GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No.296

Research Institute for North Korea Society
[Weekly Newsletter] No. 296 September 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.]
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[Hot Topics]
A Former Leader’s Exemplary Leadership Results in Joo-won Coalmine’s Record Output
Construction Laborers Fight With Supervisors Ending in Mass Strike at Eorangchun
Security Agents, “Blind with Money”, Cause Death to an Elderly Woman with Threats and Severe Beating
Money Earned in “Bone-Shattering Struggles” Gone in a Morning

[Food]
Concerns Over Food Shortages for the Special Labor Brigade at Hoecheon Power Plant in Jagang Province
Food Distribution Long Discontinued in Eunduk County, North Hamgyong Province

[Economy]
Food Crisis Will Double in Severity by 2010
Severity of Punishment for Harvest Related Infringements Heightened Due to the Food Crisis
Food Crisis in 2010 to be Exacerbated by Drought this Year
Street Vendors Complain about Increased Control over Business

[Politics]
August Policies of the Central Party
Regional High-Ranking Officers Being Investigated on Charges of Drug Trafficking

[Society]
Hambak Houses (Cheap boardinghouses) Flourishing in Boojon County South Hamgyong Province
Farmers in Boojon County Produce Potatoes to Barter with Corns
Newlyweds Avoid Having Children Due to Difficult Living Circumstances
News of Allowing Pyongyang Women to wear Pants Causes Stir

[Women/Children/Education]
Kkotjebi Children of a Youth Unit Fought against Officials’ Unreasonable Treatment

[Accidents]
Security Guards who Beat and Killed a Laborer Stealing Corn Arrested
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[Hot Topics]
A Former Leader’s Exemplary Leadership Results in Joo-won Coalmine’s Record Output
The Central Party dispatched its current officials (former leaders) to each region of North Korea during the 150-day battle to increase worker productivity. One of the officials sent to the Joo-won coal mine drew attention from the media for his exceptional accomplishments. To accomplish the rebuilding of the railway which was destroyed during the Arduous March (the massive famine of the mid-1990s), he took the initiative for the felling of trees necessary for the manufacture of railroad ties, organized recreational events for worker breaks, and distributed food and snacks sent to him by his family. Once the railroad ties were available, he urged the Onsung County Party, the neighborhood unit, and the schools to help rebuild the railroad. In less than two months he achieved phenomenal success of reopening the railroad which had not been in operation for nine years. He also encouraged and counseled the coal miners, and tried to solve the problems they faced. These actions resulted in the coal mine’s largest output in nine years. Residents of the area near the coal mine said, “His efforts alone are impressive enough, but we would be a strong and prosperous nation if every official worked like he does.”

Construction Laborers Fight With Supervisors Ending in Mass Strike at Eorangchun
Last June 10, a mass strike started after a fight of construction laborers with work supervisors at a road construction site at Eorangchun, North Hamgyong Province. Due to food shortage, laborers at the site were fed a bowl of steamed corn meal, a bowl of soup and a few pickles of radish. On the other hand, the site supervisors enjoyed pork, rice and alcoholic beverages provided by the enterprises mobilized in the road construction. The laborers kept silent even though they felt the supervisors were overly consuming food and supplies while mostly idling time away. One day one of supervisors got drunk and cursed at some laborers taking a break. It caused an explosion of suppressed anger on the part of the laborers. A laborer named Cho Dong-Soo (alias) challenged the supervisor, “How come you people fill your stomachs with alcoholic beverage and pork while idling away time and yet shout at us? We feel so hungry and weak in this hot weather. Don’t we deserve some rest?” The supervisor’s response was, “Who do you think you are talking back to?” and he slapped the face of the laborer. It triggered a big fight between two supervisors and laborers. The supervisors were beaten badly by numerous laborers. The local headquarters found out about the fight, held a meeting and made a decision to punish the laborers. The laborers involved in the fight were criticized in public and placed in isolation for a week. The laborers felt that they were wronged because the supervisors caused the incident. The angry laborers protested for two days with work stoppage. The local headquarters were stunned and requested their superior organization to suppress the strike. The superior organization dispatched inspectors to find details about the incidents. The superior organization ended up criticizing the local headquarters and trying to calm down the angry laborers. The whole incident came to an end when the site supervisors apologized to the laborers in public.

Security Agents, “Blind with Money”, Cause Death to an Elderly Woman with Threats and Severe Beating
Last July 10, an elderly woman died after two days of interrogation at the security agency of Joowon Mine, Onsung County, North Hamgyong Province. She is the wife of Ji Chul-Sam (67). The tragedy occurred because she refused to give up 1,500 Yuan her daughter sent from China to security agent, Min Yung-Sik. Later investigation revealed that she died of heart failure caused by threats and severe beating by the security agent, Min Yung-Sik. He filed a false report upon the death of the elderly woman saying that ‘she committed suicide by hanging herself with a telephone wire in her cell while he was in the restroom.“ However, public sentiment turned bad during her funeral. Finally the county and the province had to get involved and they performed an autopsy. Two officers from the province, an officer from the county and a family member witnessed the autopsy. The result of the autopsy revealed that the dead woman’s brain contained a blood clot as big as two fistfuls and another blood clot inside the chest. Residents were stunned at this revelation. There were numerous lamentations, “How could this kind of act be revealed if it had not been for complaints or public opinion? The world has turned only for the wealthy or powerful.” The only reason why the death of the woman has become a big problem in the first place was because the woman is a descendant of a revolutionary fighter. There are a lot of cries of criticism, such as, “Now is the time to kick the security agent, Min Yung-Sik out. He has become blind with money and that caused this tragedy.” People also insist that “There are three more vicious guys like Min Yung-Sik. This is a good time to wipe out bugs like those.”

Money Earned in “Bone-Shattering Struggles” Gone in a Flash
The following is a real story about a man who had crossed the river to China to find means to feed his family and came back.
“I spent the last year and a half in Hwaryong, China and saved 7,000 Yuan. I could barely come back home to see my family in January 2009. What I had in mind when I came back was that I would exchange the Chinese currency with North Korean money and I could start a small business to feed my family.
What I found out at home was really depressing. There was not anything bright. I expected my son to have grown up so that I could not recognize him. But in reality he has not grown up in size. Physically he was as small as he was a year and a half ago. He just looked at me wondering who I was. My wife has turned a really old woman due to hard life, but tearfully welcomed my return.
Upon my return, the most urgent thing was to get rice. Only food left in the house was a half bowl of ground corncob mixed with other vegetables. I took my wife to the market to buy some grain. I had to disguise myself in old clothes. It was January, and the price of rice was 1,650 NK won per Kg and corn was 550 NK won.
Time was passing by fast, and I felt impatient. I wanted to move quickly and start the business I had in mind. But inspections by the security agency and the police departments were more frequent. On January 15, I went to the markets at Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province, to buy some Korean shoes, rice, calendars and other essentials. Onsung market has plenty of these items brought from Sariwon. I struggled about half a month and came back to Onsung with two packages on February 2.
On the way to Onsung, someone must have recognized me. The person told the police on me and our house was raided by police. I was forced to hide myself in the mountain. I came back home to live with my family of my parents and my wife. The sights of policemen trying to catch me broke my heart.
Eventually I got caught on February 12 by police who followed my wife carrying food for me. I was taken to the security agency and detained in an empty cell. Several hours later, the agent in charge came in and asked me take out everything I owned. They were a lighter, a pack of Korean cigarettes and 200 Yuan. Just in case, I did not carry much on me. A while later, Min Yung-Sik, the agent in charge of my neighborhood unit, took me to his room. He is infamous with torture. He threatened, ‘We know that you have been to China. Tell us everything.’ I tried to look as natural as possible and said, ‘I visited home of my father’s sister in Hwanghae Province.’ After several attempts to make me confess, he handed me a few sheets of paper and a pen, and said, ‘If you honestly confess, you will be fully forgiven. If you viciously resist, nothing good will ever come out of this. Think hard.’ I refused to give in and kept insisting that I had visited Hwanghae Province. I was willing to endure any suffering because any wrong words would finish my life, my wife and even children. I kept saying, ‘How is it possible that you people treat me as a criminal? I just went to Hwanghae Province to borrow money to survive when there is no food ration or no wage.’ They, then, forced me kneel down on the floor and started beating me. They kicked with their feet. They used their fists. They kicked my abdomen and I could not breathe. They even used a hammer they found on top of the cabinet. Their continued to torture made me until I lost consciousness. I could faintly hear the sound of beating on my body and them shouting, ‘Confess!’ This continued a day and a night. On the second day around four in the morning, they did not get anything, and they allowed me sleep. I remember seeing a scene of torture on Chosun Central TV and Rodong Shinmun by U.S. imperialists in a camp near Cuba.
U.S. imperialists burned the prisoners, placed the prisoner in icy cold water, cut their ears and did numerous beastly tortures on them. My real experience tells me there is no difference between such U.S. imperialists and our country, which claimed to be the best on this earth, where the people are supposed to be the owners. Why do they treat people like this? My wife made an arrangement with a person to visit me. He was an elderly man, who retired as a lawyer less than a year ago. He asked Min Yung-Sik whether he could do a favor as if I confessed honestly. He then later suggested me to give bribe to Min Yung-Sik in whisper. I thought about it a while and asked my wife to bring the balance of 4,000 Yuan and gave it to Min Yungsik. He then said, ‘’the 4,000 Yuan saved your life. Even 40,000 Yuan could not solve this kind of crime these days. The elderly man’s signature for me as security witness saved my life. The money I saved in China by bone-shattering struggles is gone in a flash. Alas! So vicious is the world. I just cried and cried.”

[Food]
Concerns Over Food Shortages for the Special Labor Brigade at Hoecheon Power Plant in Jagang Province
The Central Party and cabinet leaders held a meeting on August 7th in order to administer the distribution of material goods and food rations to the Hoecheon power plant construction site in Jagang Province. The sudden discontinuation of the flow of food and supplies to the site has now become the focus of the workers. Deliveries of food were rerouted in favor of the military rather than the Special Labor Brigade, mobilized by social institutions and organizations, with the latter receiving only one ear of corn per meal from July 25th to August 4th. The Central Party and ministry officials reported that “the Support Bureau officials need to fulfill their duties and take the initiative to secure food quickly.” They also stressed the responsibility of Support Bureau officials, saying that “Those who would only supply the Special Labor Brigade with corn and corn porridge are unqualified for their positions. “

Food Distribution Long Discontinued in Eunduk County, North Hamgyong Province
The “July 7th Factory” which produces ammunition in Eunduk, North Hamgyong has gone without supplies of food for all of August. Residents of the Obong Coal Mine Labor District have also run out of food and 30% of the district’s population survives on porridge alone. Roughly half of the residents in Eunduk County overall face difficulties in getting food.

[Economy]
Food Crisis Will Double in Severity by 2010
Last August, the Agriculture Department called on officials from every city charged with the planning of farm management and responsible for the year’s harvest for an overall status report. They compared their harvests to the prior year to determine whether the new varieties of corn, rice used in the current year have had any impact on harvest yields. The results showed that many farms were affected by water damage and were experiencing a crop season that was worse than the previous year. Based on this trend alone the farmers determined that the food crisis could double in severity by next year.

Severity of Punishment for Harvest Related Infringements Heightened Due to the Food Crisis
The provinces of South Pyongan, North and South Hamgyong called upon an open General Assembly meeting to deal with harvest related infringements. At the meeting, officials assented to canceling party membership of any party member who is guilty of committing harvest related violations; and based on the severity of the violation would either be sent to the Labor Training Center or be executed while their families would be deported. The same punishment will apply to normal workers. The new decree was disseminated to workers, Democratic Women’s Unions at the factories and enterprises and students at the professional college level to even the pre-schools. People are concerned that such a decree was necessary in the first place and wondered about the severity of their nation’s food crisis.

Food Crisis in 2010 to be Exacerbated by Drought this Year
A reduction in the year’s harvest is expected at the collective farms in North Hamgyong Province due to this year’s drought. According to the survey put out by the Provincial Agricultural Department, 3,200 jungbo of corn fields and 1,600 jungbo of fields growing other crops were dehydrated due to insufficient rain fall and affected the successful harvest of these crops. On August 7th, the Provincial Agricultural Department organized a response team to address the impact of the drought, but they only managed to conduct a survey of the current damages without producing any coping strategies. The damages in the southern regions such as the South Pyongan, South Hamgyong, and Hwanghae provinces are reported to be two to three times more serious than that of North Hamgyong Province. Council meetings were held at each of the provinces all expressing concerns over the current crisis: “To build our nation into a strong and prosperous state, first and foremost we need food. However, the crop situation this year is extremely bad, and we cannot avoid higher food prices in 2010.” Many anticipated that the seriousness of the rise in food prices next year will surpass that of the current year. Some foresaw a grim future ahead saying, “It is extremely hard to deal with a food crisis that is caused by poor domestic harvest.” Officials also admitted that the deterioration of trade relations with China has made it impossible to import large amounts of food. Many expressed their hopelessness, “Due to the bad harvest, we will not be able to get out of this food crisis to build a strong and prosperous nation.”

Street Vendors Complain about Increased Control over Business
On August 2nd at around 5:00 p.m., a violent incident took place in front of a busy market in Onsung, North Hamgyong Province. Since the start of the 150-day battle, the market has opened at 4 p.m.; however food vendors were prohibited from entering the market place because of a new order restricting the sale of food items. Some tried to sell food unsuccessfully in small alleyways, which failed to provide the traffic needed to run a sustainable business. So many vendors gathered around the gate of the market place and tried to sell there.
On the day of the incident, there were around 70 vendors selling food at the gates of the marketplace when police officers raided them from all corners. The officers were determined to crack down on these vendors because they felt they have given them enough warnings and dismissals to no avail. The vendors dispersed to escape the law enforcers some running with food containers in their hands, others pushing food carts, and some even falling in the street with food spilt all over them. Some have compared the event to a flock of hens being raided by wolves. Vendors who were not fast enough to escape the police got their merchandise confiscated. Some refused to give up their food items, resisting vehemently while being beaten on the ground. Some retorted and even cursed at the police officers calling them “sons of bitches”. Only a few who were very quick to escape were able to run away with their goods intact. The police officers confiscated merchandise, but did not arrest any of the vendors. However, the police chief who led the raid reiterated his warning, “If anyone violates this order, they will have their goods confiscate upon sight.”
Vendors who had their merchandise confiscated followed the police officers until late at night, asking and begging them to be returned, however in vain. Some even tried to bribe the officers with whom they had personal acquaintances and tried to appeal to them to get their items back, but it was already too late. Vendors who lost all of their sales items expressed their frustration and despair to the police officers they knew personally. “Why are they doing this to us? They have not provided us with either food rations or salary, and yet they prevent us from trying to survive on our own! How can we live then? What do they want us to do? If we had sufficient food, we wouldn’t have done this. Say something. How should we live?”
Some older ladies went to the provincial party early the next day and made a request to have their goods returned to them and to allow them to continue selling food. However, their voices were not heard. There was so much despair that some screamed and shouted, “If you guys abided by the laws and the rules, we wouldn’t have to live like this! Open your eyes and see exactly what’s happening on every corner of streets!” Vendors selling in the market also appealed to the officers of the Provincial Party about the arbitrary fines and charges brought against them by the police officers who are plainly stealing from the people.

[Politics]
August Policies of the Central Party
Due to a poor harvest, officials of the principal breadbasket provinces of South Hwanghae and South Pyongan have examined agricultural conditions and reported the estimated crop totals for the year to the Central Party. Upon receiving the report, the Central Party enacted policies upon the Department of Agriculture’s officers in order to promote a more plentiful harvest and ensure that the People’s Army would be provided for first if supplies are inadequate.
On August 20th, North Korean authorities sent notice to every domestic and foreign worker of the party that they are completely refusing the UN Security Council’s Resolution on imposing sanctions on North Korea.
As a guideline, the Party instructed its members to follow the founding principles laid out by the Three Generals of Mt. Baekdu, and accordingly, party members arranged for a meeting to take place. There, it is expected they will set individual resolutions for the 150-day battle and rally in order to realize their goals. Each person must set up a comprehensive plan with daily, weekly and monthly goals in both ideological and administrative work.
On August 28th, ideas were in development for business and liberal arts education projects in commemoration of Youth Day.

Regional High-Ranking Officers Being Investigated on Charges of Drug Trafficking
City and provincial public prosecuting stations are conducting a nationwide investigation on drug trafficking, focusing on high-ranking officers in each region. A specialized task force was recently established in Public Prosecutors Station No.4 for those purposes. Once officers are under suspicion of having any connections with drug traffickers, the task force will immediately make an arrest and escort them directly to the provincial public prosecutors station without going through the police and respective local public prosecutors station. Consequently, judicial officers of the region are also being included in the investigation. Principal offenders who were apprehended for organizing drug trafficking in Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province will be executed after the plenary meeting for the 150-day battle. Other criminals will be sent to the Labor Education Center for life or sentenced to at least ten years. Law enforcement officers such as City Party officers, police officers, and public prosecutors who were guilty of involvement with drug trafficking were arrested one after another as major drug crime lords were arrested. These officials are dismissed from their positions or demoted to laborers.

[Society]
Hambak Houses (Cheap boardinghouses) Flourishing in Boojon County South Hamgyong Province
Boojun County in the South Hamgyong Province is the gathering place for the most destitute people in North Korea. Originally, along with Jangjin County, it was a place where exiled officials were sent. Today it is the gathering place for homeless people. Recently, a high-ranking official issued an order to send the homeless back to their hometowns, and the homeless were transported to Hamheung. However, instead of returning home, they kept returning to Boojun, and the police soon gave up. Some homeless people bribe the police with cigarettes and plead with them to not send them away. In return, the police tell them to stay out of trouble. Even though Boojun County is a poor area, many people come to live here because there is less governmental control and tax imposed.
Moreover, there are profitable goldmines and many Hambak Houses in Boojun County. Hambak houses, which date back to Japanese colonial period, are boarding houses for homeless people where they can stay overnight on credit. About 20 to 30 people sleep in one house and provide their own meals. They pay the lodging fees when they have money. Some wealthy people come to Hambak houses to hire day laborers who then return to Hambak houses at night to sleep. Boojun is about an hour drive from Hamheung, and many homeless families who wonder around the South Hamgyong Province area come here. Average lodging fee is about 100 to 150 NK won. The owners of Hambak houses only allow strong, healthy people to stay in their houses, because they believe sick, weak people will only take up space without being able to pay. Occasionally, families would come to Hambak houses, and the younger children and elderly will stay while husbands and grown children work during the day. The residents say, “Despite the propaganda that we are a socialist country, it looks like the days of Japanese colonial period are coming back. The only difference is that there are no Japanese.”

Farmers in Boojun County Produce Potatoes to Barter with Corns
Boojun County in the South Hamgyong Province specializes in potato farming. Each farm has its own production target, and rations are not given if it does not meet its target, making it a very tough place to live. As such, those who are exiled from the South as well as the North Hamgyong Provinces are sent here. Since the early 1990s, the residents here have never properly received potato rations because they were unable meet their targets. Even the farms do not bother to give rations to the powerless farmers. The residents are now putting more effort into cultivating small individual lots to supplement their own food supply. They do not even consider planting corn since it is difficult to grow. Rather, they trade what little potatoes they cultivate for corn.

Newlyweds Avoid Having Children Due to Difficult Living Circumstances
Lately, newlyweds are avoiding having children due to destitute living conditions. Park Chan-Hyuk (alias), who lives in Ranam District, Chungjin City, in the North Hamgyong Province, has been married for about five years but does not have any children. When the couple wed, they planned to have children after they became financially stable. However, despite both of them working full-time jobs, their lives are only becoming increasingly difficult. As such, they do not have any children yet. Currently, families with three children can receive government assistance of 500 NK won for each child and are exempted from labor support duty and taxation. However, the subsidy is too small to cover the costs of raising children. Therefore, having children is out of the question for many couples who are barely getting by. On the contrary, the wealthy and government officials are able to have many children, reflecting a gap between the rich and poor even in the area of having children.

News of Allowing Pyongyang Women to wear Pants Causes Stir
Local government officials were greatly astonished at the news allowing the women in Pyongyang to wear pants. The news caused much stir, with some declaring, “This is a great decision. A news that is equal, if not greater, than that of an open reformation.” They also joked, “Maybe next will be an open-door policy!” The news of allowing women to wear pants came as a refreshing shock to many.

[Women/Children/Education]
Kkotjebi Children of a Youth Unit Fought against Officials’ Unreasonable Treatment
Chulwon County and Pyonggang County of Kangwon Province chose children who were old enough to work out of the group of Kkotjebi children whose parents died or went missing and sent them to the farm in 2007. These children have become members of Youth Units and work for the farm, but they do not receive cash distribution appropriately at the settlement of accounts last year because the officials of the farm bilked more than half of these children’s shares. Even in this context children did not complain. However, on July 29th when there was a downpour in the area, the cornfield of the Youth Units got damaged and it became hard to harvest the expected amount of grains. The farm officials blamed these children for the damage, saying “Why didn’t you prepare for the rain?” and threatened them saying, “We will cut your working days and efforts at the final calculation at the end of the year.” Finally, these children became upset and complained to officials about the unfair treatment, saying “This is not reasonable. Give us our shares that we have not received so far.” At this complaint, the manager of Farm Management Council let a secretary of Li Youth Units give a strong Fight for Ideology Meeting to these children. The secretary called these children together at the Ideology classroom and brutally beat the four most rebellious children and the children became angry and attacked the secretary. The beaten secretary was sent to the hospital immediately. Twenty Kkotjebi children ran away on the same day. Out of 27 Kkotjebi children in the Youth Units, 20 children ran away, so the farm ran into big trouble. Finally, the County Party raised an issue about this incident. The Party criticized farm officials by saying “You are so mean and manage the farm very poorly, and you discourage the children to fit in at work and finally kick them out.” The County Party reported this incident to the Province Party and suggested to fire the farm officials.

[Accidents]
Security Guards who Beat and Killed a Laborer Stealing Corn Arrested
Last July 30th, Lee Sung-Nam (alias) from Eunsan-eup, Eunsan County of South Pyongan Province was coming back from working at daikon field of Collective Farm. He stole 5 corns from the corn field. However, the farm security guards caught and beat him brutally and tied him on a post in the security quarter for 11 hours resulting in his death. The scared guards put his dead body on an ox cart and dumped it at a nearby cornfield. The corpse was found three days after the incident on August 2nd. A middle school student who witnessed the beating reported the incident and the security guards were arrested last 8th.

North Korea Today Special Edition

Research Institute for North Korea Society
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekly Newsletter] Special Edition September 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.]
_________________________________________________________

The Current Situation of North Korean People
May-August 2009
(Food, Human Rights and Refugee)

September 2009
Venerable Pomnyun (Chairman of Good Friends)
E-Mail: pomnyun@jungto.org

1. The Food Situation of North Korean people
[Summary] In general, there is no food ration and food shortage is very serious. Food ration is either suspended or done in reduced quantities even in the cities with the best food condition such as Pyongyang and Hoeryong. The majority of ordinary people in rural areas are suffering from malnutrition because they are surviving on one to two meals a day or some porridge. However, there seems to be no massive death from starvation as there was during the spring hardship period in 2008. One of the reasons is that the majority of people are mobilized for 150-day battle, and they are fed at least with lunch even though the nutritional quality of the meal is very low. Another reason is that because many died of hunger last year those who survived have been taking extreme austerity measures for food since early this year in order to save food and deal with food shortage.



2. The Trend of Grain Prices
[Summary] Despite serious food shortage, the food price has stabilized since May. It is because the market is remarkably suppressed by increased control and most people do not have much purchasing power.
Table 1. The Price of Rice in Four Regions(April-Agust 2009)
(Unit: N. Korean Won/Kg)

Table 2. The Price of Corn in Four Regions (April-Agust 2009)

(Unit: N. Korean Won/Kg)


3. This Year's Crop Situation
[Summary] Although the 150-day battle campaign encouraged more production, the harvest level declined due to: 1) insufficient agricultural supplies such as fertilizer; 2) bad weather conditions such as low temperature, drought, and flood; 3) insufficient labor due to food shortage. Moreover, private small farming lots are confiscated, making it more difficult for ordinary residents to secure food. People are worried and predict that there will be another mass starvation next year.
1) Agricultural Policy

2) The Crop Situation


4. Market Situation
[Summary] General markets are closed and diverted to Farmers markets. Theses are attempts of normalizing the distribution system through state-run stores. The market is remarkably suppressed because all residents are forced to do extra labor during 150-day battle, and the control on markets is extremely tightened. Nonetheless, the situation of North Korea is such that people cannot live without market activities anymore, and the markets are continuing, albeit faltering.

5. The Human Rights Situation of the North Korean People
[Summary] The human rights situation has worsened: forced labor performed by residents during 150-day battle with the goal of a strong and prosperous nation by 2012; strict investigations on officials to uproot structural corruption; tightened ideology control and corrections forcing them to write their illegal activities; and increased control over residents to eliminate anti-socialism. However, all the investigations and controls are not very effective because it is impossible for both residents and officials to live without illegal activities and corruption. Meanwhile, harsh controls and punishments are prevalent to set examples, deteriorating the human rights situations of most North Korean people.
1) Investigations on Officials


2) Control over Residents


6. The Refugee Situation
[Summary] New refugees who recently crossed the national border are rarely found due to increased control over the national border area. The situation of the refugees already living in China is very grave. However, the possibility of a new refugee outbreak is increasing as living conditions in North Korea continue to deteriorate. For now, it is difficult for anyone to cross the border without third-party assistance due to increased control around the border.

Survey on North Korean Refugees Living in China
1) Survey period: June 4 ~ 12, 2009 (8 nights and 9 days)
2) Survey area: Joyang City and Hurudo City in Yonyung Province, Wangcheong Prefecture in Jilin Province, and Villages near Tumen and Yalu rivers on the Chinese side
3) Interviewees: 10 North Korean refugees (9 women, 1 man)
4) Time of defection
① Less than a year: two people (a married couple who recently crossed the border)
② 3-5 years: 3 people
③ 6-10 years: 5 people
5) Human trafficking involvement
① Interviewee 1 and 2 voluntarily crossed the border
② Interviewee 3-10 were sold at 7,000-18,000 Yuan, but they do not fall in typical human trafficking cases. They intentionally came to China to make money or to get help from their relatives. They have lived in China for more than three years and are settled down quite well.
6) Household income
Most of them have serious difficulties in their livelihood except interviewee 3. Corn farming (annual income 3,000 Yuan-6,000 Yuan), Most of them are very poor (their Han-Chinese husband's earning ability is very low)
7) Housing condition
① Interviewee 3 lives in a clean and big house, with TV and audio set, and a tractor
② Interviewee 6, though poor, lives in a relatively clean house newly built with the compensation her father-in-law received after an accident.
③ Interviewee 8 lives in a newly built brick house after a fire breakout destroyed her old house
④ Others live in a coarse mud hut
8) Human rights violations:
③ Interviewee 5 is frequently beaten by her husband and lives under strict control. Her husband works in a mine but wastes his wages in gambling.
④ Except for interviewee 6, 8, and 9, all others are under strict control of their Han-Chinese family members. There have been many cases of North Korean women in the region running away heading for South Korea. As a result, the Chinese residents became increasingly suspicious of foreigners.
9) Conclusion
① There are many North Korean refugees in China who have lived more than three years there. They are more or less settled down.
② Their children's Hukou (official registration) and education are urgent problem and need immediate attention.
③ The control of Chinese police over North Korean refugees are relatively loosened compared to 2006. Without external alarm, the refugees will be tacitly tolerated and the status quo will remain.
④ There are very few cases of refugees who recently cross the border. However, the refugees trafficked from North Korea and already living in China suffer from harsh life. Most of them want to go to South Korea, but it is difficult without the help of brokers. ⑤ It is impossible to obtain the exact number of North Korean refugees living in China. Compared to 2006 survey in the same region, the total number of North Korean refugees decreased a little because some went to South Korea and others were repatriated to North Korea. New refugees are very rare. The best estimate is that there are around 50,000 North Korean refugees in China.





[Special Edition]The Current Situation of North Korean People May-August 2009 by Ven. Pomnyun Sunim

[“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.]

_________________________________________________________

The Current Situation of North Korean People May-August 2009
(Food, Human Rights and Refugee)

September 2009
Venerable Pomnyun (Chairman of Good Friends)
E-Mail: pomnyun@jungto.org


1. The Food Situation of North Korean people
[Summary] In general, there is no food ration and food shortage is very serious. Food ration is either suspended or done in reduced quantities even in the cities with the best food condition such as Pyongyang and Hoeryong. The majority of ordinary people in rural areas are suffering from malnutrition because they are surviving on one to two meals a day or some porridge. However, there seems to be no massive death from starvation as there was during the spring hardship period in 2008. One of the reasons is that the majority of people are mobilized for 150-day battle, and they are fed at least with lunch even though the nutritional quality of the meal is very low. Another reason is that because many died of hunger last year those who survived have been taking extreme austerity measures for food since early this year in order to save food and deal with food shortage.






2. The Trend of Grain Prices
[Summary] Despite serious food shortage, the food price has stabilized since May. It is because the market is remarkably suppressed by increased control and most people do not have much purchasing power.


North Korea Today No.295

Research Institute for North Korea Society
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekly Newsletter] No. 295 September 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]
South Hwanghae Province Narrowly Survives Severe Food Crisis
North Hwanghae Province Suffers from Hunger due to Lack of Money for Food
Farming in Gangwon Province Faces Triple Hardships from Sterile Soil, Heavy Rain and the Military

[Food]
Gowon County Families Barely Surviving on Porridge provided with Rations of 5 Kg of Barley Reserved as Seeds
Amidst Poor Harvest, Executives Receive Fixed Amount While Laborers Get Reduction

[Economy]
Factories Hosted the First Nation-wide Public Party Assembly on the “Farming Issue”
Less Than 300,000 Laboring Bulls Nationwide
Provincial Party Delivers Pep Talk to Increase Crop Yields during Remainder of the 150-Day Battle

[Politics]
Illegal Chinese Mobile Phones Will be Monitored in Sinuiju Throughout the Year
Sixty Border Patrol Officers Arrested at the Beginning of the Year, Released on August 15th
Defense Security Command’s Discipline Center in Kumya County Notorious for Intensive Labor

[Society]
Weekly Direct Flight Operate Between Pyoungyang-Samjiyeon
Singae County Executed 76 yrs-old Ex-Security Patrol Officer
The Support Bureau of Seungho District in Pyongyang Replaced their Fuel Oil Management Center with Female Military Force

[Women/Children/Education]
Investigation of Middle School Students Who Watched Adult Videos from South Korea
Chungjin Kkotjebies Sent to Sariwon Kyemo Elementary School

[Accidents]
Soldiers Stealing Corns Beat up the Guards
Soldiers Punished for stealing and Selling a Laboring Bull
_________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
South Hwanghae Province Narrowly Survives Severe Food Crisis
According to a report compiled by the Farm Management Committee in South Hwanghae Province, rural areas of the province narrowly survived the severe food crisis as of August. The Committee members paid door-to-door visits and made a survey of each home’s food situation. They found that 20% to 30% of all households have been out of food since this spring. Situations in Counties of Chungdan, Galsan, Bongchun and Shinwon are worse than Yonan. Farmers in these counties barely survive on grass porridge and meager harvest from small private two-crop plots. Many farmers still barely survive on grass porridge. Farms experiencing high farm worker absenteeism due to severe hunger have had to gather elderly retirees to manage or operate vegetable gardens or other work units. Participation of elderly residents was suggested because a little physical activity is considered good for their health and additionally they become eligible for food rations and cash distribution. People say that the elderly residents themselves feel grateful for the decision of the Farm Management, saying that they were willing to do anything to help themselves during this food crisis.

North Hwanghae Province Suffers from Hunger due to Lack of Money for Food
Even with improved situations compared to last year, farmers of North Hwanghae Province are said to have survived a very difficult season this year. In 2007 a flood wiped out the ‘grain warehouse’ region and the food resources were gone. Consequently people could not obtain food even with money. Its aftermath was deaths resulting from starvation all throughout spring of last year. Even the survivors had to depend on grass porridge and pine barks and experienced the most difficult springtime in recent memory. It is really fortunate that there were not any natural disasters last year and accordingly fall crop increased a little compared to last year. Farmers learned a lesson from the severe food shortage during spring hardship period last year, and relied on small plot farming more than any other time. They consumed food as little as possible and saved grain as much as possible. That is how they survived the difficult spring this year. Price of rice that skyrocketed up to 4,500 NK Won last June stayed relatively stable around 1,800 NK Won. Last year people starved even with money. This year many go hungry because they do not have money to buy food. 150-Day Battle caused low level of business, which in turn, kept money from circulating. No businesses bought grain from farmers and consequently farmers could not earn any money. Price of rice has not gone up, but there is very low level of purchasing power. The only thing fortunate about these farmers in this ‘grain warehouse’ region is that farmers get hold of more grain, such as barley, potato and corn than in North Hamgyong Province.

Farming in Gangwon Province Faces Triple Hardships from Sterile Soil, Heavy Rain and the Military
The residents of Counties of Gangwon Province, such as Chulwon, Pyonggang, Yichun and Hoeyang are facing more difficult times than residents of other areas. There are three contributors to their difficulty; mountainous area with little arable land, high density of military units and high vulnerability to natural disaster. Current review of farming status reveals that the region is suffering from these three factors this year as well. These counties, Chulwon, Pyonggang, Yichun and Kimhwa are areas along the frontline and accordingly there are no factories around to speak of. There are only small factories to produce essential items in everyday life. Farming is the only thing people can rely on. There are some modern facilities under Daeheung Management Bureau, where agricultural and other local products are processed. These products bring in some profits. However, the benefits reach only a few and most of the farmers and other workers earn little to make ends meet. Another factor is that these areas have a high concentration of military units, and these military units cause a lot of problems for the civilians. The military provisions are supposed to be provided by other provinces, but they are not sufficient. An easy way for many hungry soldiers is to take food from the local residents of the Gangwon Province. There are many instances where entire piles of grain harvested by work units have disappeared. Consequently, many farms in Gangwon Province drop crop output by some work units in their calculation of total harvest at the end of year. Many farm workers in these areas predict that much of the farmland flooded by the heavy rain on June 10 will reduce the crop. At least twenty Jungbos (1 Jungbo equals 2.45 acres) of farmland in Counties of Chulwon and Pyonggang have been destroyed by the flood. At the time there were public announcements on the street about the damages of the farmland. Soldiers stationed around the area from the 10th Regiment of 5th Corps and the Chemical Battalion was poured in the restoration project in a large scale. Farmers, however, are worried that “the destroyed farmland may be restored, but the crop loss would be more than three times than what was announced to the public.”

[Food]
Gowon County Families Barely Surviving on Porridge provided with Rations of 5 Kg of Barley Reserved as Seeds
Gowon, Gowon County, South Hamgyong Province provided each family of laborers, who only barely survive on porridge, with rations of 5 Kg of barley reserved as seeds. The decision was made to encourage elimination of high absenteeism during the 150-Day Battle. It is also due to the judgment that severe hunger on the part of the residents caused incessant thefts of corn. In fact, thefts of unripe corn are increasing even after more guards are provided to protect against the thefts. Rumors float around the farms each day that so much corn has disappeared. They raised the level of threats to say that “anyone caught stealing corn will be sent to Discipline Centers. A grain of corn stolen will have to be paid back with thirty grains.” These threats were to no avail. A farm worker said, “Sometime ago, a man got caught stealing corn. They tried to send him to a Discipline Center. They could not. They just received a signed confession with a reparation amount on it. It was because several months of diets of porridge only made the man skinny and weak. Sending him to the Discipline Center would be tantamount to killing him.” Police substations are concerned that these situations might continue. They just keep warning people, “Next time, anyone caught will be sent to Discipline Center, live or die, no matter what.”

Amidst Poor Harvest, Executives Receive Fixed Amount While Laborers Get Reduction
On August 4th, at Hoeryong City, potatoes were harvested in the Wonsan-ri farm and were distributed to nonproductive units such as factories and to the public enterprises for the month of August. The harvest yields from work unit 1 and work unit 4 were smaller than expected, which led to reduced rations for the laborers. The laborers are supposed to receive 48kg, but they were provided with only 20kg. However, crop yields do not seem to affect rationing to the top officials because they are continuing to receive a fixed amount of 50kg each. In addition to this, they intentionally reserve the larger potatoes for these high officials leaving the smaller ones for the laborers. The poor harvest is mainly attributed to an insufficient supply of fertilizer. Another factor is a disincentivized workforce. Under the current system, farmers receive nothing for their labor because all of the crops are distributed to the public enterprises and factories. Therefore, naturally they are led to be more concerned about their own farms. However, they are concerned about the local poor scavenging through the fields after the harvest for whatever is left. This has caused many altercations between the farmers and the poor.

[Economy]
Factories Hosted the First Nation-wide Public Party Assembly on the “Farming Issue”
On August 18th of last year, a public party assembly was held nation-wide including cities, county factories, and public enterprises for members of the national party and trade and youth unions. The main issues revolved around achieving the year’s target grain yield, obliterating any known obstacles in farming and increasing efforts to carry out the grain harvest campaign. It’s rare to have a public assembly, but the discussion on the farming issue was an even rarer event. As a matter fact, it was the first time that the farming problem was addressed at the assembly. An official said that “The assembly hearing was called because of the poor rice and corn harvests caused by the cold weather and drought”. In addition, an order against stealing harvested crops was proclaimed along with promises to severely punish anyone caught committing this violation. It was also emphasized that not even a single grain should be wasted because of the poor outlook on crop harvests. After hearing these notifications, an officer from Hamgyoung City in South Hamgyoung Province said skeptically, “Even if all of the factories and enterprises are ordered to support the harvest campaign, I doubt that the farmers will be as thrilled about the news”. During harvest season the farmers are frantically searching for even a morsel of grain to collect for themselves so for the farmers the additional workers are likely to be seen as competitors. Even the management at the farms may not be so willing to welcome this initiative he said expressing his concern.

Less Than 300,000 Laboring Bulls Nationwide
An official from the Department of Agriculture revealed that in the current year, there are approximately 280,000 laboring bulls nationwide. The reality is vastly different from the 400,000 figure, which is the officially announced number. There were approximately 800,000 laboring bulls until the 1960s. The 4th Party Assembly even proposed an initiative to help increase the number of bulls to 1,000,000. However, the farmers did not engage in proper breeding practices; healthy and strong bulls diminished in numbers due to consanguineous breeding. Moreover, raising bulls have become more difficult, due to an overall shortage in animal feedstock. The bulls used to weigh around 400-450kgs in the 1950-60s, but nowadays, the average bull weights around 200-250kgs. Even though the bulls are placed under strict management as wartime commodities, they too, cannot avoid a weight reduction at a time when there is not even enough food for human consumption.

Provincial Party Delivers Pep Talk to Increase Crop Yields During Remainder of the 150-Day Battle
On August 5th, at a meeting attended by the secretaries of the provincial, city, and county parties, the chairmen of the Farming Management and Administrative Commissions, and the chief of the police station, the North Hamgyong Provincial Party stressed hard work to increase crop harvests for the remainder of the 150-day battle. After reviewing the current farming situation and the twice-a-year harvest of some crops, the provincial party directed each city and county party reporting to it to set up a plan to increase the crop harvest in their respective regions. The secretary of the provincial party in a pep talk said, “Working hard during the remainder of the 150-Day Battle will resolve the food shortage problem and help to make our country stronger.”

[Politics]
Illegal Chinese Mobile Phones Will be Monitored in Sinuiju Throughout the Year
As of July 1st, officials in Sinuiju North Pyongan Province have been enforcing laws on users of illegal Chinese mobile phones and will continue to do so at least until the end of the year. New technology has been purchased in order to conduct the investigation. The wire tapping equipment is capable of intercepting both conversations and text messages. In addition to monitoring Chinese mobile phones, North Korean authorities have decided to supplant them by permitting the use of North Korean mobile phones, beginning October 10th.

Sixty Border Patrol Officers Arrested at the Beginning of the Year, Released on August 15th
Approximately sixty officers of the Border Patrol, who had been arrested at the beginning of the year on charges of assisting people in illegal river-crossing were released on August 15. They had been incarcerated at the Discipline Center of the Defense Security Command in Kumya County, South Hamgyong Province. Roughly half of the officers were dismissed from the Party, terminated from their positions and returned home, while the other half rejoined the army. The latter were mostly guilty of minor crimes or refrained from making contact with South Korea, and more notably offered bribes to the Defense Security Command.

Defense Security Command’s Discipline Center in Kumya County Notorious for Intensive Labor
The Discipline Center of the Defense Security Command in Kumya County, South Hamgyong Province is comprised of seven residential units with approximately three hundred and fifty people in confinement, divided equally per unit. Four units consist of high ranking officers while the other three are made up of sergeants and soldiers. One unit is designated for agricultural labor while the rest are allocated to either construction or mining. Laborers undergo a period of punitive training, after which they are divided into trainees who can be reintegrated and those who will be discharged with disgrace (a criminal, dishonorable discharge). Due to the dangerous nature of mining, those who are expected to be discharged with disgrace are often assigned to work in the mines.
Each work unit is further divided into five sub-teams of ten people. As of March 20th, the trainees’ schedule would begin with a wake up call at 4:30 in the morning. Work began promptly at 6:15 and finished at 12:30 in the afternoon. After a half hour lunch break, they would take a Labor Safety Study course for about an hour , and work would recommence, with workers finally going to bed at midnight. Trainees say that the work is difficult and arduous such that “one month in a Discipline Center of the Defense Security Command is equivalent to seven months in a re-education center.”
Meals are provided three times a day and consist of soybean-paste soup, salted radish, and two hundred grams of steamed rice mixed with powdered corn, which is the residue from draining bean oil with crushed maize. When there is no soybean-paste soup, a seaweed soup in a salted water broth is given. Since adequate nutrition is unavailable, most officers subsist on food sent to them from their families. Visits are permitted once a month and many officers receive 30kgs of Korean-style popcorn from their families. In addition, goods such as diarrhea remedies, cold medicine, or antifebriles are commonly received, and are taken into custody until requested. Unlike the officers, most sergeants and soldiers live alone and do not have frequent visitors. For them, the hunger and hardships are far worse.

[Society]
Weekly Direct Flight Operate Between Pyoungyang-Samjiyeon
Direct flight between Pyongyang- Samjuyeon operations opened for the 150-Day Battle. It operates once every Thursday. Pressmen who travel to report on leadership propaganda business related and policy specifics pay 10,000 NK Won per ride. However, it cost 60,000 NK Won for non-public service travelers. Mainly merchants and businessmen steal a ride on these flights.

Singae County Executed 76 yrs-old Ex-Security Patrol Officer
Last July, the Security Department of Singae County, North Hwanghae Province arrested a former security patrol officer. It was revealed that the arrested former security officer had a role in the Ongjin and Yeonan County South Hwanghae Province Massacre of Civilians during the War Period of 1952. After the war in 1954, he changed his first and last name, lived in Kumya County, South Hamgyong Province, and later in 1981 he was dispatched to Singae County, North Hwanghae Province as a Labor Officer of the Administration Committee. He was then dismissed from the office for being involved in the government commodities theft incident and was living on military laborer social security. The reason he got caught was because of the arrest of a Chinese man hired by his families and relatives in South Korea to locate him. He was arrested immediately after a thorough investigation of his life including his days as a security officer. Although it was hard to interrogate him due to cerebral hemorrhage, he was executed because the crime he committed during the war time made him a “classified enemy”. His two sons, five grandsons and three daughters were sent to a political detention center. However, two daughters in law and sons in law and daughters’ children were not subject to punishment.

The Support Bureau of Seungho District in Pyongyang Replaced their Fuel Oil Management Center with Female Military Force
Fuel Oil Management Fuel Storage Company that is affiliated with the Support Bureau stationed in Lipsuk-dong Seungho District, Pyongyang City recently replaced their guards with female military force. The newly dispatched military force will receive 25 days of training for guard duty regulations and practice methods and will start on September 1. This is due to countless corruption scandals of the Fuel Oil Storage Guards. The Officers at the Support Bureau claimed, “There will be less corruption scandals than men” and decided to alternate their guards to female military force. In fact, the officers secretly taken about 50 tons of fuel oil and additional 50 tons were taken by the sergeants under a tacit consent by officers between 2007 and 2008 alone. Excluding the Company Political Directive Officers, the company commander was replaced three times and the platoon leader was replaced twice during this period. 9 sergeants were discharged to civilian life and other private soldiers were sent to the Defense Security Command Training Center. On July 10, a platoon leader and 2 noncommissioned officers were arrested as the result of the Support Bureau Party Inspection Commission’s inspection. The arrested platoon leader secretly took approximately 18 tons of fuel oil in the past seven month period. The sergeants took over 10 tons of fuel oil. It would be hard for these people to avoid at least 10 years of re-education center. Because it is hard to stop the Fuel Storage Guards from stealing, they have agreed to reorganize and replace all guards to a company made up of female military force.

[Women/Children/Education]
Investigation of Middle School Students Who Watched Adult Videos from South Korea
Oncheon County of South Pyongan Province had a meeting regarding the result of censorship of illegal movies from last May to July 20. One of the remarkable things was that three middle school students were caught by this investigation. These students, 5th graders of the First Middle School, were accused of watching South Korean adult movies. The police examined these students to find out how they obtained the original copies of the South Korean movies and who brought them to school. The police also arrested ten people believed to be involved in the incident. The trader who sold the original copies received an eight-year reeducation sentence, while the ten people who watched the movies were sentenced to a year at the Labor Training Center. In spite of being minors, the middle school students could not avoid this punishment.

Chungjin Kkotjebies Sent to Sariwon Kyemo Elementary School
On August 2, the Chungjin City People’s Assembly of the North Hamgyong Province sent 15 Kkotjebies (homeless children) to Sariwon Kyemo Elementary School in the North Hwanghae Province. Of the 23 Kkotjebies who were arrested from April to July 30, only children nine years old or younger were sent to the school. They worried that if these young children were left in the North Hamgyong Province, they would continue their lives as Kkotjebies. They claimed that an unfamiliar environment would hinder the young Kkotjebis from begging or running away. However, some argued that an unfamiliar environment would not prevent the young Kkotjebeis, who run away from elementary schools because of hunger, from running away. Despite this opposition, the People’s Assembly sent all of the young Kkotjebies to Sariwon in the North Hwanghae Province.

[Accidents]
Soldiers Stealing Corns Beat up the Guards
On August 3rd, an incident occurred where five soldiers from the 82mm Mortar Battalion under the Artillery Leadership Bureau stationed in Ahnjoo County South Pyongan province beat up farm guards when they were caught stealing corn at the nearby Booksong-ri farm. One of the three guards who was beaten by the soldiers lost his vision while the other two were severely injured. The Artillery Leadership Bureau military police arrested the five soldiers after receiving a complaint from the village Party.

Soldiers Punished for stealing and Selling a Laboring Bull
Three soldiers from the 2nd platoon of the guard company that belong to the Air force headquarters were punished for stealing and selling a laboring bull from a nearby farm. On May 20th, the soldiers stole the bull, used it for labor, and killed the bull when the bull could not walk after being injured. They buried the remains of the bull after killing it, but it was discovered by investigators from the military police. The soldier who masterminded the crime received 9 years and the other two received 7 years of incarceration for the serious crime of damaging the military-civilian relationship.

North Korea Today No.294

Research Institute for North Korea Society
http://www.goodfriends.or.kr
[Weekly Newsletter] No. 294 September 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]
Miscellaneous Policies of Central Party during July

[Food]
Farmers of South Hwanghae Province Barely Survive on Green Corns
Gypsum Mine in Uiju County Provides Food Ration by Selling Scrap Iron

[Economy]
Drought, Crop Failures, Famine- Fearful Reminders of the Hardships during the 1990s
Heightened Market Inspections Bring Fines on “Bulky Baggage”
Kumgang and Anbyun Counties’ Production Capacity Fall Below Expectations at Power Plant

[Politics]
Chungjin City Security Department’s warning to citizens: “Do not cross the river”
Hamhung City Officials Arrested Parents who Ordered their Children to Manufacture and Sell Drugs

[Society]
Wonsan Cho Gun-sil Teachers College Is ‘Secondhand Bicycle College’
University Student Bicycle Traders, Notorious for Overcharge and Aggressive Salesmanship

[Women/Children/Education]
No College Degree is Given without Paying 200,000 NK won for Field Trip Expenses at Cho Gun-sil Teachers’ College
Sariwon Heechun Power Plant Station Labor Mobilization Wants Executive Members’ Wives to Volunteer First

[Accidents]
Accidental Fire Caused by Kkotjebies at Sinsungchun Train Station
Gas Leaking Accident at Kaechun Coalmine
_________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
Miscellaneous Policies of Central Party during July
All the Ministries and Central organizations declared, “Our nation has not started any discussion on the issues concerning the heir to the nation’s leader. Currently, our Dear Leader is in the prime of health, performs passionately the site counseling activities, is capable of handling the governmental affairs for the next ten years. Therefore it has been decided to halt any discussion on the issues concerning an heir to the nation’s leader.” Instructions came down that “Political provocations by the enemy have never been more severe, and it is too early now to have discussions on the issues concerning the heir to the nation’s leader. No such discussion will be allowed. Do not be swayed by any false rumors. Keep silent to the questions on the issues concerning the heir to the nation’s leader.” Last July 12, there arrived the party policy “concerning strict control on the maintenance of confidential matters by party leaders and members.” For instance, no instructions, speeches, party policies may be recorded on the computer or written down. Any violation will be subject to severe punishment. All official records should be approved. All hand-written notes should be submitted to the superior organization afterwards.

The Central Party praised the ministries concerned for a job well done for the first half of the year 2009, which is the year of North Korea-China Friendship, and encouraged them to continue to do so for the rest of the year. Subordinate organizations under Chamber 39th of Central Party were instructed to apply exchange tariffs to all items imported by all the other organizations except Chamber 39. Women are now allowed to wear pants during summer, with the restriction that only bright colors other than black and gray are permitted.

The Residents of the City of Pyongyang received through the neighborhood units the Party policy “concerning strict elimination of financial burden outside of the official tax on the part of the residents.” However, as soon as the policy reaches the residents, residents of some districts received requests for 5,000 NK won from each family in the name of supporting a road pavement project. Any household unable to provide a laboring body because of being elderly or disabled were required to make an additional payment of a minimum of 1,000 NK won to a maximum of 5,000 NK won. Naturally, residents have a lot of complaints, “As soon as the Party policy arrives, so does the scary burden outside of official tax.”

[Food]
Farmers of South Hwanghae Province Barely Survive on Green Corns
Farmers throughout the counties of Ongjin, Ryonyon, Eunryool and Jangyon, South Hwanghae Province barely survive each day on an ear or two of green corn as a meal due to food shortage. Even though August is the month of weeding battle, many farmers cannot fully participate in the mobilization after running out of food. Foremen of the work units and team leaders urged the farmers to show up for work, with a threat that if they do not make the required days of participation, they will not receive any from the end of the year recapitulation. Accordingly, the farmers reluctantly show up for work, but they are never willing to do anything, other than fulfilling the required days of participation. The farmers are not interested in weeding battle at all, but more interested in gathering unripe ears of young corn. Last August 3 in Jaeryong County, a group of farmers were arrested for stealing unripe ears of young corn by police during mobilization for weeding battle. Those twenty four arrested were sentenced to three days of hard labor.

Gypsum Mine in Uiju County Provides Food Ration by Selling Scrap Iron
Miners of the Gypsum Mine located in Soojin Li, Uiju County, North Pyongan Province barely survive on corn porridge. Since the mine has not been operating normally the last ten years, the miners are being assigned to other mobile units. As the food crisis of the miners continues to worsen, management of the mine has even sold some unusable mining equipment as scrap iron. With proceeds from the sale of scrap iron, they could provide the miners mobilized as laborers early August, especially those families that ran out of food with elderly members and young children, with 5 Kg of grain.

[Economy]
Drought, Crop Failures, Famine- Fearful Reminders of the Hardships during the 1990s
On August 17th, Party members of North Hamgyong Province held a plenary meeting among a large number of high ranking officials, including secretaries of the provincial, city, and county parties as well as the Chairmen of the Farm Management and Administrative Commission. Among several issues that were discussed, the primary concern was the month-long drought which began in mid July. As a result of the drought, corn and other crops have dried up and have failed to ripen. Harvests, especially of corn, were reported to have declined sharply due to the recent drought. This situation is causing great concern and fear among government officials who are recalling the dire crisis brought on by a similar drought in the late 1990s. The attendees at the meeting concluded that their top priority would be to salvage the corn harvests, and they decided to focus their efforts to mobilize all available workers to irrigate the corn farms.

Heightened Market Inspections Bring Fines on “Bulky Baggage”
Effective August 2, inspections of businesses in Kanggye City in Jagang Province were widely implemented. Not only are the existing markets targeted for this thorough inspection, street peddlers are also subject to this heightened form of scrutiny. Less than 30kg of grain are allowed to be sold by an individual merchant on any given day in the market. The reserve army has been commissioned to carry out these extensive inspections. Due to the arbitrariness of the term “bulky baggage” each officer enforces a different measure to arrest and fine peddlers. Since many peddlers are inclined to carry all items that are marketable regardless of its size, they are more likely to be inspected and penalized with fines from a minimum of 5,000 NK won to a maximum of 10,000 NK won. Merchants are sometimes penalized for either selling more or even less than 30kg of grain, which is difficult to determine upon inspection. There is great criticism resonating from merchants with respect to these excessive controls. On August 11th of last year, a manager from the Propaganda Department in Kanggye City addressed the importance of reducing the size of baggage used by merchants in the market--“Let’s make Kanggye City an example by strictly observing marketing regulations and policies,” he proclaimed. The merchants’ responses were apathetic by comparison.

Kumgang and Anbyun Counties’ Production Capacity Fall Below Expectations at Power Plant
Residents are discontent over the lower than expected electricity production from the two recently built hydroelectric power plants in Anbyun and Kumgang Counties in Kangwon Province. Electricity production is so low compared to the costs of building these two power plants. In addition, there were many small and large accidents including casualties during the construction of these plants. Many soldiers and construction workers have either lost their lives or have become disabled. Despite these casualties and contrary to common belief, the actual electric capacity is not even enough to supply the commercial sector much less sufficient for sustaining the energy needs of the residential community. One officer admitted to some possible causes for the low production rates, “Construction of the plants was carried out carelessly with regards to the blueprint and the use of crucial equipments that should have been imported, but were instead substituted by sub par imitations produced by us”. The residents could not conceal their disappointment towards the power plants some saying, “It’s a liability not only to the nation as a whole, but also to the individual.”

[Politics]
Chungjin City Security Department’s warning to citizens: “Do not cross the river”
Beginning on August 5th, the Chungjin City Security Department in North Hamgyong Province is continuously delivering lectures in order to prevent defections to China and illegal border-crossing in light of summer food shortages. The warnings indicate that strict regulations will be enforced, regardless of intent; whether it is simply a temporary crossing of the river to find relatives in China and receive aid or illegal emigration to South Korea and third-party countries. A man in his forties under the alias Cho Myung-Hak lives in Soobok-dong and had listened to the lectures and said that the contents were not surprising disclosing the following:
“They told us that in some instances, fickle residents or people with unsound ideologies betray the fatherland and flee to other countries or cross the river because of struggles to survive as a result of the exacerbated food predicament and troubled economy. Furthermore, some people engage in illegal drug trafficking, resulting in serious impairments to the construction of a strong and prosperous nation, igniting public unrest. We have to awaken to the truth so that we can ruthlessly fight, without any concessions, against the people who sell out the country for drug deals, illegal smuggling of goods, and personal interests. Meanwhile, we must also strengthen solidarity amongst the ranks by campaigning to ferret out criminals. From now on, people who cross the river, illegally cross borders or contact outsiders will be dealt with not through words, but by strict legal punishment mobilization of the masses to fight unlawful behavior.”
As the Chungjin City Security Department delivers its lectures, it also reinforces surveillance and control of the families of defectors by assigning undercover security agents to monitor them as well as individually investigating others nearby.

Hamhung City Officials Arrested Parents who Ordered Their Children to Manufacture and Sell Drugs
July 21st, Hamhung City, South Hamgyong Province- A couple was immediately placed under arrest after being charged with instructing their middle school aged children to produce and sell drugs. The students, who attend sixth grade at Hamhung Donghung Middle School, had been manufacturing the illegal substances at home and selling them since February of 2007 under the direction of their parents. The investigation revealed that the family received an advance of six hundred dollars from a drug dealer to purchase the necessary supplies for production. The children had been both producing and selling drugs up until December of 2007 and the parents took over responsibility exclusively beginning in February of 2008. Distribution was originally limited to areas near Hamhung, but as the demand increased they expanded their operations. By November of last year, aided by misconduct on behalf of police officers of the Hamhung City Police Station, they had reached as far as the Sinuiju Trade Company in North Pyongan Province. They were caught in the following December by virtue of the Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation of the Central Party, but received a relatively light sentence of seven years of re-education under house arrest after successfully bribing a high-ranking official. Despite being placed under house arrest, they continued drug trafficking with unlawful support by the police until their recent arrest. A peddler who had previous involvement in drug dealing in the past recognized the drug dealing father while aboard the Sinuiju commuter train and reported him to the Provincial National Security Agency, who caught him with two kilograms of drugs in hand at the time of the arrest at Hamju station.
The National Security Agency is expanding the investigation, due to the presumed involvement of high-ranking provincial police officials and commerce officers, since the accused was not only caught red-handed, but also in violation of his sentence to house arrest. Four people from Sinuiju Trade Company, three people from the Security Ministry in Hamhung City, and one person each from the Provincial Party of South Hamgyong Province and the public prosecutors station in Sungchunkang area have been quickly apprehended thus far. The National Security Agency is acknowledging the severity of the fact that the arrest was made during the 150-Day Battle, and communicated instructions by telephone followed by a decree in writing that “a ruthless legal punishment is to be enforced on state workers who had participated in drug trafficking, abusing their power by doing favors to promote illegal activities.” As the pursuit for lawbreakers continues, the number of those implicated continues to increase.

[Society]
Wonsan Cho Gun-sil Teachers College Is ‘Secondhand Bicycle College’
Approximately 70% of the peddlers in Wonsan, Kangwon Province who sell Japanese secondhand bicycles are the students from Wonsan Cho Gun-sil Teachers College. Usually, they are not the students who came straight to the university without going to the military but are discharged soldier-students. They came from the various cities and counties of Kangwon Province, and plunged into the bicycle selling in order to earn tuition. They receive Japanese secondhand bicycles, repair them with cheap Chinese parts and transfer them to the merchants from other regions. It is within bounds to say that all men in their late 20-30s who currently sell the goods on the market shelf space for secondhand bicycles in Wonsan City Emerging Market are the students from this college.
Only about 15 students attend the class for each subject, and the rest of the students go out to sell the bicycles. By receiving certain amounts of money every day from them, the instructors in charge tolerate the absence. They receive 1,000-1,500 NK won per student, and in this way, they earn approximately 25,000 NK won per day. One third of this money goes to the instructor on duty from the educational affairs department and the rest of it to the instructor in charge. This was reported to the City Party and even to the Provincial Party, but they have not taken any measures yet. The residents sarcastically comment that Cho Gun-sil Teachers College “does not produce teachers but merchants who sell secondhand Japanese bicycles at high price.” Moreover, they call Cho Gun-sil Teachers College as ‘Secondhand Bicycle College’.

University Student Bicycle Traders, Notorious for Overcharge and Aggressive Salesmanship
Cho Gun-sil Teachers’ College students’ apparent monopoly of Japan-made used bicycles in Shinheung Market, Wonsan City of Kangwon Province has often made troubles. They rip off inexperienced traders from other areas and force customers who have given up buying the item after bargaining over the price to purchase it. If the customers do not want to buy it, the students sometimes begin to argue, beat them, and even rob them of their money. Residents who witnessed this say that they are not sure whether the students try to make money for their tuition or just to bully people.” Cheong Hye-Soon (50’s) says, “They did not study, so they are ignorant. They seem to manage to attend school only to receive a degree. Given that young generations are corrupted like this, how could national leaders be produced in this situation? I am worried when I think these students are going to be teachers.”

[Women/Children/Education]
No College Degree is Given without Paying 200,000 NK won for Field Trip Expenses at Cho Gun-sil Teachers’ College
Last August, Han Kyung-Sil (alias, 50’s) went on a business trip to Wonsan in Kangwon Province and met her niece whom she had not seen for a long time. Her niece was attending Cho Gun-Sil Teachers’ College. During her conversation with her niece, Han discovered that the story of female college students selling their bodies to make money was not just someone else’s story.
“I was very glad to see Yoon-Hee (alias, 20’s), but the joy did not last long because she seemed troubled. We met in the afternoon, and after chatting about one thing after another, it was evening before we realized. I took her to a restaurant on a beach to have dinner. She asked me if I could buy her a drink. I was shocked a little but joked ‘You learned how to drink in the college?’ and ordered a drink. I sensed that something unexpected must have happened to her. Sure enough, after few drinks, she began to tell me her story.
After graduating from Cho Gun-Sil Teachers’ College, the graduates are placed as teachers in middle schools throughout the country. Before becoming juniors, students are required participate in field trips to revolutionary sites in Mt. Baekdu, Hoeryong, Wangjaesan in Onsung County. Because no student wants to participate in the field trips, the Education Department of the Central Party decided to expel any student who does not participate in the field trips. Last year, the school expelled 45 students who did not participate in the field trips. Shocked by this event, every student participated in the field trips this year, whether they sold bicycles or rarely attended class. They had no choice since failure to participate in field trips would result in expulsion even if one had good grades.
According to Yoon-Hee, most students do not participate in the field trips, not because they do not want to, but because they cannot afford the costs related to the field trips, which is about 200,000 NK won for 12 days. Yoon-Hee was in a similar situation as others. Where could she get such money when her own family could barely survive? For children of traders or high officials, this expense does not pose a problem. However, children of poor laborers, like Yoon-Hee, could not afford such money. They were struggling just to have two meals a day. Yet, without any consideration of the students’ financial situations, the school decided to deny graduation to students who did not participate in the field trips. Yoon-Hee said she felt so discouraged and sorry to her family who had worked so hard to give her a better education.
Then Yoon-Hee’s roommate introduced her to a man in his 50’s whom she had never seen before and still does not know his first or last name. She received 300,000 NK won for sleeping with him for two nights. With that money, she was able to participate in the field trips. By selling her body, she was finally going to receive her diploma. Yoon-Hee said she felt so bad toward her family who always encouraged her to overcome any hardships and difficulties and make them proud by succeeding. Yoon-Hee believed that many of the female students participated in the field trips in this way.
Yoon-Hee had vowed to make her parents proud by becoming successful, but she could not stop crying because she had ruined herself to get the diploma. I don’t know what I said to her to console her. I took her to the entrance of her school where she asked me to keep the story a secret. I felt bad as I thought of my brother who was so happy when Yoon-Hee was admitted into college. I cannot forget the image of my niece as she smiled and said, ‘But isn’t it better than being expelled from the school.’”

Sariwon Heechun Power Plant Station Labor Mobilization Wants Executive Members’ Wives to Volunteer First
On July 28th, the Leading Secretary of Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province declared, “Sariwon City’s Democratic Women’s Union (DWU) members must become an example for all DWU members in the country,” and called for volunteers for the labor mobilization at the construction site of the power plant station. The city’s DWU manager appealed to the gathered DWU members, “We must lead and contribute so that General Kim Jong-Il could see the production of electricity when we become a Strong and Powerful Nation in 2012.” Despite such appeals by the executive members, there were no volunteers. On August 2nd, the City Party’s propaganda secretary strongly urged DWU primary workers at the DWU committee and the district office to volunteer, but there were no volunteers. It seems that, despite the propaganda secretaries’ pleas, no one is listening.
One war veteran went to the City Party’s Petition Department and proposed, “If you want to mobilize the DWU members, you must first mobilize the wives of police officers, City Party executive members and the administrative committee members. Laborers cannot support their families unless their wives work at the market. Therefore, the laborer’s wives cannot volunteer even if they wanted. However, aren’t the wives of City Party executive members able to live on their husband’s salaries? These women should volunteer first. Then the DWU members will follow without complaint.” The City Party’s Leading Secretary thought this was a very good idea and ordered it to be carried out. The executive members returned home and tried to persuade their wives to volunteer. However, the wives were strongly opposed to such idea. As such, there are still no volunteers for the labor mobilization. The executive members are in a precarious position since their wives are refusing to volunteer even though their husband’s reputations are on the line.

[Accidents]
Accidental Fire Caused by Kkotjebies at Sinsungchun Train Station
On the night of August 2, an accidental fire broke out at the Sinsungchun train station located in South Pyongan Province. Kkotjebies, or homeless children, were starting a fire inside a warehouse behind the direction board building when the fire spread. About half of the direction board women’s dormitory and a cafeteria were damaged by the fire. Angered by this event, police officers, security agents, patrol guards, and others began beating the kkotjebies. Unable to withstand the beating, the kkotjebies have started to leave the Sin Sung Chun train station. Since the fire, the number of kkotjebies around this area has been dwindling.

Gas Leak Accident at Kaechun Coalmine
On June 21st, around 4 p.m., a gas leak occurred at the Kaechun coalmine United Enterprise 1 Earth coalmine’s third pit, second platoon located in South Pyongan Province. Two of the eight people exposed to the gas died. This is the biggest accident that has occurred during the 150-Day Battle, and the workers received harsh criticisms. On the day of the incident, some of the workers noticed that there was a gas leak, but the leader responded, “We must complete our task during the 150-Day Battle, yet because we are far from the public enterprise, the workers are coming up with excuses not to work,” and continued the operation. However, the security officer, not the leader, was blamed for the accident. The officer complained, “I already reported this. If they had a clear emergency plan for gas leaks, this accident would not have occurred. Now that everything has turned out this way, they are pointing their fingers at me.”
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