GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 270

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekely Newsletter] No.270 March 2009

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

[Hot Topics]
“Fertilizer Is the Biggest Problem”, Declares the Conference of Agricultural Enthusiasts
Fertilizer Council Meeting Adjunct to the Conference of Agricultural Enthusiasts

[Food]
Ongjin County Distributes Only Three Months Worth of Food to Farmers
Hoeryong City Declares, “We Refuse to Submit the Entire Asked Amount to the Army” to 9th Corps of Geumya County
Hoeryong City Distributes Rotten Corn Because of Bad Storage

[Economy]
The Ahnju Farm Cut Back Workers’ Distributions to Buy More Work Cows
Instruction to Public Enterprises, “Expropriate Small Pieces of Land to Plant Trees.”
In Sariwon, Women’s Agriculture Work Teams Shaky

[Politics]
Public Execution in Pyongsung after Electricity Inspection
Second Electricity Cross-Inspection in Ryanggang Province and North Hamgyong Province
North Pyongan Province Conducts Inspections for False Health Examinations
Friends Falling Out Leads to Accusations of Watching South Korean TV Dramas

[Society]
[3.8 The Election Day] Onsung, "Get Dressed up and Tidy out the House"
[3/8 The Election Day] The ladies in Onsung, "No Money for '3/8 Women’s Day' Celebration"
[3/8 The Election Day] Power Supplied Specially on the Election Day, Citizens say "It is Like a Big Holiday."
[3/8 The Election Day] North Hamgyong Provincial Party Dispatches Department Managers to Each Cities and Counties

[Women/Children/Education]
Haeju City, Teachers Fired for Using Corporal Punishment and Extra-contribution Burden
As An Infant Died, A Loving Couple Got Separated
Three Singing Kkotjebi (Homeless) Sisters at Gohwon

[Accidents]
Middle School Student Drowned While Gathering Seaweed
Railroad Tie Accident in Daeheung-Danchun area

[Commentary]
South Korean Government’s Decision is Necessary for Humanitarian Fertilizer Support

[Investigative Report]
Election Result for The Twelfth Supreme People’s Assembly Shows Strengthened Kim Jong-Il Power Structure




_________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
“Fertilizer Is the Biggest Problem”, Declares the Conference of Agricultural Enthusiasts
On the 24th of the last month, the Ministry of Agriculture held “The Conference of Agricultural Enthusiasts.” The participants were all the Party Secretaries, the Chairmen of the People’s Assembly and the Chairmen of the Farm Management Committees of cities and counties. The topic of discussion was “On Solving the Food Shortage Problem.” Presentations were made by Chief Engineers and Chairmen of Maintenance Committees, who produced last year’s best crop production. The Conference pointed out with grave concern that “a poor crop this year might be an obstacle to successful opening of a strong nation in 2012 and a good crop this year depends on solving the problem of fertilizer shortage.”

The Conference participants emphasized, “A good crop this year needs an increase in production of alternative fertilizer for the farms. Increased crop production requires that the quality of ‘Heukbosan fertilizer’ be enhanced.”

Fertilizer Council Meeting Adjunct to the Conference of Agricultural Enthusiasts
The Conference of Agricultural Enthusiasts was followed by a meeting of the Fertilizer Council. The Council is intended to assess the requirements of fertilizer production for this year and to plan the measures for preparing resources for fertilizer production. The participants at the Council were the Chief Engineers of fertilizer production units, such as the Heungnam Fertilizer Factory and the Soonchun Fertilizer Factory. Their conclusion was, “there will not be any fertilizer arriving from a foreign country. Presently, our only option is to put our best efforts into the Heungnam Fertilizer Factory. We should maximize our fertilizer production so that the fertilizer may be applied at least once to all the farms in the nation.”


[Food]
Ongjin County Distributes Only Three Months Worth of Food to Farmers
Farms in Ongjin County of South Hwanghae Province distributed to farmers only three months worth of food for the whole year. The rest of food was sent out to be part of the army provisions. In early March (present), households that are short of food have already started living on porridge or skipping meals increasingly. Some households have only lunch for the whole day. As the condition gets worse, increasing number of farmers are missing work. Farmers who are missing work go to alluvial mining saying that going to the farm does not guarantee food. They can get only 1-2kgs of whole corn from mining all day long. Farmers deeply worry about repeating the nightmare of the last period of farm hardships.

Hoeryong City Declares, “We Refuse to Submit the Entire Asked Amount to the Army” to 9th corps of Geumya County
Hoeryong City of North Hamgyong Province is holding onto its position that it can no longer give the army its full provisions to support the bureau of the 9th corps of regiment of artillery rockets in Geumya County of South Hamgyong Province. The city was supposed to give 650 tons of food but instead gave 360 tons due to the lack of food. Hoeryong City needs to prepare food for workers building the town of mother Kim Jong-sook. Worker of the City Party and the City Grain Policy Bureau called in question for the problem of the army provisions and the city said, “To build the town of mother Kim Jong-sook, we have to distribute the food we store at the City Grain Policy Bureau to workers. Therefore, we cannot give the army provisions anymore.” While the 9th corp's supporting bureau-officers of Geumya County begged for food, they ended up fighting with government workers of the City Grain Policy Bureau as they were refused. However, Hoeryong city kept its firm attitude that it cannot give provisions anymore.

Hoeryong City Distributes Rotten Corn Because of Bad Storage
From February 23, Hoeryong City distributed to the residents whole corn for February’s food supply. However, 60% of the whole corn had mold or was rotten due to the bad storage at the City Grain Policy Bureau's food storehouse. The starved residents went to the supply station even for rotten corn. Moreover, some people even bargained with people who had gotten their portion to buy the rotten corn off of them at a lower price.


[Economy]
The Ahnju Farm Cut Back Workers’ Distributions to Buy More Work Cows
On February 23, three work cows were stolen from the 2nd Work Unit at the Woonsongri Farm in Ahnju County, South Pyongan Province. Consequently, the unit has not been able to complete farm tasks such as compost transportation and seed planting. Since then, the managers and supervisors at the farm have constantly worried about how to buy work cows again because one ox is over 65,000 to 70,000 NK Won. Inevitably, they decided to reduce the spring distribution portions for the workers. The workers will get only one month’s worth of food distributed instead of the usual 2 months worth. The remaining one-month worth will be used to buy a work cow.

Instruction to Public Enterprises, “Expropriate Small Pieces of Land to Plant Trees.”
On February 5, an official document was sent out to every public enterprise in Onsung County in North Hamgyong Province, instructing all to expropriate small pieces of land for planting trees. The document also instructed explicitly for the Democratic Women’s Union to plant 24.5 acres of trees to be used for firewood. The residents who farm on small pieces of land strongly opposed these instructions. The residents criticized the government’s decision, saying, “The land was just plowed for farming, and now the government is taking it away.” They also predicted that there would be many conflicts between the landowners and the Public Enterprises, which should carry out the instruction.

In Sariwon, Women’s Agriculture Work Teams Shaky
In Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province, there is an increasing absence of women volunteers at farms. Last month, there was an incident whereby about 50 female volunteers in Eunduk County, North Hamgyong Province did not show up when they did not get their food rations. In Sariwon, the numbers of volunteers decreased significantly starting from the 18th, right after the 2.16 Holiday last month. Only about 10 members show up from a voluntary women's work group of 45 members. With a significant decrease in attendance rate, the Farm Managers warned the City Party and town halls, "We do not need women volunteers and we will kick them out." The City Party claims that since this policy was an official initiative, it needs to be implemented successfully. A volunteer expressed her opinion and said, "They should give us some proportions that will help with our living condition but they don't give us anything. In addition, they give us hard work because we're unfamiliar with farm work." An officer sighed, "They allowed women's farm worker volunteer program due to lack of laborers but it’s facing a lot of static and difficulties."

[Politics]
Public Execution in Pyongsung after Electricity Inspection
On February 24, the Province Director of the Electric Department and the Director of Electricity Distribution in Pyongsung, South Pyongan Province, were publicly executed in front of all the members of People's Committee of the City and the County and Electric Distribution Directors from across the country. This came about as the result of the first Electric Cross Inspection from each province. The executed were accused of sending military industrial electric power to the regular factories and enterprises after receiving bribes and goods. They were described as “traitors who corrupted the modern socioeconomic management system by providing military industrial electric power to the factories and businesses at this time of electric supply shortage." They were also accused of charging double the amount of 67,000 NK won that the State ordered that they charge for an electric meter; they charged 132,000 NK won instead. There had been many complaints regarding the electric power supplies because electric power could only be afforded by those who could buy a meter, preventing poor residents from using electricity, which they claimed was not fair. At the time of the trial, the High Prosecutor’s Office criticized through a roving car announcement, "This is a criminal act of the Class Enemies, separating the Party and the People." The family members of executed workers were sent to prison under the Department of Security. This was the first execution of workers as a result of Electricity Inspection. In the meantime, they also fired 4 officers who made arbitrary decisions on electricity use in the Department of Electricity.

Second Electricity Cross-Inspection in Ryanggang Province and North Hamgyong Province
Electricity inspection was resumed in Ryanggang Province and North Hamgyong Province. The inspection started on the 28th of last month and lasts until 20th of this month. Workers from the Party Province, the Province Prosecutor’s Station and the Province Police Station were chosen as the Inspecting Members. They will address the conditions of electricity use in detail. Especially, they will prosecute and punish officers who use industrial electricity without the State's consent and those who received bribes and allowed personal use of electricity intended for industrial use. They will take action against anyone without regard to their ranks. On the other hand, the Department of Electricity predicted worsening of the electricity shortage situation due to the lack of electricity produced by the Hydraulic Power Plant.

North Pyongan Province Conducts Inspections for False Health Examinations
The Public Prosecutor’s Office of North Pyongan Province is looking into the hospitals under the Province Department of Health. The reason is the accusation that the hospitals were falsifying health examination results by marking someone as sick although they were healthy. Those who are well off would pay to obtain a false health examination in order to be delisted permanently from the factory workers’ attendance sheet. The inspection began when the Province Party and the Province Health Department received a large number of complaints over the practice. As a result, the inspection examined files going back five years and discovered about 40 incidences of hospitals issuing false health examinations after taking money.

Friends Falling out Leads to Accusations of Watching South Korean TV Dramas
In Pyongsung of the South Pyongan Province, four middle-school girls were caught watching illegal recorded material. Two years ago, these students watched the Korean drama “Autumn Story.” Five friends who were close at the time gathered at a home to watch this drama. However, out of these friends, Kim (age 17) started to grow further apart from the group and then later reported her friends for watching the drama. Since she turned herself in, Kim was not found responsible for her actions but her friends were immediately arrested. Each girl had to pay more than $500 as bribe money to be released after spending two months in detention. Because the fathers of the four girls had relatively high- ranking positions such as police officials and factory secretary, the punishment was not as severe as it could have been. However, while in jail, the girls were beaten, poorly fed and not allowed to sleep, leading to poor health afterwards. The father of one of the released girls, Park’s (age 17), said, “Because I had some money and power, we were able to get her released. Without these, my daughter would be in prison and my family banished.” A member of the “Group Against Watching Illegal Recordings” said, “All south (Korean) movie watching result in a minimum of a jail sentence. Those girls are lucky that their fathers intervened because, if not, their lives would be practically over.”


[Society]
[3.8 The Election Day] Onsung, "Get Dressed up and Tidy out the House."
In Onsung, North Hamgyong Province, voting began at 8:00 AM on March 8th. A veteran who could not make it to the polls did a traveling vote. When the head of the neighborhood unit and the election committee visited his home, his place looked fussy and cluttered. Visitors asked "Why don't you change into clean clothes and tidy out your house?" The veteran's wife got rebuked by visitors and she replied back saying “I have no new clothes to wear. Look at the pot. Don't you see what we ate for breakfast?" She opened the lid and showed them inside of the pot." The head of the neighborhood unit and the election committee wrote down all information for the report.
Jung Geum-nye, a woman in her thirties wore her underwear when the election committee visited her house. She also did a traveling vote because she was not able to walk. She cast her vote in the room where there was no portrait of Kim Jong-Il. The election committee and police officers were mad that she did not show her respect. They then warned her that her husband would be disadvantageous at the general resident’s meeting for election.

[3/8 The Election Day] The Ladies in Onsung, "No Money for '3/8 Women’s Day' Celebration"
After the election, the DWU (Democratic Women's Union) gathered on March 8th for the Women’s Day celebration, but it was not successful. The majority of housewives did not join the party in order to save money. Kim Myun-hye, a woman in her thirties said, “If I save money for this party my family can have decent meals everyday." Han Sung-ok, a woman in her forties said, "The economic situation is not as good as before and there is no way to earn money nowadays. Therefore, I do not want to spend a large amount of money when my whole family can enjoy decent meals.” A common opinion of the housewives is that if the gathering is free of charge, then they will participate. In the meantime, other cities and counties’ DWU held events such as playing 'yut' game and having a food competition show.

[3/8 The Election Day] Power Supplied Specially on the Election Day, Citizens say "It is Like a Big Holiday."
On the day of the election, power was supplied from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm in Onsung County. It was a rare case that power was provided for a long time. The residents seemed happy saying "It is like a big holiday!" Power was provided even from midnight to 5:00 am on the Election Day, which made the residents happier.

[3/8 The Election Day] North Hamgyong Provincial Party Dispatches Department Managers to Each Cities and Counties
The North Hamgyong Provincial Party dispatched its department managers and higher ranked staff members to each city and county. The purpose of this dispatch was to monitor election-related political events and inspect whether there were any people not voting. Since seven days prior to the Election Day, each district office summoned the heads of the Neighborhood Units to hold a Meeting for guaranteeing the Election. Each district instructed residents to vote from 8 o’clock in the morning of the Election Day at the voting stations. When residents did not show up to vote after 8 o’clock in Yeokjeon-dong, Hoeryong City of North Hamgyong Province, the heads of the Neighborhood Units screamed to instigate people to vote and made many residents uncomfortable. Some residents expressed their discomfort by arguing directly with the heads of the Neighborhood Units. Meanwhile, on the 5th of the month, the National Defense Committee ordered People’s Armed Forces to send one high-ranking military official from each district for support. These military officials were ordered to be responsible for instructing Civilian Defense Force to complete their guard duties without any problems.


[Women/Children/Education]
Haeju City, Teachers Fired for Using Corporal Punishment and Extra-contribution
Burden
Haeju City in South Hwanghae Province fired 5 teachers for extra contribution and corporal punishment-related reasons, and sentenced 6 teachers in the City’s training center for two to four months. The City Party Department of Education and the People’s Committee Department of Education inspected elementary and middle schools from the 5th of the month until the 27th. For parents, extra contribution burdens that schools were requesting from them were big burdens on their shoulders. For that reason, many students were absent from schools. Some teachers beat students for not making extra contributions, which brought intense protests from the parents. Parents, who could not criticize teachers directly, began reporting teachers that had punished students. In response to mounting protests from the parents, the City Party began inspections last month. The City Party found that there were currently 105 students from middle schools and 70 from primary schools who could not come to school due to the burden of extra contribution. After March 8th, workers from the Youth Union will be selected as inspectors to start inspecting schools in the rural region.

As An Infant Died, A Loving Couple Got Separated
Kim, Hye-young (29) living in Liwon County, South Hamgyong Province was separated from her husband a while ago. She met him at their workplace, and lived in a one-bedroom house with her parents-in-law, a sister-in-law, and a brother-in-law. Their living standard could not have been worse, as they had to worry about every meal. Finally, the couple decided to move out from their house. As she moved out, she got pregnant and felt despaired.

Because she was expecting a child soon, her husband went to trade by himself. She did not have any place to stay, so she slept and waited for him in a station. Last summer, she delivered the expected child. Mrs. Kim was discouraged a lot because they were homeless and poor and had a baby. She said, “We were very happy to have a child, but we were utterly exhausted. However, we made a promise that we would take care of our baby in any case, even sacrificing ourselves.” The wife kept waiting for her husband. She continuously waited for him by soothing a peevishly crying child at the station. Having even a shabby house was their hope.

Because her husband traded any items, by buying them first in one place, and selling them in other locations, he usually did not come for several days. Because she trusted in his promise, she just waited for him. Some passengers felt so sorry for her and her baby that they gave the young mother and her poor infant food. Kkotjebi (homeless) girls staying at the station also shared the begged food with Mrs. Kim and the baby. People who saw her soothing her baby and waiting for her husband everyday felt pitiful and strong sympathy. Every night station police officers inspected travel certificates of passengers in the waiting room, and would fine people if they did not have a certificate. Whenever they inspected, Mrs. Kim and the Kkotjebi children were evacuated. Although their life was so hard, they resolved to take care of the baby. However, their resolution came to nothing in the New Year.

On the 8th of last month, the baby got a severely high fever, and they went to a hospital. A doctor diagnosed the illness as acute pneumonia. To save the baby, they spent all their savings. In spite of their efforts and troubles, the feeble baby died. The exhausted husband and wife, who did not get any rest or eat enough, cried for several days and decided to separate. The husband went back to his parents’ house, and the wife went to Kanggye, Jagang Province where her sister lives. Against their will, the loving couple had to separate.

Three Singing Kkotjebi (Homeless) Sisters at Gohwon
Three Kkotjebi (homeless) children at Gohwon Station in Gohwon County, South Hamgyong Province, are popular because of their singing voices. Although there are many Kkotjebi children singing and begging, these 3 children are more famous than others because their sad songs touch people. Once they sing, people surround them quickly. They sing merrily and sometimes perform magic shows. When they finish their songs, some people request them to sing more. Some people curiously ask their ages. They have similar ages of about 11 or 12 years old. They are not sisters, but they are called ‘three singing Kkotjebi sisters’ because they are always getting together and singing. They usually stay at Gohwon Station, but they travel from place to place by stealing train rides. They have been too many places, almost every place around the location, such as Gohwon, Hamheung, Hongwon, Sinpo, Danchun, Gimchaek, Gilju, etc. Although they travel a lot, they rarely have food. Many adults feel sorry for them and say, “If they have parents, they can go to school to develop their gifted skills.” However, nobody wants to take care of them.


[Accidents]
Middle school student drowned while gathering seaweed
In Samhaeri, Chungan District, Chungjin City of North Hamgyong Province, a middle school student drowned. Last month on the 24th, Lee Jong-il, a fourth grader who attended Samhaeri Middle School drowned while in the sea to gather seaweed. A water plant clung to his legs so he could not escape. Lee had lived as a breadwinner from last summer. His father passed away in June of the past year. His mother who supplied her family with meals passed away in July after his father’s death. Lee lived gathering seaweed, sea tangle, and so on, living with his grandmother and little brother after his parent’s death. His village people cannot help feeling sorry, and say that a good-natured and well-behaved child died.

Railroad Tie Accident in Daeheung-Danchun Area
Before the 2.16 holiday last month, a railroad tie accident occurred again in the Daeheung -Danchun area. This time, Park Hee-jah (age 24) who is a conductor at the Danchun branch office of Hamheung Railroad Division, was the victim of the accident. On January 21, Mr. Kang Young-cheol, who worked at the passenger car enterprise, was killed. The Railroad Conductor Company serves the duties of both conductor and laborer and it has about 200 employees. This year, the railroad tie assignment is given to each employee and 10 logs were assigned to each person. The Railroad Conductor Company sent its employees to Danchun city, Daeheung area for the production of railroad ties.

They were assigned to the job without learning the safety rules. They cut the logs from a tree high in the mountains and bring them down after tying the logs to a rope, but each log goes down very fast because of the weight. Because the speed of the log is too fast, people holding on to the rope cannot keep up with the speed. Ms. Park fell down after being hit by a log from behind while she was dragging the log down the hill. She was taken to hospital urgently, but the injury to the head was severe. She could not regain consciousness. The company said the accident was caused by carelessness on her part. So, they made arrangements for a funeral without any compensation. People are even more sympathetic because Ms. Park was killed before her upcoming wedding, which was scheduled on February 16. The crew is popular as marriage partners because they are good looking and have a good physique. Ms. Park was also good looking and was to marry the son of an official. Park's mother and father passed out several times through sadness while looking at the items prepared for the wedding. People in the neighborhood also shared the sadness. They felt she was a young flower that had to die before she bloomed.


[Commentary]
South Korean Government’s Decision is Necessary for Humanitarian Fertilizer Support
While the North Korean nuclear issue has temporarily slowed down, the missile issue has emerged, as the eye of the storm since the beginning of 2009. North Korea announced it would launch ‘Kwang-myong-sung 2’ between the 4th and the 8th of next month. On the 13tht, the Korean government expressed concern about the short notice of the launch, and urged it to be stopped. Previously on the 9th, North Korea disconnected the inter-Korean military communication lines in response to the beginning of the South Korea-US joint military exercises,” Key Resolve,” and blocked access to Kaesong industrial compound for the day. The traffic was resumed a day later, but the access was banned again on the 13th. Both South and North Korea are strengthening hard-line policies and hostility against each other due to the South Korea-US joint military training, ‘Key Resolve’ for North Korea, and also due to the 'Kwang-myong-sung 2' launch for South Korea.

Some may ask how one can talk about 'humanitarian aid' again at a serious time like this? Some also say the Good Friends always insist on "Sending rice and fertilizer to North Korea." Even those who are sympathetic to North Korean people, and those who talk about peace, may say that this is not the time to talk about the 'humanitarian assistance,' meaning this is not the right atmosphere.

North Korean people are suffering while nobody listens. They ignore the issues and look the other way. Now is the time to send in the fertilizer. The food is running out again in the rural areas, and the incidents of starvation are increasing. The shortage of manpower in the rural areas is serious, because a lot of farmers died last year. The phenomenon of the dissolution of families is deepening because mothers (wives), who are responsible for the livelihood of the family, become ill or die. We can hear the voices of North Koreans’ moaning in pain all the time, so how can we remain silent simply because the time is not right?

On the 12th, President Lee Myung-bak said at the “Meeting of Retired Senior Leaders,” “One of the current administration’s policies is to help North Korea with sincerity. This is not the kind of problem that can be solved by giving rice and fertilizer." He said he would not use “a short-term prescription designed to smoothen the North-South relations.” If the purpose is to show the sincerity of helping North Korea, humanitarian assistance should be the starting point. Humanitarian support must not be used as a means “to maintain inter-Korean relations." This is a separate issue to pursue based on a humanitarian spirit only, separate from political issues. This is an issue in which only North Korean people’s demands and need should be taken into consideration, not the North Korean government.

North Korea is saying no more fertilizer will come from foreign countries. That means they are no longer considering the fertilizer support from South Korea. They say approximately 25,000 tons of fertilizer was imported from China between last November and January of this year, which is 40 times more compared to last year. Nevertheless, this is far from enough, compared to what is required. The 300,000-350,000 tons of fertilizer a year South Korea supported, constituted two-thirds of the entire demand, and it was absolutely crucial to produce the annual increase of 600,000 tons. South Korea should not make the mistake of using humanitarian issues as a means for political fighting. Instead, they should take a firm stance against the North Korean political offense, and care for North Korean people. The North Korean government cares only about maintaining their moral superiority. This is a critical time, which determines the successfulness of farming for the year. The fertilizers should be going in now. We urge the South Korean government to make the right decision.


[Investigative Report]
Election Result for the Twelfth Supreme People’s Assembly Shows Strengthened Kim Jong Il Power Structure
The election of delegates to the Twelfth Supreme People’s Assembly has ended. Out of the 687 Assembly members, 46% are new delegates. Analysis of the composition of delegates shows an attempt to strengthen the Kim Jong Il power structure. Two points in particular stand out; the continuing legacy of revolution and the strengthening of the generational foundations.

Election District Number One went to Lee Eul-seol. Following him are Kim Young-bok and Kim Kyung-hee. The election of these individuals is representative of Kim Il Song’s direct power structure. Lee Eul-seol is one of the first generation of anti-Japanese guerrilla fighters commanded by Chairman Kim Il Song. He was the original commander of Kim Il Song’s Security Guards Unit. Kim Young-bok is also one of the original anti-Japanese guerrilla fighters. The positions of power were given based on the history of the veteran and his daughter Kim Kyung-hee, who fought together since Kim Il Song was the commanding general of the 6th Division. The assignments for the election district obviously symbolize an attempt to maintain the legacy of Kim Il Song. Originally, the assignment of election districts was not meant to be used for such symbolism.

However, on the occasion of this election, they assigned the election districts to those few remaining first generation fighters in an attempt to show the continued support for the legacy of revolution.

What is meant by “strengthening the generational foundations?”
Young officers with a rank of major general, who are graduates of the Mangyongdae Revolutionary Academy and are the 3rd generation of revolutionaries, have recently appeared in large numbers among the ranks of the politically ascendant. These officers are listed as members of the so-called “Baekdoo Mountain Faction” and are major generals or brigadier generals, such as Kim Kyung-soo, Kim Kwang-hyun, Kim Jung-gwan, Han Sang-soon, Kim Chang-sik, Lee Yung-chul and Kim Jin-chul. These are descendants of those entombed at the Tombs of Revolutionary Patriots and are a newly emerging political influence. These officers are the stabilizing element at the lower levels of the Kim Jong Il power structure.

North Korea’s power structure consists of three layers; At the top is the 1st generation, the Kim Il Song generation. At the bottom is the 3rd generation. In the middle is the 2nd generation supporting Chairman Kim Jong-Il. This categorization shows Kim Jong Il’s power structure in a pyramid with the Baekdoo Mountain Faction as its base. The 2nd generation consists of 70 to 80 year-old Baekdoo Mountain revolutionaries, holding the real power within society. As Oh Geuk-yeol, former Minister of Military Operations, was promoted to be the Vice Chair of the National Defense Committee, he has risen to the top of the pyramid. Vice Chairman Oh is in fact the number two man after Chairman Kim Jong Il. Kim Yung-choon, Minister of Defense, belongs to Vice Chairman Oh’s faction, and Oh Geuk-yeol - Kim Yung-choon’s faction has emerged as the major players.

Even though Jang Sung-taek was elected as a delegate, his older brother, Jang Sung-woo, Commander of Civil Defense, was not. It would be difficult; therefore, to consider Jang Sung-taek to be the number two man, as has been rumored. Rather, the election result reduced the influence of Jang Sung-taek and placed a constraint on him. Jang Sung-taek and Oh Geuk-yeol are not in a close relationship and outside rumors regarding their close relationship are not factually correct.

The experts in economics have not been entirely purged after their efforts to establish a strong nation. Those experts who served under Kim Il Song as premiers and ministers were placed as consultants to the ministry and later elected as delegates. This indicates that those experts in economics under Kim Il Song have been elevated once again. Kim Bok-sin, former vice premier for light industry under Kim Il Song has been re-elected. Kim Yoon-hyuk, former vice premier for industries and Bae Dal-joon, currently in charge of the Supervisory Agency of National Construction, has also been re-elected. These are the experts in economics who served under Kim Il Song as heads of departments or as vice ministers. Retention of these experts symbolizes maintenance of the former leader’s economic legacy as well as his political legacy.

The Department of South Korean Affairs within the Ministry of Unification Affairs has gone through a substantial replacement. Choi Seung-chul, the Vice Minister, Jung Woon-up, the Chairman of the National Economic Cooperation Committee, Vice Ministers Jun Kyung-nam and Kim Ryong-sung, Kang Gwan-joo, and the Coordinator for External Affairs have been relieved of their posts. Kang Gwan-joo has received a penalty of six months without pay. He was in charge of the Agency for Korean Residents Abroad, and was found to have performed poorly in affairs regarding Korean residents abroad. In particular, he was reprimanded for his mistakes regarding Korean residents in Japan. Specifically, he was responsible for poor handling of the issues regarding Japanese citizens kidnapped to North Korea. Choi Seung-chul was found to have made mistakes in his overconfidence in the exchange program between the two Koreas. For example, he was overconfident in his belief that South Korea’s aid to North Korea would proceed without problems because of the many left-leaning South Koreans in South Korea. He is considered to have made a mistake in believing that the left-leaning elements in South Korea would support North Korea. The left-leaning elements in South Korea turned out not to be supporters of Kim Jong-Il. Secondly, there were many cases of corruption in the affairs of the North-South exchange program. The Changgwang Investigation Agency revealed this corruption through monitoring his family’s activities. The Agency traced money routes whenever one of his family members spent money in the foreign exchange shop. Choi Seung-chul’s career is ruined and the projects of the Ministry of Unification Affairs failed because of his overconfidence and corruption. Kim Yang-geun, Minister of Unifications Affairs, was appointed in June of 2007 and was found to not be responsible for the mistakes, and could stay on. Lee Jong-hyuk and Ahn Gyong-ho also remained at their positions.

The above are the brief conclusions that can be made about the election results of the twelfth-term delegates to the Supreme People’s Assembly.

There is an opinion that the delegates to the Supreme People’s Assembly are powerless and that the election is only a formality. What is to be noted, though, is that, depending on what the North Korean government tries to show the outside world, its composition changes. We should watch for what the Kim Jong-Il regime wants to show and what they try to highlight, domestically as well as internationally. This election result simply shows that “We are maintaining our legacy of revolution, generation after generation. Chairman Kim Jong Il is alive and well. Kim Jong Il’s system will continue.”

There has been no mention of Kim Jong Il’s heir. In spite of outside enthusiasm, domestically, North Korea has no official answer to the problem. As confirmed earlier, they would rather show that Kim Jong Il’s system is alive and well, and try to strengthen their power structure. They would like to emphasize, “We treat our veterans well. Our generational foundations are solid. Kim Jong Il’s power structure is strong.” They try to emphasize that discussion of who will be Kim Jong Il’s heir is not the concern of this election, saying, “He is alive and well. What heir? Don’t ever mention that.” Discussion of Kim Jong Il’s heir could be interpreted as implying Kim Jong Il is giving up his power. There is no point raising a potential domestic confusion by discussing Kim Jong Il’s heir while they try to strengthen Chairman Kim’s power structure at this time. This is a way to show that the election of delegates to the Twelfth Supreme People’s Assembly is intended to strengthen Kim Jong Il’s power structure, not to select the heir to Chairman Kim Jong Il.

North Korea Today No. 269

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
[Weekly Newsletter] North Korea Today. No. 269

[Hot Topics]
Too Many Heart-Rending Horror Stories in Households Which Lost Loved Ones Last Year
Wife’s Death Forces Entire Family to Become Kkotjebis (Homeless)
As Family Succumbs to Hunger, Survivors Driven to Madness
Tearful Mother Cared For By Her Young Children
A Traffic Accident Ends a Family’s Livelihood

[Food]
Jikhari Farm in Chungjin Supplied 6 months Worth of Food
Gimchaek Steel Mill Solutions Division, Only Division Able To Distribute Food for February

[Economy]
“Business before the Storm Time”
Environmental Pollution from Danchun Refinery Cause Complaints from Residents
Sluggish Production of Car Parts at the July Sixth Car Factory
Wild Root Vegetables Are the Staple Food at the Railroad Tie Factory in Liwon County

[Politics]
Male Students Taller Than 168cm Trained as Honor Guards
Steel Vessel Trade Company Punished for Not Receiving Rice for Goods

[Society]
Those Who Borrowed to Buy Narcotic Drugs are referred as ‘nose borrowers’
"Cause of death is Coal Gas Poisoning, Not Heart Attack."
Sixty Year-old Husband and Wife, ad 8 Family Members on the Edge of Survival
An Old Lady in Her Sixties Is Upset by Loss of a Handcart

[Women/Children/Education]
A Day of a Housewife
The Wonsan Kkotjebi Welfare Institution Is Conducting Education Temporarily
"I’ll Take Care of My Brother"

[Accidents]
A Worker Died Crushed under Rail Ties

[Commentary]
North Korea's Food Shortage and Jopyongtong’s Statement

[Investigative Report]
During the summer of 1997, I Kept My Mouth Shut




________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
Too Many Heart-Rending Horror Stories in Households Which Lost Loved Ones Last Year
During spring last year, North and South Hwanghae Provinces, South Hamgyong Province, Kangwon Province and part of Jagang Province experienced a severe shortage of food. The situation in areas like Pyongyang, Hoeryong, Rasun, Hyesan and Kanggye was a little better. Normally, North and South Hwanghae Provinces can secure enough food even after providing for the military. They could then send some food to other areas. The damage from two consecutive years of floods caused a drastic reduction in the harvest. Food shortage that started here spread to the whole nation. Areas along the national border could get along by means of illegal trades with China. However, areas such as Hamheung City, Sinpo City, Gowon County, Heungwon County, and Liwon County of South Hamgyong Province as well as Gimchaek City and Gilju County of North Hamgyong Province are experiencing food shortages that are worsening by the day. Low grain production per-capita in comparison with other areas makes the situation worse in these areas. Last year, many people lost their lives to starvation and disease. Residents say, “There are too many heart-rending horror stories in households which lost loved ones. We wonder if heaven tries to starve all Koreans on earth to death.”

Wife’s Death Forces Entire Family to Become Kkotjebis (Homeless)
Kang Jung-gil (40s) of Heungwon County, South Hamgyong Province was working at a factory last spring. He never missed work, even though he never received any rations or wages. His wife was the bread-winner for all five members of the family, including his mother and two children. When the food shortage began last spring, the family could hardly afford daily bowls of porridge. His mother, who was over seventy, fell sick after a lengthy period of starvation. His wife, in the mean time, was trying to collect herbs in the mountains. She fell down a hill and became paralyzed. Her disability caused a disastrous hardship for the family because she was the bread-winner, earning money by peddling various items and occasionally collecting herbs. The first victim of this disaster was Jung-gil’s mother, who passed away soon after the summer. Mr. Kang tried to take care of the family by collecting firewood from the mountain or selling fish at a fishing village. He tried everything, but the situation did not improve. His desperate young children cried for food, and the whole household got messier and messier. His wife was getting weaker and weaker, finally passing away at the beginning of winter. He began a wanderer’s life with his two daughters, four and six years of age.

As Family Succumbs to Hunger, Survivors Driven to Madness
Miss Ryu Sung-hee (17) of Danchun, South Hamgyong Province lived a hard life with her father, mother and two younger sisters. Her father, employed as a worker at the Danchun Chemical Factory, could provide little food for the family, resulting in them going days without. Her mother had a nervous disorder and had always been physically weak. Starvation made her mother’s condition worse. The family could afford only a meal a day, occasionally two, and as a result, her father collapsed first. Her mother’s condition got worse and last June, she committed suicide by drowning. Her youngest sister got sick with a disease that causes swelling of the body, but her family could not afford any medicine or hospital care. For lack of money, another younger sister, Jung-hee (15) had to quit school. Together, they wandered around to scrounge for some food. They fed their father and youngest sister with whatever they managed to find. Everyone became physically weak and visibly underfed. Last fall, the father and younger sister both passed away. The two remaining sisters spent days crying over the deaths of their mother, father and sister. Then one day, they started showing symptoms of mental derangement. They never respond to anyone’s questions and often laugh without any reason. Many residents wonder if these sisters have gone mad.

Tearful Mother Cared For By Her Young Children
Suh Gil-lim (in her 30s) of Geumbong-dong, Danchun, South Hamgyong Province, has been taking care of her husband and two young children. Her husband was totally paralyzed during the days of the ‘March to Hardship’, thirteen years ago. However, life got much worse since last spring because of a severe food shortage. It was especially difficult securing medicine for her husband, sending two children to school, and preparing meals with little more than grass for porridge. She tried working as a peddler to earn some money, but never made enough. Therefore, she collected herbs and grass roots for meals of porridge whenever possible. Quite often, she went hungry after feeding her husband and children first. As a result, as soon as the ‘hard’ spring was over, she collapsed. After their sole supporter within the family collapsed, her two children, now barely over ten years of age, started taking care of their parents. They began to go from house to house in the neighborhood, begging for food. They kept trying to get food for their parents even though they were hungry.

Ms. Suh blamed herself as she lay in bed, unable to move, and often could not swallow what her young children brought in from begging. Their father, after staying in bed for thirteen years, kept saying “I‘d rather die, I’d rather die,” and one day he passed away. Ms. Suh, even though she was deep in grief with her husband’s death, could not stay remain in bed. She felt she could not depend on her young children anymore, and with the help of a cane, she attempted to get to the sea and try to collect some seaweed. However, she was so physically weak that she could not hold herself upright against the strong waves. She drowned. All of a sudden, these two young children became orphans. They cried and cried. It was hard to bear to see the young children crying. These children started wandering. Their wanderer’s life began.

A Traffic Accident Ends a Family’s Livelihood

Han Suk-joong (in his 40s) of Geumbong-dong, Danchun, South Hamgyong Province became head of a household of seven after his father’s death in 2005. He took his widowed mother and his unmarried younger brother into his household. As the food shortage situation got worse in 2007, feeding the large household became very difficult. He and his wife bought seafood, such as squid, whiting fish, abalone and sea cucumber at the fishing villages and sold them at places like Sinuiju and Hyesan. Last summer, on the way home from Pyongsung, he had a traffic accident and got severely injured. He lost both legs and his wife lost one foot and a hand. Both of the bread-winners of the household became disabled all at once. The shock from the disaster caused his mother to have a heart attack and she passed away shortly afterwards. His unmarried brother left home trying to find a way to make money and save his young nieces. Two young daughters aged twelve and fifteen, tried to get food for their parents. They walked more than 10 Li (approximately 4 km) to collect firewood, carried it on their backs and sold it at the market. They fed their parents with porridge made of grass roots and herbs. Mr. Han and his wife felt so bad because they could not help their daughters with anything. They just kept advising their daughters “Don’t ever peddle from cars. There are so many who die in the traffic accidents or become invalid.” Mr. Han passed away first, and the following January 6 his wife followed him. These two daughters became orphans and have nobody to depend on.


[Food]
Jikhari Farm in Chungjin Supplied 6 months Worth of Food

At the end of last year, the Jikhari farm at Chungarm district in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province distributed 11 months worth of food. However, because much of it went to support the military and other social duties, the actual distributed amount was only 6 months worth of food. In some areas, increasing number of household is using usury because they are already running short on food in early March. The households, which borrow corns with an agreement to pay back twice as much in the fall, typically have big families. So, the food is still not nearly enough.

Gimchaek Steel Mill Solutions Division, Only Division Able To Distribute Food for February
The Gimchaek Steel Mill in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province has been unable to distribute food to its employees with the exception of the solutions division, which gave 14kg of corn last month, a full month’s worth of food. No other division has been able to distribute food yet still. The most important work for Gimchaek Steel Mill in February other than production regular steel was to make 200 MT of special steel. However, a growing number of workers has been missing work due to the lack of food supply. As the number of absentees’ increase, the hit on steel production is becoming a problem. Support bureau workers of Gimchaek Steel Mill made a proposal of exporting steel to increase the amount of food supply but it got rejected by the Central Party. As there is no improvement on the food supply condition, the productivity of worker continues to go down.


[Economy]

“Business before the Storm Time”

There are three markets in Sinuiju. With an exception of a few people, residents of Sinuiju purchase good from the market. However, market is not the only place to buy or sell. There are several people selling goods near the marketplace and at the village entrance. Their business usually takes place between 12pm and 2pm. During this time, there are not many officers patrolling the area and the residents call this “Before the Storm Time”.

A business women in the alley, Jung Yoon-geum (40), said, “It is a mess when these people fight to acquire more selling space and try to sell more goods. And when the mobile patrol surrounds the street sellers with their motorcycle, these people escape the patrol with a flash in the blink of an eye. I do not think even military patrol can speed that much. At the Storm Time, experienced sellers hide in village storage areas or low-level houses. They pay in advance for storage fee and escape to their hideaway during patrol.

The mobile patrol who is in charge of the marketplace disperse all street sellers and lie hidden even after dismissing everyone. They collect all goods from the street sellers who slowly show up after a while. The street seller who had their goods taken waits at the police station or at the sub-station for hours to take their items back. If this does not work, they give them a carton of cigarettes as bribery and get their stuff back.

Jang Man-young (50) witnessed the incident that happened on the 25th of last month on his way to the market to get some goods at the street market:

The marketplace is too far and the stores are always closed even if a customer shows up. I have to change into a skirt to go to the marketplace. I do not want to go into the overcrowded marketplace to buy one ingredient for a side dish. This is good for everyone; these elders get their things from vegetable farms and sell at the local street corner. Elders make some money for themselves and their young ones and grandchildren will appreciate this.

It was only this morning, when police officers drove around on their motorcycles and yelled at everyone to dismiss their street sales. They kept yelling and screaming but nobody listened to them. They kicked boxes around them when they came back from inspecting all nearby districts and found that nobody moved. A deaf elder over the age of 80 years was caught while others ran away after they saw the motorcycles. It was freezing cold with the north wind. She struggled to get up from sitting down in cold weather and protested against the police officer.

She screamed, “Are you telling me to stop the street sales and starve to death?” and he responded, “Go to the marketplace. It is anti-socialistic to sell here.” She added “If doing this for a living is an anti-social activity, then what is socialism?” They argued in harsh language. When the elderly did not submit, the angry police officer yelled, ‘Get the Head of the Neighborhoods Units. Where is the Head of the Neighborhood Units?’ Nevertheless, the elderly woman was actually the mother in law of the Head of the Neighborhood Units. The Head of the Neighborhood Units ran out and begged for forgiveness. ‘I asked her to stop but she kept insisting on going outside to sell the goods so I had no way to stop her’ In reality, police officers are working closely with the Head of the Neighborhood Units since they report any suspicious behaviors in the neighborhood. The situation eased because she was over 80 years old and the Head of the Neighborhood Units pleaded for forgiveness. The elderly woman was still upset and sat outside in resistance. There are many incidents like this during the Storm Time.

Environmental Pollution from Danchun Refinery Cause Complaints from Residents
Neighbors of the Danchun refinery in South Hamgyong Province are complaining more and more about the environmental pollution caused by the refinery. This factory, which employees eight thousand people, produces lead, zinc and bronze. The smoke from its funnel is the same as poisonous gas. Smoke inhalation causes severe coughing or eyes to water. The residents who have been suffering from these bad conditions for a long time request the government for a counter plan saying, “Why is the government not taking any countermeasures? It should send out someone to check for environmental pollution and if they find out it is harmful then they should make a counter plan.” The problem is that even if the factory is caught polluting the environment, it can easily get out of it by paying the fines so nothing changes. Residents’ request to the government is to change the penalty from just a simple fine to something more severe like firing the floor managers and party secretaries or cutting their salaries. Some are even insisting that the factory needs to be completely obliterated. People also say, “Factory workers steal and sell the products that they made and make profits. They do not provide us with any benefits, only damage.” There are many long term-patients among neighbors who live close to the factory but there is no measure planned to take care of them.

Sluggish Production of Car Parts at the July Sixth Car Factory
The production of car parts at the ‘July Sixth Car Factory,’ Liwon County, the South Hamgyong Province, has been slow. Productivity has been decreasing due to the high employee absentee rate. There are 7,000 workers at the factory. All of them say that they have not received any food rations since last year. It has even become normal for them to skip lunch. They no longer depend on the food distribution from the factory, but make their living by themselves. Women usually support their families by cooking porridge with grass roots, wild vegetables, and corn powder. Last year, people began to die from malnutrition and dozens of factory workers had died from lack of food.

Wild Root Vegetables Are the Staple Food at the Railroad Tie Factory in Liwon County

The workers at the Raheung Rail Tie Factory, in Liwon County, South Hamgyong Province, are badly off, just like the employees in other factories. This factory manufactures concrete ties that go under the railroad. However, the workers have not received food distributions. The factory has around 2,000 workers, approximately 90% of which eat grass roots for lunch. In the past, they could eat grass porridge with corn, beans, or grain, however, they could not get grain since last year. Jo Woon-cheol (40s), a factory worker, said, “Even if I try to get some grain from others, I cannot even think of getting them because their situations are the same as mine. Many people died last year. The authorities say they died of disease, but they actually died from malnutrition. You cannot imagine how much people are furious at the lack of food distribution.” With tears in her eyes, Jo’s wife added “My husband still works. I cannot keep starving him like this. I wish food distributions would come so that I could feed him even just one grain of rice when he goes out to work.”

[Politics]
Male Students Taller Than 168cm Trained as Honor Guards

The People’s Defense Ministry announced that starting this year, they will automatically choose male middle-school graduates who are at least 168cm tall to be enlisted, and will train them to be honor guards. Also, students who have graduated from each district’s military academies will be in a lower rank for one year, but will be enrolled in the military academy the second year. When attending the military academy, each student will be in the class ranked third, with basic training and education, as well as combat skills. One official of Defense Ministry said, “Training these men to be great leaders so they will be capable of successfully managing their units is one of the basic ideas of our military-first politics.”

Steel Vessel Trade Company Punished for Not Receiving Rice for Goods
A steel vessel export and import company in Ryanggang Province was punished for not obeying the commands of a trading bureau. The rules state that when goods are exported, they must be paid for in grain. However, the steel vessel company failed to comply with this rule, and received other products in return because the product was worth much more than rice. Because the company did not obey orders, a portion of its employees were dismissed and/or punished for their actions.


[Society]
Those Who Borrowed to Buy Narcotic Drugs are referred as ‘nose borrowers’
As the number of people using narcotics has increased in Hamheung, Chungjin, Pyongsung, Pyongyang, and many other major cities, many households are going broke as a result. Those who borrow money to buy narcotic drugs are usually called ‘nose borrowers.’ This name originated from the fact that people use their noses to inhale narcotics. Due to the difficulty of buying in bunches, many people buy small bags that cost 10,000 NK won at a ‘nose seller house.’ ‘Nose seller house’ refers to any house that sells small-sized narcotic bags. The addicts use 2-3 bags at a time. “We use 2-3 bags because we can’t feel anything with one bag,” say the addicts. It is very normal for these people to squander at least 100,000 NK won up to several million won in a month. When they run out of money, they pay with their belongings.

Since narcotic buyers are not allowed to buy on credit, they bring anything that has monetary value, such as electronics, clothes, and CDs. These goods then get passed on to the merchants. For that reason, merchants are also frequent guests to the house. Last month, when one of the houses in Ranam district, Chungjin city of North Hamgyong Province, was inspected, so many goods were found in that house that an extra truck had to be brought to take all the goods away. One official said, “Many people are suffering from hunger, but it is also problematic that we are seeing an increasing number of people using ‘Ice (Amphetamine)’. There seems to be no solution because the number of users just keeps increasing despite continued inspections.” One 40-year-old narcotic seller in Pyongsung said, “Government limits many of our market activities. We do not have many goods we can sell besides this. It’s almost like the government is encouraging us to sell narcotics. “

"Cause of death is Coal Gas Poisoning, Not Heart Attack."
The coal gas poisoning accident has been transformed into heart attack. At the end of December last year, in North Pyongan Province, a woman in her forties died from coal gas poisoning. She has been living by herself since her two sons were currently doing military services and her husband was sent to Baekdoo Mountain construction site in Ryanggang Province a long time ago. Her dead body was found one day after her death. Neighborhood Unit had waited for her husband more than five days, but when they did not hear anything, they carried out the funeral service. Her husband showed up a few days after her funeral, then digged open the grave with his bare hands. People wondered whether he might be going crazy due to sadness for losing his wife.

The husband said that, "my wife would not have died if the Neighborhood Unit conducted neighborhood patrol regularly. The Neighborhood Unit head should be responsible for the lousy patrol. (He knew the circumstances) very well but lied that (my wife) died of heart attack. This was to avoid any responsibility. I swear I will make him responsible.”

In fact, all over North Korea, there are frequent accidents in winter due to coal gas and each unit forms a patrol unit. The patrol unit patrols houses that burn coal everyday from 12 midnight to dawn. Many of them patrol twice a night, and some even 3 times. They wake up the sleeping residents. When the residents answer, they go to the next house to check. If there is no answer, they go inside to verify (whether everything is all right).

Jo Yeon-gyong (43) said, "Every house that burns coal has to be patrolled. If someone dies of coal gas poisoning, the head of the Neighborhood Unit would be punished. That's why he made up the story that his wife died of heart attack. Ordinary people without power might not be able to do anything, however, her husband is a security agent who has power. He wants to punish (the head) and so he is pushing for investigation. By having (an autopsy,) it would be easy to know whether the cause of death was heart attack or gas poisoning and that’s why he had opened the grave. The punishment would not be heavy because it is not a political mistake."

Most neighbors said, "It is true that the patrol units bother us a lot. Once awaken (by them) it is very difficult to get back to sleep, but they wake us up twice, and we feel so terrible. My one wish is to sleep through a night. Since they patrol to save lives of people, we reluctantly endure it. If they did their job well, (the woman) might not have died. What the husband said is absolutely right.” The head of the Neighborhood Unit charged with the case has been under a preliminary hearing. While the head was trying to fake the cause of death as a heart attack, he allegedly handed money to the relatives of (dead woman) and it was also under investigation.

Sixty Year-old Husband and Wife, ad 8 Family Members on the Edge of Survival
In South Pyongan Province, there is a household where 8 family members live together. They include the parents, who are over 60 years old, 2 daughters, who were married but came back to rely on their parents, the daughters’ children, and one recently discharged son and his wife. The parents repair shoes for a living. They sit outside and wait for customers even during the cold winter. They survive the cold from a vinyl house, which they made, that fits 2 people, and by having a small charcoal brazier. They wait for customers from 8 am until dusk. They only make 2,000~3,000 NK won from this job. They survived until now from the money the husband earned after 3 years of logging trees in Russia, before his retirement.

The eldest daughter, who returned home with her 5-year-old daughter, is too ill to work. The second daughter, who is still under 40 was a good merchant, but came back home with her son when she divorced her husband. The only son of the family married a woman from the outer region, but still lives at the parent’s house because he has no money. He has not even started working yet because he is still a college student. The mother is getting weaker as she continuously worries about her children. The neighbors think their grown up children are being a big burden to the parents, considering they should at least be supporting themselves. A neighbor Jang Kyong-hwa (60s) said, “Who expects support from their children these days? Parents will be happy if their children can at least take care of themselves, which is very rare these days.” Kim Cheol (60s), the parent in this story, said, “At least our children are alive, not dead. I am thankful just for that.”

An Old Lady in Her Sixties Is Upset by Loss of a Handcart
In Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, Han Jung-Geum (in her sixties) makes ends meet by operating a handcart. Her husband is a social beneficiaries and works for a public enterprise as a night guard. Her younger son is serving the military service. Another son, born to her after she turned 30 years old, is a mentally retarded child. According to Ms Han, the son knows only how to sleep, eat, and make a bowel movement. However, she said that it was reassuring to have her older son around because he does most of work when she does delivery business using her handcart. They did not even have a handcart before. They saved every penny and were able to buy a handcart end of the last year for 100,000 NK Won. However, only a few days after 2.16 national holiday the crack down of street trading began and her handcart was confiscated. All of sudden she lost the very means of her survival. She was completely exhausted and angry. "It feels like that I would die from the anger. There is nobody that I could complain to. How could our family survive from now on?" she cried while beating her chest.

[Women/Children/Education]
A Day of a Housewife

Jo Jeong-hee (in her 40s) gives up going to bed when it is her turn to patrol her neighborhood. She has to do first patrol at midnight, and her second at 3 am, then she must report to the dong (district) office for confirmation. Her Neighborhood Unit has 24 households which means that her turn comes up every 23 days because the head of the Unit is exempt. Jo said, “When it is a windy night, a clever person just knocks on the door and leaves, but a stubborn person continuously knocks on the door until someone responds. When awoken like this, it is really hard to get back to sleep.”

Because at 5 a.m., the electric power comes on for a little while, she uses a water pump to get water. Then she cooks breakfast and wakes up her family and sends them to work. Sometimes she needs to attend an early morning cleaning and work for her community. Since around seven in the morning, peddlers of rice and eggs from countryside cry out “cheap” to sell their products. They usually leave their hometown at midnight and walk about 6-8 miles. A little bit later, traders of grains, noodles, or popping corns come swarming about. She has a general meeting every week and spends all day or morning studying literature through movies and observing other classes before national holidays.

After begging Kkotjebis (homeless) pass by, she goes to a market to trade at 2 pm. Jo said, “A person is not a machine, so one could be sick and miss one’s duty. However, too many people miss their duty, sometimes intentionally, and thus they have made a regulation that a person should pay 2,000 NK Won each time they miss their classes or community work such as collecting compost. As a person can barely make 2,000-3,000 NK won for a day’s trade at a market, people grumble about the 2,000 NK won fine but they cannot avoid it, so they pay.”

Because there are 20 people in a unit, the fines collected could be 30,000-40,000 NK won. “When they have the End of Year Recapitulation, they usually dine together or have a tea party. Since January of this year we have paid fines for manure, playground construction, and other contributions, we were unable to contribute for the dinner. We should invite the Headperson of Democratic Women’s Union and the Chief of the Management Committee for a dinner, but we just gave each person 20,000 NK won. We used the collected fine in this way. Although the Headperson of Democratic Women’s Union works all day in a cold office, she does not receive any money or ration, and therefore we need to support her in this way.”

From dawn she has to participate in common activities as well as trading for her living without any rest, but when she comes home, she has to do her domestic chores. Jo said that she could endure the lack of sleep and fatigue. She just wishes that she could live even one day without worrying about food, and sighs wondering whether that day would ever come.

The Wonsan Kkotjebi Welfare Institution Is Conducting Education Temporarily
This year, Wonsan Kkotjebi (homeless) Welfare Institution in Kangwon Province began teaching its children how to write. Until December 25 of last year, this organization dispatched some children to the Stepmother’s Institution or elementary school nearby, but they had 60 more Kkotjebi this year. The schools informed the Institution that they could not accept any more children. The Stepmother’s Institution usually did not want to teach these children because these children frequently ran away. Last year, the Party politically forced them to receive Kkotjebis, but now they refused accepting them this year because of the excessive number of students. In this context, the Welfare Institution is teaching children temporarily. Specifically, they hope to graduate those middle school age children and send them as the shock troop brigades to other provinces.

"I’ll Take Care of My Brother"
Ryang Jeong-hak (12) and Jeong-hyeok (9) lived a happy life with the love of a mother and father until last year. The sound of laughter and singing never ended in their home even without enough food for everyone. Although their father could not work at the factory due to chronic sickness, he took care of the housework, cleaning and organizing in the house. Fixing the broken door and sharpening knives was part of the father’s share of work. In an effort to earn money for her husband’s medicine and food for family, the mother owned a traveling pre-owned clothes business. It usually took a week to ten days for her to return home once she left, but they children considered it fun to wait for their mother to come back home. Their mother always came back with something to eat whether it was flour or corn. On days when their mother made dinner after her return home, the whole family would have a song contest in the living room. The elder brother sang while his father clapped and his younger brother danced. Their mother clapped with a smile on her face. There was no electricity in their home, but one candle brightened up the entire house.

Their happy days did not last long. On November 7th of last year, the children’s mother died in a car accident during a business trip. There was not enough time for the children to grieve because they had to beg for food once it began to run out. Their father’s chronic disease deteriorated rapidly. Finally, his condition worsened to the point where he could not use his hands to eat. He could not swallow a loaf of bread that his sons brought him to eat while repressing the desire to eat. One month after their mother’s death, their father died. Two children who lost their parents had nobody to count on and no place to go. The two brothers left their home, wandered around railroad stations and market places and started the life of a Kkotjebi. Jeong-hak said, “We are not going to live like this forever. I will send my brother Hyeokyi to school. On behalf of my mother and father, I will look after my brother. “Today, Jeong-hak is buying bread for his younger brother with the money he has earned by singing the songs he once sang with his mother and father in front of Danchun station.


[Accidents]
A Worker Died Crushed under Rail Ties

Last January 21, in Daeheung district of Danchun City, South Hamgyong Province, a worker who was carrying railroad track and rail tie together was killed in an accident. Kang young-cheol (51) who worked on the trains for passengers and merchandise in Danchun branch, Hamheung Railroad Headquarters, lost his life because he was not able to bear the weight of railroad track. Jeong Pil-gyue who had worked with Kang at the same place said that, “Starting on the New Year’s Day, we had meeting everyday, shouting ‘Strive hard for normal railway operations.’ However, labors like us are miserable – we have nothing to eat or we die crushed under rail. He said that Kang didn’t eat several days so it was difficult for him to even stand-up, but he was almost pushed out for the production of rail ties.”

Shim Young-hwan (40s) said that, “I feel the accidental death of Kang as if it were my own. He would not have died so helplessly if he had any strength. People quickly tried to save him but he soon ceased breathing.” Shim said that, “everyday we say let’s do normal railroad operation for a thousand Li, but I hope we first take care of a few inches of esophagus. Last year, many people died because it was not possible to care for this short esophagus. How could anyone expect enthusiasm from our laborers?” Those laborers in Danchun branch considered the safety accidents as caused by hunger. This branch has about 50 passenger cars but operates about 20, and the rest of them are idle because they could not repair them due to lack of material. There are about 100 cargo cars idling in the Danchun Station because they were not repaired in time, causing some problem.


[Commentary]
North Korea's Food Shortage and Jopyongtong’s Statement

North Korea's Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (Jopyongtong;조평통) made it clear in a statement that they cannot guarantee the safety of civil aviation in the East Sea. The statement baffles many people that are eager to have peace, exchanges, and cooperation between North and South Korea. For the past year, North Korea has criticized South Korea's North Korean policy as “Crude negation of national reconciliation and unity,” “An open challenge to peace and prosperity,” “Unjustifiable regression away from unification.” Now, they are creating a volatile and heightened state of tension.

In 1949, the international community adopted an agreement that civilians should not be harmed and be protected even during wartime. Having spoken to the safety of civilian aircrafts as a means to pressuring South Korea means that North Korea gives up its international cause. North Korea should withdraw the statement immediately and guarantee the safety of civilian aircrafts and vessels operating on the East Sea.

Recently, North Korea has been strengthening their internal social control while maintaining an offensive diplomatic stance at the same time. This is not much of a reaction to the United States and South Korea for their North Korean policies. Rather, it appears to be coming from North Korea’s internal anxiety. The rumor regarding Kim Jong-Il’s health problem and the issue of the heir, which the majority of South Korean media is interested in, are not the key. So far, the results of tracing the changes in North Korean society indicate that it is just energy and food shortage problems, which is swaying the foundation of North Korean society. With their material resources being drained out, the North Korean government is trying to strengthen the internal control by diverting the attention to the hostile forces outside North Korea and creating the system of wartime readiness.

Given that the supply of oil from the United States and China has stopped, the only support they can rely on is from Japan and South Korea. However, the support from these countries is uncertain due to the abduction issue in the case of Japan and North Korea’s offensive attitude towards South Korea. The same goes for food. The United States has stopped the food aid through WFP since September of last year because of the differences between North Korea and the U.S. over the issue of the number of Korean speaking WFP personnel available to WFP. No one in the international community is taking the initiative no matter how strong the pleas being made are regarding the urgency of food situation in North Korea.

The North Korean energy and food shortage that is directly related to the survival of the people of North Korea cannot be solved by itself. Above all, the accelerating dissolution of family demonstrates how serious repercussions of the food shortage can be as a social problem. In cases of the vulnerable class where the person who feeds the family, mainly the mother, is injured or dies in accident during the last farm hardship period almost automatically suffers family dissolution. Deepening family dissolutions and the increase in the number of drifters naturally weakens societal control, which leads to social unrest. Stabilizing the vulnerable class is the way to improve the stability of North Korean society. It is deplorable that North Korean authorities only focus on external offensive despite the need of national measures that can help these people.

Now the frozen land is going to thaw out and it is time to hurry to get ready for farming. Still there is lack of fertilizer and workforce in the rural areas where many people died during the spring hardship period. Therefore, it will not be easy to prepare for the coming spring. The stronger the tension between North and South Korea, and the more South and North Korean governments ignore the difficulties of people and concentrate on the political offensive, the bigger the suffering will be for North Korean people. The spring has come. However, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is being ignored.


[Investigative Report]
During the summer of 1997, I Kept My Mouth Shut

August 1997 was a time when many people died and the public sentiment became confused and full of fear. Behind the scenes, party leaders talked about more than a million deaths. During this time, I was busy traveling to areas such as the Ports of Chungjin, Heungnam and Nampo, trying to get some supply of food. One day, I went to Nampo Port in Nampo City, South Pyongan Province to receive 15 MT of long-grain rice. Aware that many laborers of our company were dying, I kept working throughout the night to receive it. When I got back, the Party Secretary asked me to release it to the high ranking party leaders. I was stunned and said, “I can’t do it.” He then pulled his party rank and told me to do it without asking any questions. I raised my voice, “I cannot do it.” Many laborers were watching us.

“This grain is meant for laborers. Why should we give it up to our superiors? Can’t you see the dying laborers of this company?”
“Do whatever the party tells you to do. Why do you make so much noise?”
“After we subtract so much for the Party leaders, what will be left for the laborers?”
“Send it to Party leaders without any further arguments.”

However hard I shouted, it did not seem to make any difference. Eventually, I was demoted to the status of an ordinary laborer and had to endure a hard life. I felt so wronged that I started a rumor that all the food supply meant for the laborers was being taken by the high ranking party leaders. This rumor spread so widely that the families of those who starved to death began to raise their voices in protest. Public sentiment became heated and many other people joined in. Finally, complaints reached the Central Party and they started an investigation. This forced my superiors to transfer me to a higher rank, but they asked me to keep my mouth shut.

I kept my mouth shut during the investigation. Until I retired, I was rewarded with an easier life than many other people. I sold my soul and the souls of many who starved to death to save my family and myself.

Ten years passed. Another food crisis started last year. Whenever I watch people collapse because of starvation, what I did in the past really bothers me. I am reaching the age of seventy, what do I have to fear? The thought that I caused some people to lose their lives due to starvation continues to upset me.

Wielding power and treating lives with as much respect as a piece of dried grass. This is the reality today of the Rodong Party, founded by our Great Leader, Kim Il-Song, for the poor and helpless people. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has turned into a country where those in power wield such power however they like. How many lives could I have saved if I had not been blinded by power those many years ago? What if I had helped to distribute that long-grain rice to those laborers? There are not that many days left for me to live. I will not be able to close my eyes when I die, fearful of what I would see. How could I ask for forgiveness from those perished souls?

North Korea Today No. 268

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekely Newsletter] No.268 March 2009

[Hot Topics]
Women Who Volunteered for Farming at Eunduk County Declare: “We cannot go to work without food worth for eight months.”

[Food]
Last Year's Corn Harvest of Baechun County Failed to Meet Estimates

[Economy]
Low Productivity at Duksa Coal Mine of Soodong District Strikes a Fatal Blow to Hamheung Factory
Ryongdae Coalmine in Sungchun City Fails to Supply the Pyongyang Thermoelectric Power Plant
Clothing Factory in Danchun Shuts Down

[Politics]
Heightened Security on the Streets of Hamheng and Chungjin
North Pyongan Province, Inspect Street Trade Extensively
Pyongwon Women Accuse Bad Prison Guard

[Society]
[Hoeryong Observation Trip] Apartment residents Detained on the 1st and 2nd Floor
[Hoeryong Observation Trip] A security Squad Tightens Security Level at the 1st Road (1선도로)
[Hoeryong Observation Trip] Chairman Kim Satisfied after Visiting the 1st Kim Ki-song Middle School
[Hoeryong Observation Trip] Special Distribution of Half a Month’s worth of Corn for Workers in Hoeryong

[Women/Children/Education]
“Holidays are the most tiring time for women in Chosun (North Korea).”
At a DWU (Democratic Women's Union) Lecture, Participants Left During Power Outage
Four University Students in Sinuiju Watched Foreign Movies and were Expelled from College

[Accidents]
People Died by Falling from a Truck’s Cargo Section

[Commentary]
Drawing in Housewives Will Resolve the Rural Workforce Problem?

[Investigative Report]
[Correspondence From Pyongyang] Being Appointed as a Manager of a Class One Enterprise




________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
Women Who Volunteered for Farming at Eunduk County Declare: “We cannot go to work without food worth for eight months.”

Females of Eunduk County in North Hamgyong Province, who went to the farm village with the promise of food distribution, were absent from work due to the failure of food supplies. Since early this year, after the new policy to send housewives to farms began, every region has looked for applicants. Each village office held several lectures and advertised considerably, but no one applied. With the low rate of volunteering, the government promised to give food worth for eight months in advance to those who go to the farm. It was also promised that the work period would be for three years and that absence from work would be allowed if something transpired at home.

As a result, fifty women applied for work at the farm in Eunduk County. Corn was first distributed to these individuals for a month. Then, in early February, these women requested the remainder of the food worth for seven months. The County Party said it would distribute the rest of the food after two months, as it was short of food due to the supply of provisions. In response to this, the women started missing work; everyone, with the exception of the foreman, was absent on Feb 12. The County Party harshly reproached the foreman. One worried worker said, "When the party workers received the report, they were very surprised. They mouths were open, but they did not say anything, because they were the ones who did not keep their promise. The female farm volunteers worked one month, with one month of food supply. They worked as much as they were paid. The shortage of workers is a big concern, as spring faming begins soon."

[Food]
Last Year's Corn Harvest of Baechun County Failed to Meet Estimates
It is said that last year's corn harvest of Baechun County in South Hwanghae Province was lower than previous estimates. Some farms harvested 1.5 MT of corn per 1 Jungbo (1 Jungbo is 2.45 acres), but many of them harvested less than 1 ton of corn. A farm worker of Baechun County said, "We expected 1.5 or 2 MT of corn per Jungbo. It is better than last year, though. There is no food to distribute – not because of the provision, but because many farms failed to harvest 1 ton. All the corn is taken from here first, because this area is the forefront. Thanks to the farm managing worker's petition to the County Party and Provincial Party, they could only secure food until early June.” According to Kim Geun-mo (age 48), "It is said that they could distribute food up until early June, but actually the amount is only available until April. We have to calculate the work points for worth of labor and support the meats for the army; there are so many things we have to submit. Therefore, after deducting all of them, we will only be left with available food until April. ”


[Economy]
Low Productivity at Duksa Coal Mine of Soodong District Strikes a Fatal Blow to Hamheung Factory

Regional factories have suffered from a lack of coal supply, due to low productivity at the Duksa Coal Mine of Soodong District in South Hamgyong Province. This coal mine has generated over 1,000 MT of anthracite coal every month for regional factories. The low heat anthracite coal produced in this coal mine has been utilized for clothing, market, and shoe factories throughout Hamheung City. However, the availability of coal from this mine is frequently not guaranteed, due to low productivity. Higher rank associates demand, “an absolute completion of all coal mining duty”, but workers resist, claiming that “we cannot work anymore.” The workers argue that “We will be happy to work if you provide us with food. Food comes first.” Jeong Young-il (age 50) said, “I hope coal miners and others disappear. It can’t be worse than this.” Han Gwang-soo also commented that “They are well-off and we’re the only ones suffering. The animals need to be fed for our consumption, but they make us work hard without providing adequate food supplies. He added, “They always claim that we are a powerful great nation, a military great nation, a political great nation, and now also an economic great nation, but they do not care about the poor workers. We need to eat well and stay healthy to work energetically.”

Ryongdae Coalmine in Sungchun City Fails to Supply the Pyongyang Thermoelectric Power Plant
Ryongdae Coal Mine, located in the Workers District, new Sungchun, in Sungchun County of South Pyongan Province, has been supplying its partial production to the Pyongyang Thermoelectric Power Plant. However, there has been a recent failure in supply, due to low productivity volume. The production level has dropped to about 27,000 MT a month. This coal mine had produced over 100,000 MT a month and about 1,000,000 MT a year. The workers blame their obsolete equipment, a lack of electricity, and transportation problems, as well as a lack of workers. There are only about 6,000 registered workers at this site; such a seriously depleted work force is due to a decrease in attendance level. A coal miner in his forties, named Choi Hyuk, said, “They do not give us our rations or any other vitamins. This is why attendance level has declined. Poor coal miners and mine diggers have nothing else to do but live as beggars.” Choi Hak-min, who is in his thirties, explained the supply failure to Pyongyang Thermoelectric Power Plant, saying, “The food situation is getting worse and nobody is going to work at the mine with an empty stomach. That is just stupid. Because the workers do not work, it is natural that the coal production level is low; which then leads to failure in supplying other factories.

Clothing Factory in Danchun Shuts Down
A factory located in Danchun City of South Hamgyong Province was closed down last year, due to a decrease in production. An estimated 400 workers have been known to work here and 90% of them are female workers. Since many of these workers are also their family’s caretakers, many are worried for their daily meals. Some of the women even take the machines home and make the products there. On the holidays, the workers receive only about two to three days worth of food supplies. Thus, the female workers must work to provide their families with future meals. Naturally, due to these factors, the attendance rate and the number of products decreased over time, ultimately leading to this tragic result.


[Politics]
Heightened Security on the Streets of Hamheng and Chungjin

On February 1st of last year, the starting of inspection for narcotics control was announced. Persons caught producing and/or selling narcotics are sentenced to death and their consumers will spend some time in re-education centers. Starting in February, there has been an increase of security between the streets of Hamheung and Chungjin. ‘Ice (Amphetamine)’ inspectors have been assigned to guard posts where body inspections may take place. Although the passing car may have the required documents, it is still hard to pass through security smoothly. In order to pass each security point, at most 30,000-50,000 NK won are needed. Due to this, many citizens are complaining that they are being ripped off. Some business owners are forced to pay the passing fee although they take no part in selling drugs. On the other hand, inspection workers have said that the street security has shown to be effective. One worker said, “It is obvious to see who has the drugs and who doesn’t. I can pick out who has it eight out of ten times. So, the body inspections are a must.” Other workers have also said that with the growing security, many sellers are being caught.

North Pyongan Province, Inspect Street Trade Extensively
The National Defense Committee and Central Party carried out extensive inspections of street trading from February 10th to 14th in all parts of North Pyongan Province. At this time, the party and committee proclaimed that “street trade is Anti-Socialist and is too excessive” so mostly street traders were caught under these inspections. A Woman (thirties) who participated in street trades in Sinuiju said, “People selling out of a market were thrown into confusion like meeting a storm. I’m desperate because I’ve earned no money for the last few days” One elderly lady (fifties) who sells fruit in Chaeha market said in a word that it was “tough” watching the inspections of street traders. She was worried saying, “It was scary watching the inspectors attack one trader after another just passing by on the streets. There are mostly older women like me or even more elderly senior citizens trading in these markets. Grandmother who traded next to me has rice mixed with ground up corn flour for her meals. Trade is not going well so this is all they can eat. Trading within the markets is this tough, so the people who trade in the streets haven’t been able to sell anything for several days. I don’t know how they’ll get to eat.”

Pyongwon Women Accuse Bad Prison Guard
This past February 3, two women in their thirties living in Pyongwon County reported illegal acts by prison guards’ in the Chungjin traveler detention center to the Province Party of South Pyongan Province. While traveling to the Chungjin in the North Hamgyong Province for their trade business, the police detained these women in the traveler detention center after an inspection. They testified that the prison guards in the police detention center took 420,000 NK won that the women had earned from trading and the women themselves were used as playthings. The Party of South Pyongan Province delivered similar testimonies to the Party of North Hamgyong Province, and the organization’s director in charge of the North Hamgyong Province Party went himself to investigate these accusations against the prison guards. When the testimonies were revealed to be true the two responsible prison guards were immediately dismissed. The 420,000 NK won in cash was promised to the two women before February 16. To punish the center as a whole, the 420,000 NK won was to be raised by reducing all the workers’ salary in the police detention center for the next few months.


[Society]
[Hoeryong Observation Trip] Apartment residents Detained on the 1st and 2nd Floor

At 3 a.m. on February 24, soldiers burst through the doors of an apartment building in Hoeryong City to drag the residents living on the 3rd to 6th floors to the first and second floors. The escorting soldiers blocked the main entrance and occupied floors 3 and above. The residents were detained on those 2 floors without being told why. The reason was that the apartment happened to be located at the 1st road (the road for Kim Jong-Il). The soldiers also caught people who were out in the streets for early morning work and shoved them into any near by house. People who reacted slowly or asked a simple question like “Why are you detaining us?” were harshly beaten by the soldiers and were put in a warehouse. At least 20 people, including women with their babies, were put in the warehouse. Some of the babies were hurt badly when their mothers fell down holding them while the soldiers beat them. Six of these babies were transferred to a hospital and are now being treated. Two of them were reported to be unconscious.

[Hoeryong Observation Trip] A security Squad Tightens Security Level at the 1st Road (1선도로)
After detaining residents in the 1st and 2nd floor of an apartment, security squad (호위국) soldiers went into full-alert mode. Security squad soldiers stood in line with 5 meters of space in between each other to guard the 1st road (1선 도로). In the apartment, soldiers could be seen even up on the roof. To prepare for this visit of Chairman Kim, it has been reported that National Security Agency placed 1,050 soldiers from 3 battalions. The Defense Security Command (보위사령부) also placed around 60 National Security Agency members. Each of these members received cell phones. Rural National Security Agency took charge of external roads. The Security Squad and National Security Agency members all withdrew immediately after Chairman Kim’s visit.

[Hoeryong Observation Trip] Chairman Kim Satisfied after Visiting the 1st Kim Ki-song Middle School
On his visit to the 1st Kim Ki-song Middle School in Hoeryong, the North Korean leader, Chairman Kim Jong-Il, was very pleased with the school’s educational facilities. Looking at the well-equipped facilities, he said, “All schools in the nation should be like this school.” The school will get 50 computers thanks to Kim’s special consideration. Most students at the school are the children of party officials or wealthy families. Televisions, recorders, and computers in the school were all purchased by donations from its students and their families. To keep their school updated, each student pays 30,000 NK won every 3 months. Students, who study well but come from a working class family, often end up withdrawing from the school because of the heavy non-tax payment. One resident said, “Our leader, Kim, tells us to make all the schools in the nation like the 1st Kim Ki-song Middle School but he doesn’t know the general situations of all schools.” After visiting the construction of the Kim Jong-sook (his mother) statue in Ohsandeok, a food company, and the Daesung Cigarette factory, Kim left Hoeryong pleased.

[Hoeryong Observation Trip] Special Distribution of Half a Month’s worth of Corn for Workers in Hoeryong
Following Chairman Kim’s visit, Hoeryong workers received 7 kilograms, or half a month’s worth, of corn in late February. When Kim asked the leading secretary of Hoeryong whether food rationings were properly delivered, the secretary replied, “This month, rice, corn, Byunsung noodles, flour, and other foods were distributed.” The secretary also reported that because of last year’s good harvest, they contributed good amount to military provisions. Hearing this, Kim was satisfied. However, the residents refuted it as a false report. The rations distributed by Hoeryong city were rotten corns.

[Women/Children/Education]
“Holidays are the most tiring time for women in Chosun (North Korea).”

We do not celebrate like the Chinese who usually relax by going to restaurants or movie theaters during holidays. It would be good if people gather, eat, then go home, but they stay a long time playing card and other games. Women can't have any break time as even kids bring their friends home. Women are beat-up after all guests leave and clean up was finished." It is common complaints from women after holidays.

Jang Won-young (30) in Wonsan city, Kangwon Province, who has been married for 5 years, said that she is fed up with serving her husband's guests every holiday. No matter how poor she is, she has to prepare food for holidays, and she could not help but hate her husband as if he is her enemy when he brings his friends home and keeps asking for more drinks even though he knows there is little to eat.

Choi Ok-hwa (in her thirties) said, "Many times I was so mad I could knock over the table. I blame myself for being born as a woman and continue to serve the guests, but I am sick to my stomach.” She also mentioned that she has headaches and feel nauseous even before holidays begin. All the bad symptoms are gone after the holidays are over. Jung Jung-hee (in her twenties) who was at the market with Choi Ok-hwa said that "I don’t know how my mother's generation lived, but nowadays there are many women who wish that there be no holidays."

At a DWU (Democratic Women's Union) Lecture, Participants Left During Power Outage
Nowadays lecture halls frequently become noisy like markets. On 14th of the last month, in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, about 1,000 members of DWU attended the ‘recorded lecture.' The lecture was titled ' Chairman Kim Jong-Il is a great master who promotes mental power of military and people and leads our country to a superpower nation.’ In the beginning of the lecture, a couple of people started whispering, then it got noisier, and eventually it became clamorous. An amplifier on the podium added up more noise. The leader of DWU shouted "Be quiet" at the audience and it became quiet for the moment, but it did not last even 5 minutes before it got noisy again. The leader got mad and stood up staring at those who were talking. Those who were stared at by the leader stopped talking, but it could not stop others making noises. Finally the leader got up and walked among the participants just like a patrol. Yet some were still careless and kept chatting; some were on edges because it was almost time for them to go to do the trading business. Then the power went out. As if it was a signal, one or two women started to leave, followed by the whole mass. The officials of DWU blocked exits to stop people leaving, but due to the number of people rushing to get out, it was beyond their ability to stop them. The people who stayed behind were the wives of police officers or security agents. They couldn't leave because their behavior might hurt their husband. When the 'recorded lecture' was over, a lecturer gave a 15-minute talk, but the room was almost empty and no one seemed to listen.

Four University Students in Sinuiju Watched Foreign Movies and were Expelled from College
Four university students in Sinuiju were expelled from their school because they watched foreign movies prior to the February 16th Holiday. In front of the entire faculty and students, they were criticized and then expelled. Lately, middle schools and universities have frequently inspected students’ belongings to search for any illegal movies. When they search students’ bags or clothes, they could find a good number of CDs of South Korean movies or dramas. Although the teachers have warned the students it is useless. Kim Kyong-mi (44), a middle school teacher, stated, “I warned and warned about these CDs until they may feel sick of it. However, they do not seem to care about it because they are young and do not understand the seriousness of the situation. Because they exchange the CDs with friends, it is not possible to prevent them from watching these movies. Because students who watch these CDs usually are from rich family background, they can avoid any punishment by paying money. I worry about them though as I am a teacher.”


[Accidents]
People Died by Falling from a Truck’s Cargo Section

Last February 15th, a person died when she fell from a truck loading corn from Hamheung to Chungjin. According to Kim Jae-hak (in his 50s), the driver of the vehicle, he picked up two women from Hamheung at the cargo area. His co-workers had already taken the passenger section on the truck and bags of corn were piled up to the limit on the cargo section so there was no room for them to take. They annoyingly begged the driver to take the truck even with the gunnysacks of corn, so he allowed them to take it. Mr. Kim said, “There was no snow, but I worried because it was pretty cold. They seemed to be indefatigable and tough, so I did not worry so much. However, I stopped the truck to prevent the worst-case scenario. I found that the wind was stronger than I thought when I opened the door. I became worried and asked them if there are ‘any problems,’ but they did not respond. I went up to the bags and found only one woman left. When I shook her body to ask about the other lady, I realized that this woman was already frozen to death.” When asked about the other woman, he described that police officers located the other woman’s body far away from his stop and they assumed falling from the truck as the cause of her death. Mr. Kim felt sorry about this accident and stated, “The fallen woman needed to save as much as a penny, so she took the enterprise’s truck to save money because her daughter entered a medical school. She was short and skinny and had tanned a lot. I gave her a ride because I felt deep sympathy for her hard work. Now I feel I made some mistakes. If I was indifferent, I could have saved their lives.”


[Commentary]
Drawing in Housewives Will Resolve the Rural Workforce Problem?

Last year’s farm hardship period was a very painful time for farmers. It was a time when survival was the only goal. Many farmers died because they could not stand the long lasting famine. At Jeongbong farm in Shingye County in North Hwanghae Province, 32 farmers died from April to June last year. During the same period, the number of dead farmers was 35 at Taeseong farm in Nampo in South Pyongan Province, 28 at Heukgyo farm Hwangju County, and 31 at Bokpyong farm Danchun in South Hamgyong Province. Considering that the total number of farmers at a farm is between 400 and 500, the mortality rate reached almost 7%. This is a considerably high figure compared to the death rate of 1.4% in Haeju city last year. As many people die of starvation in several farms in the area including Hwanghae Province, the overall shortage of labor has become a serious problem.

North Korean authorities earlier this year issued an order to secure volunteers to the farms. The easiest targets were housewives. The city party officials mobilized all kinds of means and stressed how much contribution they can make to make the county strong by volunteering to work in the farm. The reactions of the women were cold. The authorities offered carrots. They promised to give five to eight months worth of food in advance. Then some women began to show interest. Most of the women were from households where they had difficulties getting a meal for the day because they are too poor.

However, there was a place where they could not keep the promise. In Eunduk County in North Hamgyong Province, only one-month worth of rations was given although eight months worth was promised. They said the rest would be given 2 months later. The women did not wait. They stopped going to work saying there was no reason to go to the farm if they did not keep the promise.

The news demonstrates that mobilizing farm volunteers is not easy. In fact, labor shortage in the farm is inevitable under the current food distribution system. Because of the policy that gives priority to reserve food for the military, the farmers who are actually producing grain are being pushed to the back in the priority of distribution. That is the reason why farmers are missing the era of Kim Il-Song. In those days, food was given to the military after the distribution to farmers. Now, it is the opposite. Once the food is given to the military, the portion that goes to farmers is reduced no matter how good the harvest was. When there is not enough distribution of food, many people are unable to come to work during the spring farm hardship period. By that time, the food runs out and people can survive only if they go out to the mountain and field to collect grass roots.

It is not that mobilizing housewives into farm work itself is a problem. The problem is that any incentive policy will end up as a makeshift as long as there is a fundamental change in policy that can increase the food production. That was exactly the case of a large number of absenteeism in Eunduk County. They tried to attract them with food, but they stopped coming to work when they did not receive food. Can you criticize them for lack of ideological commitment? The answer is already given as to how to come up with a fundamental solution.

The farming season has already started. If they have to rely on a makeshift policy, the promised food distribution should be made to the women. The food must be secured first in order to distribute properly. The methods will increase food production, food import, and external support. First, enough food should be given to farmers who are the producers of the food in order to increase food production. There should be national measures to ensure enough supply of fertilizer and farm equipment. Second, food imports need to be increased. It is true that there is not enough foreign currency. Nevertheless, food imports can be given a higher priority if there is a political decision, which recognize the survival of people first. Third, it is obtaining external support. The food aid from the U.S. through the WFP has stopped due to a monitoring issue. When it comes to food aid, the recipient has no choice but to accept the request of the supporting organization. They should secure more food aid by accepting the request of the supporting organizations as much as possible. Even if the officials in Pyongyang have to eat a little less, there should be a decision that allows the distribution of external food aid going to the farmers first. At any rate, the only way to secure farm work is to secure food for farmers.


[Investigative Report]
[Correspondence From Pyongyang] Being Appointed as a Manager of a Class One Enterprise
Even though the first day of spring has come and gone, the weather in Pyongyang has yet to become warm. Chilly winds brought the temperature down to 15 degrees below zero (Celsius). Early this morning, I left home after eating a breakfast prepared by my mother. I received instructions from the Central Party that I should arrive at the headquarters by nine. I was in a hurry as I walked on the street behind the Changgwangsan Inn.

Normally, I would have taken a streetcar to Pyongyang Main Station. But on this day, I walked. Electric power outage might cause a delay, which could make me arrive late. I could not afford to make that kind of mistake, and I knew walking was the best way to get there on time. When I arrived at the headquarters, there were several others already waiting. All of us registered at the reception desk and were led to the Administrative Leadership Section of the Organization Department in the Party’s Central Committee. The Comrade Secretary in charge was already waiting for us. The Comrade Secretary led us to a small meeting room where five of us were to receive appointment as managers from the Comrade Secretary in front of the portraits of three Great Leaders.

I received my appointment first. The certificate says, “Comrade Kim Chang-ho (pseudonym) is notified that he has been appointed as manager of the Pyongyang OOOO Factory under the leadership of the Beloved Leader, Kim Jong-Il and his great political trust and consideration. Year of Juche 98, February 12.” All the rest of us received the appointments in the same manner, followed by a simple speech of congratulations and encouragement by the Comrade Secretary. This ceremony of appointments was one of the projects planned on the occasion of the birthday of our Beloved Leader. The ceremony itself took less than ten minutes. After the ceremony, we, the appointed managers, went to the Administrative Leadership Section and wrote our pledges to our Beloved Leader.

“Our pledge,
We respectfully submit to you, father of us all, great heaven-sent Marshal Kim Jong-Il. I, Kim Chang-ho, was born into an ordinary soldier’s family in Kanggye and graduated from Kanggye Middle School. I followed in my father’s footsteps and served six years as a frontline sentry. I was allowed to join our glorious Chosun Rodong Party and received recommendations for university education. Consequently, I had a privilege to attend the Han Duk-soo Light Industry College in Pyongyang. Later, my father was called to serve in the Support Bureau of Ministry of Defense, and our family ended up living in Pyongyang. Since I graduated from college, I have worked at the Research Institute of Light Industry and Science. I graduated from the People’s Economics College and since then have been working as Chief Engineer of the Pyongyang Textile Factory. I could never repay all of the glory, trust and concern given to me. My new appointment as the manager of a class one enterprise strikes me with awe. I will never know how to repay the grace and trust upon me, it is as great as an ocean. I hereby pledge: I will dedicate myself to the great project of establishing a strong nation by the year 2012. I am willing to sacrifice myself to the tasks given to me by our Beloved Leader with the resolution that I would not even have any right to die before the tasks are completed. Please trust me. I pledge that the factory under my management will never be a concern to you, our Beloved Leader. Year of Juche 98 February 12.”

After I finished writing my pledge, the propaganda secretary of the factory party was waiting for me with a car. We drove to the factory. The factory party secretary as well as other leaders welcomed me. They said, “Our favorite national holiday will be in a few days (Feb. 16). We prepared some provisions for you during the national holiday break. Please start your work at the factory after the holiday.” I found out that the provisions included five bottles of Baekdoo Mountain wild berry liquor, 5 kgs of pork, two live chickens, a box of apples, 10 kgs of potato, 10 liters of soy oil and other sweet cakes.

When I arrived home, my wife was the one that welcomed me the most. Perhaps she welcomed the provisions more than me. On the other hand, my mother mentioned her worries as soon as I entered the room.

My mother frowned and said, “My eye lids have been trembling since yesterday, and I was afraid that this was the sign of some evil omen. Your appointment must be it.”

“How come you sound so superstitious?” I said.
“Do you think your appointment as manager of a class one enterprise is so great? I have never seen any manager who performed well all the way through to the end. They often end up in suspension without pay or receive punishment from the party. Sometimes it gets worse. They can be kicked out of the party or sent to a rural area. That’s my worry.”
My sister followed my mother, “Mom is right. Isn’t the factory manager a hostage? He is a sacrificial lamb. Good for being whipped.”

“You sound so ridiculous.”
Mother added, “She is not ridiculous. My worry is like a high mountain. Do you remember the young man recommended as a groom for Chang-ok (pseudonym)? I am not opposed to the marriage. We should get ready for her marriage. If something unexpected happens to you, all of us in the family might be exiled to the rural area. Can you imagine your sister following us to the rural area too? Having her get married off as soon as possible will be a way to avoid such a potential hardship. Chang-ho, do you know how many managers of light industry got fired, kicked off or exiled to the rural area so far? Do you think they were less faithful or less competent? They just became sacrificial lambs because of unreasonable requests from their superiors or due to their own initiatives to save the factory. Isn’t this the fate of all workers in the administration?”

My father who had so far kept silent opened his mouth, “Please listen to your mother carefully. Never volunteer your initiatives under any circumstances. You may have to endure everything up to and including a suspension without pays, but do not suffer beyond that.”

“Father, I am not blind. I know how to behave myself in a dangerous situation. I have accumulated experiences since my graduation from the People’s Economics College. Leaders of our young generation are aware of a gap, wide and deep, between reality and the current policies. We are learning how to survive in that situation. We learn how to escape it, not just in school, but also in reality.”

My mother interrupted again, “Chang-ho, you still sound alive and proud. Don’t ever think those other managers were less competent than you. When you are dismissed or exiled, however competent you think you might be, it won’t be able to help you. That’s what makes me worry.”

Chang-ok added, “Mom is right. They say the gates of a strong nation will be open by the year of 2012, but be honest with yourself. Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel? Figure out how to stay away from responsibility. Think hard and think again to avoid being a target. Think of the family more.”

I said, “Don’t worry too much. I will do something before I become a hostage. Everyone relax. With so much to eat here, let’s enjoy our greatest national holiday now.”
I heard other families do not welcome appointments as administrative leaders. Our family is not any different. After that I found out my family’s worries, I also began to worry.
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