current system with ‘business as usual’ is unlikely to survive. Even if they keep quiet in public, they believe that some sort of change should occur, although it will not necessarily be an ‘openness to reformation.’ North Korean leadership is keenly aware of this sort of idea. North Korean leadership tries to remind its people of the seriousness of the ‘enemy’s conspiracy to overthrow the governing system’ through a heightened tension in national security, believing this to be effective in tightening discordant ideology.

Thirdly, the military’s statements can be interpreted as an attempt to attract the attention of the United States prior to the inauguration of President Obama. North Korea insists that South Korea has remained an antagonist while the North desires to proceed toward a unification of the Koreas peacefully ‘among ourselves.’ Consequently, nuclearization cannot be abandoned. The statement by the spokesman of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, North Korea, that possession of nuclear deterrence capability and normalization of the U.S.-North Korea relationship are two different things, follows a similar line of argument. Nuclearization by North Korea is necessary as a tool for self-defense against South Korea as well as a protection of the state’s national security against The United States. This is the way North Korea shifts the responsibility to South Korea.

What is the Background behind the Recent Statement?

The most visible reason for the statement by The People’s Army is the recent inauguration of President Obama, a leader who is seen as unwilling to initiate a preemptive strike on North Korea. The primary interests of the Obama government are thought to be the economic crises, both domestic and international, and disputes in the Middle East. It is therefore necessary for North Korea to attract the attention of The United States early on.

North Korea is also taking the chance to display confidence now that they possess nuclear weaponry, a stronger asymmetrical weapon. It has been a consistent war strategy of North Korea against South Korea that speedy warfare will be waged by deploying 70% of their total armed forces to the strategically important areas on the frontline. Judgments of North Korea indicate that if North Korea wins a local battle along the Northern Limit Line (NLL) during a spontaneous conflict, The United States would hesitate to engage immediately. If war crisis becomes visible, anti-war public opinions in South Korea would escalate, which would limit the options available to the South Korean government. North Korea would then take the initiative in negotiations with South Korea, and North Korea would be able to extract profits, political and economical.

Thirdly, this aggressive expression of confidence is useful in straightening and enhancing the morale of The North Korean military, which has reached new depths. The longer South Korea keeps silent, the more North Korea will try to use this silence domestically as an example of ‘scared South Koreans.’

Following the issued statement, North Korea emphasized that it was not ‘a usual, routine talk.’

What is Likely to be North Korea’s Next Course of Action?

More than anything else, the likelihood of an incident between patrol boats has increased on the waters near the Northern Limit Line. Baeknyong Island cannot be ruled out as an area of dispute. How would the direct military action by North Korea affect the attitude of the United States in its negotiations on nuclear issues? This is the key question.

[Full Text of the Statement by the Spokesman of The General Staff of The People’s Army of North Korea]
National traitor Lee Myung-bak at the dawn of New Year declared publically without hesitation that the North-South relationship cannot be improved through cooperation. This is plainly a refusal of national reconciliation and unity and a public confrontational statement against the 6.15 unification era. This confrontation at a time of a state of cease-fire heightens tension and makes a war inevitable.

Puppet militant warmongers believe that only open flames make the paths forward visible. As if awaiting the confrontational statement, they emphasize that military power will back up their confrontational policy in the North-South relationship in support of their so-called ‘ideology of supreme command.’

Who is making noise about non-existent military provocations? Who encourages hostilities against our republic and strengthening readiness for war? It is the traitor Lee Myung-bak and his cronies as well as those puppet militant warmongers who do not know what they are doing, that’s who. The puppet Minister of Defense shouts for readiness in the third exchange of fire in the West Sea and the puppet Chairman of Joint Chiefs mumbles about retribution for someone instead of learning a lesson from the nonsense of ‘preemptive attack.’ Daily territorial invasions by puppet naval vessels in the West Sea of Korea, various military provocations and anti-republic confrontations have already exceeded the danger level. In addition, military exercises with North Korea as the potential enemy are approaching a point of no tolerance. Recently, traitor Lee Myung-bak and his cronies desired to deploy an Aegis fleet of the imperial U.S navy in the Pacific Ocean. The carrier fleet is equipped with 90% full Aegis capability and loaded with a nuclear arsenal, and it is aimed at us. Stealth tactical aviation squads on the island of Okinawa have been reinforced. Strategic bombers and other attack units already deployed are ready for attacks on areas on or near Korean peninsula.

It has been a long time since our revolutionary forces branded as trickery the so-called ‘reopening dialogue’ and the advertisement of a ‘position of respect’ by the traitor Lee Myung-bak and his cronies. Accordingly, we have been watching with keen eyes every movement by the traitors. Reality shows that we have been right all along in our assessments, meaning that the behaviors of the traitor Lee Myung-bak and his cronies are a plain refusal to national reconciliation and unity, a public confrontation to peace and prosperity and a counter-march to unification. As the supreme commander’s behaviors are evil and ignorant, so are his policies. Consequently, soldiers under him end up being indiscreet. Even in South Korea, the traitor Lee Myung-bak is being blamed as a person who would bring disaster to the nation. He is blamed as a man who took power and is solidifying dictatorship in the fashion of the infamous Hitler. Facing this serious confrontation, The General Staff of The People’s Army of North Korea will maintain national independence and dignity and do our utmost to defend our socialist fatherland as our supreme mission. Therefore,

We Clarify To the World Our Principled Positions

(1) Now that the traitor Lee Myung-bak and his cronies have chosen to deny national reconciliation and cooperation and have taken a path of confrontation with the support of a foreign power, our revolutionary military power will hesitantly have to face them with our willingness to wage a total war. Our military will defeat the enemy in a total war. The world will clearly see how pitifully the reckless conspiracy by the traitors against our republic will be crushed. Our willingness to wage a total war is based on the support of our military and millions of people desiring national justice.

(2) Puppet militant warmongers are busy with their preparations for ‘preemptive attack’ and ‘retribution’ following the so-called ‘ideology of supreme command.’ Our strong counter-measures of revolutionary military power will be ready to meet them and crush them. Our military counter-measures will have the strong, limitless and merciless attacking power of revolutionary Baekdoo military and they will be executed fiercely without allowing any guess even by the most advanced tools. The traitor Lee Myung-bak and puppet militant warmongers should clearly understand it. The more efforts traitors and their cronies put into anti-republic hostilities and fever toward war against North Korea, the stronger and more merciless the retribution our military counter-measures will become.

(3) South Korea is neglecting our earnest measures and sincere tolerance by invading our territory in the West Sea. As we have clarified to the world, as long as it continues, our revolutionary military power will maintain the Military Limit Line at the West Sea. Until the day of unification of the motherland, there is only the Marine Military Limit Line set by us, not the illegal Northern Limit Line at the West Sea. The traitor Lee Myung-bak and puppet militant warmongers will face our rifles and experience the dear price they will have to pay for the path of confrontation against our people. There will be no day waiting for the evil confrontational fanatics.

North Korea Today No. 262

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr/eng
[Weekely Newsletter] No.262 January 2009

[Hot Topics]
“Competition For the Three Great Revolutions: Culpable For Illegal Activities”
Food Processing Factory, Seoheung County, Quarrels With Workers on Financial Obligations Due To ‘Assessment on Three Great Revolutions’
Debt from ‘Assessment on Three Great Revolutions’ Repaid With Farmers’ Harvest Allotment in Jangyeon County

[Food] City of Wonsan Provides a Ration of Whole-Corn for a Day Worth of Food in November

[Economy]
Workers’ Wages Used to Fund Reconstruction of the Pyongyang Make-up Factory
Saebyul County Sesame Seed Exports to China Suffer Blow

[Politics]
Confiscation of Unregistered Personal Computers in Major Cities
North Korea Stages Public Execution of Five Former Discharged Soldiers for Robberies
Calls to Punish Officials Implicated in the Housing Unit Scandal at the National City Council Meeting
Kangsuh County Prosecuted 6 Professionally Tobacco Producing Household

[Society]
220 Soldiers from the Regiment of Artillery Rocket in Seoheung County, Failed to Attend Training Due To Malnutrition
National Border Area, Those in Debt Are Under Intensive Observation
A Family Tragedy Occurs as a Consequence of the Food Shortage

[Women/Children/Education]
Schools in Kangsuh County Experience a Decrease in Attendance

[Accidents]
30 Horses Died of Infection at Military Horses Training Camp
The Air force of Taetan County, Carelessness of Using Benzene Caused to Fire

[Commentary]
Must Not Add Pain to People No Matter How Important ‘Assessment on Three Great Revolutions’ Are!







_______________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
“Competition For the Three Great Revolutions: Culpable For Illegal Activities”

Every Farm, Factory, and Enterprise throughout the nation poured their foremost efforts into the ‘Assessment Project on the Three Great Revolution Red Flag Attainment Movement’ (AKA ‘Assessment on Three Great Revolutions’) through the end of last year. Leading officials in charge of those units that could not meet the standard were severely criticized. It was because the ‘Assessment on Three Great Revolutions’ had the standard set so high. In case of a farm village, each farm should designate a team of workers to renovate a stable, thresh shed, and a propaganda room, and build even a kindergarten building. All of these cost a large sum of money, ranging from at least several million to tens of million NK Won*, which is too much for a farm to afford.

A leader in Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province said, ‘Assessment on Three Great Revolutions’ itself promotes illegal activities. No organization including farms, factories and enterprises has financial resources. Therefore, accommodating ‘Assessment on Three Great Revolutions’ results in collecting money from the farmers and workers. However, that does not solve all the financial problems. Aside from resentments of farmers and workers, there is a limit to the amount they can contribute even if they are willing. Consequently, what is there for the organizations left to do? Farms dispose of grain and factories get involved in illegal deals with raw materials for production in order to secure necessary funds to accommodate the Assessment on Three Great Revolution. An organization might be able to do a good job on the Assessment on Three Great Revolution. Later, however, its leaders might be found guilty of illegal activities committed for the sake of the Assessment on Three Great Revolution, which has been true in numerous cases. Workers are placed between a rock and a hard place in many instances, so to speak. They are criticized if they do not do a good job on the Assessment on Three Great Revolution. They are punished when found guilty of illegal activities even in case they had done a good job. Of course, it is not an option for the organization to choose to do nothing on the Assessment on Three Great Revolution. Cho Dong-gook (48), Haeju, South Hwanghae Province, asks “There is no investment from the state and all the financial obligations fall upon the farms. Isn’t it then the state that promotes illegal activities?”

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

Food Processing Factory, Seoheung County, Quarrels With Workers on Financial Obligations Due To ‘Assessment on Three Great Revolutions’
Food Processing Factory, Namhan-ri of Seoheung County, North Hwanghae Province collected 150,000 NK Won from each section to accommodate the ‘Assessment on Three Great Revolutions’. This caused a lot of friction between the factory management and its workers. The factory management needed the money for purchasing materials for painting and other repair works in improving the environments. Kim Hak-soon (51), a worker, bitterly complained, “Workers do not have any money to spare. They cannot afford food because the factory has neither paid any wages nor provided any rations of grain. Collecting money is just too much.” He continued, “There has been a fierce quarrel between the factory management and workers.”

Debt from ‘Assessment on Three Great Revolutions’ Repaid With Farmers’ Harvest Allotment in Jangyeon County
Cooperative Farm of Noolsan-ri, Jangyeon County, South Hwanghae Province started all over the renovations done for ‘Assessment on Three Great Revolutions’ last spring because they were destroyed by the disastrous flood in 2007. They borrowed money for this work from private money lenders. They could ill afford the loan to the extent that the county had deaths due to starvation last spring. Condition on the loan was that it was to be paid back with grain at the next fall’s harvest. A total sum of 4.2 million NK Won was spent on the repair project of thresh shed, propaganda room, stable and news bulletin board. At the time of the last fall’s harvest, provisions for the military had to be taken out first. What was left was not enough to repay the debt. Consequently, 3 kg of grain from each farmer’s allotment was taken out, which caused a great deal of complaints on the part of farmers.


[Food] City of Wonsan Provides a Ration of Whole-Corn for a Day Worth of Food in November
City of Wonsan has provided no ration of food since last November when a ration of whole-corn for a day worth of food was provided. There are very few functioning factories and enterprises, which result in very few workers to receive rations. In December, The only ones to receive rations were war veterans, decorated soldiers and war bereaved families.


[Economy]
Workers’ Wages Used to Fund Reconstruction of the Pyongyang Make-up Factory

As a part of the Pyongyang make-up factory’s reconstruction plan, the interior work of the factory has begun this January after the exterior work was completed last October. Due to a lack of raw materials, the factory has been manufacturing soaps, toothpastes, and toothbrushes to cover the reconstruction cost. Around 85 million NK Won has been spent for the reconstruction so far. With no investment from the central government, the factory, unavoidably, dispatched its workers to other factories to raise the reconstruction money. The factory sent its workers to companies or foreign trade agencies where labor was needed. The money the workers made all went towards the reconstruction fund. As a result, the workers are having difficulty in maintaining their lives because their work is not compensated.

Saebyul County Sesame Seed Exports to China Suffer Blow
Since the autumn of last year, sesame seed exports have entered into a crisis. In particular, the farmers in Saebyul County, North Hamgyong Province, who heavily depended on exports to China, were greatly impacted when China stopped importing sesame seeds. Subsequently, the market price of sesame seeds fell per kg to 1,300 NK Won from 2,000 NK Won. As a result, all farmers that have been growing sesame seeds are now facing difficult times.


[Politics]
Confiscation of Unregistered Personal Computers in Major Cities

In the major cities of North Korea, unregistered recording devices and computers are being widely confiscated. At the end of the investigation of unregistered recording devices and computers, on December 22, 2008 a town meeting was held in Pyongsung City, South Pyongan Province. The chief of the Public Relations department called forward and criticized the individuals implicated as perpetrators in these investigations. In Pyongsung, around twenty unregistered computers were collected of which some ten were redistributed to factories or public enterprises while the other half were returned to their owners for a fine. The computers were confiscated or fined based on the amount of prohibited data, mostly computer games, it contained. In Chungjin City of the North Hamgyong Province, thirty computers were collected and a few individuals even tried using bribery of 200,000 NK Won to have their computers returned to them.

North Korea Stages Public Execution of Five Former Discharged Soldiers for Robberies

On December 21, the robbers who had frequently appeared along the route between Chilbong-ri in Wonsan City, Kangwon Province and Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province were finally caught. The five robbers dressed in military uniform robbed pedestrians and vehicles and even committed murder if their victims resisted. There were also several reported incidents of the perpetrators boarding buses with murder weapons and robbing the passengers for their expensive belongings. The total sum of the losses reported to the police by the passengers exceeds 20,000,000 NK won. In one instance, the robbers boarded a servi-car (private bus) and after robbing and even killing the driver and all of the passengers on board, they pushed the car down a hill. Growing popular unrest followed these life-threatening incidents, yet the state party had numerously failed to capture the perpetrators. Then on November 20 at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the robbers who had been in the middle of robbing passengers of a servi-car were arrested by troops patrolling the area at that time.

Investigations revealed that the robbers were ex-soldiers discharged in September of 2007. They were dissatisfied with their post-military workplaces and their earnings, which they consistently complained about when they met together. Then during the famine last spring, they and their families suffered through starvation, and the sister of one of the robbers even died of malnutrition a few days after giving birth to a baby. They began to say that they would “rather live by stealing from others than die like this,” and started seriously planning the robberies. Since then, there have been over 200 reported robberies, 4 murders, as well as over 200 assaults. Over 30,000,000 NK Won worth of goods and 80,000,000 NK Won in cash were discovered in their homes.

On December 21, the Safety Bureau of Wonsan city publicly executed 4 of the robbers and sentenced the fifth to 12 years in the Re-education Center. Due to the severity of their crimes, the executions were undertaken relatively quickly within 40 days of their arrest.

Calls to Punish Officials Implicated in the Housing Unit Scandal at the National City Council Meeting
At the National City Council’s Meeting held last year, major cities suggested penal policies for addressing the violations of the officials implicated in the Housing Unit Scandal. On December 14, a conference was held in Hyesan City, Ryanggang Province under the direction of the Secretary of Province to discuss appropriate punishment for the officials involved in the scandal. Party officials called for the impeachment of the 54 who were indicted for living in new or luxurious homes. They also stated that the current single-family residences of these officials would be reallocated to persons of merit and retired soldiers and 3-4 generations of their families according to merit. On the same day, Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province held a meeting and publicly criticized the officials who built their homes using government resources. The Secretary of City reported these officials to the Organization and Guidance Department to be discharged from their positions. The officials who lost their homes were transferred to the newly developed coalmine or a farmland in Hoeryong City.

In Pyongsung City, South Pyongan Province, the single-family residences were confiscated without any compensation to the owners. They impeached 21 out of 39 officials indicted in the Housing Unit Inspection and the others were punished according to the laws upheld by their respective parties. The confiscated residences of the officials will be reallocated to war bereaved families, war veterans, senior veterans, and retired military officials.

Kangsuh County Prosecuted 6 Professionally Tobacco Producing Household
Last December 26, Kangsuh County, South Pyongan Province prosecuted 6 households who were professionally producing tobacco. Kangsuh County’s Safety Bureau discovered that 6 households were producing and selling tobacco as “cat tobacco*” made of leaf tobacco during their Residential Food Condition Research. They were immediately reported to the Party, and housing investigation was conducted on the same day. The Safety Bureau suspended all tobacco production and confiscated all related resources and materials. Two trucks were needed to remove all resources and materials. Confiscated materials worth a total of 56,000,000 NK Won* were sent to the storage facility in the county’s commercial management center (군상업관리소). The residents involved in the case had a primary hearing on December 30. Some family members were hospitalized and others committed suicide. “How can we survive? Give us at least the governmental cost,” cried prosecuted residents but the Party replied, “You should thank us for not imprisoning you to the discipline center. We cannot pay you for illegal goods.”

*cat tobacco(고양이담배): Official name is the ‘Craven A’ which has the cat logo on the case, and British company sub-contracted North Korea to produce and export to Africa.


[Society]
220 Soldiers from the Regiment of Artillery Rocket in Seoheung County, Failed to Attend Training Due To Malnutrition

The Regiment of Artillery Rocket in Seoheung County, North Hwanghae Province, has provided two meals of potato and corn porridge per day from March to August last year, due to food shortages. There are three battalions under the Regiment of Artillery Rocket. Two hundred twenty soldiers of three battalions could not participate in military training because of malnutrition. As the food shortage got worse, the military ordered the wives and children of high-ranking officials who have been married less than 2 years to go to their wives' parents homes. They were supposed to come back to the military before military training began in November, However only a few of the wives and children returned by December.

Even if the wives would like to stay with their husbands, they cannot because they have nothing to eat. High-ranking officials are also hardly able to concentrate on their work because they are not sure how long they have to live apart from their families. The soldiers are suffering from malnutrition, and high-ranking officials are separated from their families, causing a loss of enthusiasm. Although commanding officers of the regiments, training staff, and commanding officers have criticized and tried to encourage them at the training meeting, it has not motivated them enough to focus on their training and work.

National Border Area, Those in Debt Are Under Intensive Observation
National Border Area police departments have selected targets for intensive observation. First are the households that have been under observation for a long time. Second are those who have jobs and their income is unknown, but appear to be doing well. Third are those in a lot of debt. Three categories of household are under the intensive observation. One official said," those people would likely work for the enemy when things get worse. That's the reason these 3 groups have been put in intensive observation."

A Family Tragedy Occurs as a Consequence of the Food Shortage
On December 26, 2008, a father in his 60s who suffered from abdominal dropsy killed his 18-year-old youngest daughter in Onsung town, Onsung County, North Hamgyong Province. He had the liver disease a long time. Meanwhile his wife has been maintaining the family and ensuring an income. However, she, who previously cared for her sick husband and endured the food shortage, died last September from malnutrition. Since she had to take care of her husband, she did not receive any treatment or take any medicine. When the eldest daughter who was 22 years old was discharged from military service due to malnutrition illness, she found that her mother had already passed away, and there was nothing to eat. Even though physically she was not in good condition, she began to work doing any possible odd jobs from house to house in order to feed her father lying sick in bed, and her indiscreet and imprudent sister. However, she could barely feed her family, so she finally began to prostitute herself. When the younger sister learned that her elder sister had sold her body to feed herself and father, she cried whenever everytime she saw her.

Whenever the eldest daughter left her home, she would return several days later, bringing money and corn. She would then leave again. Because the youngest daughter thought the cause of these problems was her father, she began to curse and beat him despite the fact that he could barely move by himself. The day before the incident, when the eldest sister visited home and the younger sister painfully cried, the younger daughter became angry, and severely cursed her father. The next morning when she saw her father eating his breakfast, almost unconscious, she cried, and beat him with her belt saying, “You killed my mother and you destroyed my sister, too. Why the hell do you want to live more?” The father who had endured her beating and cold treatment many times lost his temper on the day and threw a pestle of a mortar at his daughter. She was struck on the head, and died instantly. Due to the shock of her death, he put her dead body in a drum and hid it in the back of his storage room. On New Year’s Day when the eldest daughter came back home to feed her family, she could not find her sister for several days and reported it to the police station. Police officers who came to the house to get information found some suspicious things from the father and inspected him. He confessed to the crime. The dead body was found and the father was arrested. When his neighbors heard the exact story, they felt sorry and said, “We don’t know who to console more because the beaten, dead girl is poor. The father beaten by his daughter is poor, and the dead mother was poor. Furthermore, the eldest daughter, who sold her body to feed her father and sister, is poor. What is going on in this world?”


[Women/Children/Education]
Schools in Kangsuh County Experience a Decrease in Attendance

Attendance in all schools of Kangsuh County, South Pyongan Province, has decreased considerably as winter arrived in November. It is because classrooms are so cold that students do not try to attend a school. Fifty percent of students are absent per class in People’s School. The Ministry of Education of the County Party scolded homeroom teachers as attendance has decreased rapidly. Teachers were criticized so much that some handed in their resignation. On November 12th, the head of the ministry of education of county party assembled principals and teachers from a school that has had low attendance for the last two months. He suggested relieving the non-tax payments of students that increase their attendance.

[Accidents]
30 Horses Died of Infection at Military Horses Training Camp
On the afternoon of December 23rd the past year, horses started to die, suffering from epidemic at Military horses training camp in Upa District (어파구) of Pyongwon County, South Pyongan Province. Vets were inquired but the treatment was unsuccessful and 30 horses died. Vets said that they were in a state where only a certain medicine was left and therefore they could not do anything. The only thing that they could do was treat the already dying horses with a disinfectant. They are still unable to discover the cause of the horses’ deaths yet the number of deaths is growing bigger.

The Air force of Taetan County, Carelessness of Using Benzene Caused to Fire
Last January 2nd, a fire broke out in a security guard unit (Gooboondae)* at the Air Command fighter-bomber airfield in Taetan County, South Hwanghae Province. Soldiers who were painting the company-education room used benzene with inflammable dye. However, they misused it and a fire broke out killing two soldiers. A substantial part of the education room was burnt. Objects such as an oil painting hanging in the room, books, a television set, and a recorder were burned and were incurred as property damage.

*Gooboondae (구분대) is a military unit and its size is less than battalion.

[Commentary] Must Not Add Pain to People No Matter How Important ‘Assessment on Three Great Revolutions’ Are!
“’The Thee Great Revolution Red Flag Attainment Movement’ is giving rise to unlawful activities!" These are the words of an official in Sariwon city which precisely describes the contradiction involved in the Three Great Revolution Red Flag Attainment Movement. North Korean authorities need to pay attention to both tangible and intangible types of difficulties the Thee Great Revolution movement imposes on people.

After the Chollima movement in the 1960s, the Thee Great Revolution Red Flag Attainment Movement was known to be a public mobilization campaign that started in 1975. The movement proclaimed ideological, technological, and cultural revolution as a means to achieve social integration through the Juche ideology. The ‘ideological revolution’ educates people to be loyal to the Party and the beloved leader. The ‘technological revolution’ attempts scientific and technological development through mechanization and automation n the economic sector. Lastly the ‘cultural revolution’ implements the communist production culture and communist life culture. North Korean authorities have been promoting the social campaign by forming the ‘Thee Great Revolutions Team’ as the front-line leadership group and dispatched them to each production and administrative unit. By giving awards to each unit a big performance was achieved.

The problem now is that officials are busy with outcomes that are outwardly visible because the movement is perceived as a measure of loyalty to the Party. Each unit engages in a desperate competition to receive good evaluation from the 'Red Flag Award Committee.’ Among others areas, the cultural revolution is the field where the most amount of burden is being placed on the employees in the factories and enterprises as well as the farmers to secure resources for building maintenance businesses and interior decorations.

A farm in Jangyeon County, South Hwanghae Province alone has spent 4.2 million NK Won to decorate its interior and some workplaces have spent well over 10 million NK Won. A police station in Saepo County of the Kangwon Province, soliciting money from rich people was not enough and so donations were collected from people coming to the police station and passerbys. Therefore, people tried to avoid the areas where they were asking for donations. Each work unit collected 150,000 NK Won at the food factory in Seoheung County, North Hwanghae Province. Those at the farm in Jangyeon County repaid the debt incurred by the Thee Great Revolution Movement by setting aside 3kg out of the ration for the farmers. People’s view on the Three Great Revolutions Movement is not positive since they have started to collect money that is not obligated from people who can barely survive with porridge and water to save 1,000-2,000 NK Won that can buy 1kg of corn. Along with taking away portions of rations without prior consent from the citizens, officials criticized those who expressed objection for lack of loyalty.

The officials suffered as well because they collected money forcefully in spite of strong opposition from residents. However, officials often ended up committing unlawful or illegal transactions because they did not have sufficient resources to meet the minimum. Even after receiving a good business evaluation, sometimes officials became subject to punishment. For this reason, this practice is considered not useful in raising the morale of officials. Although the movement started with good intentions, it should be improved or abolished if it is currently unable to create an effect. It is also inflicting pain on people’s lives and contributing to the disruption of the public order. We hope that the Three Great Revolutions Red Flag movement will become a movement that improves the welfare of the residents.
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