GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No.277

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekely Newsletter] No.277 May 2009

[“Good Friends” desires to help the North Korean people through humanistic point of view, and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean people live as real as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]
[Hot Topics]
How Ordinary Laborers Manage To Survive In The City Of Danchun
[Danchun] A Cement Factory Located Too Far From The Markets
[Danchun] Many Laborers Collapse While Operating Machinery Due To Malnutrition At A Paper Factory
[Danchun] Families of Laborers Rely On Boiled Tree Bark For Sustenance At The Machinery Repair Factory
[Danchun] Food Shortage Causes Many Workers To Go Absent And Delays The Production Schedule At The Probing Machine Factory

[Food]
Heoryung City Announces 15 Day’s Worth of Food Will Be Distributed During the Month of July
Special Distribution to Disabled Veterans for the 4.25 Army Foundation Day

[Economy]
Potato Farming Recommended for Factories in North Hamgyong Province
Hamju County’s Pig Processing Plant Wastes Public Supplies Preparing for Chairman Kim Jong-Il’s Visit
Grueling Conditions at Raheung Talcum Factory, Dozens of Workers Collapse on the Job

[Politics]
Manager of Namyang Farm Management Council in Gilju County Arrested for Graft and Corruption
Re-Education Center in Jeongurrie Will Be Converted into a Women’s Correctional Facility

[Society]
Nationwide Events for April 25, Founding Day of the Military
Suicide Due to Straitened Circumstances after the Car Accident

[Women/Children/Education]
Because of Crackdown of Rice Trade, Living is not Easy
“Starving Children Walk Like 80-year-old People”

[Accidents]
Vehicle Transporting Gas for Plowing Collided at the Ryunha Collective Farm in Kim Hyungjik County
Teacher, Drunk and Broke Portrait, murdered Fellow Teacher

[Commentary]
Revival of Danchun, Treasury of Natural Resources, Would Benefit South Korea
_________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
How Ordinary Laborers Manage To Survive In The City Of Danchun
The City of Danchun, South Hamgyong Province, is located in one of the most important and well-known mining regions in North Korea and serves as one of the country’s industrial centers. Among the significant mines in the area are Gumdeok, Ryongyang, Daeheung, Ripa, Dongam, and Gwangchun. Also the region hosts a number of important factories including: The Magnesium Clinker Factory, The Reagents Factory, The Mining Machinery Factory and The Dongdae Ore Separation Plant. Employees of these mines and factories are directly managed by the state and are given priority over other workers when it comes to food rations. As a result, these workers are able to lead relatively comfortable lives. Comparatively, the conditions for employees of all other local factories are quite bleak. Factories with less than 200 employees, including those involved in city construction, fabrics, clothing, food and soy sauce, have not received any food rations since the “economic difficulties” began. Recently, as the food crisis has worsened, these small factories have begun to face many difficulties. The stories below are about the impact the current situation has had on these workers…

[Danchun] A Cement Factory Located Too Far From The Markets
The Cement factory in the city of Danchun employs more than 500 laborers. Since there are no available food rations, these laborers and their families routinely head into the mountains to collect greens and herbs that they can later sell in the market. Unfortunately, the factory is located far from town, which makes transportation to and from the market quite difficult. As a result, workers are often unable to get their goods to the market in time and are forced to go hungry. Toward beginning of last March, Shin Myung-hee (pseudonym, 40s), a laborer at the factory, wandered around the mountains to collect grass-roots and tree barks for his family of four. While searching, he fell down the hill and was injured. He was unable afford medical treatment. So, he was forced to suffer and eventually died from his wounds. Choi Gil-lim (67), an old woman, was on her way home from the market when she collapsed due to physical weakness. She soon died without being able to rise again. These sorts of incidents occur quite frequently among employees of this factory.

[Danchun] Many Laborers Collapse While Operating Machinery Due To Malnutrition At A Paper Factory
The Paper Factory in the city of Danchun has more than 300 employees. Even though the factory is normally full, there are usually far more workers idly standing around than there are workers actually working. These workers argue: “We need to eat to if we are to have the strength to work, but we have nothing to eat. How are we supposed to work?” Han Ji-man (50s, pseudonym) says, “Family members worry about each other wherever they are. Those at work worry about their family at home. Those at home worry about their family at work who have no food to eat.” A work-unit leader reported that is common for workers to collapse while operating the machinery. Lee Sook-gyong (pseudonym, 30s) whose husband is an employee of the factory says, “My determination not to collapse provides me with the strength to keep going. If I were to collapse, who would give my husband even a bowl of porridge? I am always worried that my husband, the head of our household, might collapse while at work.”

[Danchun] Families of Laborers Rely On Boiled Tree Bark For Sustenance At The Machinery Repair Factory
The Machinery Repair Factory in the city of Danchun employs more than 400 laborers. These workers main job is to repair machinery used by different mines, including the coalmines. Everyone from the factory is experiencing similar difficulties due to the food shortage. Housewives are concerned that they are not able to provide adequate meals to their husbands after work. The New year has not brought any improvements to the food supply system and the situation is growing worse. As a result, families are now forced to boil tree bark instead of corn. The wives of laborers do not have any money to start businesses, so they must rely on the collection of grass roots to sell in the market. Many housewives are facing a daily struggle to feed their children in these difficult times.

[Danchun] Food Shortage Causes Many Workers To Go Absent And Delays The Production Schedule At The Probing Machine Factory
The probing machine factory employs more than 700 laborers. This factory produces machines needed in probing. Since the food crisis began last year, there has been a steep increase in the number of workers absent, which has caused many delays to the production schedule. Many of these laborers have left their homes to start businesses and many others are immobile due to malnutrition. These families collect tree bark and roots, which they grind up into a powder to make porridge. Many family members starve and are unable get out of their beds to move around. Many workers faces have turned a shade of yellow and they develop deep-set eyes. Many have lost so much weight that they appear to be made up of nothing but skin and bones and have hard time even opening mouths to speak.

[Food]
Heoryung City Announces 15 Day’s Worth of Food Will Be Distributed During the Month of July
The Heoryung City Government of North Hamgyong Province has announced that, “between April and July, we can only distribute food rations for the first half of the month and we cannot afford to distribute for the second half of the month due to our current food situation.” In addition, they said that they would distribute potatoes instead of corn during August and September; they will distribute the new harvests in October. According to an official, “General Kim Jong-Il gave delicate attention to our city and ordered us to supply only the Border Patrol and the nearby Regional Education District Center and not to supply other Regional District Centers when he came to visit us last February. Instead of giving to the other divisions, he told us to work hard to give more to our own city.” With the exception of Pyongyang, Heoryung City might be the only city with the ability to distribute rations.

Special Distribution to Disabled Veterans for the 4.25 Army Foundation Day
There was a special distribution at Disabled Veterans Factories throughout the nation on the People’s Army Foundation’s Anniversary on April 25. A Disabled Veterans factory located in the Ranam District of Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province distributed valuable goods according to a soldier’s rank. The highest-ranked disabled veterans received 3kg of rice, a suit, a pair of socks, and 1 kg of sugar snacks. The second-ranked recipients received a short-sleeved summer shirt, a pair of socks, and 700g of sugar snacks. At this special distribution, they not only gave to disabled veterans but to their wives as well. Wives received a pair of Chinese-made women’s shoes with a market price of about 9,000 won. However, there was no distribution to the third-ranked disabled veterans, which led to dissension.

[Economy]
Potato Farming Recommended for Factories in North Hamgyong Province
North Hamgyong Province ordered all districts to have their factories and enterprises borrow about 500-600 square meters of arable land to farm potatoes. There is nothing to distribute to the residents because everything they produced last year had to be ceded for army provisions in regions including Chungjin City, Uhryang County, Hwadae County, Myungchun County, Kyungsung County and Kilju County. North Hamgyong Province is known for its lack of self-sufficiency and because they had to contribute to the army provisions they have no hope of being able to provide rations to local residents. Due to this situation, they recommended side work of 500 square meters of potato farming to factories and enterprises with more than 350 workers. The problem is that workers are responsible for the potato seeds. Each worker needs to prepare 2kg of potato seeds. On top of this, they are also responsible for the fertilizer and farming equipment. To make it even worse, each person can only take home 35kg of potatoes. Due to such circumstances, it is fair for an average worker to think, “It will be easier not to participate.” The percentage may vary from factories and enterprises but overall only 60% of workers participated in this potato farming. When the potatoes are harvested, they will be distributed for August and September rations.

Hamju County’s Pig Processing Plant Wastes Public Supplies Preparing for Chairman Kim Jong-Il’s Visit
A pig processing plant in Hamju County, South Hamgyong Province is busy in preparation for the upcoming visit by Chairman Kim Jong-Il. Though it had been remodeled and modernized last July, another renovation began in February. Last year’s project updated and beautified all the walls while this year’s focuses on placing glass windows on the entire front facade. However, it has not been easy acquiring the required amount of glass or coming up with the entire construction cost. Last year’s project used 80 tons of cement, while this year’s will require no less than 70 tons. Central Party workers received many unkind stares when they scrapped several fully functional apparatuses following their inspection of the factory. Over half of all the laborers and factory workers are against the latest renovation project, saying, “This renovation is too much for us in our situation to handle. Though we would do anything for the glory of hosting our Great Chairman, it seems that wasting public supplies will cause him concern.” Despite such negative public opinion, Central Party workers are urging everyone to focus on the renovation effort. Since they do not have a choice, the laborers go along with their directive, but more and more of them are skipping their work due to a lack of food provisions.

Grueling Conditions at Raheung Talcum Factory, Dozens of Workers Collapse on the Job
The living conditions of the workers at the Raheung Talcum Factory located in Riwon County, South Hamgyong Province are becoming worse. Their work consists of extracting ore, crushing it, and picking out talcum. Many who work in the mining pits collapse due to their severely weakened physical state and the demanding nature of their work. Last year, more than 100 workers had to be carried out. On a single day, 13 people collapsed. The Raheung area has been impoverished for a long time, and the food crisis has hit the factory especially hard. The workers have to venture at least 4 km outside the town to dig for grass roots and pick wild greens, as all the areas closer to town have already been picked clean. Many people walking on the street seem to loose balance and totter because they do not have any strength left in their legs.

[Politics]
Manager of Namyang Farm Management Council in Gilju County Arrested for Graft and Corruption
The Manager of Namyang Farm Management Council in Gilju County, North Hamgyong Province, was arrested recently. She is accused of embezzling the farm fund and other loaned money, which amount to approximately more than ten million (10,000,000) NK won. Namyang Farm originally had a few paddy fields and dry fields, so people planted some corn. However, there were not much corn seeds to plant this year. Moreover, the moneylenders were visiting the farm frequently to demand the payments for the loan. One of the workers in this farm said that the person who reported the Manager was an accountant for the farm because he anticipated an investigation. As soon as the Manager learned of the report, she implored to the Secretary in charge of the Party, but only to be criticized. As the moneylenders visited the house every day to demand the money, the Manager’s husband even caused a commotion with suicidal threats.

Re-Education Center in Jeongurrie Will Be Converted into a Women’s Correctional Facility
The Jeongurrie Re-education Center in Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province, will be converted into a Correctional Facility for Women. The Safety Bureau of the Party in North Korea is examining specific plans to intern women starting in 2010 by transferring male prisoners into other Re-education Centers or by releasing them. Considering that men are capable doing some work, a plan to leave behind a few male prisoners is also under review. Currently, there are 1,200 women imprisoned in this Re-education Center. Female offenders are increasing every day. Currently in this April, the number of newly committed female prisoners amounts to 20-30 per week.

[Society]
Nationwide Events for April 25, Founding Day of the Military
Lectures and events were held nationwide to celebrate April 25 Founding Day of the Military. Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province, a formal military inspection of retired soldiers celebrations was held from 8:00 am and members of the Democratic Women’s Union wore the traditional clothing for the events. Party members offered 1 Kg of corn to the family of war-dead and discharged soldiers. Members of the Democratic Women’s Union collected 1,500 Won to buy necessary goods for the military. Each public enterprise gave comforts to each military unit. Each military unit would receive 10 pieces of facial soap, 10 pieces of laundry soap, needle and thread. Big public enterprises also offered rice cake and pork. On April 24, the day before the celebration day, there was a recorded lecture held. The recorded lecture included a story about a soldier, who saved fishermen while he was patrolling with a chief engineer: A ship sank and three out of 29 on the ship died. A soldier saved 25 crewmembers and received the 'Kim Il-Sung youth honor award', while the chief engineer received ‘First-Class National Flag Medal'. The residents seemed to watch the recorded lecture with tears. In order to celebrate 'Founding Day of the Military', electricity was provided to regular households. The electricity supply was terminated at midnight on April 25.

Suicide Due to Straitened Circumstances after the Car Accident
The end of March, a funeral was held for Huh Byung-Nam (40s) in Sunchun city, South Pyongan Province. He was working for a pharmaceutical company and also had a side business as a second job. Earlier this year, he tried to jump into a car just starting to take off and was being dragged by the car a few meters. In that accident, he got his back severely injured and had to quit his work. His wife started doing business for a living, but she was not successful. She felt guilt for her failed business and became very worried for her family’s situation. Later she ended up becoming insane and his kids became beggars or 'KKotjebi'. Mr. Huh got depressed with his family situation and eventually committed suicide.

[Women/Children/Education]
Because of Crackdown of Rice Trade, Living is not Easy
Park Hye-ran and Lee Jeong-oak are best friends and natives of Soonam District, Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province. They were born, raised, and got married in the same district. They graduated from the same elementary and middle school and worked for the same company. Although they worked hard, they did not receive any food distribution and therefore began trading together starting in 2005. So far they have done every possible trade and their latest business was trading rice. They went down to Haeju or Sariwon in South Hwanghae Province to buy rice and delivered it to Pyongyang by vehicle. Then they delivered the rice to Chungjin through the railroad system by bribing acquainted train crewmembers. They usually sold rice at a profit of 200-300 won in Chungjin. They have traded rice this way more than they ever have this year, but they were detected this March by the police. The amount of forfeited rice was as many as 2 tons. They had an unusually difficult time last year and the forfeit was extremely critical for them. It seemed like a final blow to them because they ran out of funds. Fortunately, they did not receive any jail sentences, but they felt despaired because they do not have anything to survive. They have decided to begin their trade again and are looking for trading items, which do not demand so much investment.

“Starving Children Walk Like 80-year-old People”
After a severe winter, Kkotjebi children came swarming around the market places of Gimchaek, North Hamgyong Province. The children are usually under 15 years old and do not go to school. Some of them acquire food by delivering shoppers’ stuff. Some children pass out because they have not had food for a long time. Some Kkotjebi children kneel in front of a food stand and beg for food until they can get it. A few children can get food, but most of them are kicked out of the place. A police officer said, “Because these children do not eat appropriately, they seem to have no vitality and walk around like 80-year-old people. Some children starved to death and this month we have already found four or five dead bodies of these children in isolated places.”

[Accidents]
Vehicle Transporting Gas for Plowing Collided at the Ryunha Collective Farm in Kim Hyungjik County
There was a collision at the Ryunha collective farm in Kim Hyung-jik County, Ryanggang Province, while a vehicle was transporting gas used for plowing. The collision caused the gas tank to explode and 1.5 tons of diesel fuel to spill on the ground. Farms that could no longer use the diesel fuel called an emergency meeting to discuss what to do with the plowing. The Li Party and Management Board members decided to individually sell 60 kilograms of food to raise money. In addition, the members appealed that each farmer must donate 40 kilograms of food, promising to repay them with distributions at the end of the year. Some farmers have started plowing after the members have urgently acquired gas from the retailers on credit, but they are still puzzled how to collect all the necessary amount of gas. Under these circumstances, some farm workers proposed that the best way to save money is to use oxen. However, there are only a handful of good oxen to use for plowing because they have been poorly fed.

Teacher, Drunk and Broke Portrait, murdered Fellow Teacher
Last November, a teacher murdered a fellow teacher who was doing night duty with him in Gokgu middle school of Gokgu-ri, Leewon County, South Hamgyong Province. Kim Seong-Hak (alias, 40s) was sleeping, drunk, and dropped a portrait of Kim Il-Sung by mistake, when waking at midnight. He tried to put it back in its place but crushed it because he was not able to keep his balance. The next thing he knew, everything was out of hand. While he was flustered because he didn’t know what to do, Choi, a fellow teacher, who thought he was sleeping, caught him. Kim made an escape attempt but was caught. Kim confessed that he killed his fellow teacher thinking that if the act was known that he dropped the portrait he would receive a maximum penalty sentence.

[Commentary]
Revival of Danchun, Treasury of Natural Resources, Would Benefit South Korea
During last May, at the height of spring hardship period, Ryongyang Mine in City of Danchun, South Hamgyong Province, suspended its operation completely because no market was found for its product, magnesium clinker. Consequently, there was no food ration for its laborers. According to a party leader who conveyed the news at the time said, “This area is typically dry. So, around here no grass lives, which people tried to feed on. Therefore its laborers and other residents had harder time than other areas.”
Ryongyang Mine along with Daeheung Mine is the largest producer of magnesite. Magnesite, essential to steel industry, is not produced in South Korea at all, and South Korea’s dependence on foreign imports is 100 %. According to the Reports of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of South Korea based on “Joint Development Strategy of Natural Resources of North Korea” announced in 2007, North Korea can provide a stable supply for the quarter of South Korea’s annual demand of magnesite for 10,080 years. This implies an eternal source of magnesite supply. Of course, a huge amount of investment is predicted to be required considering extraction and transportation of the ore. However, consideration of annual price increases of natural resources in the international markets would make the investment economically feasible and beneficial.
In the year of 2007, authorities of North and South Koreas conducted three joint studies in accordance with the “Agreements on Development Cooperation of Light Industries of North and South Koreas and Natural Resources”, and they also investigated the economic feasibility of the projects. The targets of investigation were three mines, Ryongyang, Daeheung and Gumdeok Mines that happens to be the North Korea’s largest producer of zinc.
Unfortunately, the blueprint of development cooperation of North and South that had looked like being realized soon enough turned into an old tale, only after a year. Even toward the end of last February, we could hear loud voices of journalists saying, “Unless we rush development of North Korea’s natural resources, China will take over.” Now those voices are all gone. Tourism on the Mount Geumgang has been suspended and Gaesung Industrial Complex is going through a stage of life and death. These events have become hindrances to the North-South development cooperation of North Korea’s natural resources.
The worst victims of hardening of North-South relationship are naturally the residents of North Korea. Severe food shortage crisis of last spring after the suspension of South Korea’s humanitarian aid in food to North Korea did not leave the City of Danchun alone. In the case of Ryongyang Mine, we learn that even the mines and factories managed directly by the state went through harsh and severe crisis of food shortage. It is obvious that the situation in the factories managed by local authorities was much worse. Even those factories with 300 to 700 employees were under similar situation. It is nearly impossible to confirm numerical data about production level, rate of absenteeism, and nutrition level of the employees’ families of each factory. What we can guess from the situation of Ryongyang Mine says that they are very vulnerable.
Absolutely essential is the policy shift to reconciliation between North and South, which might be helpful to easing the food shortage crisis of the residents. Reactivation of North-South development cooperation of North Korea’s natural resources can become a very important occasion, hopefully beneficial to both sides. It should be remembered that the closer the North-South relationship gets, the more lives it can save. How much longer are we going to let the residents of North Korea barely survive, day by day, on the grass roots? It can be an occasion of saving lives, acquiring essential natural resources, planting good reputation throughout the world, and ultimately contributing to peaceful unification of the peninsula. Should the South Korean government take initiative in grabbing the opportunity to get many birds with a stone? We keep praying that the frozen North-South relationship be melted, sooner rather than later, and reconciliation between North and South become reality as quickly as possible.

North Korea Today No.276

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekely Newsletter] No.276 April 2009

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

[Hot Topics]
Meeting for "successful farming" at the Ministry of Agriculture
Personal Patch-farming Hit Hard due to Dissolution of ‘Sanrimban’
South Hamgyong Province: Angry Over the Transition of All Small Patch-Farms to Collective Farms

[Food]
Food Distribution is Improving at the Coalmines in Gangseo County

[Economy]
Reasons for Chungjin Tractor Parts Factory’s Failure to Accomplish Its First Quarter Production Goal
Decisions Made to Send Middle School Graduates to Farms
Only 1/3 of Farm Volunteer Women in Eunduk County Reports to Work

[Politics]
After the Launch of the Gwangmyungsung No. 2, People are Starting to Ask, “What has been gained?”
A War May Be Coming, But Survival Requires Major Change
Hoeryong City Frees 3 Lawbreakers Who Came Back to Vote

[Society]
A Son Discharged from 10 Year-Military Service Died at Sea While Seeking Food for His Parents
Mother and Daughter Manage to Live with the Help from Neighborhood Unit

[Women/Children/Education]
Chungjin Mine Metallurgy College Re-took the Entrance Examination Due to Illegal Conduct

[Accidents]
An Intoxicated Police Officer Killed Residents by Motorcycle during Mass Rally in Hamheung
A Big Consecutive Fire in Hoeryong City
Hoeryong City, A Severe Setback to Supply of Lumber for Construction Due to Forest Fire

[Commentary]
Resolving the Food Problem, a Deepening Contradiction

________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
Meeting for "successful farming" at the Ministry of Agriculture
On April 2, the Ministry of Agriculture held a meeting "for a successful farming year" and issued a policy. There were further discussions saying, "In order to be ready for the year of ‘prosperous nation in 2012’ we should act in unison in preparation for farming. No other task is more urgent and important for the people at this point than resolving the food problem. The strong and prosperous socialist nation means people’s paradise, where everything is prosperous and all people live well. We will have to have a successful farming year and fill the granary with grains if we want to open the gate of the prosperous nation. Only if we resolve the food issues, can we develop our own socialism, and strengthen the unity of prosperous nation."
Conference Participants pointed out that the food crisis was deepened because of natural disasters for two consecutive years in 2006 and 2007, and said in consensus that it is very important to resolve the food issue on their own. Also, they said, "This year's crop should be good," "We should not be just looking at the rest of rice storage. We should actively adopt two-crop farming with all the power we have." For agricultural workers, they requested, "You should actively looking for a way to increase crop production." An executive who attended the meeting said, "In the past, we imported grains from other countries that were low in quality and in nutrition. Beginning this year, it may not even come to us. We must solve the food problem on our own. We can only ask them to actively engage in two-crop farming and potato farming."

Personal Patch-farming Hit Hard due to Dissolution of ‘Sanrimban’
The Environmental Protection Department has decided to dismantle the Forest Protection Unit (hereafter ’Sanrimban’) based on their forest preservation policy. The dismantling of Sanrimban, in fact, means banning of personal small-patch farming causing an uproar amongst the people. Unfortunately, people cannot hide their worrisome feelings as they face the dissolution of Sanrimban. North Korean authorities declared that they couldn’t allow personal patch farming in order to prevent indiscriminate forest damage. It was determined that the Sanrimban members, who were assigned to preserve the forest, were engaging in small-patch farming in the forest by planting corns between the plants and through the planting of other crops, harming the effort to create a forest. In fact, authorities tried to dismantle Sanrimban last year, but they have decided to postpone it to this year because of serious food shortages. People are asking each other worriedly, "If we cannot do small patch farming from this year, how are we going to resolve the food problem next year?" Those who relied on personal small-patch farming think this policy is the wrong thing – they say that people should be allowed to eat food first. Then, the trees and mountains can be saved. In the mean time, on March 20, an official document regarding forest maintenance was issued to each of the factories and enterprises. From now on, factories and enterprises with more than 350 employees will be managing two jungbo (about 20,000 square meters). Unlike the existing Sanrimban they cannot plant any crops except for trees for firewood.

South Hamgyong Province: Angry Over the Transition of All Small Farms to Collective Farms
It was decided that all the small patches of fields, which originally were planted by individuals, would be handed over to the Collective Farm in each city, county in South Hamgyong Province. These small patches of fields were originally cultivated by the individuals and all the harvest from these fields were allowed for personal use. However, the decision on handing over these filed to Collective Farms in this year resulted in resentment and resistance. Kwon young-duk (50s) in Hamju County said in a frustrated voice “Because of not enough rations from the state, we have to cultivate these small fields with our own effort and the harvest from these are essential to our food supply. Now what am I supposed to do to make a living? “We always had hope that the coming year would be better than the last. But, it always gets worse and worse. What on earth is going on? The most miserable ones are ordinary people in the lowest class. This is such an unfair society! Those with power and privilege don’t have anything to worry about. It is no concern of theirs whether people in the lowest class can survive or not.” The residents said that the policy over small patch farming has shifted several times. So, they expect that the policy may change again if they stage resistance against it for sometime.

[Food]
Food Distribution is Improving at the Coalmines in Gangseo County
The status of the Public Distribution System (PDS) at the coalmines in Gangseo Province has recently started to show signs of improvement. Recently, laborers who work in the coalmines received 17 days worth of rations. While these rations still did not provide for the families of the miners, it was a significant improvement from a time when there were no rations available for distribution at all. At the same time, laborers who work outside the mines received 12 days worth of rations. Additionally, laborers are now starting to see their monthly wages paid on time. Miners currently receive a salary of 35,000 NK won and those who work outside the mine receive 25,000 NK won. In order to achieve the goal of increasing coal output outlined in this year’s New Year’s Editorial, it was decided that something must be done to address the chronic malnutrition that was plaguing the areas workers. To address this issue, a new dining facility was established to distribute bowls of corn and bottles of liquor to workers when they finish their workday. At the same time these improvements were made, it was deemed that, starting on February 18th, the workday should be increased to nine hours per day.

[Economy]
Reasons for Chungjin Tractor Parts Factory’s Failure to Accomplish Its First Quarter Production Goal
The tractor parts factory in Chungjin City of the North Hamgyong Province did not accomplish its first quarter goal. In January, the Provincial Executive Committee of the North Hamgyong Province instructed the factory to produce the parts well and send them to each farm in the Province. As such, the factory manager held several meetings with engineers and technicians to accomplish the production task instructed by the Provincial Party. All the meeting participants pledged, “We will maintain high political consciousness as the honorable warriors for our Great Leader, Kim Jong-IL. We will complete the parts production as planned before April 15th.” However, each farm still severely suffers from lack of tractor parts because not even half of the parts were produced after the first quarter. The Provincial Party Organization and Guidance Department began to examine the ideology of the factory managers and secretaries because they didn’t complete the task issued by the Party. The managers say, “The abilities of the technicians are low, and the machines are so old that they do not often operate properly. That is the reason why the production rate is so low.” Several workers who have observed all the circumstances say, “We workers have stolen many of the parts because we have not received any food rations or wages. The task couldn’t be completed because the stolen parts are sold at the markets even under the low production situation. But we don’t understand why the Party would criticize us so harshly because our factory is not the only factory with this sort of crisis. Other factories are under almost the same conditions. I feel as if our factory received punishment to make an example for other factories.”

Decisions Made to Send Middle School Graduates to Farms
Following the directives of sending the members of the Democratic Women’s Union to farming areas, decisions are made to send middle school graduates to the farms. The purpose behind this decision is to form youth work units and youth groups to increase agricultural production. Therefore, the students who graduated from middle school but failed to join the military were first called out to the farms. Some students in one school in the Songpyung Area, Chungjin City, in North Hamgyong Province, volunteered to go to farms. Forty out of the sixty female middle school graduates volunteered to go to the Daeduk Farm in Hoeryung City. However, only after a few days, the girls complained, saying, “The work really kills us.” One farm executive said, “The young students tried to do the work with passion only. However, it took only a few days for them to realize that the work is hard for them.”

Only 1/3 of Farm Volunteer Women in Eunduk County Reports to Work
The attendance rate is dropping again for the farmwomen, who had reported to Eunduk County, North Hamgyong Province. In the first month there was food ration and the attendance was pretty good, but in the second month there was no rationing and it caused massive absentees. Then some rationing was resumed and the attendance rate went high again until March 10th. But when there was no prospect of ration, again the attendance rate is rapidly falling. As of March 20th, out of 60 women who had volunteered to the work force of the Women’s Party Farm, only 20 women reported to work. Due to severe labor shortage in the farms, the Women’s Party Committee had sent the members of the Women’s Party to the farm. The Eunduk County Party Committee and Ryangjung Committee members had determined that even if they can not give rations to the laborers of general factories, they would give ration of whole corn to those Women’s Party members who had volunteered to the work force. However, as the amount and timing of ration are not consistent, the percentage of women reporting to work fluctuates greatly. Therefore not only the chairman and the officials of the Women’s Party but also the officials of County Party and Farm Management Committee members are visiting the Women’s Party members who did not report to work and ask them to sign that they would definitely report to work.

[Politics]
After the Launch of the Gwangmyungsung No. 2, People are Starting to Ask, “What has been gained?”
Immediately after the launch of the Gwangmyungsung No. 2, the official organs of the North Korean Government reported that the international community had responded with great shock and admiration at the nation’s achievement. Initially, people throughout the country enthusiastically celebrated the feat, but as time passed, this enthusiasm became tempered by skepticism. Kim Dong-Hyuk (alias, 30s) of Pyongsung voiced his doubts, “I had thought things would get better after the Gwangmyungsung No. 2 was launched, but that did not happen. Directives coming down [from the government] are now beginning to make our lives harder. What did we gain from the launch of the Gwangmyungsung No. 2? Nothing has changed, has it?” A mid-level official in Pyungyang also reported, “We rejoiced [the launch of the Gwangmyungsung No. 2], but now, I don’t know what to think. The food crisis is getting worse and new policies are making our lives much more difficult. I am worried that we might return to a situation like the First Arduous March. Unless we reform in a hurry we may all die. If things stay like they are now, there is nothing ahead of us but despair.”

A War May Be Coming, But Survival Requires Major Change
In Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, it is generally believed that even if war breaks out North Korea needs to radically change its foreign policy for the sake of the country’s twenty million citizens. Before the excitement surrounding the successful launch of Kwangmyongsong-2 subsided, the entire county had been kept on a full-time high alert. One official remarked that, “Ever since talk began of the need to get ready for imminent war, the political climate has been toxic. We can sense that other countries are viewing us judgmentally. Everyone says similar things; Because of the sorry state of the country, we would not mind a war – it may even be a good thing.” Local residents bemoan the situation, “Either 4 or 5 million people will die in a war or everyone will eventually starve to death. If war breaks out, our world will likely to change and many more people my end up surviving because of it. If we continue on our current course, nobody knows how many will die from starvation this year or next, you just can’t tell what will happen in the future.” Kim Jong-Han (pseudonym, 40s), a resident from South Sinuiju, forcefully claimed, “People no longer want to simply wait until they die, like they once did. Only a very few want to maintain the status quo. I will not say how things need to change, but it is clear that if there is no change, everyone will perish. Everyone I know thinks the same way.”

Hoeryong City Frees 3 Lawbreakers Who Came Back to Vote
In Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province, authorities have freed three criminals who returned to the country to cast votes in the last month’s election. Among these criminals was a woman who had illegally gone to China for business and two men who had fled to China in order to avoid arrest over drug charges. The two men were believed to have been missing for over a year, but were apprehended when they came back into the county to vote in the March 8th Election. After reviewing their cases, officials from the legal hierarchy – City Party, police, public prosecutors station and the court – generously found the defendants “not guilty.” The legal authorities responded that, “even though they had broken the law, these individuals demonstrated, through their participation in the election, that they are people of good social conscience.” All three were set free with a not guilty verdict.

[Society]
A Son Discharged from 10 Year-Military Service Died at Sea While Seeking Food for His Parents
Cho, Jung-Ho (60s) in Yeonho-Dong, Kimchaek City, North Hamgyong Province, couldn’t continue to speak because of sorrow. Mr. Cho’s son died while fishing in a stormy sea in February. Mr. Cho said “Kwang-Hyok (his son) was discharged from the military service on Feb. 2nd. When he came back home, he seemed to feel sorry for his parent’s poor life. His mother was bedridden due to an illness and his grandmother in her eighties was immobile with stroke. Although I was working at a factory, I did not get any wage or ration from the work. Kwang-Hyok decided to start business to make money right away after his discharge from military. But his business did not go well. Later, he decided to go out to sea to make money for his family. After the holidays have passed, he begged the owner of a small boat into letting him use the boat so that he could go out to the sea for fishing. He said he would collect seaweed, kelp and catch fishes. On that day, the wave was very high and the wind was strong. The boat ended up sinking in the sea.” That’s how Mr. Cho lost his son. He said he should have stopped his son going out to the sea. He and his wife finally burst into tears. Their neighbors felt sorry for them. Because the neighbors expected their life to be better after their son came back from the military.

Mother and Daughter Manage to Live with the Help from Neighborhood Unit
Park, Chun-Sil (40s) and her young daughter, in Shinpoong-Dong, Wonsan City of Kangwon Province, manage to live with porridge provided by a neighborhood unit. She lost her husband from a car accident in January this year. Her husband used to be a soldier and took care of his family. When they did not have enough ration, he always managed to get some extra food for his family. It was not unusual for some of the military families to move into wife’s family house because they did not receive ration. However, Ms Park’s never had to worry about the food thanks to her husband. After her husband suddenly passed away, she did not know how to make living. She has never done any business or peddling before. So, she had difficulty finding work to make a living. She had some emergency food stocked up, but it ran out quickly. So, she and her children had to live on porridge everyday. They often skipped meals. Her two kids couldn’t go to school. On April 2nd, she and her two children got food poisoning after having grass root porridge. On the very same day, her son died from the grass porridge poisoning. She and her daughter fell ill as well. Ms. Park said, “We would have died without the help from the neighborhood unit.” The neighborhood unit is providing porridge made with corn and mung beans collected from people. Ms. Park said, “We should go to see a doctor to get treatment. But we do not have any money. We are just waiting for the day we die.”

[Women/Children/Education]
Chungjin Mine Metallurgy College Re-took the Entrance Examination Due to Illegal Conduct
The Chungjin Mine Metallurgy College in North Hamgyong Province re-took the entrance examination because of illegal conduct on the examination. When students took the college examination on February 4th, 10 proctors supervised 50 examinees to prevent cheating. However, some faculty members were bribed and increased some students’ test scores this year once again. When illegal behavior was detected on some subjects, officials of the Department of Education of the Central Party visited the institute and stopped the examination. The officials announced that any illegal conduct on the examination was not allowed and said, “We give admission only to excellent students.” Thus, they declared that students that had already taken the test would have invalid scores. Therefore, examinees were told to take the examination again on the 7th of the month and the officials administrated the examination themselves. They changed the desk formation of the testing centers in a way that that there were 10 rows and 5 columns. The dispatched officials of the Department of Education scored the test themselves and announced the scores on the 18th of that month. Four hundred ten students out of 600 candidates passed the examination. There was an additional examination on March 25th and 20 additional students received admission. Although the administration was conducted in a strict manner, some students still received admission through bribery by paying 2 million NK won.

[Accidents]
An Intoxicated Police Officer Killed Residents by Motorcycle during Mass Rally in Hamheung
On April 17th, an accident occurred where a person was struck and killed by a motorcycle during a mass rally in Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province. A mass rally was held at 3 PM in Hamheung, to celebrate the successful launch of “Kwangmyungsung-2,” a satellite and also to encourage the building of a “Strong and Prosperous Nation”. A police officer monitoring blocked roads near the statue of President Kim Il-Sung on a motorcycle struck some participants in the mass rally. However, he was intoxicated. As a result of this accident, three residents were killed and four were severely injured. The whole area around the rally was plunged into confusion as it occurred within five minutes after the mass rally took place.

A Big Consecutive Fire in Hoeryong City
A wildfire swept through Hoeryong City in North Hamgyong Province. The morning of April 11th, a fire arose in the 4th unit of Hongsan-ri in Hoeryong City and gradually spread into Oryu-ri and Ryongchon-ri. More than 1,000 Jungbo (1 hectare) of forest was destroyed by fire in these three divisions. Fifteen people among those who tried to extinguish the fire were suffocated or perished in the flames. These victims included six forestry officials, three soldiers, and six laborers. The fire also injured many other people. The fire was barely controlled in the early morning two days later on the 13th. The fire caused extensive casualty loss and forest damages as well as damages to some farmhouses nearby. A deer ranch was also included in the affected area, and all thirty deer in seasonal grazing on the day were perished in the flame.
On the afternoon of the 13th, a fire arose in the Soobukdong-2 area and burned twelve houses. Among them, eight houses were completely burned and lost all their properties. Hence the members of the Democratic Women’s Union in Soobukdong Office camp up with an emergency assistance plan by collecting food, clothing, and other necessities. The members of the Democratic Women’s Union held an emergency meeting on the next morning (14th), to provide relief to fire victims. During this meeting, the members of the Democratic Women’s Union requested assistance to collect more necessities for each DWU member. The City Party came up with an emergency food assistance plan to collect 30 kilograms of corn per household. In addition, a workplace, which belongs to the householder of the damaged household, was instructed to take responsibility in repairing the homes destroyed by fire.

Hoeryong City, A Severe Setback to Supply of Lumber for Construction Due to Forest Fire
The fire affected Hoeryong City and it caused severe setback to supply lumber for construction in heavy loss areas of the forest. The trees used for lumber spread in Songhak, Ryongchun, Oryu-ri, and so on. Now it is not ensured that they can receive useful lumber from now on. At Hoeryong City Party, the chapter of construction workers held a meeting day after day. Hoeryong City was fully determined to advance the Strong and Prosperous Nation for two years from 2012 to 2010. Construction businesses of various kinds were expected to be completed by that time, but are now setback because of the large forest fire. The City Party sent the land forest security patrol to each rural area starting from the 17th to look for useful logs for material lumber.

[Commentary]
Resolving the Food Problem, a Deepening Contradiction
The North Korean Agriculture Ministry declared at a meeting "No other task is more urgent and important for the people at this point than resolving the food problem." They also said, “We should not be just looking at the rice storage. We should actively adopt two-crop farming with all the power we have. We should resolve the food problem on our own." These are all correct statements. Since the aid from the international community is suspended they should make every effort to make this year’s farming a success in order to solve the food shortage problem.
The problem is that the policy of “Resolve the problem on your own” is a contradiction. For the people the only way to resolve the food problem on their own at this point is “creating the land” for farming. Whether to become a member of Sanrimban, create a patch field in the slopes of mountain, salvage an abandoned land, the only way to survive is through small-patch farming. The forest is becoming devastated and the land is being damaged. The way to protect the farmland is to preserve and create forests. However, it contradicts the reality the residents are facing.
It is reported that recently, North Korea issued a policy, which requires dismantling of Sanrimban and transferring of personal patch fields to cooperative farms. We also hear news that people are much puzzled and frustrated by the contradictory policies of "Take care of the food problem on your own." and "Strive to create Forest." Especially, we are curious to know what will be the outcome of the rivalry between the local Party, which managed Sanrimban, and the Central Party since the dismantling of Sanrimban involves transferring of management from the local to Central Party. So far, the agencies and enterprises that belong to the local Party have been entrusted to protect the forest. They secured food by planting young trees in slopes less than 30 degrees in the sunny, South-facing direction, and through patch farming between the trees. However, opposition from the local party is expected, as the management authority will be turned over the Central Party. On the surface it is the issue of 'forest protection,’ but eventually it becomes the issue of who will have the right to manage the forest for farming.
The chagrin of the people is greater than the opposition from the local Party. It is quite natural for the people to clamor since they have to hand over the patch field they have created using the power of your own effort to cooperative farms for free. The position of the people is, "We will hand over our patch field if we receive food ration. We can’t give it up because this is our only source of food”. They argue that, "Just to hand over the land without any measures of compensation literally means death to us."
Forest preservation is a very urgent and important task in terms of land management as well as agricultural production. However, what is more urgent and important for the residents who have to make a living is to create small patch of field for personal farming. The policies cannot be carried out because they ask people to take care of food problem on their own and issue orders that are contradictory in nature. The contradiction surrounding the issue of food problem will only deepen unless North Korean authorities come up with a dramatic 'reform' action.

North Korea Today No.275

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekely Newsletter] No.275 April 2009

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

[Hot Topics]
City of Chungjin Declares, “Do Not Sell Any Items Other Than Agricultural Products”
Market Shelf Spaces Substantially Reduced In Number In South Hamgyong Province
“Are Products Of South Korea Our Enemy?”
Market Control In Wonsan Causes Resentments And Complaints

[Food]
Obong Coal Mine In Eunduk County Has Provided No Food Rations Since January

[Economy]
Taechun County Eunheung Collective Farm, No Bulls to Plow the Field
North Pyongan Province Party Encourages Farming of New Potatoes for the Spring Hardship Season
No Gasoline for Fertilizer Transportation Vehicles in Soonchun City

[Politics]
The Supreme Public Prosecution Office Launched Inspection on the “July 7 Enterprise” in Eunduk County
80% of Eunduk Criminals are Burglars, Larcenists, or Imposters
North Hamgyong Provincial Party Investigates Corruption among the Farm Workers in the Border Region
Farm’s Joint Properties Being Used Only by the Officers
Hoeryong City Convened Emergency Meeting in Connection to Farm Inspections

[Society]
A Battle over Dog Naming Turns Ugly
In Chongjin, Potatoes Confiscated from Merchants Using Trucks for Trade
Neighborhood Unit Must Hold Funeral For Woman With No Family

[Women/Children/Education]
Feed Kkotjebi Children with Forfeited Food from Markets
One Child out of 4 Goes to School

[Accidents]
Jongsung Forest Fire Spreads to Saebyul
Seed Depository of Yeonsa County Potato Burglarized as Soon as It Opens

[Commentary]
Even the Secretary of Propaganda Opposes Eliminating Markets

__________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
City of Chungjin Declares, “Do Not Sell Any Items Other Than Agricultural Products”
Last April 10th, authorities of Chungjin City, South Hamgyong Province announced to a group of female peddlers a ‘February 17th policy’ in connection with what could be sold in the market. Other districts such as Soonam, Chungnyun, Gongwon, Soowon and Sinam, mobilized the Secretaries of Propaganda. They used broadcasting trucks on the streets of market in announcing the policy. This is rather unusual in comparison with the past, when they used the existing administrative channels in delivering any instructions. They made clear that dealing with any contraband items is ‘a behavior promoting anti-socialism’ and will be subject to punishment as a felony. The Secretaries of Propaganda reiterated that ‘the prohibited merchandise should never be sold in the market.’
Residents follow the orders of authorities and deal with only the agricultural products for the time being. Items other than the agricultural products are blocked to get into the market. Some female peddlers bitterly complain, “With blockade of the market and no provisions from the government, how could people live? How in the world do they think we should live?” However, they do not dare to attract other people’s attention anymore by uttering more complaints. When the peddlers were asked how they would peddle the contraband items, they said that they would take them to the market and deal illegally in secret. However, once caught, everything would be confiscated and they will be punished also. That would be the unfair and the bitterest experience, but there would be nothing they can do about it.

Market Shelf Spaces Substantially Reduced In Number In South Hamgyong Province
In major cities of South Hamgyong Province, the number of merchants at the marketplace has visibly reduced. According to a worker at the Market Management Office, City of Hamheung has experienced reduction of nearly 40% in number of merchants. Slow business and restriction by the authorities are two main causes. Peddlers in the city of Hamheung said that number of hours they are allowed to conduct business is too short, to begin with. Koh Mi-gyung (40s) said, “Authorities allow us to conduct business between 1 PM and 6 PM. We have hard time to make living with peddling even from early morning. Restricting the hours as between 1 PM and 6 PM makes it much more difficult.” The other problem is restrictions on the merchandise. Jung Pil-rye (40s) said, “Since last year, we have been instructed to deal with only the agricultural products. Industrial products, food items, and other miscellaneous items were brought in secretly. Agricultural products were displayed on the front, and the other items were dealt in secret. Once caught, everything is confiscated.” This kind of restrictions created another kind of transactions. Residents make deals among themselves, and their private transactions occur outside the market at their designated places. This of course reduces users of market place, which in turn causes less business in the market. Peddlers say that they earn very little profit after fees for the market shelf spaces. Some of them claim that peddling by appointment or standing at alleys with a sign might be better. Clients will follow you to your house if the sign mentions any contraband items. When there is an indication of any enforcement, you hide the sign. Unlike wandering peddlers, there is no danger of confiscation this way.

“Are Products Of South Korea Our Enemy?”
More than 90% of the items in markets of North Korea are imported goods. They are mainly Chinese products. Occasionally, there are items from Russia, Japan, United States and even South Korea. Legally, only products from China, Russia and Japan can be traded. Any products from South Korea are prohibited. If you get caught in trading them, everything will be confiscated and you should be ready to get punished as well. According to Han Seung-ok (40s), a peddler of South Korean cosmetics in the city of Pyongsung, “Everyone agrees. Products are not our enemy. Good products should be traded. My clients tell me there is nothing wrong with buying good products.” Kim Gyong-sook (40s), a wholesaler of footwear and clothing, mainly out of Sinuiju also says, “There are many requests for South Korean products because they are good. They talk about unification, but how would it be possible if they reject good products? I don’t want to make any stronger statements because they may bring troubles, but this is not what I claim. This is what everyone else thinks.”
Cho Mi-ra (40s), a peddler of South Korean clothing also adds, “I do not understand the control of authorities. Nowadays, everyone knows that South Korean clothing is of such a good quality that there are some who request only the South Korean products. Consequently, now there are people who put the South Korean trademarks on everything, while in old days we used to cut the South Korean trademarks out with a pair of scissors. They put the South Korean trademarks on the Chinese clothing and sell them as South Korean products. An interesting thing is that even when it gets caught, it does not bring any big problem. If you get caught selling authentic South Korean clothing, you are in a big trouble. But when you get caught selling the fake products, the investigators would confiscate them and just curse at you, ‘why in the world did you do such a thing?’ One reprimand is all you should take. Consequently, there are so many fake South Korean products in the market, including cosmetics.”

Market Control In Wonsan Causes Resentments And Complaints
There are many complaints in Wonsan, Kangwon Province, against market control. Prices of industrial products have been going up because of changes in exchange rate of Chinese currency. This caused reduction in business volume. On top of that, the announcement on a number of items as contraband caused a lot of problems to peddlers. Talks going around the market are as follows: “Greeting a new year 2009 after 2008 should bring a better living. However, year 2009 has brought a worse living. Living conditions should improve with new days, but instead living conditions are getting worse. What are we looking forward to? Those high-ranking officials are well off and do not care about the ordinary people, who are suffering from starvation and watch their family members die. How could we understand market control? Laborers do not receive any wages. Farmers are not receiving any help from the state. There is nothing. How could people live?” This may sound like usual complaints against market control. But this is the long-accumulated complaints and resentments. So far this has not grown as a big political problem. Nonetheless, their supplication that ‘survival gets more difficult’ gets noisier and noisier.”

[Food]
Obong Coal Mine In Eunduk County Has Provided No Food Rations Since January
Obong Coal Mine In Eunduk County, North Hamgyong Province, has suspended food rations until February 16, Lunar New Year’s Day, a special occasion. A special, temporary food ration was provided. On the occasion of February 16, each laborer received a bottle of liquor and a half-bottle of artificial honey. It was a gift from United Command of Saebyol-Gyongwon Coal Mines. A little amount of food was also provided. Each of the 700 laborers received a kilogram of rice and 1.5 Kg of corn. Anyone with children received one kilogram of rice and 1.5 Kg of corn. It meant that around 500 laborers with children could receive 2 Kg of rice and 3 Kg of corn. None was provided for those with dependent wives. There has been no food ration since then. Normally, laborers are assigned tasks to be finished in eight hours. They should continue work until the tasks are done. They need nutrition to be able to sustain physically. Many times their working hours are from seven in the morning to eight in the evening. They cannot come to work unless they are fed. Each laborer carries a sack and at the end of his shift, he fills the sack with coal weighing 7 to 8 Kg illegally. He sells it for about 1,600 NK won. This enables them barely survive with meals of porridge. Coalmine enterprises look the other way when employees illegally take around 10 KG coal since they do not provide any food ration.

[Economy]
Taechun County Eunheung Collective Farm, No Bulls to Plow the Field
Enunheung Collective Farm in Taechun County, North Pyongan Province, is having trouble plowing the field because there are no bulls. Last year around this time, farmers were able to plow in the right time by having a good management system for bulls. Last year, they built covered cowshed in private houses rather than at the farm and took good care of the nutrition. However, a problem was created because those farm workers who had good management of laboring bull were not compensated well at the End of Year Recapitulation. Unlike what was promised, the money spent on the management of laboring bull by individuals was not taken into account in the end of year distribution. Since there is no compensation, it is obvious that farmers do not take good care of the laboring bull. As a result, the bulls showed poor health condition and there was no bulls left for plowing. Workers of the Farm Management sold 5 tons of rice from the emergency grains. Then, they purchased diesel gasoline to use tractors for plowing.

North Pyongan Province Party Encourages Farming of New Potatoes for the Spring Hardship Season
North Pyongan Province Party decided to proactively promote farming of new potato to all cities, military factories and enterprises. The Province Party announced, “There will be an increasing number of starving families starting from the farming season up to the weeding season. We need a good potato crop so we can distribute two months worth of rations to the labors during the most difficult time of the weeding season.” They decided on these steps after various investigations on all cities, all county factories and enterprises that cannot distribute any rations to their laborers. At the Province Party meeting, they stated if the potato farming starts on April 15th, they would be able to harvest by the second week of June. According to the plan, factories and enterprises with some farming side jobs decided to grow potato in good soil location as well. In the meantime, there are increasing numbers of farmers in North Pyongan Province who cannot go to their workplace due to food shortage in April.

No Gasoline for Fertilizer Transportation Vehicles in Soonchun City
The Soonchun City Party in the Southern Pyongan Province had an emergency meeting because the vehicles, which should be used to transport fertilizer to farms, had no gasoline. On the morning of April 8th, the Soonchun city called a fertilizer transportation meeting with Party Secretaries and the managers of each factory and public enterprise. However, they could not immediately raise money to purchase gasoline. As a result, they decided that manpower would be the best solution. Thus, from two o’clock in the afternoon at the same day, factories, public enterprises, village offices, the Democratic Women’s Union, and schools began to mobilize all the manpower they possibly had. Wagons were also used to collect and transport fertilizer. Those who do not have wagons carried fertilizer on their backs to the farm they belonged to. That is, residents themselves delivered fertilizer to their farm.

[Politics]
The Supreme Public Prosecution Office Launched Inspection on the “July 7 Enterprise” in Eunduk County
Starting March 19, the Supreme Public Prosecution Office is conducting inspection on the “July 7 United Enterprise” in Eunduk County, North Hamgyong Province. This is due to reports of machineries and equipments being stolen from the factory. The situation is critical because equipment theft is worse at military ordnance factories. This became known when the Party Secretary of the United Enterprises visited the site and some of the machineries did not operate properly. This enterprise ceased most operations for a long time due to lack of raw materials. There are over 6000 registered workers but less than 100 workers are actually working. Those workers are being sent to different regions for shipping operation or to be engaged in miscellaneous chores. They have no choice but to sell factory equipments with no distribution.
Many workers are running away because there is nothing to sell. Kim Geun-ho (40s), a worker from this factory, said these stolen machines were not in use for at least 2-3 years. Kim added, “The munitions factory machine lathes are usually uni-functional. These machines are rough, made easily and have only one capacity and this is why workers who are not technically trained can operate these machines. The machine malfunctions with a lack of resources or when any parts of the equipment changes. People sell machine parts that were not in use for 2-3 years for recycled iron. This inspection was initiated and recognized ‘when they tried to operate the machinery again and then found out stolen machines and equipments.’
This enterprise was originally started in 1987 at a location with many discharged military families. Numerous discharged soldiers asked to return to their hometown. There are several households who took their family and returned to their hometown without proper permission. A whole floor has gone missing at four of the workers’ apartment complexes for this enterprise. With the Supreme Public Prosecution’s Inspection, workers are responding that inspections are futile. What is the purpose of inspection when everything was all sold during the beginning of the Arduous March and whatever remained were stolen.

80% of Eunduk Criminals are Burglars, Larcenists, or Imposters
There are about 200 people waiting for a preliminary hearing at the Eunduk County, North Hamgyong Province’s Police Station. Approximately 80% of these people were arrested for larceny, burglary, or fraud. Kim Myung-chul (50s) said, “With the establishment of the July 7 Enterprise, many people from various areas with bad background and ex-convicts crowded to our county. For that reason, the county’s residential organization became complicated. There seems to be more criminals than other areas because we already had more ex-convicts here before this migration and our county’s resident compositions are more complicated than others.” An official commented, “There are increasing trend of crimes with current food crisis and the residents are living in more devastating condition.”

North Hamgyong Provincial Party Investigates Corruption among the Farm Workers in the Border Region
North Hamgyong Provincial Party began to investigate corruption among the farms in Hoeryong, Saebyul, Onsung and other cities along the border. The provincial party is inspecting the amount of grain harvested last year, the amount given to the state, the amount distributed to the farmers, and the amount remaining in the reserve. This year’s investigation was triggered by what had occurred at Obong County Farm in Hoeryong. The fact that Work Unit 4’s foreman and accountant embezzled 15 tons of rice from last year’s total harvest came to light. These two divided their profit with other officers. However, the farmers saw their yearly food distribution amount drop. The two men have been able to avoid prosecution so far with help from several workers at a local police station. Jung Keun-Soo (50) said, “We know that for a while the foreman and accountant have used the grain for their personal gain. Public opinion toward the farm officers and workers has been very negative for pocketing several tons of grain that we produced with our blood, sweat and toil is not even a big deal for the officers. And this is happening not just in our area but all over the republic.”

Farm’s Joint Properties Being Used Only by the Officers
This year’s investigation of the farms along the border revealed that there is a widespread problem with farm’s joint properties. Especially, each farm had several expensive motor vehicles that were not necessary for any operation within a farm. One particular farm in Saebyul purchased a car worth 7 to 12 million won from the profit it gained through selling the grain, which had not been reported to the state. A farm in Hoeryung bought a motorcycle worth 3.5 million won. Though it was registered as a joint property, the only people who can use are the government officials such as Secretary of County Party or Farm Managing Chairman. Regular farmers can’t even think of using them. Wonsan County Farm in Hoeryung sold a large amount of harvested corn when the corn price went through the roof last year, and purchased a pickup truck from China for 15.6 million won. The farmers of the farm, however, say that they have never needed a pickup truck. Only Secretary of County Party and Farm Managing Chairman are using the vehicle whenever they want. Oh Kang-Ho (40) shared what happened when he asked to use the truck: “One of the young men from my work unit was getting married, but he could not find any transportation to bring his bride to the wedding. So, he asked to borrow the pickup to cover less than 4 km, but his request was rejected. The officials told him that they need it to give rides to those who were coming to their meeting. Though the truck is registered as a joint property, only they can use it.” Mr. Oh added, “The report that contains complaints about the work habits of the chairman, the secretary and other officials, has reached the city party office.”

Hoeryong City Convened Emergency Meeting in Connection to Farm Inspections
Last March 25, Hoeryong City summoned farm workers including village party secretary, chiefs of management committees, accountant, and foreman to call for an emergency meeting. In the meeting, issues were raised that, "The grains were sold so that the farm management workers can purchase the means of transportation such as tractors, cars, cows, as well as computers for document management. However, the money was divided among the farm workers instead. The farm accountant and foremen took care of the book keeping process for crop consumption record so that no problems can be detected. They consume the grains openly and say there is nothing to worry even in case of audits." And they elaborated on the issues raised one by one. After that they made farm workers step forward one by one and criticized them vehemently. The meeting came to an end after long and intense criticism.
An executive who attended the meeting said, "It is all a conspired cover-up." "As you know, (in North Korea), there is no private property. Trading of products is done in the form of exchanges between cooperative-owned and state-owned. The net prices of items like cars, cows, and computer are set in the network of state-run stores. You have to trade cooperative property (grains) to buy them. You cannot embezzle even a penny in there because of the government set price. However, are there automobiles or computers in state-run stores? There is none. Those things are only registered at the state agencies. So, in fact, it is the farm buying the car or computer owned by individuals. Because it is not a deal in the market there is no proof of transaction or anything like that. So, there is no set price. Illegal profit can be taken at any amount. Farmers complain because while they do not provide the food distribution, they purchase expensive things spending a lot of money and share them only among themselves. These kinds of things are so pervasive it cannot be fixed. Although they convened an emergency meeting this time, they are just criticizing because legal punishment will be difficult. Knowing fully well that it is hard to fix they simply try to end this with criticism alone. It looks like they criticize it vehemently, but it is in fact covering up the problem. It basically is a conspiracy.”

[Society]
A Battle over Dog Naming Turns Ugly
As North Korea’s income gap continues to grow, communities have begun to see the resulting societal tensions manifest themselves in a variety of ways. Mr. Kim Young-jin (alias) of Nampo, South Pyongan Province, told us a story about a situation where this tension resulted in violence. There were two families who lived next to each other in the same neighborhood unit, but they did not get along. One of families was wealthy due to the head of household’s title, while the other was a poor family of laborers. One day, the rich family brought home a dog and named it 'Byol’, after the son of poor family. Offended by the gesture, the poor family decided they too would buy a dog, even though they couldn’t really afford it, and named it ‘Duckgu’ after the rich family’s patriarch. This resulted in a big fight that resulted in the poorer family getting seriously injured. The poor family decided to appeal to the court, but they were the ones who ended up being punished and the poorer father received a jail sentence. Mr. Kim reported, “This case caused a huge debate. Those with money can get away with committing crimes, so it’s often those who have no money who end up receiving the punishment they don’t deserve. Fighting over dog’s name seems laughable, but currently, in North Korea, these little things are no laughing matter.”

In Chongjin, Potatoes Confiscated from Merchants Using Trucks for Trade
On March 29, in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province, security authorities arrested three merchants and confiscated the potatoes they were transporting by twelve-ton cargo truck to the Sunam market from Yonsah County. The Sunam area police, as part of a crackdown, arrested these merchants and detained them at the local police station. Upon arrest, the authorities declared, "laws against the illegal use of vehicles to benefit personal trade must be executed without exception and all related goods should be confiscated. Enforcement of these laws will continue without mercy going forward." Afterwards, the police officers divided the confiscated potatoes amongst themselves.

Neighborhood Unit Must Hold Funeral For Woman With No Family
Kang Hwa-sung (a man in his 30’s) from the harbor district of Nampo, South Pyongan Province, reported that he recently attended the funeral of his friend’s mother. Because the woman had no surviving family members, her Neighborhood Unit was tasked with organizing a service. Mr. Kang told the following story about his friend and his friend’s mother:
In August of 2007, Lee Jeong-min completed his military service, but when he returned home, he discovered that his father had passed away, leaving his brother to take care of his mother, his wife and their two children. Even though his brother and sister-in-law both worked as laborers at a glass company, the family was quite poor and barely able to provide a thin gruel regularly. While their living situation was barely sustainable in 2007, they were forced to watch it decline even further in 2008. After quitting his job, the brother decided to leave home to make money elsewhere, but he was never heard from again. Eventually, Mr. Lee’s sister-in-law moved back in with her parents leaving Jeong-min to take care of his mother and two nephews by himself. During this period, the family struggled to maintain their already insufficient standard of living and provide the most basic necessities. Because they did not have anything to eat, the family was forced to reduce its consumption to two meals of thin gruel per day. Then, in June of last year, the friend’s nephews left home to find food elsewhere, because they could not endure the hunger any longer. This left Jeong-min alone to care for his mother. As conditions continued to worsen, Mr. Lee was also forced to leave home in order to make money as a trader. In June of last year, however, Jeong-min died in a traffic accident and his mother passed away shortly thereafter. Due to the circumstances, no family members remained to underwrite the funeral, so the Neighborhood Unit performed in the ceremony instead.

[Women/Children/Education]
Feed Kkotjebi Children with Forfeited Food from Markets
To solve the problem of kkotjebi children in major cities in North Korea, the government organized a ‘6.20 Sangmoo.’ It gathers wandering kkotjebi children, provides them with food and a bed, and also gives them simple work. For their meals, they use the distribution of the government and forfeited food from markets. In spite of these efforts from the government, the number of kkotjebi children has not decreased. There are still a lot of homeless children hanging around in the markets, restaurants, or public places.

One Child out of 4 Goes to School
Kim Young-ho (50s) at Mooncheon in Kangwon province said that he felt bitter because his children pester him to send them to school. Mr. Kim’s four children are 7, 11, 12, and 14, and only the oldest child attends school. He said, “Although my wife and I work hard, we cannot send all of my kids to school because the government does not support anything. We send Hyuk, our first child to school, but we cannot afford to send the other children.” Although school is free, it is hard to meet the extra demands for the school. He said, “My family often starves. In this situation, how can we pay for extra stuffs and contribute to the school?” He repeated his negative statement about sending them to school. Mr. Kim’s wife was in tears and said, “Everyday my thoughtless children pester me to send them to school. Nobody can understand the terribly painful minds of parents who cannot send their children to school if they do not experience the same thing as me.” Some of her neighbors said, “In any case, you are doing a great job. Currently, most parents cannot even think of sending their children to school.”

[Accidents]
Jongsung Forest Fire Spreads to Saebyul
Last April 7, a forest fire broke out in Jongsung of Onsung County, North Hamgyong Province. The next day, on the 8th, the forest fire crossed into Saebyul making it difficult to put out the fire. Onsung county workers mobilized to do recovery work in WangJaesan on the 10th were instead put to work to control the fire. The strongest men from each enterprise also went to help put out the fire. The recovery work of Wangjaesan was reinitiated on the 13th after the fire had been extinguished.

Seed Depository of Yeonsa County Potato Burglarized as Soon as It Opens
Yeonsa County in North Hamgyong Province had 6 tons of potato stolen in two days , last March 27 -28. It happened as soon as the potato seed depository was opened to start potato farming of this year. Most of the potatoes were stolen by citizens of households who have very little food left. As half of the total repository of seeds (total=12 tons) were stolen, the outlook for potato farming does not look good this year.

[Commentary]
Even the Secretary of Propaganda Opposes Eliminating Markets
Now that the March 8 election was over, it appears that the control of market activities is tightening again. The merchants continue to cry out that the business is slow. No one spends money. Also the problem is that only agricultural products can be sold. The business is slow and yet only products they should not sell are stacked high. The only thing increasing is sighs from the merchants. Those who had been paying rents and had traded openly in the market are leaving their stalls. In Hamheung City, the news is that the number of merchants that rented stalls has decreased about 40%.
Does this mean that the tightened control by the authority is becoming effective? If the objective is to eliminate the market, it seems to be successful at a glance. However, the people have different opinions. They say that leaving the stall does not mean not doing trading. It is because instead of paying the rent regularly, they would rather trade items they want to sell in secret even though it is more hardship to them. Visit-trade, grasshopper-trade, alley-trade, etc., are some of the names of various illegal trading activities. In the past only those who did not have stalls engaged in these activities, but now there are many who voluntarily choose them. The type of trading where they entice customers with only a list of merchandise is spreading wider than the stall-trading.
Paradoxically, the ineffectiveness of tightened control is well highlighted in the propaganda by the authorities. In Chungjin City, the Secretaries of Propaganda had personally gone to the market and conveyed the “February 17th Policy” from a parked broadcasting vehicle. This was unprecedented in view of the fact that all communications had always been delivered through the Party.
At present, the policies are not properly delivered through the existing system. No matter how strongly warned not to do it, people do not follow (listen). Even the people who give instructions to carry out the policy do not follow it. It is because the reality is that they cannot survive (eat and live) without markets. However, as it is their livelihood to keep the merchants under control, they can only be passive in carrying out the market control. Externally, they support the policy, but internally, they oppose closing-down of the markets. This is the reason why they have difficulty eliminating (markets) even though they try hard to close down trading through the system.
No matter how loudly the Secretary of Propaganda shouts through the amplifier, people listen with one ear and throw away with the other. Even the Secretary of Propaganda would not expect the market-place policies be properly carried out. The residents also have some inkling that even instructions through the system are no longer effective. It is time that (the authorities) should listen to the resident’s expression, “Is merchandise our enemy?” and explore the operating policies of marketplace that fits the reality.
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