GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No.305 November 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]
Closing of Pyongsung Market Causes Increase in Migration to Soonchun
Management Committee of Soonchun Market in Trouble for Lax Enforcement
Staff of State-Run Stores in Haejoo Work to Stock Shelves with Wholesale Goods
Markets Prosper along the Soosungchun Railroad in Place of Markets of Chungjin and Soonam

[Food]
Snow Hinders Harvest in North Hamgyong Province
Farmers Live on Grass Porridge since March in Jaeryong County
Gilju County, Its Life depends on Vegetable Farming after Failed Corn Harvest

[Economy]
Kusung Textile Factory, Outdated Machines are Preferred to Unreliable Replacements
Intense Crackdown on SoonChun Pharmaceutical Factory Workers

[Politics]
National Security Agency Intensifies Spy Patrols
Sariwon, the Investigation of the Anti-Socialist Activities

[Society]
Doctors Mobilized for Rebuilding Nampo People’s Hospital
Residents of Chungjin City Feel Burden Providing Supplies for the Heochun Power Plant in Jagang Province

[Women/Children/Education]
South Pyongan Province Democratic Women’s Union (DWU), “Make Indomitable Pride of North Korean Women Widely Known”
National Border Area, “Number of Women Crossing the River Decreases due to 150-days Battle”
The Academic Performance of Seojoong Middle School in Rakwon County is Not Up to Par Yet

[Accidents]
Onsung County, Mother Committed Suicide After Her Daughter Fled the Country

[Editorial]
Not Market Closure, but Revitalization of Factories is the Solution
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[Hot Topics]
Closing of Pyongsung Market Causes Increase in Migration to Soonchun
As the general market of Pyongsung, South Pyongan Province has been closed, more residents are leaving Pyongsung. Residents who have been leaving are typically those who cannot find a way to make a living locally. Many move to Soonchun, which arose as a wholesale town of privately fabricated products. The residents, mainly merchants, receive permits to move by bribing officials of the Residents Registration Section of the city police and then move to Soonchun. In the past, the City of Pyongsung played the role of a wholesale market for the nation, taking advantage of geographically favorable conditions along the line connecting Sinuiju and Pyongyang as well as a convenient transportation system. As a consequence, Pyongsung residents could enjoy a higher standard of living in comparison with other regions. However, the enforced market closing dealt a severe blow to the living conditions of residents. Even though there was a ration of grain last October, it was such a meager amount that it was not of any help to the residents. Residents are complaining that they cannot survive without commercial activities. As the number of residents wishing to move to Soonchun has increased, the provincial party of South Pyongan Province finally issued a directive to the provincial security department and the city police department: “Do not issue any permits to residents of Pyongsung who wish to move to Soonchun. Approve the permits only of those who are ordered to move to Soonchun according to national policy.” The intervention of the party slowed down the entry of non-residents into Soonchun temporarily. However, residents are likely to continue trying to make a living one war or another. In the meantime, on October 17, economists of the central party and the cabinet held meetings in order to find ways to rejuvenate the economy and to improve the daily diets of residents. Their conclusion was that general markets should be closed, such as the Pyongsung Market, and that the markets in the capital area should be abolished as soon as possible. Their announced policy was that state-run stores should take the place of private markets and play a more active role.

Management Committee of Soonchun Market in Trouble for Lax Enforcement
The City of Soonchun, South Pyongan Province, attracts people looking for jobs from other regions. As the city has developed many privately run handicraft shops and has a balanced distribution of commercial activities, from merchandise production to sales, more non-residents have sought to enter. In comparison with the City of Pyongsung, which got hurt by the closing of general markets, Soonchun has allowed its markets to function rather freely until recently. However, some time ago authorities ran inspections of market stalls, looking for restricted merchandise. These sales booths with unrestricted merchandise, including contraband items as well, were tacitly permitted by the officials of the management committee. After the public prosecutor’s office discovered the illegal sales, they ordered the arrest of the manager and the treasurer of the committee and investigated them for two days. Fortunately, there was no bribery involved and they were released only with reprimands. But this incident has caused the city to initiate a market inspection procedure with a new organization, involving the city party, city administration and city police. As a consequence, the sale of contraband items will result in a fine of 3,000 to 5,000 NKW. All merchandise is also strictly limited to less than 50 Kg. In comparison to the unrestricted activities of merchants in other regions, those who cannot conduct business under the tacit permission of officials suffered devastating losses. However, secret deals by merchants continue as long as they are able to avoid inspectors’ observations.

Staff of State-Run Stores in Haejoo Work to Stock Shelves with Wholesale Goods
The sales people in state-run stores are playing the role of wholesalers as they fill up the shelves in Haejoo, South Hwanghae Province. An import-export trade company delivers approximately sixty percent of the merchandise in state-run sores, the remaining forty percent is supposed to be provided by the sales people of the stores. Because the import-export trade company can only provide a limited variety of goods, the sales staff has to rely on private wholesalers. Because ninety percent of the payment for the merchandise is in promissory notes and only ten percent is in cash, the response to these deals with private wholesalers has not been positive. Most of the items are made in China and merchants cannot purchase them from China with promissory notes. The inability to pay for Chinese goods with cash has lead wholesalers to avoid deals with state-run stores. Nonetheless, sales people of the state-run stores devise creative ways to earn money in those deals.

Markets Prosper along the Soosungchun Railroad in Place of Markets of Chungjin and Soonam
Markets have along the railroads at Soosungchun, in the City of Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province, are in high demand these days. Merchants unable to find sales booths at Soonam market sell their wares here. There are around 200 to 250 merchants here. Previously on September 25, the police chief of the Soonam district delivered a long and threatening speech to the merchants. The message was that fines will be imposed on merchants in accordance with the guidelines for maintenance of the market and that merchandise would be subject to confiscation. In other words, merchants should follow the proper procedures and processes to enter the market for commercial activities. Merchants do not seem to care about the threats made by the police chief because they cannot afford to pay for stalls in the market and thus feel that they do not have anything to lose. Starting a few days after the threatening speech, eight policemen from the Soonam district show up at the market at two o’clock to conduct regular inspections. Those merchants who can afford to bribe them with cigarettes can avoid big losses. Other poorer merchants have to rely on ‘guerilla’ tactics, hiding and avoiding the regular inspections.

Kim Gyehwa (alias) told a story about a big loss suffered at three o’clock in the afternoon on September 29, when policemen appeared suddenly out of nowhere. “Normally at 2 PM, the policemen are beside the railroad and the merchants in hiding watch the policemen trying to figure out when they will disappear. When the policemen disappear, the merchants show up slowly one by one and display their merchandise. Once in a while, the policemen suddenly rush to the market from nowhere on motorbikes. It was like that the other day. When it happens, it reminds me of a scene in a movie. Merchants scatter around in all directions to avoid confiscation of their merchandise. The whole place looks like it has just been bombed. Many items on display are damaged because they cannot be carried away by the scattering merchants, or are torn apart or trodden. I suffered a big loss because a lot of my clothing was torn apart. I also had to pay a fine. The torn clothing and the fine broke my heart. How long do I have to be treated like a wild animal while trying to make a living? “

[Food]
Snow Hinders Harvest in North Hamgyong Province
Early winter snow has hindered the harvest in North Hamgyong Province. At farm units 4 and 5 in Yingye-ri, Heoryong City, snow buried sheaved rice before it was able to be removed from the fields. A large inevitable loss is predicted because snow covered grains easily fall off during transportation. Furthermore, farmers said that it would be difficult to thresh harvested corn and rice due to the snow.

Farmers Live on Grass Porridge since March in Jaeryong County
Jaeryong County in South Hwanghae Province is known to have one of the best granaries in North Korea. The Jearyong Plain not only produces vast amounts of food, South Hwanghae Province also produces good quality rice. Even during the 1990’s Arduous March, when many people from Hamgyong Province died from starvation, people from in this area did not experience severe starvation. However, since 2007, there are growing numbers of people suffering from severe starvation. In the collective farm town of Jaeryong, less than 6-months worth of food provisions were distributed in both 2007 and 2008.

This year, two crops of potatoes and barely were planted at the end of April. The Farm Management Council promised that these food provisions would be distributed after an early harvest at the end of June. However, right after the harvest on June 30th, a nearby army unit took most of the food due to their food shortages. This left households to receive at most, a total of 12-kg of potato and barley.

Last year, the farmers ate grass porridge from May until August. The situation this year has worsened and the farmers have been eating grass porridge since March, even in the midst of harvest season. During last spring’s lean season, many families could not work due to starvation and this year the situation has declined further. A farmer complained, “The army units took away the entire early harvests of potato and barley and left none for us. It’s going to be difficult for them to force absent farmers to work.” The collective farm mangers visited absent worker’s houses to talk to them about coming back to work. Once they witnessed and realized that the farmers only had a mixture of corn powder and grass porridge to eat, they were silenced.

Potato and barley seeds were urgently distributed to the farmers on July 4th. Each household received 10.5-kg of barley, 3.7-kg of potatoes, and was told to hold out until the end of July. The farmers were encouraged to work once the July food shortage was surmounted. They were told that there was a better food provision outlook in August because they expected an early corn harvest. However, due to a severe drought in August, corn farming failed as well as the plan to give farmers corn. Therefore, farmers are still living on grass porridge, even during harvest season.

Recently, farmers have been going to the fields in the evening to glean grains from rice plants. Afraid of getting caught for stealing, the farmers do not take the grains to the rice mill to polish at the collective farm; instead they pound the grains in a mortar at home. They end up with a very small amount of polished rice that they use sparingly to make porridge. They say that the gluteus from the rice makes the porridge stickier than if it were made with corn powder and grass only; it makes their stomachs fuller longer.
Similar to last year’s situation, the food shortage is causing the number of scattered households, where family members scatter to survive, to increase. To reduce the number of mouths to feed, parents petition and request their grown children to enter the army or special labor brigades. The farmers from Jaeryong Town stated, “We’ll make it this year, but what about next year? The government needs to put out proper countermeasures to save people.”

Gilju County, Its Life depends on Vegetable Farming after Failed Corn Harvest
Gilju County in North Hamgyong Province ruined its corn harvest this year due to draught and below average temperature. If they harvested about 4 tons from one jungbo (2.45 acres) last year, this year’s harvest was about half of that. In early spring, it was evaluated that the initial seedling was done well. During the 150-Battle period, the farmers worked especially hard under the guidance of the farm official. Nevertheless, in May and June there were many cloudy days and lots of rain, and corn worms appeared a lot. The farm workers plowed up the damaged corn fields using tractors and in mid July they planted cabbage, radish, and other vegetable seeds, but draught began less than a week after the planting, causing insufficient sprouting of seeds. Desperate that they could not afford another failure after the corn, every farmer worked day and night to water the vegetable fields.

Not only the farms but also the individuals threw themselves on small patch vegetable farming as if their lives depend on it. Every member of the family was mobilized to get water from the river. These vegetables go to Heasan City, Ryanggang Province. Gilju County is located near the railroad and highways going to Ryanggang Province, and is convenient to transport vegetables to Heasan City. Every year Gulju County residents had sold their vegetables to the Haesan City where the low temperature was not suitable for vegetable farming. A household at least produces 1-2 tons of cabbage, 1 ton radish per jungbo and sell them to purchase food items for the next year. This year as usual the success of vegetable farming and the proceeds from the sale will decide how much food items they could buy for the next year. The draught in the summer caused a big drop in the total harvest. Those farmers who farmed small patch of land had failed both corn and vegetable crops and were worried that they may not even recoup the seed money. However, those who stubbornly cared for the vegetables were able to begin selling their produce to Heasan City starting in mid October. Those who are good at selling can earn more than 1 million NK won. The average is about 600,000 – 700,000 NK won of income. From the total amount, they have to deduct the cost of seed, fertilizer, transportation, and use the remaining balance to buy next year’s food items. Because this is a lot of money for the farmers who have no other means of income, they give all their might to vegetable farming.

[Economy]
Kusung Textile Factory, Outdated Machines are Preferred to Unreliable Replacements

The Kusung Textile Factory in Kusung, South Pyongan Province purchased new machinery from abroad in order to improve productivity. Last October, they dispatched technicians to the Pyongyang Textile Factory to have them learn how to operate the machines. However, since February of this year there have been many days when they could not operate the machines due to malfunctions. All the best technicians at Kusung Textile Factory were mobilized and attempted to repair the machines, but to no avail. So, they had no choice but to call for help from technicians at the Pyongyang Textile Factory because they thought repairing the machines would be more effective since the new machines can get the job done in 8 hours instead of the more than 3 days that the old machines require. Then, the machines broke down again in April. So, they had to hire three technicians from Pyongyang Textile Factory, but the compensation they had to provide to the technicians was costly. Each visit by the technicians costs at least 600,000 NK won, in addition to providing them with deluxe treatment during their stay. Although Kusung Textile Factory is one of the top enterprises in North Korea, the financial situation at the factory has declined to the extent that it is unable to provide food to its workers. The factory provided 10-days-worth of food to the workers in June and July. Since then, their financial situation has prevented them from distributing any ration whatsoever to workers. Therefore, hiring the technicians from the Pyongyang Textile Factory is a big burden upon them.

Since another breakdown of machines that happened in June, the factory has not been able to afford to call technicians from the Pyongyang Textile Factory. The workers are saying that not using the brand new machines would be better since they have to leave them idle for such a long time when they break down. Moreover, there is not much chance of an improvement in the power supply, which is always unstable. No matter how fast and how high quality the machines are that are purchased from abroad, they tend to break down easily because of frequent power outage and big variation in voltage. In addition, the fact that the new machines require only 5-6 workers while the old machines require 30 workers has been another complication. If the new machines run without problems, then the factory has to fire many employees, which poses a problem. Thus, the workers say, “The productivity can be a little bit low, but it is better to use old machines and produce fabrics considering the current situation.”

Intense Crackdown on SoonChun Pharmaceutical Factory Workers
The pharmaceutical factory in SoonChun City is a reputable production facility located in the West coast region of South Pyungan Province. It produces various types of over-the-counter drugs including aspirin, streptomycin and laxatives. The factory received compliments and was highly regard by the central party for its contribution of free medicines that were provided to military compounds in July and October of 2008 and May of this year. However, in spite of the honor that the factory received, its workers’ food rationings were often late. Consequently, as a means of sustenance, the general factory workers and pharmacology staff resorted to stealing medicine from the production line or producing homemade medicine for sale. The homemade drugs were reported to have inadequate potency and some caused severe side effects that almost resulted in fatality. The authorities began closer observation of the pharmaceutical factory workers as suspects. Similar tragedies occurred last July in Ryunpo Dong where a homemade streptomycin injection shot killed a patient. Adverse side effects were noted in other cases because of misuse of medication. The authorities continued strict enforcement to confiscate all homemade medicines and impose heavy fines.

[Politics]
National Security Agency Intensifies Spy Patrols
Last October 11, the National Safety and Security Agency of North Korea announced that a South Korean spy network is being formed. North Hamgyong Province and other border area are in search of spies in response. On October 15, the Border Defense Security Command was ordered to begin cracking down against spies who are selling confidential military information for financial gain. The initial surveillance targets are individuals smuggling goods by bribing border patrol guards and people who travel to China to visit relatives. Officials are strengthening supervision of family members with missing relatives and defectors. All security agents from the brigade visited Sanha Battalion and began a political campaign with all high ranking officers and soldiers. They emphasized that there will be severe punishment of all crimes committed at national border areas. They are also calling on residents to be vigilant. Last October 19, a meeting of neighborhood unit heads was called by security officers and the superintendent of the police department and officials were told, “There will be harsh punishment for anyone found guilty in our province (North Hamgyong Province)”. They explained that a manager at a factory in Gimchaek City was angry after being fired from his job. Instead of repenting, he took his family and two other families to South Korea on a boat. A few hours after the meeting, three families from Onsung County, Jongsung District and one family from Heoryung were caught when they tried to cross into China. On the next day, provincial national security and national border patrol brigade ordered a special patrol and strict residential management. In addition, they launched a strategic plan for all border areas against “all unemployed, anyone who was paid for their work and do not go to their workplace, anyone who doesn’t attend work, anyone with 8.3 (absentees who pay money to avoid work), anyone who does not go to work without a doctor’s note, anyone with repeated troubles, anyone with a criminal record, anyone with a defector in the family.” They ordered the head of the neighborhood units to help security agents in charge. Their instructions included a check for those who are sick and staying home from work. Neighborhood leaders were expected to talk to physicians to check the validity of an absentee’s excuse, verify how many times an individual came to visit and if the illness prevents them from working. They also need to find out in details on everyone who has traveled outside their region including their purpose, destination and people they met. Such intense security requirements are stretching the nerves of every unit and section.

Sariwon, the Investigation of the Anti-Socialist Activities
Youth Union Officers are now mobilized within the Investigation of the Anti-Socialist team activities throughout the nation including Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province. Starting in 2007, the Youth Union Officers are inspecting young men and students who recently graduated and are unemployed gang members who are creating disorder. Anyone caught during the inspection is sent to a disciplinary center that is managed by the discipline education center office. Upon their release from the disciplinary center, they are dispatched to factories or enterprises. The Youth Union Officers of Sariwon are also mobilizing disciplinary teams to inspect dress code violations in the main streets, near marketplaces, train station and other main areas. Young women are caught if they are wearing Chinese straight leg pants or a necklace. Their items are confiscated and they are sent to the Youth Union and are forced to work without compensation.

[Society]
Doctors Mobilized for Rebuilding Nampo People’s Hospital
Nampo City People’s Hospital in South Pyongan Province worked on a rebuilding project during the last 150-day battle. Since the construction materials provided by the city were not sufficient, the medical workers of the hospital had to find the resources.

Having failed to find a viable solution, the director of the hospital sold 8 cartons of UN-provided medicine in the market. The money allowed them to complete the outside work, but the interior was not finished until the 100-day battle started. They managed to complete the whole rebuilding process by October 5.

During the period, the doctors and nurses were also mobilized for work on the reconstruction site. They met patients for two hours and spent the rest of the day working on the construction site. As fewer doctors showed up because of food shortages, on October 1 the City Party of Nampo barely managed to provide them with a week’s supply of food, obtained from the Grain Administration Department and the Health Department. The distribution was made for the individuals but was not nearly enough for the families.

Residents of Chungjin City Feel Burden Providing Supplies for the Heochun Power Plant in Jagang Province
The Shinam District People’s Committee in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province, is collecting supplies to support building the Hoechun Power Plant in Jagang Province.
Working tools are needed so shovels, pickaxes, Chisel, hammers and gloves are collected. Five pairs of work gloves and one piece of the rest of the tools are assigned to each family. Each household is required to write two letters of support.
Residents of Shinam District said they would write any number of letters but are frustrated with the burden of submitting supplies because of the cost.

[Women/Children/Education]
South Pyongan Province Democratic Women’s Union (DWU), “Make Indomitable Pride of North Korean Women Widely Known
The South Pyongan Province DWU is strengthening political organization business, declaring to “make indomitable pride of North Korean women on today’s offensive movement for the key to the advanced country.” Directive workers of the South Pyongan Province DWU went to major companies such as Chollima steel manufacturing enterprise, Daean heavy machine united enterprise, Victory car manufacturing united enterprise and Geumsung factory to seriously discuss the issues about exalting DWU laborers and members. Considering these points, Chollima County and Daean County DWU committees decided to organize ‘Family supporting Group.’ These members will provide operation tools to laboring site of each company or work with the laborers. DWU members must pay 500 NK won for tool preparation. Despite the difficulty of retaining livelihood due to lack of food, DWU claims that members should support military business, Mt. Baekdu construction business and Heachun power plant business. Some members complain DWU’s suggestion because it is burdensome to support companies in provinces and other supporting businesses.

National Border Area, “Number of Women Crossing the River Decreases due to 150-days Battle”
DWU of National Border Area in the North Hamgyong Province declared that the number of women crossing the river has decreased because of the 150-Day battle. Of course, there were still women crossing the river, but the number of women crossing the river decreased largely in the past two years. The DWU surmises that the efforts of labor mobilization and education business prevented women from thinking about crossing the river. In Heoryong City, women suffered difficult days due to the construction work during the 150-Day battle. It was normal for women to leave for work every morning and return at 9 p.m. Because the construction work was difficult, many women were not able to do any housework after returning home from work. If they did not want to go to the construction site, they had to pay a fee of 4000 NK won a day. In Onsung City, there was a problem of rich women who missed work by paying large sums of money. The DWU chairwoman and vice chairwoman received bribes and exempted the rich women from having to work at the construction site. They were also accused of embezzling the money collected for taxes and the chairwoman resigned. Despite these events, the financial burden on women continues. Since October 18, the DWU has been collecting 4500 NK won from each member in order to raise silkworms. If a person cannot pay the fee, she is punished for disobeying the Dear Leader and punished by spending 10 days receiving refinement education in the morning and working at night. This punishment is such that the women try to get the money in any way they can. The labor support is also continuing. The DWU members carry pebbles and soil on their backs for the construction of bridges and roads. If a person misses a day of work, she must pay a fee of 5,000 NK won. Even terminal patients are required to pay 2,000 to 3,000 NK won a day. Because of the 100-Day battle, which started recently, the DWU members receive lectures daily. Women are complaining because of the demands to either pay fees or work harder.

The Academic Performance of Seojoong Middle School in Rakwon County is Not Up to Par Yet
Seojoong middle school in Rakwon County, South Hamgyong Province, is not reaching up to the academic expectations. Because the school has a great facility and good teachers, Kim Jung Ill even visited the campus this spring. Thanks to the government’s consideration and investment, the school has laboratories and experimental resources including 20 computers. Since the East Sea Naval Headquarters is located in Rakwon County, almost half of the students are children of government or military officials. Children of executive officials, Unit workers, and labor workers make up for 30%, 15%, and 5%, respectively, of the rest. Because those with bad class foundation were already expelled from the county, residents in Rakwon County only composes of those with strong ideology and enthusiasm for their children’s education, which attracts national interest to the school. The school was originally established to foster young intellectuals, but the academic performances of the students are not satisfactory yet because the proper educational system is not in place. According to the results of a diagnostic test administered in September, the performance of the school was lower than that of any other school in rural areas that did not receive funds from the government. The County Education Administration instructed the school to find ways of increasing the students’ performance.

[Accidents]
Onsung County, Mother Committed Suicide After Her Daughter Fled the Country
On September 24th in Onsung, Onsung County, North Hamgyong Province, a woman in her 60s committed suicide because her daughter fled the country. The daughter had been in a re-education center because she got caught in three days after her attempt to flee the country three years ago. It was difficult for the mother to take care of the daughter who was in the center. Moreover, the suspicion and constant watch from the police and government were even more difficult for the mother to bear. When the daughter was released, the mother was relieved to see her free. However, it was not long before the daughter escaped the country again because she could not endure the severe food shortage. According to her neighbors, the mother always worried about the ordeals she had to go through again because the Police Station and Police Officers would constantly torment her asking her daughter’s whereabouts or whether her daughter had defected to South Korea. She also worried whether her daughter was going to be caught again. She eventually committed suicide in her own home because constant starvation and worry seemed too unbearable for her. Her neighbors, who visited her house after the suicide, were astonished to find out her poor living conditions. Some said, “We don’t know how she managed to support for her daughter when she was kept in the re-education center.” Others wondered whether taking care of her daughter could be the reason she became so poor. These days, residents become more careful about what they say due to the tightened border security, but they say under their breath, “Who in the world would flee their own country if the country actually provides livable conditions for its citizens? The government is to blame but, on the contrary, it is taking away innocent citizens’ lives.”

[Editorial]
Not Market Closure, but Revitalization of Factories is the Solution

Recently, the conflict between people and the government over markets has grown worse. These days, the government has gone so far as to close the Pyungsung market. However, now markets are opening up everywhere. The closure of the Pyungsung market resulted in the opening of a market in Soonchun, and the closure of the Sunam market in Chungjin resulted in the flourishing of a market along the levy of the Susung River. People are not concerned about setting up proper sales stands any more. They don’t mind going any distance as long as they can find a place where they can trade and make money. Essentially, the government control is not working. It is not that people are refusing to follow government policy. Rather, it is because people cannot survive if they conform to government policies that they disobey directives.

Under this circumstance what is the North Korean government trying to gain by closing markets? Firstly, officials always stress the view that markets are a breeding ground for resistance to socialism. No matter how hard they try to stop the influx of capitalism, there is not much they can do as long as there is an opening of markets. The government had no choice but to allow markets as they evolved naturally out of necessity. Nevertheless, they believe that markets should be abolished as soon as the economy revives and society becomes stable. Second, as a more realistic issue, the biggest problem is the fact that the government has no money. People have money, but the government has no money. Money is being circulated freely through market activities, but no money is flowing into government coffers. Since nobody wants to deposit money in banks, they are trying to siphon off private savings by revitalizing government-run stores.
If that is the case, let’s set aside the ideological aspect of market closure policy and examine the appropriateness of the policy in terms of economics. We need to question the assumption that the closing of markets will lead to a revitalization of government-run stores. Is this a rational assessment? If we look at related news, the assumption itself is wrong. Unlike the expectation that closing the Pyungsung market would lead to the closure of other markets, a new market is emerging in Soonchun. This suggests the failure of a market closure policy. How about government-run stores? They are having trouble with their supply of goods. This is because as much as 40 percent of the merchandise is being obtained by the sales staff through their personal connections with wholesale merchants, which allows them to profit personally from government transactions. People are reluctant to supply merchandise to government-run stores because only 10 percent of the money is paid in cash, the rest is paid with script. Because of this situation, contrary to the expectation that closing markets will lead to a revitalization of government-run stores, wholesale merchants just avoid government-run stores and move their business to the provinces.
The presumption that closure of markets would lead to a revival of government-run stores and an influx of money into government banks was a wrong in the first place. Even if there is a revitalization of government-ran stores, they are no match for the market when it comes to convenience and the scale of currency circulation. Moreover, the merchandise sold at government-run stores is primarily produced in China like the ones sold at markets.

The return of a policy of using government-run stores has reached a dead end, as it can neither produce the economic advantages of the market nor encourage the production of domestic goods. The solution to this policy failure should resolve both issues of economic advantage and domestic production. First of all, the market closure policy should be withdrawn. Currently, most of the activities that can be considered economic in nature are already performed by individuals in a market setting. The growth of a national economy should be based on people’s economic activities in markets.

The government should also face the reality that Chinese-made products are the only ones that can be supplied to markets and government-run stores. If they want to fill the stores and markets with domestic products, they should focus first on increasing the output of the light manufacturing industry. A revival of the light manufacturing sector would naturally allow money to flow into banks. That will open the door for the government to accumulate revenue. Of course, these steps will not be easy. There are numerous obstacles in the way of any upgrade to the manufacturing sector and to markets, such as a lack of raw materials, outdated equipment, and the capabilities of labor. Most raw materials must be imported from abroad, depleting reserves of foreign currency. Even manufacturing goods using imported raw materials would not create a situation where goods could be exchanged for foreign currency. These production obstacles create a vicious circle. The only option is to focus on products that can satisfy both domestic consumption and the demands of foreign markets. That requires government-led strategic investment instead of relying only on self-reliance. The central party has to make a decisive decision and leave this problem to economists rather than continuously interfering with the market using the excuse of ideological issues. The most important issue that has to be reemphasized here is that a revitalization of the economy should not be approached in such a way that it restricts people’s livelihoods by closing markets. The market closure policy is not only ineffective, but also negatively affects people’s feelings toward government because it poses a threat to their livelihood. The solution for the problem lies not with market closure, but with a revitalization of light manufacturing industries.

North Korea Today No.304 November 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]
“The Poorest Harvest in 80 Years” in Yangduk County
Even on the Yeonbaek Plains, “Unable to Visit Ancestral Tombs Due to the Poorest Harvest in 80 Years”
Frustrated Hopes for Success in Two-Crop Farming at Anjoo City Cooperative Farms
Yeonpoong Farm Anticipates a 40% Drop in its Corn Harvest
DaeHongDan County SamJang Group, Expects 20% Reduction in Potato Production Compared to Last Year
DaeHongDan County SinHung Group, potato yield 50% less than last year

[Food]
Porridge-Eating Households Increases Rapidly Since Early Fall in Jungpyung County
60% of Danchun Magnesite Factory Workers Are Absent Due to Lack of Food

[Economy]
Sariwon Inn, Alleged Place for Immoral Activities, Business Suspended
Haeju City Suspended Private Restaurants due to Poor Hygiene
Current Condition of the Eunha Garment Factory in Hamheung City

[Politics]
Secretary of Harbor and Port District Dismissed after Inspection at the Chungjin Electric Industry
Youth Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol Activities in Soonchun City

[Society]
Fall Land Management Project Launched in North Hamgyong Province
Provincial Hospital in Hamheung Refuses Treatment without Money
The Department of Disease Prevention in the 49th Hamheung Municipal People’s Hospital Faces the Increasing Number of Methamphetamine Abuse Patients

[Women/Children/Education]
Members of the Sariwon Democratic Women’s Union (DWU) Complain About “Being Mobilized Too Much”
Sariwon First Middle School, “Bring 30,000 NK won to Buy Computer.”
Ryudong Middle School, Eunsan County, Expects Financial Independence by Engaging in Medical Herb Business

[Accidents]
In Chungjin, Pirates Were Arrested for Killing Fishermen
Cargo Truck from Chungjin Topples over due to Brake Failure

[Editorial]
“The Worst Harvest in 80 Years,” It’s Time to Learn the Wisdom of Tycoon Choi
______________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
“The Poorest Harvest in 80 Years” in Yangduk County
Talk of “the poorest harvest in 80 years” seems to be spreading throughout the nation. One can hear such talk, which originated in North Hamgyong Province, even in Yangduk County, South Pyongan Province. Even this region has been the victim of severe drought, as evidenced by the low grain yield. Residents barely survived on porridge during the 150-Day Battle. As the 100-Day Battle starts, immediately after the 150-Day Battle, residents rely on acorns collected in the mountains or other herbs. The shortage has caused any ‘zeal for battle’ to disappear and nobody is enthusiastic about work. There was once a time when the name ‘Yangduk’ represented a good liquor, well-known throughout the nation. The area was also praised as a place where the management of public hygiene and landscaping was excellent after the days of the Chollima Movement . Yangduk County, a place that residents were proud of, started losing its reputation because of how army units abused the forests. Blatant woodcutting by military units causes landslides whenever there is a heavy rain. Severe flood damage in 2006 and 2007 were man-made disasters, strictly speaking. As usual, this year, even though flood damage was anticipated, the county party and county administration committees could not devise any preventative measures against them. Such a wonderful and livable place has now become stricken with severe natural disasters. Residents sighed as they suffered from flood damages during the past years. All of a sudden, this year brought severe storms and drought, earning it the name ‘the year of the poorest harvest in 80 years.’

Even on the Yeonbaek Plains, “Unable to Visit Ancestral Tombs Due to the Poorest Harvest in 80 Years
Farmers on the Yeonbaek Plains in the counties of Yeonan, Baechun, Chungdan and Ryongyeon, South Hwanghae Province claim that, “This year’s harvest is the lowest in 80 years.” Party leaders have become extremely concerned. “Opening the gate to a prosperous and strong nation requires, more than anything else, resolution of problems in food shortage. This year’s crop is so poor that everyone has been saying, ‘how can we feed ourselves next year and continue farming?’”
Farmers in this area swarm to the riverside. Carrying a few days’ worth of provisions, they live in tents and collect gold dust. They can make 2,000 to 3,000 NKW a day by collecting gold dust. Farmers say, “With this year’s poor harvest, it has become apparent that at least three to four months’ worth of grain will be taken from us at the end of the year to be used for military provisions.” Therefore, they say they would rather make money from prospecting gold dust than rely on anything from the grain rations.
Each work unit consists of approximately sixty families, 45% of whom survived on porridge last May. The poorest families did not have anything to cook, and they survived on soy plants plucked from the fields, boiled with cabbages. Malnutrition has caused more deaths among the elderly over the age of sixty than it did last year. Many elderly people say, “Watching our married children suffer from a shortage of food really hurts. What is there to live for? I would rather die in peace than watch them suffer.”
Moreover, there are many families who could not afford to visit their ancestral tombs on the occasion of the Mid-Autumn Festival. They could not afford a bowl of rice as part of the ritual for the deceased. Annually, it has been customary that families are provided with a few kilograms of rice, from the early crop, before Mid-Autumn Festival. As usual, the provincial party approved as a provision for each family a ration of 2.7 Kg of grain. The problem was that each family, regardless of the size, was given the same amount. Naturally, larger families ran out of food before the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Residents wonder whether the situation will improve when the harvest season is over. However, the fact that the crop output is less than last year has made residents very worried. A party leader of Haejoo commented, “If the food crisis is this serious in the ‘representative warehouse region of rice’, how serious is it in the other regions?”

Frustrated Hopes for Success in Two-Crop Farming at Anjoo City Cooperative Farms
Leaders of the Farm Management Committee of Anjoo City, South Pyongan Province set up a plan “to solve the problem of food shortage with a two-crop farming system during the 150-Day Battle in order to receive good evaluations.” The plan did not produce the desired result. This year, all the work groups attempted two-crop farming, pairing potatoes and corn or potatoes and potatoes. Even when farmers were absent from work due to a lack of food, the primary party leaders went to their homes and pushed the farmers to work. They emphasized the need to enrich the soil. Accordingly, they paid a great deal of attention to the collection of Heukbosan fertilizer and farmyard manure. Their estimate of this year’s harvest was at least 1.2 times that of an average year. However, as of October, the actual output has not been any better than last year. Thirty MT of Heukbosan fertilizer was given to the fields with the first crop of the pair and twenty MT was given to the field with the second crop of the pair, to little effect. “Heukbosan” fertilizer is, in fact, nothing more than a mixture of dirt, straw and human excrement. It is a fertilizer of the lowest quality. All farmers worked harder during this year’s 150-Day Battle than any other period of the year, with nothing to show for their redoubled efforts. They were disappointed and discouraged. Every farmer is worried about how much grain they will receive from this year’s harvest after the military has taken their share for provisions. Their only hope is that the party leaders’ apportionment of the grain rations will be just and fair.

Yeonpoong Farm Anticipates a 40% Drop in its Corn Harvest
An assessment by Farm Management Committee of Anjoo City, South Pyongan Province concludes that the corn harvest of Yeonpoong Farm this year will be about 40% less than last year’s. On the other hand, the rice output is estimated to be a little higher this year. The high expectations of the Farm Management Committee of South Pyongan Province were frustrated by the low yield at Yeonpoong Farm, which had received more fertilizer than other farms. Additionally, farming experts organized many technical presentations on the advances of modern farming. Food shortages among the farmers have caused many problems when it came to staffing the facility. Nonetheless, the farmers paid close attention to eliminating absenteeism during the 150-Day Battle.
After the military took their share of provisions, farmers were provided with only three months’ worth of grain at last year’s harvest. Farmers tried their best to save food, but surviving through the ‘difficult’ spring months was a formidable task. Because the military even took away all of the fresh potato crop and the barley, farmers had to roam around the mountainous areas to collect edible herbs and fed themselves with a porridge of crushed corn during the ‘corn field weeding battle’ of May and June. Families with many dependent children and elderly parents suffer the most. Yeonpoong Farm is organized according to nine regular work units and one independent group. Usually about ten families in each work unit were absent from work because they ran out of food.
During harvest time, this farm, along with many others, selects five people from each farm work group for security guard duties. Their guard duty lasts twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, without any shift changes. Most of the time, it is farmers who steal grain from the fields. These farmers conspire with the guards and steal corn or rice. Of course, they divide their spoils among themselves. One of the housewives who participated in the theft of corn some time ago complained, “The party leaders took their designated share of grain rations. At first, that share was 30% corn and 70% rice, but later they took 100% only in rice and no corn. Nothing was left for the rest of us. Even if it is only by theft, shouldn’t we also survive?”

DaeHongDan County SamJang Group, Expects 20% Reduction in Potato Production Compared to Last Year
Ryanggang Province DaeHongDan County SamJang Group expects 20 a percent reduction in potato production compared to last year. Farmers agree, based on their experience, that harvest this year is much lower than last year. Officials were disappointed because there was not much improvement despite full utilization of farmers through the 150-day battle period. Farmers raised a seed issue stating that, especially this year, they found a lot of seeds without potato buds. There are eight work units in SamJang Group that do very well on potato farming. Each work unit has eight subunits. Most of them are veterans from other regions. Approximately 70 percent of them are veterans from other regions, and the remaining 30 percent of them are farmers in this region. Each work unit is responsible for more than 100 farming areas. In the past, they were well equipped with germless seeds, Russian tractors, and various other facilities.
Since 2000, the machine utilization rate has dropped significantly because the machines are aging, there is no oil, and there are no spare parts to fix the glitches. Moreover, production is also hindered because seeds are not cultivated properly. One of the farm workers said the potato yield is poor this year as well because of these chronic problems.

DaeHongDan County SinHung Group, potato yield 50% less than last year
This year, the potato yield of Ryanggang Province, DaeHongDan County, SinHung Group is expected to be 50 percent less than last year because of the poor potato farming. Potato buds seemed to be fine, but the absence of timely fertilization caused the problem. The damages worsened because of the draught. When farmers estimated the potato yield, it turned out to be less than half of the last year's potato crop. Moreover, the yield is dropping more because the hungry farmers eat potatoes as soon as they ripen. In SinHung Group, about 200 veterans who got discharged in August 1999 work in the six working units. Many veterans ran away because the climate was bad and the work was tough. Other veterans still live in houses that the County Party has provided, but the living conditions are very bad because of the poor potato harvest. Next year is expected to be more difficult to make a living because they need to sell potatoes in order to buy grains and other necessities to live there, yet workers are expected to have less than half of the potatoes compared to last year. Meanwhile, DaeHongDan County Party administration, and rural management officials are conducting the political project regarding the 100-Day Battle. On October 7 officials hosted a meeting to reinforce the 100-day battle spirit and visited organizations, universities, professional schools and middle schools in order to preach the importance of a potato production. The main message was as follows: "Now we are striving for the 100-day battle to make a powerful nation despite the food shortages. Potato harvesters, you are the nation's food providers. Let's harvest every single potato to help resolve the food shortage problem. This is essential to build the economic powerhouse."

[Food]
Porridge-Eating Households Increases Rapidly Since Early Fall in Jungpyung County
Many households in Jungpyung town in Junpyung County in the South Hamgyong Province are surviving on porridges. Approximately 1/3 of the families began surviving on porridges since last August, and the fall only increased the number of families surviving on porridges. Families must ration their food supply because of the expected poor crop yields and the lack of means to earn money due to strict market control. Even the well-off families are replacing one of their two meals with porridges.

60% of Danchun Magnesite Factory Workers Are Absent Due to Lack of Food
Approximately 60 % of the magnesite factory workers in Danchun City in the South Hamgyong Province are absent due to food shortage. In some workplaces, 20 out of 70 workers miss work. The threat made during the 150-Day Battle, that the absentees will be arrested and sent to the discipline center, did not have much effect. The absentees are saying it is better to go to the discipline center and eat corn meals three times a day than to starve at home. Some are complaining, “If you want to send the absentees to the discipline center, wouldn’t you end up transforming the factory into a discipline center?” or “It would be better to change the name of the magnesite factory to an absentee discipline factory.” The magnesite factory has not been able to supply food to its workers since June of 2007. Because, there is no work at the factory, workers must find other work in the farm or other various labor mobilizations. Therefore, factory workers say, “Send me to the discipline center if you like.”

[Economy]
Sariwon Inn, Alleged Place for Immoral Activities, Business Suspended

The inn located in front of the railway terminal in Sariwon City, North Hwanghae Province, is a place for the travelers and out-of-town businessmen to stay. In 2008 it was renovated and converted the big room into 8 separate units for two people, and since then high officials periodically stayed there. They used the place for immoral activities. An investigation revealed that the members of Provincial Security Office, City Security Office, and the member of the city Party visited the place with female. The authorities issued several warnings but there was no sign of improvement and it was temporarily suspended in June. It reopened in August after eliminating all separate units and building 3 large rooms. The residents say that “The court officials and high ranking officers do more activities that the republic prohibits by law.”

Haeju City Suspended Private Restaurants due to Poor Hygiene
There are three restaurants in front of the railway station in Haejoo City, South Hwanghae Province. In July 2009, the Hygiene Inspection Unit of the Hygiene and Immunization Center pressured the restaurants to suspend their business. On September 11, the police officers came to the restaurant and took all food and gave the food to the Kkotjaebi rescue place. Residents who operated the private restaurants were detained two days and fined 15,000 won. The residents showed their dissatisfaction saying, “The inspectors from the Hygiene and Immunization Center and police officers had been treated with free food by the restaurants, but once a complaint was filed with the City Party they seemed to have forgotten all the free meals and began to crack down.” Under the name of hygiene inspection, they say, the authorities repeatedly cracked down if the business was making good money. Even if an individual registers his business with the concerned agencies, the cracking down does not slacken as they are worried about the spreading of capitalism.

Current Condition of the Eunha Garment Factory in Hamheung City
Eunha garment factory in Hamheung city in the South Hwanghae province employs 170 single women and 50 married women tailors. One male employee is assigned to each work unit as a sewing machine repairman. The city labor department recently dispatched 50 girls who graduated early this year and plans to dispatch 100 additional workers to the factory early next year. During 150-Day Battle, the garment factory has operating fully night and day, making work clothes for the South Korean workers. Food rations and special goods are distributed based on the productivity of each worker. A woman with high productivity will receive 25kg of rice, 2kg of corn oil, 2kg of sugar and 9000 NK won per month. Since February, a new policy has been implemented to allow attendance of each worker affecting the amount of goods received. Single women tailors work very hard without breaks in order to raise their productivity levels. Furthermore, on the Youth day on August 28th, Eunha trades headquarter imported Chinese buses through the Sinuiju customs and distributed them throughout the 13 cities where Eunha garment factories are located to assist and facilitate workers commute.

[Politics]
Secretary of Harbor and Port District Dismissed after Inspection at the Chungjin Electric Industry

On October 11, the secretary of Harbor and Port District in Pohang was dismissed after the industrial electricity inspection in the North Hamgyong Province. The secretary was accused of providing electricity for unproductive and personal uses instead of the enterprise within the district. He was punished for wasting energy during the crucial 150-Day Battle. The actions by the secretary were deemed to be “a branch of obstacle for the construction of the Strong and Prosperous Nation,” and he was dismissed from office and evicted to a farm.

Youth Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol Activities in Soonchun City
The Youth Union Committee of Soonchun City in the South Pyongan Province formed the “Youth Anti- Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol Unit” to regulate the young people’s anti-social phenomenon during the last 150-Day Battle. The investigation targeted 2007 graduates who are not working at their dispatched workplaces. The Youth Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol Unit was started as a response to a recent surge in the problem among youth including robbery, stealing and drug use. Young people, who skip work to do business, gamble or use drugs are arrested by the Unit and sent to the Special Labor Brigade. Furthermore, the Unit conducts dress inspections of youth and students, targeting those who wear necklaces, tight clothes or clothes that resemble capitalistic appearance.

[Society]
Fall Land Management Project Launched in North Hamgyong Province

The Land Environment Preservation Management Office of North Hamgyong Province ordered everyone to attend the fall land management project during the 100-Day Battle. Workers were also dispatched to different enterprises to repair the roads or to plant trees of superior species. The mobilized workers planted larch trees and acacia trees. Factories and enterprises gave corns to those who could not bring their own food.

This year was extremely hard for the people because the government prohibited small patch farming or took the land away. In the farm or in remote area, older people who could not do trading had depended on the small patch farming for their food, but as they could no longer do that, some of them had collapsed in the field. Only those who had personal relations with the Forest Protection Staff or people who bribed them were able to farm at their small patches of land. However, due to severe draught the harvest was poor and the small patch farmers experienced a lot of hardship. They had used fertilizers that cost 2,000 NK won per kilogram, but it is a lean year and they may not be able to recoup the cost. Moreover, if the small patch farm is over 30 pyong, they have to pay tax, 50 NK won per pyong (3.954 sq yd), and those who have difficult time to make a living, are not in a position to pay the land tax.

Provincial Hospital in Hamheung Refuses Treatment without Money
The provincial hospital in Hamheung City is the biggest hospital in the South Hamgyong Province. This hospital is praised for accurate diagnosis and good quality of its treatment compared to the hospitals in other cities and counties. Last year, a new admission ward was constructed for patients and new equipment brought in. However, even though the general rule is free treatment for all, only patients with money are receiving treatment. It is difficult for people without money to receive even a simple medical examination. Patients even try to bribe the doctors with packs of cigarettes. The doctors are selling the medicine for profit to patients, claiming that they, too, need to survive. As a result, only the city and county officials, well off families and families receiving help from their relatives in China receive regular treatments.

The Department of Disease Prevention in the 49th Hamheung Municipal People’s Hospital Faces the Increasing Number of Methamphetamine Abuse Patients
The 49th Hamheung Municipal People’s Hospital, South Hamgyong Province, has been experiencing an increasing number of mental patients due to methamphetamine abuse. The number has increased from 40 in April 2007, to 55 in July 2008, and to 70 in August 2009. In particular, many young people are hospitalized because of drug abuse. On September 22, 2009, a young man in Shinheung -1 Dong, Hamheung, set a house on fire because of his mental illness caused by methamphetamine abuse. He was arrested by the police and transferred to a hospital after he burned the house and made a disturbance in front of the Kim Il-Sung statue. In recent years, the number of female drug abuse patients, as well as young drug abuse patients, has been increasing.

[Women/Children/Education]
Members of the Sariwon Democratic Women’s Union (DWU) Complain About “Being Mobilized Too Much”
The Sariwon City Party of North Hwanghae Province undertook a Party project of rebuilding a chicken farm to increase the production of chicken and eggs in order to improve residents’ living conditions. To rebuild the farm, the Party mobilized officials and laborers from the Construction Enterprise, the House Repairing Enterprise, and the Democratic Women’s Union (DWU).
The DWU members were instructed to clear the land and put rubble to lay the foundation for the farm, a tedious and arduous task that involves gathering a tremendous amount of rubble. Even during the hot summer, it becomes a daily routine for the members to start collecting riverbed rubble and fine gravel at 8 a.m. and return home around 2 or 3 p.m. The members also took care of the order from the Party that each household donate a cart of fine gravel and rubble. Because the ox cart delivery costs 1,500 to 2,000 NK won, each household in some Neighborhood Units chipped in to deliver the fine gravel and rubble by car. The members complete the rubble task by searching the riverbed every day.
As soon as the members finished the chicken farm reconstruction, they were mobilized again to deliver cement from early morning to 9 p.m. in order to construct the “Arirang” watchtower. Since most of the members are housewives, it is good for them to have a mother-in-law or any other person at home who can prepare their family dinner. If not, they have to prepare dinner late at night after work. Because many households do not have time to run a business in the market and thus do not make money to buy grain, they eat porridge. If they want to engage in business in the market, they have to miss mobilizations. However, the fine for the missed mobilization is 3,000 NK won per day. The endless mobilizations and the fine incur enormous resentment from the DWU members. They express a strong complaint, “The City Democratic Women’s’ Union always tries to impress the City Party. That is why the Union is so hard on us in regards to mobilizations.”

Sariwon First Middle School, “Bring 30,000 NK won to Buy Computer.”
As an attempt to improve the quality of education, the Education Department of Sariwon City, North Hwanghae Province, instructed the First Middle School to provide a computer in every class, and the school officials collected 30,000 NK won from the students. As the First Middle School is a school for the gifted and talented, many students are the children of high officials and rich people, yet 30,000 NK won is not a small amount. About half of the students paid without any question, of course, but the rest argued that the cost is too high. Some parents even reported it to the Provincial party that “30,000 NK won is an enormous amount.” Upon receipt of the complaint, the Education Department of City Party fired the staff who instructed the school to buy computers and the principal and teachers of the First Middle School were severely criticized during the teachers’ meeting.

Ryudong Middle School, Eunsan County, Expects Financial Independence by Engaging in Medical Herb Business
Ryudong Middle School in Eunsan County, South Pyongan Province, is famous for planting medicinal plants around the school flower garden and vacant lots. There are about one hundred twenty different types of medicinal plants. The teachers, saying that cultivating medicinal plants is beneficial for them to acquire biological knowledge, mobilized the students to do the work. Last year, they made money by selling herbs to the merchants, and since the herbs were sold so quickly they increased the area to plant. The principal says that the more they have herbs, the better data (they would have) to learn, and frequently emphasizes that they should work hard to plant and care for the medicinal plants. The school expects to use the money to furnish the classroom and this would in turn decrease the students’ extra payment.

[Accidents]
In Chungjin, Pirates Were Arrested for Killing Fishermen
Pirates were arrested In Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, for taking about 30 boats and killing the workers on the boat during the months of May thru August. The pirates were consisted of two residents living in Gwanhaedong, Sinam region, and two laborers working at the Chungjin port. They went to the sea in a fake squid boat, killed the workers on the fishing boat, and then returned with plundered squids and the boat. After checking the boat number, if the boat belonged to the factories or businesses in Chungjin, (the pirates) sold it in Urang County or Raseon, and if the boat was from Urang County or Raseon, (they) sold it in Chungjin. The police office of North Hamgyong Province declared that “(this is) a grand scale robbery on the sea” and as the crime is extremely atrocious, they deserve to be shot.

Cargo Truck from Chungjin Topples over due to Brake Failure
On September 16th, a truck from a shipping company in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, was transporting cargo to Urangchun Power Plant, and while it was driving through Kyongsung County it was involved in an accident due to brake problem. Because of this accident, a cow and a farm worker who was driving the cow-driven cart died, and as the truck tumbled over a cliff, a staff was also killed at the scene. As the cargo did not arrive at the power plant on time, the Chungjin City Party and its administrative staff were harshly criticized and rebuked.

[Editorial]
“The Worst Harvest in 80 Years,” It’s Time to Learn the Wisdom of Tycoon Choi
The wealth of the Choi family in Kyung-joo lasted for 12 generations, and the family produced nine village officers. They shared family teachings that were handed down for 400 years. The teachings are: Do not accumulate money to the extent that hurts the sentiments of people in the community; Refrain from purchasing rice fields during a bad harvest; Don’t let people within a four kilometer radius die of hunger. Also, the family lowered the rent whenever they had surplus profit so that everyone could benefit from it. Although they spent enormous amounts of rice just for visitors every year they did not allow their own family members to eat rice during the spring hardship period and prohibited using silverware. There is an old saying that poverty and wealth do not last more than three generations, but the Choi family’s wealth could have survived for 12 generations because they followed their family teachings. That was possible only because they had the wisdom of living modestly even though they were rich and always thought about the deprivation other people experienced.
This year’s harvest in North Korea is so bad it is considered the worst in 80 years. Thanks to a good climate and an increase in crop yield, last year’s harvest was about average despite the shortage of fertilizer. However, this year’s corn farming suffered serious damage because of a lack of fertilizer as well as drought and cold weather. This year’s harvest is expected to be the worst one since 1929 during the Japanese colonial period when a large number of people suffered from hunger nationwide. The fact that there are many people surviving on porridge even in the harvest season attests to the severity of the problem.
To make matters worse, the beginning of 100-Day Battle and various non-tax burdens that are applied cause even more suffering to North Koreans. Although the central government issued a reduction of non-tax burdens numerous times, the practice continues. It is difficult to halt this practice because local officers are inclined to prove they are performing up to high standards. However, the real problem lies with the way the Central Party executes business using political propaganda as the key tactic whereby the Party selects the best practice unit in the production combat and establishes a mandate for all work stations and for every neighborhood unit. Moreover, as long as the practice of reprimanding officials with poor records and punishing them with dismissal or demotion continues, the problem of non-tax burden will continue.
We will have to remember the Choi family teachings. The lesson of not letting people within four kilometers die of hunger is good enough to show the South Korean government how humanitarian principles should be implemented as they insist on using “dismantling the nuclear program first” and “transparency of distribution” as conditions for food aid. The lesson about not buying other people’s rice fields during a bad harvest serves as a good lesson for the North Korean government regarding its ban on “small patch farming” and “peddling business.” The principles of a socialist nation and the construction of a “Strong and Prosperous Nation” are all for the sake of building a society where people live a good life with enough food for everyone. They need leadership like the Choi family provided.

North Korea Today No.303 November 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]
Shady Alliance of Hyesan City Police with Smugglers Stirs Discontent
Residents Complain, “The Behavior of Privileged Leaders is Detestable”
Manager of Sanitarium in Kangseo County, About To Be Fired for Planting Grain Instead of Medicinal Herbs
Gwaksan County, Party Instructs Officers to use “Foreman’s Handbook” to Improve Farming Practices

[Food]
Uncertain Food Ration Outlook for Orchard Workers at Kwail County
In Jaeryong County 1/3 of Farm Workers Survive on Porridge
Onchun City Farm, “What Happened to 10 Ton Production Base…”
Continuing Occurrence of Absents Due to Food Problem at the Gumduk Mine
This Year’s Crop Yield Falls Short of Last Year in Jangyeon County

[Economy]
“Solving Food Shortage Is the Foremost Task of the Party,” Say Officers from Central Party and Department of Agriculture
Difficult Repairs after Railroad Accident in Danchun
Frequent Train Troubles in Ryanggang Province Being Blamed on Repairmen
Bukchang Thermal Power Generation Plant Running into Problems

[Politics]
Crackdown on Illegal Video Films in Pyongsung
Hamheung Created Drug Enforcement Team

[Society]
Pyongsung Police Officers Frantic to Make Money
Buses Run Again Between Hoeryong and Chungjin, but It is Still Inconvenient

[Women/Children/Education]
Expanded Study Opportunity for the Children of the Overseas Staff
Members of the Democratic Women’s Union (DWC), Heungnam City, have Difficulties due to Artistic Propaganda Activities
Students Dispatched to Farms Go Back Home Because it is Too Hard

[Accidents]
A Corn Thief Commits Suicide while being investigated
Heungnam Marine Product Business Office Lost 8 tons of Squid Due to Poor Storage

[Editorial]
Corrupt Officials Must be Purged
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[Hot Topics]
Shady Alliance of Hyesan City Police with Smugglers Stirs Discontent
Police officers in the border areas are getting rich through protection rackets paid by smugglers. In the case of the officers of the Hyesan City Police, all the officers, with the exception of four, ride privately owned motorbikes. These motorbikes have been purchased and registered with the police station as personal property. Riding motorbikes to work is a luxury, considering that many ordinary residents have to walk to work because they cannot afford bicycles. Among those officers, Kang Chulryong, unit leader of Patrol Unit 4, is infamous in the neighborhood. Officer Kang patrols the border areas of Hyeran Dong and Hyeshin Dong. He allegedly makes more than 500 Chinese yuan by ensuring safe transportation of smuggled contraband, such as copper, gold and rare tungsten alloys. His boasts of having been able to pay the high price of 6,300 yuan for his motorbike. When he goes to buy from the dealers at the black market, he considers 20,000 to 30,000 NKW to be paltry sums and asks the dealers to keep them. Residents whisper, “Kang Chulryong used to be so poor while living in South Hwanghae Province and now he looks so affluent after serving in the Hyesan City Patrol for less than a year.”
Shady alliances with smugglers is not the only reason for Kang’s infamy. According to Kim Changho (alias), it is Kang’s ‘harsh treatment of those residents whose only means of survival is smuggling.’ Kang is hated by residents as ‘the worst human being among the police officers.’ When the smuggled amount is too little for him to skim any off the top, he confiscates all of it and reports the crime, proclaiming his abilities as a crime fighter. When the smuggled amount is sizable, he takes more than half and looks the other way. Kang Chulryong accumulated his wealth in this manner. He spreads bribe money among high ranking police officers and provincial party leaders, and thus is able to pass through numerous official inspections. According to a resident who knows Kang very well, “Kang Chulryong only wears a policeman’s uniform because of the support of his wife’s family. He bribed the leaders of the city party and the provincial party with money taken from smugglers. He is driven by an ambition to rise ever higher.” He is boastful that he is the best in the police force. Whenever he sees a poor policeman, he looks down upon him as an idiot. He makes fun of women and young girls then takes them to restaurants for meals. He spends money like water. Residents feel disgusted at the sight of this man, who has developed a bad reputation. Some residents say, “We wish Kang Chulryong was relieved of his position. Our greatest wish is to see him kicked out of the police force.” Any residents who mention the unit leader of Patrol Unit 4 severely criticize the alliance of corrupted police officers and criminals. The residents claim that, “These corrupt officers cruelly kick those innocent people while they are down, people just trying their best to survive.”

Residents Complain, “The Behavior of Privileged Leaders is Detestable”
The residents of Pyongsung City, South Pyongan Province, complain that party leaders live too easily. Party leaders take advantage of their positions and use them to make money. This advantage makes it much easier for them to make a living than ordinary residents. In many cases, this advantage comes from illegal activities such as bribe taking and misuse of state-owned properties. A good example would be the case of nutrition powder received from South Korea. Last July, South Korea sent nutrition powder for pregnant women; party leaders embezzled it for their own profit. Party leaders pay visits to the enterprises belonging to the food distribution network on the pretext of providing site counsels. Some party leaders quite often take products from these enterprises without compensation. In addition, party leaders are exempt from the various labor mobilizations.
The privileges of the Party stand in stark contrast to the situation that ordinary residents face daily. Ordinary residents lose so much time due to mobilizations that they suffer in their daily efforts to make a living. If party leaders ever contribute to the labor mobilizations, it is only for the least strenuous tasks, such as cleaning the streets in the morning. They just try to show off and pretend to do something useful, while avoiding many real labor mobilizations. While the residents who cannot participate in the mobilization are supposed to pay a fine, leaders never do. The resentment of residents toward party leaders keeps intensifying as the task of daily survival gets harder and harder.

Manager of Sanitarium in Kangseo County, About To Be Fired for Planting Grain Instead of Medicinal Herbs
The Third Sanitarium, founded in April of 1993 for the purpose of performing medical treatments with oriental medicine, has depended on growing its own herbs. But the food crisis began in July of 1995 and food rations since ceased, leading to deaths from starvation in 1996. At the time, the sanitarium could survive through the food crisis by growing corn and soybeans on the fields set aside for medicinal herbs. As the new food crisis emerged last year, the newly appointed manager of the sanitarium decided to plant grains and vegetables wherever possible. He thought that it was the only way that employees could solve the food shortage by themselves. This year, medicinal herbs were planted only in a single Jungbo (2.45 acres) out of four, the rest were planted with corn and soybeans. The Sanitarium anticipates a harvest of 5 MT of corn and 800 Kg of soybeans.
At the end of the 150-Day Battle, the manager was severely criticized by his superiors at the general residents meeting. The health authorities of Kangseo County instructed him not to plant corn on the field reserved for medicinal herbs this year. Instructions specified that the fields should be planted only with a wide variety of medicinal herbs. His decision to plant grain was directly against the instructions of his superiors. There is a rumor going around that he will be fired soon by the county. The employees of the sanitarium, however, support the manager’s decision, saying, “How many of us could have survived this year’s poor harvest if the manager had just followed the instructions of the county health authorities?”

Gwaksan County, Party Instructs Officers to Use “Foreman’s Handbook” to Improve Farming Practices
The County Party of Gwaksan County, North Pyongan Province instructs officers to make “Foreman’s Handbook” to improve farming practices. "Foreman’s Handbook", which was originated with the leading secretary of Gwaksan County, has been a great help to officers who do not know well on farming practices. Usually, the party officers only give the political guidance, but the County Party decided to give the business guidance as well, because the skills of officers’ business practices is very poor. This is unprecedented. The episode that “Foreman’s Handbook" was first made is as follows. Watching a County Party officer conducts a farming guidance during the 150-day battle period, the leading secretary of Gwaksan County asked, "what was the rice crop yield of the work unit that was under your guidance last year, and how much percent of the total rice crop yield plan did it correspond to?" The officer could not answer it properly, so the leading secretary reproved, saying, "How can you give a proper guidance without knowing anything about farming? As one of Party officers, you don’t have a clear grasp of the practical knowledge on your job, which deteriorates the dignity of Party officers."
Last May, the leading secretary of the County Party asked questions to each party officer at a County Party Committee meeting. The questions were about whether they were aware of the soil analysis data and deployment issues in his assigned farm, as well as yearly crop yield and the current situations regarding rice planting, fertilizing, and weeding. However, no officer properly answered the questions. The leading secretary of the County Party gave a four-day farming training to the party officers to improve their practical farming knowledge.

In addition, the leading secretary of the County Party instructed officers to make "Foreman’s Handbook’’ and to write details about the farming business practices on it.
This helped officers give detailed and effective farming practice guidance. As they could give effective farming guidance thanks to the "Foreman’s Handbook" , the leading secretary of the County Party, on June 17th, commanded all collective farm work unit foremen to write Foreman’s Handbook in order for them to do farming in a more scientific way. This has contributed to reducing the instances in which party officers give guidance without actually knowing the specific farming business practices.

[Food]
Uncertain Food Ration Outlook for Orchard Workers at Kwail County
Orchard workers from Yeonkwang-ri in the Kwail County in the South Hwanghae province are anxious about the uncertain food ration outlook for this year. Usually food ration for the orchard workers were supplied by their own harvest of corn and rice. However, because of bad farming conditions due to heavy rain in June and drought in August, big shortage in the food distribution is expected. Many families have already run out of food since early spring. Orchard workers complain that even though they harvest fruit, it is no help to their food shortage since fruit cannot substitute a meal. The only thing they can do is store the fruit and sell it in the winter to buy food.

The Yeonkwang-ri orchard had severe food shortage last year as well. This orchard normally grows apples, pears, plums, strawberries and peaches. The orchard workers have also been growing some grain between the fruit trees to supplement their food supply. However, this practice was caught by the Fruit Production Administration inspectors and the managers received severe criticisms. The Fruit Production Administration prohibits growing of any grain alongside the fruit trees because the grain depletes the fruit trees of nutrients. Similarly, in Anak County, an orchard worker was fired and all the bean plants destroyed because he planted beans alongside the apple trees. Previously, the Agricultural Management Council allowed limited plating of beans among the apple trees because the apples trees were of a taller variety. However, the new apple trees are of a shorter variety and have not been growing well due to the side farming. Therefore, the party prohibits growing any grain alongside the fruit trees.

In Jaeryong County 1/3 of Farm Workers Survive on Porridge
At the Cooperation Farm in Jaeryong County in the South Hwanghae Province, the crop yield is not very high despite the encouragement from the managers. The farming parties followed the farming schedule for 150 days through July and things seemed to be going well. However, the farming suffered from the drought in July and August. Currently in the West Sea district, about 1/3 of the families in the villages survive on porridges. This is about 20 families out of 60 families. The workers are already worried about the food shortage in the fall. People living in towns and cities can supplement their food supply through business, but farmers are unable to do so. The farmers have no choice but to wait for the food distribution from the government. Many worry that if this does not occur, “Everyone will starve to death before they reach the goal of building a Strong and Prosperous Nation in 2012.”

Onchun City Farm, “What Happened to 10 Ton Production Base…”
County Assembly of Onchun County, South Pyongan Province gathered officers from all levels and confuted the importance of a successful harvest year on May 22 when 150-Day Battle began. They emphasized, “In order to open doors as the Strong and Prosperous Nation in the year 2012, we have to resolve the food crisis.” And yet they left it up to the residents within the county to find their own way to solve their food crisis. Starting May 2005, all enterprise workers, all members of the Democratic Women’s Union, and middle school students were all called in and mobilized to work at farms. Because they tightened inspection to make sure there are no absences, the harvest went fairly well until July. However, they estimated that hot climate change between July and August negatively impacted yields. The problem was not only the climate but that farmers failed to fully understand the new crops. The farm had their #2 working group and #4 working group grow corns as their new crop, but they failed because the residents did not understand the instructions given by the Farm Supporting Group. Because this was a brand new crop, the Farm Technique Directive Officers had some difficulties giving instructions.

With the 100-Day Battle, officers at the County Party and Agencies of the County Distribution are on the ground directing the fall harvest. Onchun County is worried because their harvest returns are worse than that of previous year. A farm officer commented on the seriousness of the food crisis, “Our County can produce up to 10 tons a year. This not only satisfies our own needs but we can share with other counties as well. Our County is the best known open field in South Pyongan Province. I don’t understand how we came to such devastating food crisis. This is the area where people can eat rice even if other areas can’t. It’s inconceivable that we have more serious food problems.

Continuing Occurrence of Absentees Due to Food Problem at the Gumduk Mine
Although the 100-Day Battle already begun, there are continuing absences of workers at the Gumduk Mine in Danchun City, South Hamgyong Province. The 4th Group and 5th Group of the 2nd mine was fine until June when they still received corn and rice. By July, they only received corn, and they were getting nothing by September. Only laborers (not family members) received the food for the first half of October on October 2, which was a day before Harvest Festival (추석). Because of the food situation, the number of absent workers increased even with the 100 Days Combat. Last October 7, the miner announced that they will punish all absent workers. Out of 23 absent workers, 5 are staying home from illness and remaining 17 workers needed to present their reasons for their absence and requested medical notes from their doctors. If the absent workers can’t prove their illness, they will be sent to the discipline center for twice as many days that they were absent from work.

This Year’s Crop Yield Falls Short of Last Year in Jangyeon County
From September 23 to 29, the Farming Management Commission in Jangyeon County in the South Hwanghae Province dispatched officers to every farm to determine the crop yield. The crop yield for corn is expected to be around 2 to 2.5 tons per Jungbo (a unit of land of 2.45 acres) because the farming was not very successful. Similarly, the crop yield for rice and beans is expected to fall short of last year. The price of rice in Jangyeon County is 200 NK won less than the Northern Hamgyong Province. Nevertheless, many residents are surviving on porridges due to food shortage.

[Economy]
“Solving Food Shortage Is the Foremost Task of the Party,” Say Officers from Central Party and Department of Agriculture
Set forth below is a summary of the meeting in early October among the Central Party and the Department of Agriculture officers:
“Each farming village is carrying out a harvest campaign supported by the parties, armies and people. This year, solving the food shortage crisis is of utmost urgency because people are demanding that the food shortage crisis be solved and it is the basic social issue in the construction of the Strong and Prosperous Nation by 2012. The foremost task of the party at this time is to have each city and county solve the food shortage crisis on their own. There is a global food crisis as a result of the global warming for the past several years, so foreign countries are also controlling their food supply, and the food shortage situation has been intensified. The national food shortage crisis is not just a simple economic problem, but it is becoming a political problem that has a substantial influence in maintaining our socialist regime. Nothing is more important than the food shortage crisis in our nation which is going through the drills of war as we stand opposite to the Lee Myung-Bak government in South Korea. The nation must be able to farm and harvest well without relying on help from and trade with foreign countries. People’s reaction and recognition toward the government will deteriorate if we demand people to carry out the policy of the party without solving the food shortage crisis.”

One officer from a regional party who heard the contents of the meeting commented that there seems to be a difference of understanding between the Central Party and the regional parties. “It is said that the foremost task of the party is to have the cities and counties solve the food shortage crisis on their own, yet they ban the small patch farming. Small patch farming is the only way for the cities and counties to solve the food shortage on their own. Yet they ban this practice while instructing people to solve the problem on their own; this is an oxymoron. The Central Party eliminates the markets and the small patch farming in an attempt to cut off the elements of capitalism, but with the only means of solving the food shortage crisis prohibited, there is no way for the cities and counties to solve the food shortage crisis on their own.”

Difficult Repairs after railroad accident in Danchun
Soon after the 100-day battle started, a railroad accident occurred. On October 11th at 2 P.M. at Omong-ri in Danchun city of South Hamgyong Province, a train arriving at a station suddenly derailed and overturned. The train was carrying zinc and electric light anthracite. The accident resulted in six cars turning over, four people killed, and all traffic between south and north of Omong-ri grounding to a halt for 24 hours. The central workers instructed, "The railways need to be repaired technically well", but it could not be fixed in a timely matter due to the lack of wood. The railway repairmen workers have not been working due to not receiving their food rations for the months of September and October, but was forcibly called up to repair damages from this incident.
Meanwhile, relative to the 100-day battle, each city railway station bureau was told, "In order to prevent future accidents, each city railway should plan out a 100-day battle freight traffic plan and make sure that the cargos placed under the watch of workers get delivered on time. Also, railway yard passenger/freight car workers were ordered to work to repair and send the locomotive and freight car on time. Every station needs to increase the operation of facilities to reduce the stopping time of the freight cars.

Frequent Train Troubles in Ryanggang Province Being Blamed on Repairmen
During the 100-day battle, the Ryanggang Province Baekamgoon railway station branch office was instructed to transport the logs to the coal mine. However, the frequent breakdowns are slowing down production. The Committee of Armed forced party is strongly criticizing the repairmen for their lack of skill, but the repair workers are saying something else: the reason why the trains are having so many breakdowns is because they keep patching up old locomotives instead of replacing them with new ones and only repairing damaged parts instead of doing a full check-up. Also the workers said they should not just concentrate on the repairing but also focus on the upkeep of the quality of the components of the trains during the 100-day battle. Currently, in order to smoothly transport the logs, the railway station bureau is managing a special group of technicians. However, locomotive engineers are also playing a part in the frequent breakdowns. Due to their economic troubles, the locomotive engineers have been stopping the trains for NK 15,000 won at random locations at the request of merchants and traders, causing many problems in train operations.

Bukchang thermal power generation plant running into problems
At the South Pyongan Province Bukchang district, the thermal power generation plant, the coal unloading machine was damaged, resulting in people unloading coal manually. Because the repairs were not done in a timely manner, on October 4th, the secretary and manager mobilized workers to bring shovels and unload the coal using manpower. If the transportation of coal is delayed, then the electricity will die out and affect other businesses during the 100-day battle. Thus, the workers had to finish the manually unloading the coal by the 12th of October.

[Politics]
Crackdown on Illegal Video Films in Pyongsung
On September 20, Pyongsung city in South Pyongan Province began a crackdown on illegal video films. In No.24 Unit of Yonbong dong, the investigators raided on two households and confiscated CDs that contained American movies and Chinese movies such as “The Daughter of the Emperor” as well as the CD players. Four residents who watched the illegal videos and a person who purchased the CDs were arrested and put into interrogation. According to No.109 Commanding Office’s investigation report, among the arrestees accused of watching illegal videos this fall, 20 were sent to re-education center, and the rest was sent to the City Discipline Center. Those who are currently under investigation will be sent to re-education center if any suspicious items were found in their homes.

Hamheung Created Drug Enforcement Team
On Apr. 30th, Hamheung City in South Hamgyong Province picked up several officials to create drug enforcement team from each organization such as Party, police station, district attorney office, court, and Youth Union. As a first accomplishment though August, the team arrested about 10 people suspected of drug production, trafficking, and smuggling. In an open trial held on September 9th, they admitted to selling 10 kg of amphetamine produced in Ryunbong-dong Soonchun City between October 2009 and April 2010, and also transporting drug by transportation of Daeheung Trade Company. Security guards estimated the trade they were involved in amounted to tens of million NK won. Following the lecture the Security guards condemns the drug and gave a lecture on an illness of capitalism. They also asked people to report any drug-related offence to them and promised reward.

[Society]
Pyongsung Police Officers Frantic to Make Money
On August 4, 2009, National Security Agency (NSA) has commenced an internal inspection on Pyongsung city for 20 days. During the inspection, they had focused on the officials of City Party, lawyers, and police officers. About 60 motor cycles belonging to these people were confiscated, but upon the officials’ pleading, NSA gave back 40 bikes while 20 were distributed to military units under the 4th division. Those officials who lost their bikes treated the residents cruelly in order to recoup the price of their bikes. They ripped the residents off with any possible methods, so residents complained a lot. Residents said that they have to trade with controlled items in order to feed their family but the officers who were frantic to make money make very strict inspection. If a trader was arrested due to illegal conducts and was sentenced to go to the Labor Education Center for 3 years, they can be released on probation by paying 1.5 million won to police officers. If they do not pay, they have to go to the Center where the conditions are extremely bad, and inmates could die or get sick. Even after the release, they might suffer a lot all their lives. Therefore traders were forced to bribe police officers at the minimum with a carton of cigarette. Residents who experienced police officers’ tyrannical conducts criticize them: “It is not easy to find more strict and cruel police officers than Pyongsung officers.”

Buses Run again between Hoeryong and Chungjin, but It is still Inconvenient
A new bus service has recently begun its operation between Hoeryong to Chungjin. There are many traders and peddlers that visit these cities, but they had troubles with the transportation because there was no bus services after the 116 bus company closed its business and the traders had used ordinary trucks or coal delivery trucks. With this bus service, the situation improved, but it is still inconvenient because the number of trips and vehicle capacity are not enough. To find a seat on the first bus, scheduled to leave at 7 AM, people have to wait since 6 am as it is not easy to get a seat and if they cannot find one, they have to stand all the way to their destination. The bus doesn’t leave until there are over 60 passengers, but during the slow season, the number of passengers did not reach 60, and some days the morning bus did not leave until 5 PM.
On the other hand, there are many checkpoints between Hoeryong and Chungjin : Changhae Defense Security Command, Poongsan 10th Defense Security Command, 9th Division Police Station in Mt. Komoo Labor District, and Buryung Police station, and they impede the trading. Whenever they pass the three checkpoints, they have to get off the bus to show their residential ID or other certificates and to get an inspection on their luggage and trading items. If they have any problem with their items, they have to get off the bus with their goods to receive punishment. Buryung officers of Mt. Komoo County have been known for their strict inspection. They try to detect even a trivial problem so they can collect fines or rip off the trading items, even a single pack of cigarette. When the traveler’s certificate does not say Hoeryong City as a destination, traders cannot enter or pass the border areas such as Hoeryong or Mt. Komoo County. Without exact destination and reasons for visit, it is hard to enter the border areas due to heightened inspection.

[Women/Children/Education]
Expanded Study Opportunity for the Children of the Overseas Staff

Staffs who reside in foreign countries can now bring one or two children from their home. Up until now they can only take one child less than 5 years old. Beginning this year, up to two children beyond middle school age can accompany their parent. Additionally, even though their parents return home at the end of their assignment, the children on the honor roll can stay on to continue their education. An official from the Central Party explains that, “the Country’s foreign exchange situation is not good and we cannot educate talented children, so we allow them to study abroad with their own money.”

Members of the Democratic Women’s Union (DWC), Heungnam City, have difficulties due to Artistic Propaganda Activities
DWC of Heungnam city, South Hamgyong Province, has trained their members on the artistic propaganda and sends them to Heungnam fertilizer factory to encourage the laborers. As a means to tackle the food problem, the city independently came up with the idea to increase fertilizer production and send the fertilizers to the farms in the whole country. However, the members of the Artistic Propaganda Activities had difficulty in their livelihood during the 150 day battle period because they could not do any trading due to the artistic propaganda training. Husbands of some of the propaganda members confronted, saying “There’s nothing to eat at home, what is the damn propaganda?” and (their wives) did not go. There are many households experiencing difficulties due to the women’s participation in the propaganda unit.

Students Dispatched to Farms Go Back Home Because It Is Too Hard
In August, the Department of Labors (DOL) in Sariwon city, North Hwanghae Province, dispatched the new graduates to the Youth Unit in city’s farms. But within a month, some of the students went back home. Some even went to their relative’s home in far-away countryside In order to avoid the DOL staffs that were doing surveillance of unemployed. The DOL dispatched even sick students to the farms because if the sick students were dispatched in easy spots, the students dispatched to the farms would protest a lot. Nevertheless the children of high ranking officials and rich all got out. Only the powerless, poor people’s children ended up doing the hard work in the farm.

[Accidents]
A Corn Thief Commits Suicide While Being Investigated
On October 7, a laborer assigned to the railroad working unit, Sahmbong station, Onsung County, Province of North Hamgyong, was arrested for stealing corn from the Sahmbong farm. He was taken to the police station and interrogated harshly. On third day of interrogation, October 10, as he could not withstand it any longer, he took his own life. He was usually a quiet man and it appeared that the physical and mental pressure of the cruel interrogation by the police officer was too much for him to withstand. His neighbors say that “This year even small patch farming was bad and there was nothing to eat, and he was forced to steal. It seems that he decided to take his own life as he was worried of his family’s livelihood if he is sent to the training camp.” There is a criticism among the residents that while a worker committed suicide for stealing three ears of corn, the concerned official did not take any responsibility.

Heungnam Marine Product Business Office Lost 8 tons of Squid Due to Poor Storage
Heungnam Marine Product Business Office, Heungnam City, Province of South Hamgyong, lost due to poor storage about half of 16 tons of squid that was to be exported. The concerned officials were harshly criticized by the Marine committee. They were arrested on September 28 for the “crime of damaging the national export resources.” The court told two Storage Chiefs that they could be pardoned if they can pay back the amount equivalent to 8 tons of rotten squid, if not they would receive punishment. The amount was extremely high, and the chiefs have no other option but to wait for the legal process.

[Editorial]
Corrupt Officials Must be Purged
There is an old Confucius saying that cruel public officials are more dreadful than tigers. Once Confucius was traveling in a palanquin through a deep and treacherous mountain and saw a woman weeping in front of three graves. He sent his disciple to find out why the woman was crying and learned that she was morning the loss of her father-in-law, husband, and son, who were all killed by tigers. She knows that she too is in danger of being killed by a tiger at any moment, but has no choice but to live deep in the mountain. She is more afraid to live in town where corrupt officials exploit people with heavy taxes and torture. This is why Confucius told his disciples that cruel public officials are more dreadful than tigers.

In some areas the residents’ grievances are widespread because of public officials’ excessive abuse of power and greed. In the case of the police officer in Hyesan city, people openly expressed antagonism which indicates a very severe abuse of power.

Three major types of grievances people have against public officials are:
First, the confiscations of things for personal misappropriation with the excuse of an official crack down. When cracking down on business, public officials confiscate merchandise ruthlessly saying some items are not allowed to be sold, and that regulation periods exists for certain times and places where selling is not permitted. The merchandise and fines confiscated this way are misappropriated for personal gain instead of government possession and people are very well aware of this fact.

Second, cruel and indiscriminate crack downs and punishments are disregarding the desperate situations people are facing. This is widely known (and has been for almost 15 years) ever since North Korea’s food shortage problem began. When people are left alone for their own survival without government assistance some illegal activities can occur to stay alive. Nevertheless, there are numerous instances of excessive crack downs spurred on by societal controls and performance centeredness, which are taking away the means to basic necessities. It is like forcing people to tiger infested mountains.

Third, people believe that officials are enjoying excessive privileges. Officials are not only receiving assistance from the government, but they are also seizing outside aid for themselves first. The officials are provided with basic necessities and are exempted from various social mobilizations and non-tax burdens. They use their status as power that can be exercised against people. They can avoid inspections using their status and get away easily using bribery even when they get caught.

In some rare cases, dedicated officials strive to resolve basic necessity problems of people despite difficult conditions. Some of their actions may go against the policy of the Party, but their dedication to people should be recognized and their actions should be treated with discretion. The officials who cause much grievance because of their corrupt and wrongful acts ought to be investigated thoroughly and prosecuted by law when found guilty. However, discretions should be exercised in cases where actions were taken inevitably to help people with basic necessities.

The more chaotic and difficult the society becomes the more we should do things based on fairness and common sense. Blindly strengthening crack downs and punishments will not solve problems. In order to implement government mandates and orders effectively, officials should take the initiative and set good examples first. More than ever, what is needed is a system that sorts out corrupt officials who exploit people from those who dedicate themselves to the welfare of people. Moreover, government policies that drive the poor to the mountains need to be reevaluated.

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