GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

.

North Korea Today No. 292

Research Institute for North Korea Society
[Weekly Newsletter] No. 292 August 2009

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

[Hot Topics]
Amid Warnings from the Party, Yangduk County Is Reminded of the Flood 3 Years Ago
Torrential Downpour Submerges Fields in Hwanghae Province
Gimchaek City Calls for Immediate Repairs of Flood Damage
Residents in Pyoungyang Rebuilding after Flood


[Food]
Desperate Farmers Borrow Food against Future Food Rations
Semiannual Crops Collected for Army Provisions in North Hwanghae Province
Famers in Ryonggang County Eke Out Scanty Livelihood with Only One or Two Meals per Day

[Economy]
Hwanghae Steel-Manufacturing Plant Collects Scrap Iron to Increase Production
Car Enterprise in Sariwon Lost Money Earned from Scrapping Cars in a Swindle
No Compensation for Confiscated Sales

[Politics]
Chilbong Checkpoint Notorious for Illegal Fines
Central Party Sends Anti-Socialist Investigative Patrol to National Border

[Society]
Direness of Food Shortage Is Unprecedented, Says Official in Pyongyang
Arduous March is Now in North Hwanghae Province
Son Kills Himself and His Family after Treating His Father with Contempt

[Women/Children/Education]
Youth Soccer Team Established at Joongang Athletic Institute in Nampo
Health Examination Result Shows Gilju Elementary Students Suffer from Tuberculosis

[Accidents]
Tunnel Collapse in Kaecheon Mine Caused Death and Injuries

[Editorial]
Surplus Rice Stock Should Be Sent to Save Lives!
_________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
Amid Warnings from the Party, Yangduk County Is Reminded of the Flood 3 Years Ago
On July 16th, there was a downpour in Yangduk County, South Pyongan Province. The County Party reminded residents of the flood that occurred at this time 3 years ago and which caused tremendous casualties. The party’s warning increased awareness of the seriousness of the weather. The Yangduk County Party mobilized the propaganda van, made a tour of each village and warned that “there is a great risk of casualties like those we suffered 3 years ago.” The Party also insisted that “preventive measures must be planned since there may be an embankment that collapses or a landslide along the railroad in mountainous areas.”

People also voiced concerns over whether this downpour may aggravate the food situation. Due to the low temperature phenomenon, farms in Yangduk County have suffered serious damage, as the corn was not able to grow well. The residents voiced their worries, saying, “If there is no governmental aid and if the Province does not purchase food from outside, we may end up seeing dead corpses throughout the countryside and the cities, just like during the massive famine of the mid 1990s. Considering the farming situation thus far, it is obvious that next year’s food price will rise higher than it has this year.”

Torrential Downpour Submerges Fields in Hwanghae Province
The South and North Hwanghae Provinces, including Kaesong City and all of Kangwon Province sustained serious flood damage as a result of the downpours since July 20th. A village was submerged underwater and the road and the railroad were destroyed in some parts, paralyzing traffic. In addition, many fields became completely submerged, severely damaging the crops. Some fields were fully washed away by the flood, making it impossible to harvest. The farmers were worried during the sowing season in April and May because it did not rain enough. Now, they are worried about the flood damages and whether there may be any yield in the fall. A farm worker in Kaesong City expressed concern that the yield may decrease more than 30% from the last year.

Gimchaek City Calls for Immediate Repairs of Flood Damage
Gimchaek City in North Hamgyong Province also sustained flood damage when there was a torrential downpour on July 21st. Nearby roads and railroads were destroyed or blocked and fields were submerged underwater. The Gimchaek City Party immediately made a general mobilization of the laborers, farm workers, Democratic Women’s Union (DWU) members, students, and soldiers for a restoration operation. The people who worked to restore the flood damage reconstructed bridges, railroads, and the roads which were destroyed by the water. They also dug a ditch in order to drain water which had stagnated in the fields. The mobilized residents mended the fallen crops and worked to arrange the fields carried away by floods. The land which had become difficult to harvest was rearranged so farmers could gather fall radish and napa cabbage.

Due to these flood damages during the rainy season, damages which occur almost every year, the Pyongyang government established a ‘Flood Damage Prevention Command” in each province and special city. The government spread the preventive measures thoroughly and shored up the bridges in regions where flood damage was predicted. Still, the at-risk regions were not able to avoid flood damages this year.

Residents in Pyoungyang Rebuilding after Flood
Residents in Pyoungyang are being given resources to work in flood-devastated areas. The Pyoungyang Sangwon Cement Plant is sending cement, water pumps, sandbags, shovels and electric wires to flooded sites for restoration. Authorities in Pyoungyang will be paying special attention to ensure that no one ignores rebuilding work duties to maintain individual businesses and small gardens. They announced that any official who fails to rebuild well will be punished by law.


[Food]
Desperate Farmers Borrow Food against Future Food Rations
Farmers in Sagu-ri collective farm in Chungam District, Chungjin City in North Hamgyong Province are borrowing food against future food rations on the condition that they would pay back twice the amount borrowed once they receive food provisions at the end of the fall harvest. In other words, if they borrow 100kg of whole corn they would need to pay back 200kg in the fall. The desperate farmers claim that they cannot worry about the future at the moment; their only concern is to obtain 200-300kg of corn to satisfy their current needs. They are pessimistic about their abilities to pay off their debt in the future; however, in order to eke out a living today they are restlessly looking for food to borrow against an uncertain tomorrow.

Farmers who are unable to borrow food from agencies such as the Foreign Currency Agency receive advances from their collective farms, which are taken out of their future food rations. However, for farmers belonging to the Kuyeon collective farm in Bongsan County, North Hwanghae Province, which ran out of food, are barely eking out a living on porridge mixed with grass. Many families have prematurely harvested and consumed the corn before it has grown big enough to eat. Farmers who cannot borrow food in advance receive 10kg of barley from their work units on a condition to deduct their shared amount at the end of the harvest season.

The food situation for the solders’ families is as dire as the rest of the country. Even households of many high ranking officers at a divisional reserve force headquarters in Saebyul-town, Saebyul County, and North Hamgyong Province have run out of food. They have placed similar requests to an army divisional support bureau to distribute whole corn provisions in advance some going as far as December.

Semiannual Crops Collected for Army Provisions in North Hwanghae Province
The food situation is getting worse and worse in the farm villages of North Hwanghae Province. Generally, this region is known to be a rich grain district as well as being a national border zone, which has supported a large amount of army provisions. Recently, even semiannual crops such as potatoes and barley are being collected for the army leaving very little for the farmers. As a result, there have been an increasing number of households that are either barely surviving on grass porridge or suffering from starvation.

Farmers from Seoheung County, Shingye County, and Hwangju County in North Hwanghae Province have run out of food much earlier as compared to the year before, which allowed them to harvest potatoes and barley mid year before the end of the harvest season. Unfortunately they had to give up these newly harvested crops to the nearby military unit and they themselves had to collect edible grass for their porridge. The farmers petitioned their current situation saying “We work very hard to grow these potatoes since early spring, but we never have enough to eat.”

Despite the farmers’ current food shortage and discontent, every county party is racing to secure the army’s target provisions. The county parties repeatedly ordered the farmers to give up 80% of their harvested crops to be sent to the military. Some of the leading secretaries from the county parties requested the farmers to sign on the memorandum that they would pledge to accomplish the requested army provisions. The repeated orders to secure the army provisions indicate the urgency of the food shortage situation within the military units. With the increasing number of military units without food, each military support bureau has placed a request to the provincial party for more food supplies.

In North Hwanghae Province, the leading provincial secretary had a meeting with the leading secretaries from city and county parties, a party commissioner, and managers of farm collectives and ordered them to send all newly harvested potatoes and barley to the military units. They were further instructed that they should not allow the armies to starve even if it means that the farmers will have to suffer the consequences. In some collective farms, managers who distributed the prematurely harvested potatoes and barley to the families without food were summoned by the organization and the guidance department within the county party to write a self criticizing memorandum and eventually got fired.

Famers in Ryonggang County Eke Out Scanty Livelihood with Only One or Two Meals per Day
The food situation in the Ryonggang district of Ryonggang County, South Pyongan Province, has been deteriorating. In the case of Work Units 3 and 7, many households have little food left. Only a few households manage to eat three meals of corn porridge a day. Many households eat one meal or two meals at most per day. The lack of food has increased the absentee rate for work. No one, or only one person, in the households without food goes to work.


[Economy]
Hwanghae Steel-Manufacturing Plant Collects Scrap Iron to Increase Production
The 150-day battle headquarters in the People’s Council of Northern Hwanghae Province, has decided that the Hwanghae Steel-Manufacturing Plant will extensively collect scrap iron and old metals to increase the production of its steel products. The leading secretaries of the cities and counties and the chairs of the People’s Councils said, “In line with building a strong country in 2012 and to push the 150-day battle hard in every aspect, we pledge our loyalty to the great leader, Kim Jong-Il by contributing to building the strong country by completing the production of all the products.”

As the current production goal was not met, the headquarters emphasized, “Each factory, enterprise, Dong and Eup Office, Women’s Democratic Union in each city and county, Northern Hwanghae Province, and students of elementary, middle, college, and vocational schools must donate ten kilograms of scrap iron and old metals per person. Police stations and City Party Administrations of each city and county are no exceptions in terms of systematically collecting scrap iron and old metals.” If they do not fulfill the quota, the Department of Justice at the People’s Council of each city and county will investigate those who are in charge of the collection task.

The total amount of scrap iron and old metal collected was approximately 4,000 tons by June 25. It was transported to the Hwanghae Steel-Manufacturing Plant from June 26 to June 29. Elementary schools in Sariwon are trying to find a way to achieve their allotment. They even collected 300 won from each student.

Car Enterprise in Sariwon Lost Money Earned from Scrapping Cars in a Swindle
A car enterprise in Sariwon, Northern Hwanghae Province, scrapped seven cars to get iron scrap and old metals but was swindled the payment. It was approximately 4.5 million won, which was paid for scraping cars after detaching useful parts. The manager, the chief engineer, and the secretary of the Workers Party decided to use the money to purchase a ten ton truck. On July 2, they made a contract with an employee of a trading company at the 7th General Foreign Currency Earning Company in Pyungsung, but haven’t heard from him by early August. They called the company and have been looking for him everywhere but failed to find him. There have been controversies among the enterprise workers. Some say, “It’s a fraud,” while others think, “No, the workers of the car enterprise are lying after they already embezzled the money.”

This case was presented to the City Party and the People’s City Administration Council and investigated by the public prosecutor’s office. It is concluded that the contract turned out to be a fraud. The City Party thus said, “This fraud occurred because the enterprise ran its business according to the capitalistic management style,” and began to investigate the ideology of the enterprise managers. The Ministry of Justice at the People’s City Council decided to legally punish the manager and the chief engineer at the enterprise for the violation of labor administration rules and safety regulations.

No Compensation for Confiscated Sales
Authorities of Hoeryung City, North Hamgyong Province forced ineligible merchants to forfeit merchandise to the government procurement stores. Merchants under the age limit and/or those who sold banned items surrendered merchandise to the City’s Market Regulation Office, which is similar to a goods consignment store. City Authorities made an agreement with the merchants to give back part of the sale profit to the merchants; however, this agreement has yet to be honored.

Cho Jeong-Hee (40’s) said, “They don’t give us any commission, even on the items that have already been sold. When we point this out, they make excuses saying that they sold the items on credit.” Lee Jeom-Rye (40’s) said, “When I asked for my share of the sales profit, they said it takes time to check the sales, or that the managers will pay me back later, just to delay payments.” She also added, “Even though private merchants supply the merchandise, people prefer to go to the market to shop rather than the government procurement stores. When the government sells anything, they should pay the merchant who supplied it.”

One of the sales staff in the government store said, “In addition to all the reasons we told the merchants, we cannot pay them because we buy other items with the sales profit and are short on money.” Because merchants have not been paid for their confiscated items, they cannot start other sales, which is seriously affecting their livelihood.

Some merchants made a report to the City Party and City People’s Council business department. Receiving no reply, they recently made another report to the Provincial Party. The Provincial Party gave an order to the Provincial Public Prosecutors Office to investigate the management of the City Market Regulation Office. In turn, the Provincial Public Prosecutors Office relegated the order to Hoeryung City’s Prosecutors Office. Unfortunately, they did not fully investigate this matter because the City Party sheltered it saying that, “…there will be no specific illegal activities.” The City’s Administrative Office and the Market Regulation Office were ordered to do self investigations convening managers of each department.

The self investigations conducted from, July 10th to the 18th, revealed that there were fewer items on display compared to the items supplied, and the sales profit was extremely low. When questioned, the sales assistants confessed that they sold the items on credit or took part of the profit for their own business.

When the corruption of the sales staff of the state-run stores was discovered, the City Party fired the managers and the sales staff of the government procurement stores, such as in the cases of the Osan and Seongcheon stores. Fired employees were sent to the Labor Discipline Center, and managers in the Market Regulation Office were severely criticized.


[Politics]
Chilbong Checkpoint Notorious for Illegal Fines
The Chilbong checkpoint, in Wonsan, Kangwon Province, has an appalling reputation for unreasonably strict customs inspections. The checkpoint’s main purpose is to inspect vehicles operating from Wonsan to the cities of Pyongyang, Sariwon, and Haeju and is infamously known as “the worst checkpoint in the district.” When merchants need to pass this inspection point, they are dismayed at having to pay passage fee of ten to twenty thousand won. According to some, “anyone who works at this checkpoint can easily make twenty million won a year.” In other words, workers of this checkpoint abuse their power to extort money. If merchants do not pay the fees, they can suffer even bigger loss because the inspectors can use anything to put them in trouble. However, this checkpoint is also known for its excellent performance in apprehending criminals. In many cases, inspectors let vendors pass by accepting payoffs, but they have a high rate of arrests because of stringent inspections with warrants to search for criminals.

On July 21st, a drug-trafficker disguised as the head of a trade company affiliated with the Police Department of People’s Defense Ministry was arrested at this checkpoint. His operations extended to Wonsan, Pyongsung, and Kaesong, using fraudulent identification documents and vehicle certificates. Three years ago in Sariwon, North Hwanghae province, he was previously arrested on drug charges but avoided indictment through bribery. However, he was arrested again this time at Chilbong checkpoint where officials found large quantities of cleverly concealed drugs and ginseng in his vehicle. He was immediately detained and sent to the Provincial Police Department. With this news, a police officer of Wonsan praised Chilbong checkpoint by saying, “They will receive high evaluation marks for this drug bust.”

Central Party Sends Anti-Socialist Investigative Patrol to National Border
Due to continuing illegal conduct at the national border, the Central Party has once again dispatched the Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigative Patrol. The Party decided to interrogate several officials saying, “Illegal conduct in the cities and counties around the national border have not decreased. In many cases, high ranking officials are involved. They should refrain from illegal business practices to set an example to the people, so that they too do not pursue unlawful behavior.” For this reason, the National Security Agency has selected and sent agents with good performance records as well as students from Kumsung Politics College (School for Government Officials) who showed high academic achievement to these locations in secret.

According to the Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigative Patrol, about 60 officials of Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, have already been thoroughly questioned and/or arrested. Most of them are being held on suspicions of “abuse of power, illegal patronage or accepting bribes in contraband crimes.” Upon confirmation of illegal practices, punishment results in forfeiture of the guilty party’s houses and belongings and expatriation that extends to members of his family. A police officer said, “About twenty officials were formally charged for misconduct and they may even face execution by a firing squad.” Other districts are also investigating with similar extremity as in Sinuiju.


[Society]
Direness of Food Shortage Is Unprecedented, Says Official in Pyongyang

A high-ranking official in Pyongyang said, “This year, the severity in food shortages is unprecedented.” Deeply concerned, he added: “This year’s harvest marks an all-time historic low. We have conducted agricultural surveys and found that crops haven’t done well since the spring seeding in comparison to years past. We had unusual weather beginning in late May and lasting throughout June, having abundant rain for many days. Sunny days were rare, taking a serious toll on corn farming in the mountainous areas up north and in Kangwon Province. With cold winds and continuous rain, corn fields were flooded resulting in poor growth. Additionally, due to damages from swarms of insects and ineffective pesticides, a lot of corn crops failed. Other regions were also heavily damaged by the flood. We have had a lot of rain through mid-July, which also makes difficult to work in the fields.”

“If this continues, it is expected that the annual yield will decrease by as much as 20-30% from last year’s harvest. The national food reserves will not be enough to provide standard military rations. This means there will be no food at all to distribute to ordinary citizens. Due to the economic sanctions against us and no international aid this year, we are entirely dependent on our own harvest of potatoes, wheat and barley. But the gap between the supply and the demand is enormous. Reading the reports coming from subordinate offices, I see that the majority is aware that this year’s harvest is a disaster. Everyone is worried about how to survive.”

“Some people cling to superstitious beliefs, saying that this year’s leap month in the lunar calendar brings bad luck in the harvest. Others claim that it is not the leap month but the hunger of the farmers themselves which prevents them from working efficiently even if they had fertile land and a good year with good luck. Reports coming from the countryside include complaints of ‘Students and other mobilized people are working in the farms without any fertilizer. How can we produce a lot while relying only on nature?’”

“There are exasperated words from people who are frustrated by the current situation, ‘Everything should collapse, as soon as possible, with nothing left behind.’ The Central Party is still emphasizing its ideology, but I cannot help but worry when I see the public’s opinion. The government should import food in preparation for the possibility of sky-rocketing food prices. Otherwise I think there will be grave consequences beyond imagination.”

Arduous March Is Now for North Hwanghae Province
A Provincial Party member in the North Hwanghae Province has been traveling from farm to farm conversing with local farmers about their hardships. Most of the farmers agree that this is one of the most difficult times that North Hwanghae Province has yet to face. The member says, “There are many farmers who say that it is harder now than the 1990’s to maintain a family. It is especially more difficult for families living with their parents’ parents or many children.” He also added that there is an increasing amount of cases where younger generations are kicking out their own parents from the household.

Son kills Himself and His Family after Treating His Father with Contempt
Kim Hak Chul (alias, 40’s) a worker at a furniture factory of North Hwanghae Province killed himself along with his family. According to a company official the circumstances of the case were. “The furniture factory worker Kim Hak Chul had been treating his father with contempt because his father was being perceived as burdensome and not contributing to the family. On June 27th Kim’s father could not stand it anymore and went to the town office weeping. He told the secretaries that he could no longer live with this kind of treatment from his son and that he would like to be sent to a senior home. After listening to Kim’s father, the secretaries visited the Kim’s home and spent the day educating Kim and his wife. The secretaries also contacted Kim and his wife’s factory to inform them of the situation and also obtained from the couple a pledge that they would take a good care of their father. After all these events, Kim’s father returned home.

However, during the 150-day battle, Kim and his wife were made into examples of how to instill proper manners within the people. Although the government frequently engages in image campaigns, Kim and his wife were put under the radar at work and also at community meetings, putting them under constant stress. On top of the stress, it became increasingly difficult to support the family. Out of anger, Kim mixed rat poison into a soup and killed all of his family members including himself. Only his 11-year old son survived when he came home late after digging up medical herbs from the mountain. After finding his family members dead, the son quickly called for help but no one was able to be revived.” According to the people cases where parents’ parents are being treated with contempt are increasing due to the shortage of food.


[Women/Children/Education]
Youth Soccer Team Established at Joongang Athletic Institute in Nampo
Joongang Athletic Institute in Nampo, South Pyongan Province, plans to have a youth soccer team for children eight years and older with the purpose of improving the nation’s physical education. They will be trained to be the nation’s athletes. The youth soccer team is to be financially supported by the government. The athletes picked out for the youth soccer team are expected to study in the morning and practice soccer in the afternoon.

Health Examination Result Shows Gilju Elementary School Students Suffering from Tuberculosis
In Gilju County, North Hamgyong Province, the elementary students had a health checkup. The result of Gilju Elementary school (located in North Hamgyong Province) students health check-up shows that they are suffering from tuberculosis the most. From July 22nd through 24th, all students of the school had a medical checkup and it turned out that there were ten tuberculosis patients, ten permeation patients, three patients who needed to be isolated immediately, seven pleurisy patients. This is the second check-up since last year and the tuberculosis patients have increased compared to the previous year.

Although the increasing patients have hygiene problems, their nutrient malfunctions are an even more urgent problem. The teachers said, “In the summer there are many vegetables but we are giving the students just salted radish and bean paste soup. Now there are not even tofu beans, so we cannot feed them bean soup, which we used to give them once a week. On July 15th and 16th, we ran out of food, and the students had two meals of only potatoes every day. As a result, students who were healthy are getting sick as well as students who were already sick are getting worse.”


[Accidents]
Tunnel Collapse in Kaecheon Mine Caused Death and Injuries
On July 6th, there was an accident in the 2nd tunnel at the Kaecheon United Mine Enterprise in South Pyongan Province. The blind end in the mine gallery collapsed, overwhelming six miners to death. Four other miners were trapped inside. The rescue began right after the accident, and the tunnel was reopened in 42 hours. The four survivors were unconscious and immediately sent to the South Pyongan medical university hospital. Fortunately, two of them regained consciousness, but the status of the other two miners is unknown.

Miners point out that management officials were pushing too hard to meet their goals set during the 150-day battle. They were working on pit prop repair two days before the accident, and the company insisted upon stopping the repair work to resume mining. Cha Youngjin (40s) criticized the management. “The party secretary (at the mine) and the manager both were eager to meet the goal of the 150-day battle and forced us to work for 12 hours a day. Our original work schedule is eight hours a day, and it is extremely hard to work for 12 hours. They didn’t care about our lives. They just pushed us to meet the production goal at 100 percent every day,” he said.

The safety bureau of the mine fired the primary party secretary, the manager, and the chief of engineers, holding them responsible for the accident and demoted them to work as coal miners for one year without a salary. The police officer in charge of the collapsed tunnel was sentenced to six years of re-education for the failure of the labor safety rules.


[Editorial]
Surplus Rice Stock Should be Sent to Save Lives!
There is a country where surplus rice is a concern. By the end of this year the rice stock inventory in South Korea will surpass over one million tons. Since the maintenance cost of storing 100 thousand tons of rice is about 30 billion won per year, the amount of tax money spent on storing one million tons of rice is about 300 billion won. The government has announced that it will purchase 100 thousand tons as a remedy for this problem. Also, there are talks regarding developing dried bread made of rice, rice instant noodle, rice bread, rice wine and rice pasta to encourage the consumption of rice. This is the current situation in South Korea as of August 2009.

A household where people eat three meals per day is considered a well-to-do home. We are talking neither about eating rice nor about eating corn meal. We are talking about “grass porridge” although we’re not sure if we can call it porridge because grass is diluted to the maximum in order to increase the quantity. People can’t even afford to eat this grass porridge to fill their stomachs. That is the reality of rural areas in North Korea.

The major media channels in South Korea cite suspension of food aid to North Korea as the reason for surplus rice. Every year since year 2000 about 400,000-500,000 tons of rice was sent to North Korea, but it ceased last year. So, that is the reason for surplus rice. Some say that the level of rice inventory can drop 200,000 tons if North Korean food aid is resumed. As such, those who are in favor of resuming North Korean food aid just for the purpose of adjusting the rice supply are gaining support. Some of the farmers’ organizations claim that the fallen rice price is causing a disaster for them and insist that, “Food aid to North Korea should be put into a law,” in order to ease the rice surplus problem.

In South Korea, people are worried about a disaster caused by too much rice, whereas in North Korea people are concerned about a disaster caused by lack of rice. Since South Korea has to consume the surplus rice one way or another, there is no reason why they should not resume the food aid to North Korea. The budget earmarked for North Korean food aid in 2008 was 197 billion to 400 million won. Although not a single coin was actually spent from that allocation, wouldn’t it be better to spend 200 billion won for North Korean food aid than spend 300 billion won for maintaining the inventory of rice? Wouldn’t it be wise if we resolve the rice surplus problem and provide relief to the farmers while at the same time save fellow Koreans in North Korea from starvation? It is hard to understand why the government is hesitant about resuming food aid to North Korea when doing so is clearly humanitarian as well as rational. Perhaps their sentiment is such that they would rather throw away the food instead of giving it away as aid to spite the North Korean government. However, we must not forget the fact that the starving children and the elderly are alienated people who are not cared for by the North Korean government.

The Minister of Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries said on August 13th in an interview that, “Solving the surplus rice problem by providing food aid to North Korea is not the fundamental solution.” It is questionable that the tariff policy being discussed within a related government agency is the fundamental solution. However, it is deplorable that “people” are invisible in the government official’s view of the problem. We hope that government officials with executive power recognize the desperate people in life threatening situations separate from politics or ideology.

What would those starving North Korean people think if they hear that they are making dried bread and instant noodles with rice in South Korea because of an unmanageable surplus of rice? What a dreadful and shameful thing it is. What is more important than saving lives? How does it differ from dumping the rice into the sea because of a surplus? Why look for a complicated solution when there is a simple one? Let’s send the surplus rice to North Korea. That is the humane and rational thing to do. That is the way to prevent the rice price from falling as well as offering a stable solution to resolve the current tension between South and North Korea.


North Korea Today No. 291

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekely Newsletter] No.291 August 2009

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

[Hot Topics]
Ministry of Agriculture Concerned by Low Temperature Phenomenon
Mealworms Propagate in North Hamgyong Province due to Low Temperature

[Food]
1960’s Living Conditions in Okchun Division in Baekam County
Workers Flee Special Labor Brigade in Onsung, Wanjaesan due to Food Shortage

[Economy]
Chungjin Residents Turn Away Poor Quality Bean Paste Made by Basic Food Factory
Production Rate below Thirty Percent at Lanam Mine Machinery Factory in Chungjin
Workers at Sangwha Mine in Onsung Have Low Morale

[Politics]
Informant Rewarded with Seized Drugs
If Drug Use is Ignored, Enemies Can Destroy Our Society


[Society]
Injured during Nampo Dam Construction, Man Tells His Story of Survival

[Women/Children/Education]
Members of DWU in Oongjin County Protest, “We Are Treated As If Being Punished”

[Accidents]
Fire Breaks Out at Cow Farm in Oakchun Working Branch, Baekahm County
_______________________________________________________

[Hot Topics]
Ministry of Agriculture Concerned by Low Temperature Phenomenon
As the low temperature phenomenon has continued this summer, the officers of the Ministry of Agriculture have been vigilant in monitoring its effect on agricultural production. A responsible officer of the Ministry of Agriculture expressed his concern: “Low summer temperatures have resulted in unfavorable weather conditions. Although fertilizers have not been provided in sufficient amounts, they have been applied on a majority of the farmland. Still, there may be some trouble with the corn and rice crops due to the weather.” He said to other officers that “Although there may be some trouble due to the cloudy weather, it will not affect the harvest.”

The Ministry of Agriculture did not mention the low temperature phenomenon; rather they reiterated the following several times to provincial, city, and county parties: “Even if we propose to open the gates of our strong and prosperous nation, the key is successful farming in the countryside this year. In resolving the food crisis, the whole nation must stand up to participate in the 150-day battle, with everyone participating in the weeding battle. This year, every region must be successful in farming so that we may be able to live by ourselves without importing food from abroad.”
Mealworms Propagate in North Hamgyong Province due to Low Temperature
As the low temperature phenomenon continues in North Hamgyong Province, the spread of mealworms in the corn fields has become a problem. The agricultural technologists in the Provincial Farming Management Commission in North Hamgyong Province expressed their concern, “If this phenomenon, due to clouds obscuring the sun, lasts 15 more days, this year’s crop in North Hamgyong Province will decrease significantly compared with last year. If it continues to be cloudy, no matter how effective the pesticides are, the risk from mealworms will increase.”
With the assistance of the City Department of Education, Hoeryong city started to mobilize elementary and middle school students in catching the mealworms. The 6th group of the 1st work unit in Osan Farm cultivates 9 Jungbos (unit of land, 1 Jungbo is 2.45 acres) of cornfield, but the mealworm damage has become so serious that it has become difficult to gather a crop. Currently, the worms have eaten all the corn ears, leaving only the stalks. The farm workers want a heat wave to begin as soon as possible, saying that the worms will eventually disappear once the heat wave starts. In addition to Hoeryong city, the mealworm damages have occurred in the areas around Saebyul County, Onsung County and Eunduk County as well.
The Komoosan laborers’ district in Buryung County and Changpyung Farm have also become concerned about poor corn growth even though more fertilizers have been applied than the last year. The workers of Changpyung Farm expressed their serious concern that the harvest crop this year may fall short of last year since frequent cloudy days have hampered corn growth.

[Food]
1960’s Living Conditions in Okchun Division in Baekam County
Potato is the main staple food in the Okchun division of Baekam County, Ryanggang Province. Because potato is the main agricultural item and corn has not been growing well corn is rarely seen in this area. In addition, the arable land is not very fertile, which has contributed to the food shortage. There are 7 work units in Okchun division and 80% of the population is exiled families, primarily from Pyongyang, Kaesong, and South Hwanghae Province. Shin Hakrim (alias, 60's), who came to visit his relatives, said that the living conditions in this area are very similar to the farmers’ living conditions in the 1960s. According to Shin “You cannot see corn; there is no electric light so people use pine wood fires rather than electric light.” He said that, due to strict surveillance and control by the police, bringing food to relatives is very difficult.

Workers Flee Special Labor Brigade in Onsung, Wanjaesan due to Food Shortage
The shortage of food rations has caused delays in the restoration of the Wangjaesan museum in Onsung County, North Hamgyong Province. Some hunger-ridden members of the Special Labor Brigade have escaped to go home, and are now wanted by the Brigade. One platoon leader from the Special Labor Brigade who led the search for the deserters admitted that the food crisis is serious. He told sources that a mixture of corn rice and ground corncob is commonly provided as a meal. “Due to such harsh living conditions even I go to the village to beg for food. Also, about a half of the cement and many other construction materials are stolen to be used as an exchange for food and alcohol despite strict controls and surveillance” he said.

He further lamented that such things could be happening considering the caliber of his unit’s highly selective labor force, which has been tasked to uphold a place for revolution, tradition, and culture. He can only imagine what could be going on at other construction sites. He revealed that the members who have brought some money from home at least go out in the evenings to drink; however, for the others these nightly trips into the village are to steal food in order to survive. He hopes for the earliest possible recovery from this food crisis.

[Economy]
Chungjin Residents Turn Away Poor Quality Bean Paste Made by the Basic Food Factory
The bean paste and soy sauce made by the basic food factory are being turned away by residents in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province. The residents can easily purchase bean paste and soy sauce from groceries in each district; however, the poor quality of these products has caused much reluctance to buying them. In order to force sales, the city is selling laundry soap with a condition to purchase bean paste or soy sauce. In order to buy laundry soap, one also needs to buy the unwanted products. While general residents can purchase only low quality bean paste and soy sauce, executive officials and their children are allowed to buy the higher quality. The residents are skeptical of the City Party, claiming that “The general residents are only given poor quality foods.”
Production Rate below Thirty Percent at Lanam Mine Machinery Factory in Chungjin
Lanam Mine Machinery Factory in Lanam District, Chungjin, Northern Hamgyong Province, has been facing production problems. Although the factory is one-third of the way into the 150-day battle campaign, its production rate is still below thirty percent. The Gaechun Mine Association in the Southern Pyongan Province is still waiting for machinery from Lanam Mine Machinery Factory. On July 17, the entry-level Party members at the factory held a meeting to come up with a plan to increase production. An emissary sent by the Central Party threatened that if the production goal is not achieved, those in charge of production will be punished at the end of the 150-day campaign.

One entry-level Party member at the factory responded by saying, “The Central Party Committee has tightened its control over us. Just from the number of dispatched officers in each city, farm, factory, and public enterprise, we can gauge the extent of the Committee’s control. If we do not reach our production goal at the end of the 150-day battle campaign, even the dispatched officer will not be able to avoid punishment. Thus, each officer has an incentive to do whatever it takes to ensure the goal is met. Our factory is no exception.”
Workers at Sangwha Mine in Onsung Have Low Morale
Workers at Sangwha Mine in Onsung County, North Hamgyong Province, have held several meetings to achieve something more than their coal production goals with little progress. In these meetings, county officials and the chief of workers have emphasized their resolution saying, "We must achieve the party’s assignments and be part of the force making a powerful nation." Miners seem to disregard such statements about production goals and respond by saying, "We risk our lives to work in the mines and we get almost nothing."

Cho Kwang-Sik (alias, 50's) said, "Before the late 1990's food crisis, food such as oil, meat and rice wine were well provided. It was a good time for us to work hard. Since the food crisis, people are suffering from hunger. Ten years have passed and we are still hungry. No matter if we work hard or not, there is no difference, we just don’t get enough food. The monthly food provisions, such as whole corn, are not provided in a timely manner, and only last for 15-days. Often times we don’t even receive any food ration at all. How can we work hard in this situation?”

Ryu Jung-Ae (alias, 40's) said, "Even though I work everyday, I am extremely sad and furious that I cannot support myself, let alone my family. After a meal, I have to worry about the next meal. A day passes, and I have to worry about what to eat the next day. How can I live like this? We cannot openly say, ‘I can’t wait to see if this country collapses,’ but the majority of us think this way.”

Some other miners stated, "It’s so hard to survive without proper food rations. And on top of that, there is so much control and so many kinds of inspections that I get very tired and angry. Our future is as dark as a mine tunnel without any sign of light ahead.” Most of the miners feel the same and the morale of the miners seem to be extremely low. Another miner said, "The officials are trying to encourage us to work hard with lectures and propaganda, but I don’t see it having any impact on us to meet the production goals unless they can guarantee our livelihood."

[Politics]
Informant Rewarded with Seized Drugs
On July 15th drug smugglers were arrested at police checkpoint unit 10 in the Komoosan laborers’ district in Buryung County, North Hamgyong Province. A drug smuggler was traveling with two children, from Danchun city, South Hamgyong Province, and he was arrested while trying to pass the border area. He had about 500g of narcotics in his luggage. The Komoosan police checkpoint was waiting for them after receiving a tip about the smuggler. When police successfully arrested the smuggler, they rewarded the informer with 200g worth of the confiscated narcotics. They received a report on drug smuggling and rewarded the informer with drugs. This is a rare incident, but some security agents are eager to meet their goals of the 150-day battle and give away contraband seized from smugglers to informers.

If Drug Use Is Ignored, Enemies Can Destroy Our Society
The police authorities conducted a nationwide analysis of drug use and ordered each district to enhance the warning about using drugs. According to this analysis, the number of drug addicts is soaring in Hamheung, South Hamgyong Province, a region that has a history of making drugs intensively and the site of fast-growing places of drug manufacturing such as Soonchun and Pyongsung, South Pyongan Province. Drugs produced in these regions were sent to border areas such as Sinuiju in North Pyongan Province, Hyesan in Ryanggang Province, and Musan and Hoeryong in South Hamgyong Province, and even to Pyongyang. Although accurate numbers are unknown, an official said that police counted drug addicts in every mental hospital in North Korea.

The police analyzed the soaring number of drug addicts and warned that drug use can cause chaos in society and insisted, “They are manipulated by the strategies of the enemy acting in this society.” An official said, “From 2007 to March 2009, National Security of the Party, Police Station, and the Public Executors’ Office had inspected drug use and arrested many criminals controlled by spies. They are anti-socialists who can lead our society into political chaos.” Thus, National Security has handled incidents related to drug use or connected to political issues since June 2008.
An official with the Central Party insisted upon intensifying punishment and said, “According to a report of National Security, each district has a tremendous number of drug addicts and the society is disordered and corrupt, so it is going to be too demoralized to cure. He warned, “If the punishment is not strong, the enemy can destroy our society soon.” The police have decided to seek stronger punishment for drug manufacturers and dealers rather than drug users and expect an increase in the number of life sentences by sending criminals to National Security Detention Areas.

[Society]
Injured during Nampo Dam construction, Man Tells His Story of Survival
Now in his sixties, Lee Gab-soo (alias) recalled his twenties, when as a young man he joined the military and was called upon to serve in the construction of the Nampo Dam, losing one of his legs in an accident. He described his story, saying that “it’s a miracle that I’m still alive.”
“After I was discharged from military service, government organizations helped me a lot and showed great concern for my daily livelihood. However, the country’s economic situation has worsened since the end of the eighties and benefits including medical treatment for disabled soldiers have evaporated. Ever since, I have had to work hard in order to feed myself and get daily necessities as ordinary people do because I don’t want to dwell on my suffering in the past.
When I first started out in my new career, I worked for a clothing company where disabled soldiers like me trimmed loose threads, made buttonholes and sewed buttons onto garments. However, the company only paid employees a meager salary and distribution was irregular, almost halting production. When the company finally closed down, I was forced to quit and thus began my battle to save myself from starving to death. I barely get by, selling sugar water for drinks, vegetables, sea foods, and etc. It’s really hard to maintain peace of mind. Were it not for the help I receive from my parents and siblings who also live in poverty themselves, I would already be dead.”
Despite being an aged man in his sixties, he bawled like a child. The living conditions of homes for the elderly are so horrible; he cannot even imagine life at one. He said, “Living in a nursing home for the elderly is similar to the Training Center or Re-education Center.” Meals consist of a thin gruel with noodles and napa soup, but they did not provide enough. Due to the lack of sufficient nourishment, adequate shoes and clothes are more than likely a luxury. “They do not regularly wash clothes for residents, so they smell. The residents cannot bathe, so they are so dirty and have lice in their hair and on their bodies.”
He finished his story by saying that “the government and the Party are unfit to lead, so the country’s economic situation is rapidly getting worse and the people are grumbling about their misfortunes more and more. Metaphorically speaking, the whole country is drying out like dead wood and all it’s going to take is a small spark to start a massive fire.”

[Women/Children/Education]
Members of DWU in Oongjin County Protest, “We Are Treated as if Being Punished”
Democratic Women’s Union (DWU) members in Oongjin County, South Hwanghae Province, protest “We are being treated as if we are in a women's labor discipline center.” During the 150-day battle, members of the DWU were ordered to perform hard labor in collective farms. The DWU members work from early in the morning until past 8 in the evening, removing weeds and performing other types of farm work. The mobilized DWU groups are sent out to rural areas and are replaced every five days.

[Accidents]
Fire Breaks Out at Bull Farm in Oakchun Working Branch, Baekahm County
In the middle of last May, in Oakchun working branch, Baekahm County, Ryanggang Province, a fire broke out at a bull farm. The County Security Department arrested three heads of household suspected of being responsible for the fire. Adamantly denying the charges, they were nevertheless escorted to the Provincial Security Department.
The farmers suspect however that, “The fire at the bull farm was all a conspiracy made by the Provincial Security Department.” Another person in the area says, “There are talks that the fire was set to punish politically unfavored people.” Additional people also note, “It has not been confirmed who was responsible for the fire, so what is the reason for arresting those three people?” The people extended their sympathies for the arrested, who were forced to confess to the arson and sent to a re-education center.


_________________________________________________________

Good Friends USA
E-mail: goodfriends_usa@yahoo.com
Tel: 202-824-0788; Cell: 301-455-9196; Fax: 301-937-0748




North Korea Today No. 290

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekely Newsletter] No.290 August 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]

  • Pyongyang Residents, while Concerned about Kim Jong-il’s Health, Refrain from Speculating Openly
  • “It Would Be a Great Mistake to Think That We Will Surrender,” A High-Ranking Officer in Pyongyang Remarks on the Tense Situation
  • Some High-Ranking Officers in Pyongyang Express a Sense of Betrayal by China

[Food]

  • Food Rations to Farm Workers in Hwanghae Province Discontinued
  • Elderly Residents at Shinpo Nursing Home Fed Powdered Maize Porridge

[Economy]

  • Merchants in Hwasung County are Grateful to Earn Even 1,000 Won a Day
  • The Heechun Power Plant in Jagang Province Will Be Completed Seven Years Ahead of Schedule

[Politics]

  • Former Leader of Public Prosecutors Found to Have Criticized Other Officials
  • Chungjin City Expels Temporary Workers to Join 150-Day Battle in Their Hometown

[Society]

  • Ahnju Police Arrested Vendors for Trading Stolen Goods
  • More People Consume Alcohol Under Higher Financial and Mental Stress During 150-Day Battle

[Women/Children/Education]

  • Kkotjebi (Street kid) Stealing Coal Sustain Severe Injuries

[Accidents]

  • Enlisted Soldiers and Cadets Fight over Potatoes


_________________________________________________________

[Hot Topics]
Pyongyang Residents, while Concerned about Kim Jong-il’s Health, Refrain from Speculating Openly
Residents of Pyongyang have recently been speculating about the exact condition of Mr. Kim’s health. Jung Ho-Sung (alias), who is in his 50s and lives in Central District, Pyongyang, said that during a July 8th public memorial for Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea, the General looked frail. His appearance shocked residents and set off a wave of speculation about the severity of what was wrong with him. But people still refrain from talking openly about it.

A mid-level official predicted that the rumor would not spread quickly, saying that since the details of the General’s health are a closely-guarded secret, those who circulate a rumor about his health could be arrested by security agents for committing a political offense. With the risk of arrest in mind, people talk about the health issue only in confidence with others they trust.
“It Would Be a Great Mistake to Think That We Will Surrender,” A High-Ranking Officer in Pyongyang Remarks on the Tense Situation
A high-ranking officer in Pyongyang expressed concern about the continuing conflict with the international community. At the same time, he expressed confidence that his nation will forge ahead successfully. Set forth below is his remark on the current situation:

“The current situation of the country is very tense, both inside and outside. The American imperialists consider our Republic to be a thorn in their side. Since we have succeeded in launching the satellite and proceeding with the nuclear test, they are raving mad in their desire to exterminate the Republic. The American imperialist conspires with its satellite nations to pass a full-scale resolution on sanctions against our Republic so they can blockade us and bring us to our knees. However, it would be a great mistake to think that we will surrender.

No hunter will throw away his gun because the beast growls ferociously. We will accomplish that which lies before us no matter what our opponents may say. The Japanese and South Korean puppets have made a declaration of war, proclaiming a preemptive strike on us. In particular, the Lee Myung-bak government has declared that it will join the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation Security Initiative, taking the lead in sanctioning and blockading us, cutting off all of our support, attempting to trace or inspect our ships, and revealing its anti-national nature while engaging in provocative acts.

As the international environment has become undeniably tense, we have judged that a war may arise at any time, so we have invalidated the cease-fire agreement and taken a battle position. The People’s Army is fully prepared to fight hard and to win pursuant to the order of the Department of the General Staff. We have created widespread countermeasures around the front lines of the 38th parallel and the coastline area in order to defend against acts of espionage by satellite and high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft. Also, by reinforcing the defenses of important bridges, caves and emplacements, we have thoroughly made arrangements and plans in preparation for several possible circumstances. Even if there is a preemptive strike, we can avoid a serious loss as most of the important war materiel and supplies are held in reserve in deep underground tunnels or in mountain caves. If foreign nations dare to provoke a war, our full-scale strike targets will be the American imperialist and its satellite nations, and our blows will completely annihilate our enemies.”

Some High-Ranking Officers in Pyongyang Express a Sense of Betrayal by China
A feeling of dissatisfaction toward the Chinese Party and the government is growing among high-ranking officials in Pyongyang. One high-ranking officer pointed out that the feeling is due to how “China tolerated and passed the full-scale resolution on sanctions against North Korea when the American imperialists and the satellite nations raised the resolution in the UN. China gave its support after North Korea conducted its satellite launch and nuclear test.” Officials often say: “Since North Korea is like a forward guard post of Russia or China due to its geographical location and strategic viewpoint, I believed they would not want North Korea to fail or become isolated, but I must have been under an illusion.” Some officials said that “although it is true that China has provided tremendous assistance to North Korea and it may be acting to protect itself from global public opinion, it is also true that China has changed.”

They reproached China for operating under capitalistic management and production methods and for trying to compromise with American imperialism rather than opposing it in the international arena. “Slogans like ‘North Korea and China are blood brothers,’ ‘Comrades in the trench,’ or ‘May the friendship between North Korea and China be forever’ have become things of the past,” said the officials.

[Food]
Food Rations to Farm Workers in Hwanghae Province Discontinued
In many parts of Hwanghae Province, food rations to farm workers have halted in turn negatively impacting agricultural production throughout the region and increasing the food burden on farmers. According to residents from Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province who were mobilized to work in collective farms, “We had hard time working there because we had insufficient food. Even farmers rarely participated in the farm work.” Jo Hyunyee (alias, 40s) said that “Once the rice rations were cut, many farm workers moved to open markets to participate in businesses leaving behind only the weak elderly people to work on the farms.”

Farmers from Baechun, Chungdan, and Yeonan Counties in South Hwanghae Province said that this was the first time the additional rations for the mobilized people were cut. Due to the army’s increasing demand for food provisions, the farmers had to give up corn and potatoes harvested from their own vegetable gardens. The citizens said that “This is worse than the period under Japanese colonial rule.” Furthermore, the food shortage is so serious that it even impacts senior beneficiaries and retired soldiers in Haeandong, Haeju City in South Hwanghae Province. Since these elderly people are forced to survive on only watered-down porridge twice a day, their futures are bleak, and it is becoming more difficult for them to sustain their lives.

Elderly Residents at Shinpo Nursing Home Fed Ground Maize Porridge
In Shinpo Nursing Home located in the Yanghwa-ri, Shinpo City in South Hamgyong Province, porridge made of ground maize is distributed as a meal at most three times a day. An official revealed that the porridge is mixed with leftovers from polished rice from the local grain enterprise. Nevertheless, only the elderly who can move around independently receive three daily meals while those who cannot go to the toilet themselves receive two and the elderly who cannot move at all are fed only once daily.

The heightening severity of the food crisis has led to a rapid increase in the death rate for the elderly. Last December, there were 110 residents at the Shinpo Nursing Home, which has since been reduced to 70 as of this May. Forty residents have passed away within a period of less than six months. The city government distributed 50kg of honey to the nursing home before the medical check-ups on May 5th.

An official said “Only meritorious elderly can go to the Shinpo Nursing Home and it is known to be one of the best nursing homes in the county. It’s an executive nursing home that used to have plentiful supplies of meat, fish and rice. One cannot imagine the conditions elsewhere provided that this executive nursing home is facing such harsh conditions due to the food crisis.”

[Economy]
Merchants in Hwasung County are Grateful to Earn Even 1,000 Won a Day
The merchants in Hwasung County of Northern Hamgyong Province are concerned that their businesses are continuing to slow down. Due to excessive market regulations by the Hwasung City Party, many have complained that they are fortunate to be making even 1,000 Won a day. Moreover, there is intense competition from the number of merchants that are crowding the market in excess of the allowed 200 sales booths. The items that are often sold include grain oil, wild edible greens and confectionaries to name a few. Lee Soon-Ock (50s), who sells confectionaries says, “With 1,000 Won a day I can barely buy one-kilogram of corn. It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten corn rice. Business has been bad because of all the training for the 150-day battle and the restrictions on the items we can sell.”

Jang Youngsook (40s) complained about her hardships saying, “The City Party collects a rent amounting to 300 Won for each spot. Since there are around 200 spots in the market, the City makes about 60,000 Won a day, or approximately 2,000,000 Won a month. The Corps uses the money for various business expenses, car fuel or for throwing receptions for higher-ranking officials. It would be great if they reduced their spending, lowered the rent on the market space, or even got rid of it all together. Although, none of these are realistic demands, shouldn’t the City Party at least try to consider these suggestions for the sake of the people they represent?”

The Heechun Power Plant in Jagang Province Will Be Completed Seven Years Ahead of Schedule
The Heechun power plant in Jagang Province, which is currently under construction, will be completed in 2012--seven years ahead of schedule. In April, the North Korean People’s Army has agreed to provide assistance in overseeing the completion of the plant; each Corps had sent a large number of soldiers to the construction site. In addition to these efforts, the General Consulate of North Korea in Shenyang, China had collected funds from Josun international trading companies from three provinces in Northeast China and had also ordered the purchase of several excavators to aid in the construction of the plant.

[Politics]
Former Leader of Public Prosecutors Found to Have Criticized Other Officials
There was breaking news in Hyejin City, Ryanggang Province as the identity of the person who wrote letters about officials’ illegal conduct in the Province Party was revealed. The anonymous writer was the former leader of public prosecutors. He wrote over 12 times to the province party without including a sender’s address. In August 2008 when he built and tried to sell a house, his illegal business was reported to the central party, and he lost his position. He believed that the secretary in charge of the province party and officials of the party reported his illegal conduct, and he was planning to pay them back for this loss and finally did. He was not satisfied with these anonymous letters, so he let his wife put leaflets outlining the illegal behavior of these officials on the streets or places where people get together frequently. Last June 19, he was arrested by security officials. In a week, the officials expelled him and his family to the police department in Oro County, South Hamgyong Province.

Chungjin City Expels Temporary Workers to Join 150-Day Battle in Their Hometown
Officials in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province are investigating part-time fishermen who catch squid. The fishermen are being sent back to their hometown. The Party of North Hamgyong Province ordered these people to return to their registered places and explained the reason. Local officials said, “To make money, these temporary fishermen who came from other districts do not go back to their hometown even during the 150-day-battle period. They do not participate in any work for their nation.”

In this context, the Chungjin Police Department is investigating harbor villages such as Ryunjin of Chungam District where temporary fishermen usually live together. Sixty students of the Politics College who are on field training for police officers in Chungjin since July 5 began this assignment as their project for the 150-day battle. These temporary fishermen who sold all of their property to come to Chungjin and fish squid during the high season were disappointed. Cha, Myung-cheol (in his 40s) from Yeonsan County, North Hamgyong Province, said of his difficulties, “I catch squid at the risk of my life during the season, and I can barely live for one year with what we earn during this season. We are living in poverty and among the poorest. How can we live if they expel us?”

[Society]
Ahnju Police Arrested Vendors for Trading Stolen Goods
Ten vendors were arrested in early July in South Pyungan Province. They allegedly stole goods from factories and public enterprises and traded stolen goods illegally. The items they traded include machinery, repair tools, power wire, automobile parts, medical devices, and medicine. Ahnju City safety bureau began a surprise raid around markets because the number of thefts increased in almost every institute and public enterprise.

Gu Hyung-chul (20's) said, "Because of increased thefts, they have tightened security and run night-guard teams. A junior-high school was robbed last week, and valuable experiment supplies such as a microscope, a stuffed pheasant and a sea gull were stolen. The thief even took the curtains from the classroom windows. On the same day, somebody broke into a village office and took office supplies, leaving it all messed up." The police searched for evidence of theft and arrested some vendors. The investigation for the stolen goods is under way. An official at the police office said, "We are determined to eliminate such criminals and criminal groups.”

More People Consume Alcohol Under Higher Financial and Mental Stress During 150-Day Battle
Those who want alcohol have increased during the 150-day battle. One restaurant waitress said, "Although the sale of alcoholic drinks is restricted, more and more people ask for them these days. Originally we were not allowed to sell alcoholic drinks in our restaurant, but we are selling them anyway. Expensive ones are more popular." Kim Hye-Eun (30's), who makes and sells alcohol at home, said that her business is going well. "People are mobilized to work in collective farms and get stressed out due to the hard labor. Maybe that is why I get more customers than usual,” she said.

Pyongyang seems to be in the same situation even though it is not in a rural area. Taverns and bars around universities such as Kim Il-Sung University are packed with students and the school staff everyday. An official said, "I think people have been financially and mentally stressed out so much due to the worst economy ever since the Arduous March (the massive famine of the mid 1990's) and tried to relieve their stress by drinking alcohol. Now many of them seemed to be addicted to it. It is really serious especially during the 150-day battle when they get extremely stressed.”

[Women/Children/Education]
Kkotjebi (Street kid) Stealing Coal Sustain Severe Injuries
This past July, kkotjebies in the Songpyong District of Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, were seriously injured after an accident in an attempt to steal coal. The seven orphans climbed on top of a coal train headed for the Gimchaek Iron Mill when one of them fell off. The nine-year-old boy lost his balance and fell to the ground when the train suddenly started to shake. After the train stopped, adults nearby ran over to help the boy who couldn’t use his limbs because of the damage they sustained. Fortunately he survived, despite getting caught underneath the wheels of the train. At the time of the accident, bystanders were heartbroken when it was realized he would lose the use of his arms and legs permanently.

[Accidents]
Enlisted Soldiers and Cadets Fight over Potatoes
July 2nd, an incident of violence among soldiers over potatoes in Jurye-dong, Pyongsung City of South Pyongan Province. Cadets based in the vicinity of Pyongsung City and the enlisted soldiers of a nearby army base went to the same farm to obtain potatoes. Quarreling over the available harvest, the dispute turned violent, resulting in serious injuries to forty people. In another incident, three guards of a vegetable farm that belonged to the military academy stole supplies. The guards, who were students of the military academy, stole three rabbits and 30kg of rice from farmers’ houses to throw a party for one of their friends’ birthday. When the farmers reported the theft to the military academy, the dean expelled the three students for impairing the military-civilian relationship, sending them to a labor training center for a six-month term.

North Korea Today No.289

RESEARCH INSTITUTE FOR NORTH KOREAN SOCIETY
[Weekely Newsletter] No.289 July 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]
People Caring for Orphans Got Blamed
The Armed Forces Helped the Victims of a Fire without Appreciation from Party officials

[Food]
The Construction of Urang River Hydroelectric Dam Suspended Due to the Insufficient Food and Building Materials

[Economy]
An Operation Suspended until the End of October in Second Tunnel of the Kokyonwon Mine in Saebyul County
The Purchasing Price of Korye Ginseng Increased Up To 140,000 NK Won
The Decrease of the Non-Absentee Rate at the Commodities Manufacturing Factory for Disabled Veterans, Hamheung, Because of a Food Shortage

[Politics]
National Environment Bureau Began Forest Investigation on June 20
The Department of Electricity and Manufacturing Meet to Provide Industrial Electricity during 150-Day Battle
Train inspectors Arrested for Overlooking Smuggling
[Society]
Accidental Patricide When Son Tried to Dissuade His Father From Complaining about Society

[Women/Children/Education]
Request to Unmarried Women to Marry “Disabled Veterans”

[Accidents]
Five Squid Fishermen Reported Missing
Part-time Fishing Boats have Accidents one after another in Fisheries Enterprise of Daeheung Trade Company
________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
People Caring for Orphans Got Blamed
In North Pyongan Province, Woonsan County, at a farm called Samsan Farm, a farmer took in orphans and cared for them like they were his own children. In July 2008, there were up to eleven orphans at the farm. The Youth Union members of the Armed Force Party helped build the orphans shelter and provided them with food. The other farmers, in contrast, do not like how they are helping these kids. The Union can just give orders but it is really because of the farmers that the Union is able to help the orphans. One of the farmers said, “If the farm doesn’t take good care of the orphans, every time the Union has a meeting they just scold the farmers. The farmers have already so much to do at the farm and to take care of orphans too brings up a lot of complaints.” As a result, “There are many people who take care of orphans for the money”.
The farm’s managers think that Kim Soon-Chul (alias), the farmer who cares for eleven orphans, is taking the orphans for money too. Up until the middle of April, seven out of the eleven kids ran away and became Kkotjebi; this is when parentless kids roam around begging for food, otherwise known as street kids. The farm’s Primary Party Secretary and the managers said to Kim, “The orphans you are caring for should be sent to an orphanage. You might as well take good care of your own kids instead”. Kim did not put the four kids that are left to the orphanage. He knew they were very young and he felt a special connection between him and the children. Then Kim said, “I don’t need the farm’s help, I can take care of these kids with my own strength and determination”. Some farmers who agree with Kim said, “People these days get lazy and angry if there is just one little thing that put burdens on them. People who do not help and care for the work Kim do laugh and look at him condescendingly. Nothing comes out of scolding those who do good deeds. People nowadays only think of themselves. Their sense of humanity has vanished. This is why the public and the government are so segregated”.

The Armed Forces Helped the Victims of a Fire without Appreciation from Party officials
On June 11th, a fire on a Collective Farm in Hong Won County in South Hamgyong Province, caused by a 5-year-old playing with fire, destroyed two houses of farmers working at the third unit.
A farmer, Jung Ran-hee (in her 30s, pseudonym) said, “The houses and even the distributed food were burned down in less than 30 minutes. In this busy farming season, most of the farmers are limited in their opportunity to provide assistance. Instead, they pass the burden to the working units.” The third working unit provided temporary living quarters in a storage room for the fire victims. They provided the Chosun Farmers Union tableware and blankets, and the rest of the third unit with 2kg of whole corn as emergency food. Additionally, from the 25th of June, the leader of the motor vehicle support bureau of the People’s Armed Forces in Hong Won County helped victims rebuild their houses, which impressed the farmers there. He believed building good relationships between the military and the people is the duty and purpose of the Military First Policy.
On the other hand, officials of the County Party thought the victims did not deserve assistance from the Armed Forces. The Armed Forces should not have helped them, especially when their primary concern should have been securing the portrait of the General Kim Jong-Il, which the victims failed to save from the fire. The farmers, however, complain that officials of the Party only care about the portrait, and not the plight of victims. The farmers state, “The Armed forces were doing what collective farms are supposed to do but were neglecting. Whether the portrait was burned, the Armed Forces did what they should do. And the victims did not have any intention to burn it, which the Party officials never took into consideration.”

[Food]
The Construction of Urang River Hydroelectric Dam Suspended Due to the Insufficient Food and Building Materials
The construction of Urang River Hydroelectric Dam in North Hamgyong Province was temporarily suspended since June 15th. This resulted because the food was not supplied and the building materials were not secured in Gimchaek City, Gilju County, and Chungjin City in North Hamgyong Province. The battalions of these shock troop brigades are in immediate need of food. Hence, they are borrowing weekly food rations from the battalions of other regions. The commanders of these battalions whose food had already run out instructed the Support Bureau to “reduce the amount of distribution from 700g to 500g per day as the basic operations are not going forward due to the lack of food and building materials”.

Each workplace and public enterprise in Ranam area in Chungjin City are not sending the replacement labors even though the workers who were previously dispatched to the second company of the Urang River Hydroelectric Dam were working overtime. Several laborers, tired of waiting, went to the enterprise and argued with the officers about why they were not being replaced; those people were sentenced to two months in the municipal Re-education Center on last June 15th. The laborers who have watched the incident unanimously stated, “They argued with the officers because they were not being replaced on the due date, and the officers sent everyone to the Re-education Center. It is like saying that the laborers must do whatever they were told to do without resisting, no matter how poor the officers manage the enterprise. It means that we were supposed to do what the party told us to do, which does not seem fair.”

Furthermore, on the afternoon of June 23rd, the vice manager of the Provincial Party in North Hamgyong Province, sent to the shock troop brigade headquarters of the Urang River Hydroelectric Dam, instructed via telephone to the leading secretaries of the City Party Committee to “provide food, support supplies as well as working tools”. Also, the Provincial Party requested to put more effort on the completion of the Hydroelectric Dam construction in a meeting where each leading secretary of the City Parties and the related officials were gathered. The stated, “We must complete the construction of the Urang River Hydroelectric Dam within 150 days, or at the latest, within this 100 day battle which is about to start.” One of the officers in the Provincial Party expressed the underlying problem: “Once the construction of the Urang River Hydroelectric Dam is completed, our province is required to spend the electrical powers. However, the scale of the project is too big and the postage costs more than the goods. The construction is not progressing well because government support is lacking, not just in public works, but also in water turbine and power generation. The overall amount of power supply is not great, but the construction has become so big, so it is difficult for a local region to handle.”

[Economy]
An Operation Suspended until the End of October in Second Tunnel of the Kokyonwon Mine in Saebyul County
A lot of water came out in the second tunnel (shift?) of the Kokyonwon Mine in Saebyul County, North Hamgyong Province, and the production of coal is not feasible until the end of October. More water sprung from the ground in the second tunnel compared to the first and third tunnels. They need to scoop out the water using the water pumps, but the work is getting delayed because of electric power problems. The laborers of the first and third tunnels that are in operation to some extent received corn rations in early May, but the laborers of the second tunnel received nothing. Even if the laborers who did not receive a food distribution try to steal the coal and sell it, it is summer time and the demand for coal is low. One bucket of coal only costs 120 NK won. If 10 buckets of coals are sold, they will yield 1,200 NK won, which is not enough to buy even 1 kg of rice. Many miners buy a bottle of drinks (700 NK Won) with the money; get intoxicated to order to sleep, and go to work the next day, thus wasting their lives. The miners’ wives are making a living by crossing the river to China early enough or by climbing the mountain to cultivate small patches of land. However, it is even more difficult to procure food this year as the small patches of land were confiscated in eight out of 10 households pursuant to the forest protection plan announced by the government. The minors working the second tunnel whose operation was suspended are seriously worried. They are keeping a close eye on whether there will be food rations and ask, “Will there be no distribution if we cannot start production until the end of October?” Words are secretly spreading over the miners’ wives who said, “The women who crossed the river into China were the wise ones. I envy these women who support their family members, parents, and siblings by earning money in China. It is difficult to live, and I hope I can cross the river into China as well.”

The Purchasing Price of Korye Ginseng Increased Up To 140,000 NK Won
One kilogram of Korye ginseng is purchased at the maximum price of 140,000 won at the Korye Herb Procurement Office in Kaesung. The ginseng extract is sold for 30,000 won. One Kaesung city official said the procurement price of the ginseng has been increasing because of disputes between different power groups.
The official explained about the complex ginseng business situation. “Manyun Jangsoo Company (an international trading company under the Department of Health) was supposed to collectively procure all of the ginseng. Through agencies, the company sells more than 80% of ginseng in Taiwan. However, the company only has the procurement right, not the right to grow the ginseng. The Kaesung City Party and the North Hamgyong Province Party have the right to grow the ginseng. The Central Party has been eyeing the ginseng business because it is lucrative. Daesung Trade Company under the Central Party was granted partial ginseng procurement rights. Since then, Manyun Jangsoo and Daesung have been competing to procure the ginseng. Since the North Hamgyong Province Party and the Kaesung City Party only grow the ginseng but do not have the procurement rights, which do not allow them to make money at all, they sell the ginseng by the kilogram to Chinese businessmen. Therefore, the three groups sell the ginseng. Moreover, the ginseng supply is low because of petty thieves and the decrease of ginseng production.”
He also added, “Manyun Jangsoo Company began to purchase ginseng from Northeast China and Russia and mix it with Korye ginseng despite its huge (several tons) contracts with agencies because the production of Korye ginseng was falling. Consequently, the medical effect of the mixed ginseng was not like that of Korye ginseng, decreasing the trust for the company. A small purchase of Korye ginseng by the Chinese works more effectively than the mixed ginseng. It was said that the Department of Health should be in charge of growing Korye ginseng, but it could not because the complexities of growing it. Manyun Jangsoo Company saw that the Korye ginseng extract business would be more profitable than the mixed ginseng business, so it has been researching the Korye ginseng extract project for more than seven years.

The Decrease of the Non-Absentee Rate at the Commodities Manufacturing Factory for Disabled Veterans, Hamheung, Because of a Food Shortage
During May and June the non-absentee rate at the commodities manufacturing factory for disabled veterans, Hamheung of the South Hamgyong Province, has been noticeably dropping. After a 10=day supply of food, a half bottle of corn oil, and other small commodities were distributed for the anniversary of the Foundation Day of Armed Forces on April 25, there was no more regular food distribution. Many disabled veterans do not come to work, protesting, “Provide basic necessities for us.” Many individual said, “The city should take appropriate measures for disabled veterans,” and poured into the city. The appeal, “Guarantee the basic life for disable veterans,” is also overflowing into the City People’s Committee.
One official said, “I don’t know how the factory became like this. When our great leader, Kim Il-Sung, was still alive, this factory was famous as the biggest one for disabled veterans. We worked as if we were a family and manufactured pencils and plastic bowls. Thanks to our great leader’s visit to the factory, the factory had received a special consideration from the nation regarding food distribution.” He also expressed his lamentation about the appeals, adding, “It really puzzles me why the factory faces such a situation in which it could not even get food distribution.”

[Politics]
National Environment Bureau Began Forest Investigation on June 20
The National Environment Bureau in the People’s Safety Agency began a forest investigation across the nation on June 20. One of its officials said, “We are going to check the patterns of tree planting and lumbering to make sure they are following the forestation plan.” This investigation focuses especially on the complete elimination of private farming on small patches of land. After examining the forest fires in the mountainous areas around Hoeryoung city in North Hamgyong Province, the Bureau is also planning to implement a forestation program. This investigation is planned to continue for 50 days, and the results will be reported to the Central Party’s Organization and Guidance Department. One of the forest managers said, “Eliminating private patch farming is difficult. We delegated the work to People’s Safety Agency (PSA) because we thought people would surrender only to those in the military uniform, but it doesn’t work. The PSA officers are reluctant to confront people because they need to get along with them. Giving a strict order in military uniform and trying to force them to quit private patch farming cannot solve the problem. The fundamental problem is people’s livelihood. If they don’t get proper food rations, eliminating private farming will certainly fail no matter how hard we investigate and regulate.”

The Department of Electricity and Manufacturing Meet to Provide Industrial Electricity during 150-Day Battle
The Department of Electricity and Manufacturing called its officials for a meeting in regard to the supply of electricity to industries on June 27. Participants included managers of The Office of Power Transmission and Distribution in each Province as well as managers of power plants. The resolution of the meeting was “to exhibit our best ability and technology and provide electricity unconditionally to (industrial) sectors that need power during the 150-Day Battle in order to build the Strong and Prosperous Nation.” The chairman of the meeting emphasized, “The factories and businesses in the military supply industry should have priority over the power supply, unconditionally and foremost.” On the other hand, there is no prospect of more power for ordinary people in the near future. The resolution of the meeting that day for general power supply was to install meters in households and provide electricity only to those who formally requested.

Train inspectors Arrested for Overlooking Smuggling
Five train inspectors in the train police office were arrested for overlooking smuggling operations and are under investigation in Gilju County, North Hamgyong Province. They received gold, bronze, and rare metals as a bribe to overlook their illicit sale in Hyesan. The bribery case was disclosed when three illicit smugglers were arrested by the public prosecutors station. They are expected to retire or be released from the office once the investigation is complete. Train inspectors near the border are responsible for blocking smuggling and inspecting illicit materials. However, they tend to be well off because they receive 100,000 NK Won for each smuggling case. The authority suggested that, “The inspectors should be changed quarterly or at least every 6 months.”

[Society]
Accidental Patricide When Son Tried to Dissuade His Father From Complaining about Society
Late last June, a son accidentally murdered his father in Ranam district in Chungjin city in North Hamgyong Province. Seungchul Han (alias, 60’s) while drinking with the father and son, explained how the accident happened.
“Dukchul Jang (alias, the father) is an employee of a printing factory and has a very straightforward and headstrong personality. On the day of the accident, there was a family gathering; it was Duckchul’s grandson’s first year birthday party, so I went to his son’s house. His children and relatives were at the event and he was drunk and complained about North Korean society. As the relative and his children tried to dissuade him from complaining about current social issues in his drunken state, he continued to lash out complaining, ‘I am not making up the stories and am I the only one who has these thoughts and opinions? Everybody knows and talks about it.’ The son and daughter-in-law and other children as well as the relatives, all asked and urged him to lie down and rest, but he didn’t listen and kept drinking. Since everybody around him urged him to stop drinking, Duckchul stated, “Everybody hates and does not like me so I am going home.” He then walked out the front gate. His first son escorted him and on the road Duckchul shouted loudly, “this is not a place and world for people to live, this is a fallen world!” His son immediately grabbed his father’s waist and hurried him back and forth to stop him. Dukchul continued to ignore his son’s warnings. So his son got impatient and took a stone on the side road and hit his father’s head. Only wanting his father to lose consciousness, he accidentally caused a fatal wound. Duckchul fell down on the side of the road. His body began to convulse, and then he blacked out. His son was shocked to watch his father, and immediately transported him to a hospital where his father passed away. The son had no intention of killing his father. Under the fearful watch of North Korean authorities, one must not speak loosely about society. Duckchul’s son’s intention was to dissuade his father from speaking out against society, which led to the accident.

[Women/Children/Education]
Request to Unmarried Women to Marry “Disabled Veterans”
Lately, Youth Union has been asking unmarried women “to marry disabled veterans.” Youth Union of Bukcheon County, South Hamgyong Province asked women who work for an orchard to see if they would be willing to marry one when a disabled veteran grumbled about sufferings and difficulties of living by himself at the orchard. This veteran’s parents passed away a few years ago and he came back his hometown when he suffered a serious injury on his leg during his military service. Because he did not have any place to stay at his hometown, he used to live at a temporary quarter for bachelors on the farm. He visited a leading secretary of the County Party to complain about the difficulties of living at the quarter and requested a special treatment reserved for a disabled veteran. Thus, the Party built a house for him last May.
After getting a house, he went to the Party again to request them to introduce him to a woman who wants to marry him because he needed a woman who can take care of him as a partner. In this context, the Youth Union tried to help him, but no women seriously considered the urging by the Union. Kim Kwan-Sik (pseudonym in his 30s), a member of the Youth Union, said, “The Propaganda Department of the County Party and a secretary of Youth Union appealed to young women at the orchard for their beautiful sacrifice, but it didn’t work. When no woman stepped up to marry him, the wounded veteran caused a disturbance, saying, ‘I worked and sacrificed for this country. I got injured at the military. If I cannot find a wife, I would rather die.’” Mr. Kim felt sympathy about the difficulties of disabled veterans, but he confessed that there isn’t any way to help them in the real world. He said, “Many accidents occur at the military. Because it does not provide soldiers with appropriate safety devices at the construction field, many soldiers suffer injuries. When they get injured mentally or physically, the military does not provide any special treatments for them, so nobody wants to marry them. No matter how hard the authority tries, no woman would agree.”

[Accidents]
Five Squid Fishermen Reported Missing
On June 28th in Bangjin Fisheries Enterprise of North Hamgyong Province, Chungjin City, Chungam District, five daily laborers working as squid fishermen took off to the sea at 3:00 P.M. No contact was made afterwards. Soon, other fishermen under the Daeheng Bureau of Hamheung City found a small piece of a wrecked boat, but they couldn't confirm if it was the boat they were looking for. July came and went, but there’s still no trace of their boat or their bodies. The police authority is now suspecting that the five fishermen may have run away to South Korea, like many have attempted in the past.

Part-time Fishing Boats have Accidents one after another in Fisheries Enterprise of Daeheung Trade Company
At the end of June, a part-time fishing boat of Fisheries Enterprise of Daeheung Trade Company, Oongjin County, South Hwanghae Province (belonging to Central Party No.38, party funds making enterprise) had an accident and sank under the waves while sand lance fishing. Only two of eight crewmembers survived. Those who met with the accident were well known for their superb sand lance fishing for over 18 years. Ironically, the day they had the accident was the same day in which they caught the most amount of sand lance since 1992. Originally, the boat’s maximum load is 12 ton. But on that day, the crew loaded their boat with 17 tons of catch. The boat sank due to engine failure while returning. Fisheries Enterprise executives expressed sorrow that the crews probably died because they were blinded by vain greed.
Echinoid Fisheries Enterprise of Daeheung Trade Company, Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province also had an accident. Last June 20, an echinoid-fishing diver died because he didn’t receive proper oxygen supply while diving. When the oxygen supply device broke down, they should have manually cranked up the oxygen pump. But the boat didn’t have any manual oxygen pump on board. Because of this accident, the worker who was in charge of the exhaust pipe was blamed for the accident and arrested. One executive described these accidents as out-of-the-norm for Daeheung Trade Company. He said, “Daeheung Trade Company has a reputation for good equipment and guaranteed living, as compared with others. These kinds of accidents have been very rare. So I was shocked when I heard of these accidents happening recently. I am concerned that these might point to a management lapse in the company.”
There was an error in this gadget