GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 319 Hot Topics December 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 No. 319]
Technician Worker Salary is between 2,000 and 2,500 won
Full Payment of Salary for December is not Carried Out As Planned
Central Party Orders Lower Party to Attend to Public Opinion Regarding Salary Payment
Wage Payment Raised Morale of Mine Laborers in Saebyul County
Rice Distribution Price: 44 Jeon, Sale Price and Government-Purchase Price: 44 Won

[Food]
Musan Mine Distributed Whole Corns in December
Only 1.5 tons of Corn per Jungbo Produced in Changtae-ri Farm, Hoeryong
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[Hot Topics]
Technician Worker Salary is between 2,000 and 2,500 won
A directive from the Ministry of Finance was issued ordering, “the full payment of living cost for workers by December in order to stabilize the livelihood of people’s lives with currency exchange as well as to ensure proper flow of currency.” As such, each city, county, factory, and enterprise started to pay December salary to workers. The salaries paid were 1,500 won for regular workers and 2,000-2,500 won for technical workers which are not much different from the previous levels. However, the amount can be viewed as 100 times more in terms of the value of currency. The salaries of other positions are 3,500-4,000 won for city Party officials, 3,000-3,500 won for police officers, 5,000 won for security agents, 3,000-4,000 won for doctors, and 2,000-3,000 won for teachers. Previously, it was not easy to buy 1 kg of rice with one month worth of living cost, but now the enhanced value of currency would allow people to purchase food and some commodities. Meanwhile, the North Korean authorities warned that although the full amount of salaries will be paid for November and December of this year, people will receive different rates of salary depending on the productivity level. According to this plan, those who perform economic activities will receive the full amount, but those workers at non-operating factories and enterprises as well as no productivity related work would receive salary at the level of 300-500 won.

Full Payment of Salary for December is not Carried Out As Planned
It is reported that the Party directive of paying full salary to workers for December regardless of number of days worked is not implemented properly. While some of the factories and enterprises have actually paid the full amount in many cases, salaries were paid after deducting 200-300 won. This is because the heads of accounting at the factories received the wage in a lump sum from the bank and paid each worker based on the actual number of days worked. A worker who was absent for more than 20 days a month received only 200 won after all the deductions. Some workers who learned about the policy of “paying the full amount for this month regardless of number of days worked” filed a complaint to the City Party for not receiving the full amount. Some workers engaged in arguments with officials and complained about lack of money for living, and others expressed strong dissatisfaction about the way officials handled the work. In the midst of those controversies, those households received salary whether it was enough or not went to the market to buy goods for the first time after a long break. Many people were looking to buy warm shoes and winter clothing which they could not afford because they did not even have money for grains. The market is finally regaining vitality after the severe tightening caused by currency exchange.

Central Party Orders Lower Party to Attend to Public Opinion Regarding Salary Payment
As the payments of salary had been made in December for the first time after the currency exchange, the Central Party ordered each Province, City, and Country Party to collect information on public opinion and how workers received their salary. The Party requested that each party official pays visits to lower units and interview workers in person to learn about the situation. The purpose of this order is to conduct inspections on the salary payment as some of the factories and enterprises did not follow the Central Party’s order of paying full salary regardless of the number of work days. Following the order of the Central Party, the Province Party issued the orders to City and County Parties. As such, City and County Parties will conduct investigations on the status of salary payments and public opinion from the 28th until the 30th, and then discuss the results of the investigation during the annual reviews at the all-member meeting which will be held on the 31st.

Wage Payment Raised Morale of Mine Laborers in Saebyul County
Gogunwon Mine Public Enterprise in Saebyul County, North Hamgyong Province paid December wages to their tunnel diggers. A regular laborer was paid 5,000 won, which is equivalent to 500,000 won in old currency. A household with three family members working in the same mine received 15,000 won in total. The family used to be poorest, but the wages enabled them to afford a bicycle, a video recorder, a TV and other items. The high rate of absenteeism significantly declined after the wages were paid. The mine laborers described the situation as following: “Yelling and scolding did not make the laborers work hard, but this time they show up without being screamed at. They do not complain about the workload at the coalface or about the tools. They solve the problems by themselves and work hard.”

Rice Distribution Price: 44 Jeon, Sale Price and Government-Purchase Price: 44 Won
The Cabinet ordered that food supply should be made for December first. The distribution price for one kilogram of rice is 44 jeon (1/100 of won), the per kg prices of corn and corn noodles are 26 jeon and 30 jeon respectively. The sale price at a public distribution agency for residents who are outside the distribution system is 44 won for 1 kilogram of rice, and the per kg prices for corn and corn noodles are 26 won and 28 won respectively. While the distribution price was lowered, the purchase prices were set to be high. Party officials predicted that the price control measure will raise the purchasing power of the residents, allowing them to be better off.

[Food]
Musan Mine Distributed Whole Corns in December
Musan County Mine United Enterprise in North Hamgyong Province distributed food and paid wages for December to all of its public enterprise branches. An official at Musan County Mine United Enterprise said that the food and wages were provided to about 80% of the labor force as of the afternoon of December 20, and the provision will be made to the entire enterprises by the next day. For food, whole corns were distributed at 26 jeon (1/100 of won). The official said that he is required to investigate how the wages and food were actually distributed and report to the Provincial Party.

Only 1.5 tons of Corn per Jungbo Produced in Changtae-ri Farm, Hoeryong
This year’s corn crop in Chantae-ri Farm in Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province, was reported to reach only 1.5 tons per Jungbo (2.45 acres). Rice and corn combined, the total yield was about 15 tons. The farm laborers said “We were lucky to have 15 tons.” At high altitude, the mountainous farm is not the best location for farming, but the situation worsened this year. This fall, late crop potatoes were distributed instead of corns, and cash distribution would not be made at all.

North Korea Today No. 317 December 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]
Insecurity Persists Despite Series of Meetings for Price Stabilization
Some Residents Have Already Spent 500 won Relief Money
Governmental Market Controls Brings Down the Price of Rice
City Party Officials: “Society is not likely to stabilize until January of next year.”

[Food]
Low Crop Yield at the New Worker Tideland Farm in Yumju County
Failed Vegetable Farming Raises Concern for Kimchee (pickled vegetable for winter) in Chungjin
Party Officials Receive 8 times more Radish than Laborer Heoryung


[Economy]
Kowon Food Factory Built Their Own Soy Milk Production Facilities
Junchun Mine in Jagang Province Suffered Sluggish Production During 100-Day Battle
Struggling at Bukchang Thermal Power Plant during 100-Day Battle
Ministry of Forestry Failed to Meet Annual Log Production Goals

[Politics]
Hoeryung Holds an Emergency Plenary Meeting to Punish Absentees
Hoeryung Publicly Deports a Neighborhood Unit Head for Illegally Housing a Border-Crosser


[Society]
Bribery Needed to Get Divorced
500 Lumber Workers in Russia Replaced in November

[Women/Children/Education]
In Sariwon, University Students Stole Crops While Helping Farmers
Teacher’s College Graduates with Money Avoid Rural Schools

[Accidents]
Lumber Truck Rolled Over on Snowy Road
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[Hot Topics]
Insecurity Persists Despite Series of Meetings for Price Stabilization
In an attempt to stabilize continuously rising prices and supply necessary goods, the Central Party is dispatching officials to Provincial, City, and County Parties. As a result, the Province, City, and County Parties throughout the nation held a series of all-member meetings and discussed the current economic instability caused by price hikes. The Provincial Party indicated that “People still do not seem to have a proper understanding of the purpose of the currency exchange. Law enforcement agency officials must enforce price stabilization measures even if it means using force.” The Provincial Party also delivered a directive to City and County Parties. As such, City and County police authorities have decided to crack down on all merchants who sell goods at prices that are higher than the government-set prices. Each Provincial Party requested that the confiscated goods from merchants be distributed to those who are in need of help.

Some Residents Have Already Spent 500 won Relief Money
Despite efforts to stabilize the market commodity, prices are still higher than those set by the government. In fact, according to the old currency, prices have doubled since the change to the new won. It has been reported that some daily wage-earners have already spent the free 500 won that they have received as support money. Because prices are unstable, it has been difficult to start a new business. People are also experiencing difficulty obtaining food because there are not enough small denomination bills of the new currency, which are necessary for smooth transactions. People in destitute households don’t even have the money needed to process the rationed corn into rough corn flour. As a result, they are mixing corn with beans and eating something that’s neither corn meal nor porridge. There are many households that cannot afford bean oil, raising the risk of serious malnutrition problems. People say that this whole year has been just too painful to endure. Kim Chul-jin (alias) who lives in Soonchun, South Pyungan Province, expressed his negative outlook by saying, “the things we had go through, including the 150-day battle, the 100-day battle, and the negative effect of the currency exchange, have all pushed workers to the cliff. Everything is just so difficult we don’t even know what to do at this point.” The residents of Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province are demanding that “They should stabilize prices as soon as possible and let the new currency flow smoothly. Then, the government should pay at least one-month’s wages to laborers by abolishing private trading and letting everyone work for government. If the government is unable to pay wages to the people, they should withdraw government market controls and allow everyone to do their own trading so that people can make a living.”

Governmental Market Controls Brings Down the Price of Rice
Grain prices are falling as a result of the government’s efforts to strengthen market controls. In Pyungsung, South Pyungan Province, the price of rice was 40 won per kg on December 14, but it went down to 30 won the next day. The price of rice also declined from 50 won to 40 won in Hoeryung, North Hamgyong Province. The price of food is gradually falling in other areas as well. The decrease in prices comes after the City Party convened meetings to respond to excessive price hikes for grains and became involved in market controls. However, the price of rice is not falling below 30 won and it is believed that further intervention will make rice vanish from the market.

City Party Officials: “Society is not likely to stabilize until January of next year.”
The Party officials of major cities and counties have stated in a series of all-member meetings that they expect the confusion caused by the currency exchange to continue for a while. Even though they are making efforts to bring stability to all sectors of society as soon as possible, they cautiously predict that things are not likely to stabilize until January of next year. However, they believe there will be even more chaos and difficulty in people’s lives if stability is not achieved by next January. As such, they have stressed that “Every effort should be made to stabilize prices by January at any cost.” Currently, the price of rice in major cities across the nation has come down from 50-60 won to 30-40 won as a result of forceful intervention by authorities. Nevertheless, rice is still being traded at a higher price than the government-set price, which is 22-23 won per kilogram.

[Food]
Low Crop Yield at the New Worker Tideland Farm in Yumju County

Province workers at the North Pyongan Province and county workers at Yumju County made great efforts to improve the food supply by increasing the arable land by cultivating the tideland and farming with proper tideland soil. In order to properly farm the tideland last spring, they mobilized farmers and farm volunteers to plant and fertilize the rice field. However, due to the concentration of salt at 0.8% and the mixture of sand in the soil, the seeds are not budding or spoiling, making it difficult to plant the seeds. Without any complementary measures of advanced agricultural technology, the farming has been poor for the past three years. The mobilization of farmers and volunteers during the 150-Day Battle and investment in the fertilizers has been fruitless. Even though the government provided special consideration by securing agricultural materials and chemical fertilizers, the production for this year has been only 2 to 3 tons. As a result, the Province Party and the Province Farm Management Officials criticized the researchers at Shinuiju Agricultural Institute for poor experiments. They also declared that the crop yield would have been larger if additional labor force, agricultural materials and fertilizer have been given to other farms other than tideland farming. Farmers, who only received three months’ ration last year, are worried whether they can receive proper ration with such poor crop yield. However, the North Pyongan Province Agricultural Institute and the Province Farm Management officials have announced that crop yield from the tideland has increased.

Failed Vegetable Farming Raises Concern for Kimchee (pickled vegetable for winter) in Chungjin
Chungjin, in North Hamgyong Province, is troubled once again for Kimchee due to this year’s failed vegetable farming. There are 670 laborers at Chungjin Bus Factory, and each laborer can only receive 8 to 9 kg of radish. Vegetable farm Factory at Jikhari in the Chungam District received six tons of radishes. The enterprise workers had to give up their share in order to provide 10 kg of radish to individual laborers. Following this practice, supervisors, cell secretary, and the elementary laborer also conceded their share to their laborers.

Party Officials Receive 8 times more Radish than Laborer Hoeryung
The party officials at Heoryung City in the North Hamgyong Province received 80 kilograms of radish, a large amount compared to the 10 kg of radish received by the laborers. The officials units are farmed by the wives of the party officials, and they have much better crop yield than the regular unites, because they have more time to spend at the farm and more fertilizer. In August, during the dry weather, members of the district offices of the Democratic Women’s Union and middle school students were mobilized to bring water to the officials unit. Although the field could not be watered due to lack of water at the pump, units belonging to family groups of the party officials were watered. As a result, their field flourished with radish and cabbage while the rest of the field crop dried up.

[Economy]
Kowon Food Factory Built Their Own Soy Milk Production Facilities

A food factory in Kowon County, Kangwon Province makes a wide variety of food products while encouraging technological innovation. Namely, they built their own food production facilities to provide soy milk to places like schools, daycare facilities, and orphanages located within Kowon County. Workers including the general manager tried to resolve the technological issues and material shortages in constructing the facilities on their own while emphasizing the creative collaboration with other professional researchers.

However, the soy milk production facilities built on their own stopped functioning properly in less than three months in service. There also were many discussions among the City Party officials in Danchun City, South Hamgyong Province regarding issues with respect to building their soy milk production facilities on their own. They agreed on the option of building it on their own because the cost of importing the facilities would be prohibitively expensive. However, the option of building it on their own had major technical and financial issues that prevented successful launching of the production facilities. Some places could not make the soy milk due to the lack of soy beans, but many other places such as Kowon County and Danchun City, could not produce soy milk because of difficulties in building their own soy milk production facilities.

Junchun Mine in Jagang Province Suffered Sluggish Production During 100-Day Battle
At Junchun mine in Junchun County, Jagang Province, competitive coal production was encouraged by assigning ambitious production goals during the 100-Day Battle period. As a result of such competitions, the amount of coal production has increased. However, the coal transportation encountered difficulties due to frequent failures of railcar accessories such as bearings. Moreover, the work environment for coal mining is poor. For example, water would rise up to the waistline if a water pump did not run for 3 hours. Despite such a poor excavating condition, workers only recite slogans such as "self-reliance and self-renewal is the only way out." Guiding officers focus their attention only on increasing the coal production yield; they do not resolve coal miners' basic needs. In spite of this, they criticize coal miners as not working hard; and creating too many machine and facility failures because they lack the spirit of ownership. As a consequence, coal miners' absenteeism is increasing, and their spirit for victorious 100-Day Battle is declining.

Struggling at Bukchang Thermal Power Plant during 100-Day Battle
In response to the call for “Provision of sufficient power to people’s economy during the 100-Day Battle for the construction of Strong and Prosperous Nation,” the workers at the United Enterprise of Bukchang Thermal Power Plant in Bukchang county, South Pyongan Province are making efforts to provide good maintenance of equipment and enhance the combustion rate so as to produce more electricity. Although maintenance work was performed on power generation boilers, they could not meet the target efficiency rate of the boilers due to the shortage of the materials and parts. The Ministry of Electricity officials severely criticized the power station technicians. However, the technicians responded by saying that the problem is unavoidable. They said, "We need materials and parts. There is not much we can do without them. The problem is with the boilers, not the power generator."

Ministry of Forestry Failed to Meet Annual Log Production Goals
The officials at the Ministry of Forestry were severely criticized as it was revealed that twenty forest public enterprises under the Ministry of Forestry failed to reach the log production goals. The Ministry of Forestry dispatched officials to 20 forest public enterprises as soon as the 100-Day Battle started because the local coalmine enterprises addressed difficulties of mining during the 150-Day Battle. The purpose is to achieve the goals of log production during 100-Day Battle by reinforcing the Party leadership as well as administrative leadership.

[Politics]
Hoeryung Holds an Emergency Plenary Meeting to Punish Absentees
In the afternoon of November 25th, Hoeryung City in North Hamgyong Province convened a City Party Plenary Meeting in order to assess the attendance status of every factory and enterprise, and discuss solutions to the problem. Many residents have left in search of a relative or a sibling in other regions, many have just disappeared without stating their reason, and several cases were discovered in which an entire family has fled due to bankruptcy. During this meeting, officials reviewed the case of Kim Chul-jun, who is a construction worker of the Urban Construction Team. Kim Chul-jun stated that he did not have anything to eat since March, so he worked a small plot of land for a farmer in Wonsan-ri and received 2 kilograms of corn each day for wages. He was absent without leave between the early spring and the harvest time of autumn; on November 13th, primary officers from the enterprise caught him and sent him to the Mangyang Police Substation. He will be subjected to legal sanction because of his absences without leave for the half year during the 150-day battle. It is said that Kim Chul-jun protested by saying, “If I had participated in the 150-day battle instead of working a side job, my whole family would have perished from hunger. Is it a crime to try to make a living?” Even though he was told that the punishment could be mitigated if he admits fault, he still resisted, saying, “There is not much to do at work anyway, so why is it a crime to try to feed my family members?” He did not stop his protests even when people began to kick him with their boots. The City Party made a reference to Kim Chul-jun’s case and delivered its decision to every factory and enterprise. The decision prompts factories to send every worker who has been absent illegally for more than 15-20 days during the 150-day battle and since then to the municipal re-education center. However, the City Party did not produce a solution that will decrease the number of illegal absentees in the future. The meeting ended with a discussion of how to prevent people from leaving their assigned areas.

Hoeryung Publicly Deports a Neighborhood Unit Head for Illegally Housing a Border-Crosser
These days, as the river has begun to freeze over, there are signs that the number of defectors may increase near the National Border Area, so authorities are tightening regulations in the area. On November 27th, a head of the Neighborhood Unit in Nammoondong, Hoeryung City, was deported for illegally sheltering a peddler from Saebyul County. The Unit Head let Mr. Choi live in his home because he had completed a deal with the peddler from Saebyul County on November 18th. It was his understanding that Mr. Choi was supposed to stay in Hoeryung for 3 days and was going to Chungjin on the afternoon of 21st, so he had no idea why he was arrested by the police all of a sudden. It turned out that Mr. Choi from Saebyul County was caught by security officers while attempting to cross the border near Mangyangdong, and he allegedly confessed that he had stayed in Nammoondong before crossing the river. As a result, the head of the Neighborhood Unit who allowed him to stay the night was considered an accomplice and was subjected to a People’s Trial on the 27th. To set an example, the Safety Authorities ordered that the head of the Neighborhood Unit be deported to Changdaeri, saying that even if he did not intend to help the peddler, he nevertheless abetted the peddler’s crime. Changdaeri is the farm village farthest away from Hoeryung, located in a hilly area where it is difficult to farm. Residents felt sorry for the misfortune that befell the head of the Neighborhood Unit.

[Society]
Bribery Needed to Get Divorced

Although many couples file for divorce, it is not easy to have a court hearing. More young couples decide to get divorced as their business becomes more difficult and food situations worsen. Financial hardship and subsequent stress on marriage is the main reason. However, the courts are not even accepting divorce applications. The Province court ordered lower court officials to “make efforts to the best of their ability and educate the couples so that they can preserve marriage.” Some couples bribe court officials to get a divorce. Offering a bribe of 200,000 NK won can get you a divorce trial, which takes at least 2 months after the filing. Smaller bribes, such as less than 200,000 NK won or cigarettes will not get you a court date even after 6 months to one year. It is not an overstatement to say that court officials live on bribes as the amount of bribe money they get is quite substantial.

500 Lumber Workers in Russia Replaced in November
About 500 North Korean lumber workers who had cut logs in Primorsky Krai area of Russia returned to the country in November. Pyongyang Forestry Business spokesman announced that about 500 new laborers would be sent as replacement. Those who returned this year had been dispatched in November of 2007. It was reported that about 70 of them ran away. Selection of lumber workers to Primorsky Krai is managed by officials of city and County Party. One has to pay the official at least 200,000 won in old currency in order to be selected for the job.

[Women/Children/Education]
In Sariwon, University Students Stole Crops While Helping Farmers

Students and staff from Lee Gye-Soon Sariwon First College of Education in North Hwanghae Province went to Goksang County to assist the corn harvest, but they had to suffer from food shortage in three days. The farms tried to provide newly harvested grains to the students after threshing the grain, but it couldn’t be done due to a power outage. As a result, the starved students could not go to work. So, they had to rest in the farm dormitory. The Province People’s Assembly officials, who came to monitor the autumn harvest, learned about the situation and strongly criticized the managing officials. In the end, ears of rice that were not counted on the record were provided for food.

Meanwhile, farm officials requested withdrawing of the student volunteers, complaining that not only does it take too much grains to feed the student volunteers, but the students stole too much of them as well. There were many cases where the students return from the work with 5 to 6 stolen corn ears and exchange them with corn noodles or alcoholic drinks. The farm officials kept raising the issues at the staff meeting and tried to educate the students but to no avail. The students could not stop stealing as they felt that they should fill their stomach while they can during the mobilization period because they would end up suffering from the food shortage again when they return to school. Some skillful students make money by diverting stolen food. The farm officials worried that the bad yield would decrease even further because of the pilfering of the students.

Teacher’s College Graduates with Money Avoid Rural Schools
Graduates of teacher’s college and professional school show an increasing tendency of avoiding assignments to positions in difficult and tough areas of society. Government officials or rich people utilize their resources and make arrangements ahead of time so that their children can avoid being assigned to rural areas. Even if they are being assigned to a rural school, the parents skillfully take them out of the list or bring their children back to their home later. Thirty-seven graduates of Wonsan Teacher’s College were assigned to a rural town in Bungye border area last April. Twenty-four graduates of Sungchun Teacher’s college were assigned to remote islands, but those with affluent family background returned to their home within 5 months.

The Party is encouraging the new generation of students to “make righteous and sincere commitment and actively volunteer for assignments in difficult and remote areas,” but those with affluent family background are the first ones avoiding them. As such, there are many difficulties in education in the mountainous areas and agricultural areas due to insufficient number of teachers. Teachers who lack proper qualification and ability being assigned to rural areas are a problem, but in reality even finding such teachers is very difficult. This problem was raised as an issue at the Ministry of Education and spurred serious discussions about how to assign college and professional school graduates to difficult and remote areas in March and April. In the mean time, there are students who wish to be assigned to schools in agricultural areas which affluent students avoid. They are the children of farm members. They want to be teachers rather than work in the farm like their parents. They try everything they can to avoid becoming a farmer because they can achieve upward mobility and change their background (songbun) to laborer. As such, they do their best and work hard no matter where they become assigned.

[Accidents]
Lumber Truck Rolled Over on Snowy Road
In early December, a truck came to load material lumber in a forest products enterprise in Rokya-ri, Eunduk County, North Hamgyong Province and fell from the mountain due to brake failure. The truck from Roksan store in Soonam Division in Chungjin City slipped on the ice at a corner on the mountain while carrying 12 cubic-meters of material lumbers. One soldier and two Rokya farm workers died at the scene. The driver, the only survivor, was arrested at Rokya police substation, as he was being held accountable for the accident.

North Korea Today No. 318 Hot Topics December 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 No. 318]
N1H1 Upgraded to “Urgent Matter No. 11”
One Child and Two Middle School Students Died in Pyungsung
N1H1 Breaks Out at a Naval Base in Ongjin County
Doctors and Nurses also Infected with N1H1 in Sinuiju
Visitation Banned at All Reeducation Centers due to N1H1
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[Hot Topics No. 318]
N1H1 Upgraded to ‘Urgent Matter No. 11’

The North Korean Security Authorities have upgraded N1H1 to ‘urgent matter number 11’ and are concentrating on preventive and treatment measures. In North Korea, patients who need treatment the most urgently are classified as urgent matter no. 11. For instance, casualties during the Korean War and those wounded in the 2002 West Coast Sea Battle have been treated as ‘urgent matter no. 11’ cases. A medical official in Pyungsung, South Pyungan Province says, “During the Korean War ‘urgent matter number 11’ patients were treated as the first priority. At that time, any vehicle could be stopped any time when there was a patient. Regardless of the status of passenger in the vehicle, whether it is the leading secretary of the party or anybody in high status, the person in charge of the vehicle was obligated to provide transportation for the patient. Those who violate this rule could receive administrative penalties as well as criminal charges. Classifying N1H1 as ‘urgent matter no. 11’ attests to the significance of the disease that needs to be taken very seriously.” He added that doctors are keeping themselves busy everyday because of the increase in the number of patients, death, and the cases of relapse.

In Pyungyang, the majority of confirmed cases are in Pyungchun district, and deaths among middle school students are on the rise. At Sinuiju Medical School in North Pyungan Province, medical officials and medical professors have convened a series of meetings regarding N1H1. The purpose of the meetings was to discuss measures for treatment as the death toll from the flu increases throughout the nation. A professor who attended the meeting said the doctors are very concerned about the report that, “Currently, the death toll from the flu is increasing very rapidly and even the treated patients are having relapses. As such, it is classified as ‘urgent matter no. 11’ and we’re conducting epidemiological investigations everyday.” Doctors in the city of Sinuiju are also making rounds to every household to conduct medical checkups.

One Child and Two Middle School Students Died in Pyungsung
A medical official in Pyungsung, South Pyungan Province reported that one child and two middle school students died of N1H1 as of December since November 20. He added that those who died were among the confirmed cases of 3 elementary school students and 7 middle school students, but they died during the treatment. Parents of the deceased students claimed that their children did not receive proper treatment and said, “Although we tried everything we could do, the doctors said they had no medicine to prescribe to treat the patients.” Kim Chul-ryong (alias) said, “The only thing the doctors did was conducting epidemiological investigations of the virus and trying to quarantine the patients. They could not approach the places where the patients were perhaps because they were afraid of being infected by the virus.”

N1H1 Breaks Out at a Naval Base in Ongjin County
A nineteen-year-old navy soldier was diagnosed as having N1H1 at a naval base in Ongjin County, South Hwanghae Province. The infection was confirmed after two health officials from the Ongjin town epidemic control agency in Ongjin County examined him. The naval base ceased all training and isolated the patient. All the soldiers who came in contact with the patient were also quarantined in order to closely monitor any further outbreaks of the epidemic.

Doctors and Nurses also Infected with N1H1 in Sinuiju
At Sinuiju City Hospital in North Pyongan Province, doctors and nurses who came in contact with N1H1 patients were reported to be infected by the same flu. Currently, the confirmed cases among the medical staff are two doctors and four nurses. The medical authorities are becoming increasingly concerned since medical personnel are not safe from infection in the midst of rising death toll. On December 18th, an elder died from N1H1. On the 20th, a 27-year-old woman became unconscious and remained in critical condition. A doctor from the Province Hospital said that currently in Sinuiju, children between the ages of three and eight have the highest death rate from N1H1, and the next vulnerable group is the elderly. Above all, the doctor expressed concern that many of the patients who received treatment relapsed into N1H1, which would increase the death toll.

Visitation Banned at All Reeducation Centers due to N1H1
On December 5th, the Re-education Bureau in the People’s Safety Agency banned visitation at all labor reeducation centers due to N1H1. Families and relatives had to leave the food and items prepared for the inmate to the officer on duty and leave the place without seeing the person they came to visit.

North Korea Today No.316 December 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]
Note: Hot Topics of this edition were released earlier as a separate edition.

[Food]
Good Harvest in Onchun County
Decrease in Soil Quality Curtails Productivity in Kosan County Fruit Plantation
Experimental Farming of New Rice Resulted in Poor Production in Haeju City
This Year’s Production of Bean with Two-Crop Farming is Three Times Higher than Last Year’s Production in Jungju City

[Economy]
No Small Changes for New Currency Creates Difficulties to Market Transactions
Service Facilities in Sinuiju Continue Business Using Old Price
In Hoeryong, Merchants Arrested for Selling Rice for 100 Won/Kg
Price Hikes are Uneven in Every City
Rice is not Coming to Market As Price Inspection Begins

[Politics]
Chungjin, Public Execution for Burning Old Currency
Nampo City, Warrants Issued for Motorcyclists who Dispersed Old Currency
Old Currency Discarded in Various Methods
Urgent Arrest of Eight People Who Abandoned Large Sums of Old Money in Hamhung
Hoeryong Security Authority Summons a Man of Wealth with One Hundred Million Old NK Won

[Society]
Kaechun city, Currency Reform Brought Downfall of a Wealthy Family
Residents Criticize Currency Reform Saying "We could've Died Without the Free 'Supporting Money'"
Climbing Food Price Raises Concerns


[Women/Children/Education]
Namhyang Middle School Students Collect Firewood
“No students are permitted outside” due to H1N1 Flu

[Accidents]
A Fight Breaks Out Over Haircut Charge
Seven People Died in Chungjin Within Two days After the National Currency Exchange

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[Hot Topics]
Note: Hot Topics of this edition were released earlier as a separate edition.


[Food]
Good Harvest in Onchun County
The harvest in Onchun County in the South Pyongan Province was better than last year. Farmers worried that the harvest would not be good due to the weather condition and their lack of understanding for the new corn crop. However, the harvest revealed that Onchun County had the most harvest in the South Pyongan Province. The Farm Resource Provision Unit, a Provincial Farming Management Commission’s affiliated organization, supplied extra fertilizer to Onchun County. Because Onchun County is one of the primary suppliers of food, they were provided with ammonium nitrate fertilizer and neutral fertilizer from Heungnam Fertilizer Factory. Officers of the Onchun County Farming Management are thrilled saying, “We were worried that we might not have enough to cover the food shortage, but our harvest is better than last year.” Farmers are also delighted upon hearing this good news.

Decrease in Soil Quality Curtails Productivity in Kosan County Fruit Plantation
Deficient soil condition in Kosan County fruit plantation is causing a decline in the fruit production. To prepare the soil for the apple trees, the General Administration of Fruit Farming ordered the farmers to deposit calcium compound in the soil. Because the soil was becoming acidic, calcium compounds are needed to de-acidify the soil. However, with the calcium compounds not supplied to the farmers, farmers are essentially required to supply the calcium compounds themselves. The farmers are spread thin with the additional task of making the calcium compound on top of farming and maintaining the water supply system. Although they made the calcium compounds and deposited them into the soil in the apple orchard, it did not do much to rejuvenate the soil. Even though they focused their efforts during the 150-Day Battle, it was not enough to improve the quality of the soil. The quality of the calcium compound, yielded out of poor working conditions, was inadequate to improve the quality of the soil. Undeterred by it, the farmers vowed, “We must yield quality calcium compounds to maximize the apple production level.” They also vowed to complete this mission within the 100 days of ‘general combat mobilization.’

Experimental Farming of New Rice Resulted in Poor Production in Haeju City
Following the Policy of the Rice Seed Revolution and two-crop farming by the Provincial Party, the Haeju Provincial Branch of the Department of Agricultural Science, South Hwanghae Province, had conducted a rice grain production research from 2006 until last year. The Branch experimentally grew rice in 30 jungbos (One jungbo is approximately 2.45 acres.) this year after it developed a rice seed appropriate for the weather conditions and soil characteristics of Hwanghae Province. However, on October 29, the rice production was less than expected. When the new rice was developed, it was highly hoped that it would solve the food shortage problem. As a result, the Branch decided to do more research to increase rice production.

This Year’s Production of Bean with Two-Crop Farming is Three Times Higher than Last Year’s Production in Jungju City
Following the instruction from the Department of Agriculture, the Committee of Agricultural Management, Jungju, North Pyongan Province, used two-crop farming by which beans were raised twice a year and corn was grown all year. In the early spring, potatoes were planted, and then bean was chosen as a second crop. In order to increase the crop production, 80% of potatoes or bean seeds and 20% of corn seeds were sowed in every other ridge in the field. Although various experimental crop production methods during the past 2 years had failed, this way of cultivation produced three times higher the amount of the crops this year than last year. Therefore, this method of planting crops will be promoted to all collective farms in Jungju by 2010.
According to the research done by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agricultural Science since 2007, Jungju has the most appropriate weather and soil conditions for two-crop farming. Therefore, different ways of growing beans and corn were used. For example, they grew beans all year round or beans in 8 ridges and corn in 2 ridges in a field. After several experimental farming of the crops, the two-crop farming method was productive this year. It is likely that the Department of Agriculture will actively introduce this method of crop-raising to all farms across the nation.
There were efforts of farmers behind the success of this method of growing the crops. They have been suffering from the food shortage since this early spring. Neither many of them nor many of their children could go to work or school. However, they had to pay careful attention to the complex processes of raising the crops - proper sowing, weeding, and fall harvest. Although farmers complained about the complex processes, the officials did not listen to the complaints but only emphasized the spirit of the 150-Day Battle and the 100-Day Battle. Even regarding the crop distribution, farmers only received up to the November food ration. The officials said the rest of food will be distributed after the Year End General Peoples’ Assembly. Farmers said they would wait and see how much food ration they will get from the Assembly after the hard work they put in towards the increased crop production even without eating properly.

[Economy]
No Small Changes for New Currency Creates Difficulties to Market Transactions
In Soonchun in South Pyongan Province, a new rising wholesale market following Pyongsung, the market transactions have considerable difficulties due to the limited circulation of small changes. Buyers try to purchase with 500 won, 1,000 won, and 2,000 won bills at the market while the merchants run out of small changes. Both parties are willing to do business but they have no other option than just being worried.

Service Facilities in Sinuiju Continue Business Using Old Price
State-run stores in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province sell products at a government-set price, which is disregarded by the residents that it is more expensive than the pre-revaluation rate.
Thus, some sales agents and the customers, who consider the old rate more reasonable, do business at the pre-revaluation rate. In Chungjin, Hoeryong and Onsung in North Hamgyong Province, some state-run stores also bring and sell only marketable products. Sixty percent of the total items are consigned by private merchants, who often had to withdraw the unsold products due to the high price. Ill-supplied, the national stores have lost customers increasingly. Home based business, which process food like corn noodle and fried corn powder with a rice-polishing machine at home, disregard the new price and continue doing business with the old price. They calculate the total price by adding a processing service fee to the old food price.

In Hoeryong, Merchants Arrested for Selling Rice for 100 Won/Kg
In Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province, the rice price soared overnight from 60 won/kg to 100 won/kg on December 8. The sudden rise put market administration units into regulatory action. Around 4 pm on December 8, market patrols and police officers arrested the merchants who sold one kilogram of rice for 100 won. About 30 kg of rice in total was confiscated.
In the afternoon of December 9, security officers from the city police station and police officers from the district administration office, such as Osan police substation and Sanup police substation, started a joint regulation activity. This intensive regulation was to control the under-the-table price, which does not apply the 100-to-1 rate and is much higher than the pre-revaluation price. The regulation officers directed that “any price exceeding the 100-to-1 rate should be reported immediately” and warned that the intensive regulation will continue until the residents become more familiar with the new price.

Price Hikes are Uneven in Every City
Prices of goods and services in every city are going up unevenly despite the announcement of government-set prices on December 9. In Pyungsung South Pyongan Province, the price of 500g Chinese bean oil was 450 won, but it couldn’t be purchased even at 700 won. The government-set price of a 25kg wheat flour sack is 550 won, but the price went up to 1,000 won on the 13th. Although markets were not open on the 14th in Sinuiju the person-to-person prices show the price of rice (1.5kg) went up from 60 won to 70 won. 500g Chinese bean oil was 480 won, and 25kg of wheat flour in a sack was 750 won.

Rice is not Coming to Market As Price Inspection Begins
On December 8, due to government inspection the price of rice which was as high as 100 won per kg has dropped to 50 won now. Even though the price went down rice is not coming to markets. In Hoeryung the city Party issued an order saying, “Do not spend the new currency and the free money received. You should hold on to the money until the special goods from Pyongyang arrive in our city. Our city is the first one receiving Pyongyang’s special goods thanks to a special consideration of our Beloved Leader. So, spend the money then.” Nevertheless, people are complaining that the government says currency exchange was intended to enhance the quality of life, but it resulted in inordinate price hikes. The residents say, “We don’t know how much of Pyongyang’s special goods will come to our city, but we would be happy if they send us some food.” Currently, with the government control of rice price at 50 won rice merchants are waiting to see, instead of selling, when the new price will be announced and what kind of special goods will come from Pyongyang.

[Politics]
Chungjin, Public Execution for Burning Old Currency
Last December 5, a resident of Suwon 1 Dong was arrested and executed in public at Soonam Market in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province. He was charged with burning the old currency. He was arrested on the spot when he burned about 18,500,000 Won which became obsolete due to currency exchange. To prevent any similar incidents, he was publically executed the next day for reactionary activity with no hearing or trial.

Nampo City, Warrants Issued for Motorcyclists who Dispersed Old Currency
On December 4, the Safety Bureau of Nampo City, South Pyungan Province began to look for people on a motorcycle who dispersed old currency like leaflets. They are conducting investigations on those who own a motorcycle and keep old currency instead of turning them in to the government as reserve money. As of December 10, 5 people have been arrested at the spot for throwing off old currency, and they are charged with reactionary act and treason.

Old Currency Discarded in Various Methods
Numerous incidents of people putting old money into a plastic bag or a sandbag and dump it in the water occurred near Sinam District at Chungjin City North Hamgyong Province. Similar such incidents as dumping money bag in the sea, garbage collection area, or sewer are still continuing. After public execution on the 5th, residents who can’t burn money are trying to discard the money in such manners. The police department is conducting patrols everyday but they are unable to stop them. An official described, “I think those who are not happy with currency exchange are expressing their dissatisfaction in these manners.”

Urgent Arrest of Eight People Who Abandoned Large Sums of Old Money in Hamhung
From December 1st to 6th, a police station in Hamhung City, South Hamgyong Province, made an urgent arrest of 8 residents who had abandoned large sums of old money. They were charged with throwing away large amount of old money to sewerages, riversides, public restrooms and dumping grounds. It was declared that abandoning the money that has the portrait of the late President Kim Il-Sung to dumping grounds and restrooms constitutes contempt of authority, and abandoning the money in lieu of placing it in the bank in custody constitutes treason that reflects discontent of the policy of the current government. The Central Party instructed every security authorities that after the announcement of the currency reform, such instances upon discovery must be strictly regulated and punished.

Hoeryong Security Authority Summons a Man of Wealth with One Hundred Million Old NK Won
On December 8th, a wealthy person relinquished one hundred million old NK won to a bank in second district of Mangyangdong, Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province. Same day in the morning, officers from the bank went to the civic service office in person, retrieved one hundred million NK won, and issued a deposit certificate from Central Bank. The bank officers appreciated and complimented the sincerity of the man for not throwing away the old money but delivering it to the state. However, shortly after the bank officers left, police officers came in and summoned the wealthy person, to find out how an ordinary resident was able to save money as much as one hundred million NK won.

[Society]
Kaechun city, Currency Reform Brought Downfall of a Wealthy Family
In Kaechun City, many neighbors are showing sympathies for a family whose wealth was lost overnight due to the currency reform. After losing about 76,000,000 NK Won overnight, the man passed away within a few days from the shock. Although his family wanted to give him a funeral, they could not afford it because markets were closed and they only had 2,500 NK Won. The City Party helped the family by allowing additional exchange of 100,000 NK Won of the old currency for the new currency. Nevertheless, it was not enough to give the man a proper funeral. Many neighbors who attended the funeral cried, “The currency reform brought on this tragedy for this family.”
After the funeral, when the bank collected the old currency left in the house, his wife committed suicide by swallowing a big chunk of opium. As the tragic news spread, neighbors said, “Before the currency reform, this family was one of the wealthiest in this area. The currency reform has made them the most miserable one.”

Residents Criticize Currency Reform Saying "We could've Died Without the Free 'Supporting Money'"
Those without much money were not critical of the currency reform. Rather, they thought that everyone, wealthy and poor alike, could have a brand new start at the same starting point. However, as the shortage of goods and inflation continues, people are beginning to criticize the currency reform. The residents in Chaeha City of the Sinuiju County in the North Pyongan Province complain, “We would have died without the supporting money.” They also worry that the currency reform may hurt rather than help the residents. As more people suffer from hunger, the City Party has reduced the price of imported rice to 45 NK Won per kilogram and made available in proportion to the size of the family in addition to corn rations.

Climbing Food Price Raises Concerns
As the inflation continues, many families have been surviving on corn porridge since December 1. Many daily wage earners are saying “Everyday is a matter of life and death.” Since the currency reform, it has been difficult to purchase anything due to the great price increase. Under the currency reform, the price of rice which was 2,000 NK Won in old currency is now as high as 100 NK Won. This means 2,000 NK Won (old currency) per kilogram now sells for 10,000 NK Won (in old currency) per kilogram after the currency reform, a five-fold increase. After compulsory mediation, the price of rice has been reduced to 50 NK Won (new currency) per kilogram, but the price still remains high as it converts to 5,000 NK Won in old currency which is 2.5 times more expensive than before. Similarly, the coal price has gone up, with a bucket of coal which used to cost 500 NK Won is now selling at a price equivalent to 2,500 NK Won in old currency as of December 8. As a result, daily wage earners cannot even dream of purchasing rice and coal. Even if laborers receive their full paychecks, the new currency would be useless if the inflation continues. The residents continue to suffer as the announcement of price adjustment is delayed.

[Women/Children/Education]
Namhyang Middle School Students Collect Firewood
Namhyang Middle School in the Pohang District of Chungjin City in the North Hamgyong Province asked the students to gather firewood to heat the classrooms during winter. The Education Department ordered the schools to have students collect firewood rather than burdening the parents with taxes for classroom heating. The Education Department cannot afford to impose additional burden on the parents, because the number of students attending school has dropped due to other taxes imposed on the parents for the students’ activities. Although the teachers ordered the students to collect firewood from November 26 through 28, more than half of the students refused to participate. The students declared that they would rather pay than collect firewood. Consequently, the school tried to mobilize the students who could not pay. However, because the teachers cannot afford to take only half of the class to collect firewood, the school is having trouble properly heating the classroom. Without firewood, the students continue to study in cold classrooms until the winter break. Meanwhile, the problem of H1N1 flu virus forced the school to start the winter break early on December 4. Many students are glad that they do not have to pay or collect firewood. However, for teachers who covered their living expenses from the taxes collected from the students, the early winter break is not good news.

“No students are permitted outside” due to H1N1 Flu
The department of education issued a notice to all the school in the country to “not call students to school during the vacation” due to the H1N1 flu. Students were strictly prohibited from holding any club meetings. As for the delay in the progress of classes due to the early winter break, the teachers were told to resolve the issue by conducting home visits. The teachers are expected to review the homework and the progress of the students by visiting each student’s home. Furthermore, they were requested to come up with plans to increase the learning ability of the students.

[Accidents]
A Fight Breaks Out Over Haircut Charge
In the afternoon of December 8th, a fight broke out at a barbershop in Hoeryung when soldiers and officers got involved in an argument over haircut charges. The barber asked for 20 Won for two people since the government-set hair cut price per each person is 10 Won, but the soldier and officer claimed it was too expensive and refused to pay. The haircut that would have been 300 Won before the national currency exchange is now raised to the equivalent of 1,000 Won in the old currency. So, they refused to pay for the charge. Eventually, they beat up the barber and left the place.

Seven People Died in Chungjin Within Two days After the National Currency Exchange
In Chungjin, Northern Hamgyong Province, seven people reportedly died of heart attack and other causes within two days after the announcement of the national currency exchange. They are known to be three men and four women. The range of their savings shows the minimum of 48,000,000 Won to the maximum of 95,000,000 Won.

North Korea Today No.316 Hot Topics December 2009

[“Good Friends” aims to help the North Korean people from a humanistic point of view and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean people live as accurately as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]
___________________________________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics No. 316]
Official Government-set Prices Are Publicly Announced in the Markets
On December 12, National Surveys on Public Opinion Are Initiated by City (County) Party Officials Regarding Currency Revaluation
Market Operations to Be Suspended for Three Days Beginning December 14, a Sign to Readjust Official Government-set Market Prices
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[Hot Topics No. 316]
Official Government-set Prices Are Publicly Announced in the Markets
North Korean authorities publicly announced the official national prices in the markets. Contents of announcement are as follow: 22 to 23 won per Kg for rice, 8 won for corn, 12 won for crushed maize, 10 won for corn noodle, 22 won for flour, 9 to 13 won for tofu soy, 50 won for soy oil, 12 won for red bean, 10 Won for string bean, 21 to 22 won for potato starch, 15 to 18 won for millet, 45 won for pork, 50 won for chicken, 40 won for dog meat, 45 won for rabbit meat, 30 to 50 won for whiting fish, 35 to 45 won for sea bass (a set of 2), 50 to 100 won for clams, 60 to 100 won for Atka mackerel, 3 won for an egg, 30 to 40 won for dried pepper, 40 won for powdered-sugar (sugar), 3 won for a cake of tofu, 30 to 40 won for a fresh octopus, 3 won for cabbage, 5 won for radish, 35 to 45 won for a package of food seasoning, 300 to 550 won for a ready-made men’s suit, 350 to 500 won for a ready-made women’s dress, 200 to 300 won for men’s underwear, 250 to 350 won for women’s underwear, 35 won for a pair of men’s jogging shoes, 30 won for a pair of women’s shoes, 200 to 300 won for a pair of men’s shoes, 250 to 400 won for a pair of women’s shoes, 10 50 15 won for market fee, 0.5 won for bicycle storage at market.



On December 12, National Surveys on Public Opinion Are Initiated by City (County) Party Officials Regarding Currency Revaluation
The Central Party issued a directive, “to listen to the people’s opinion as to what would be the best the government could do with food supply to the people and market prices.” Accordingly, beginning December 12, all the city and county party administration officials initiated national surveys on public opinion by selecting three households at random within each neighborhood unit. They paid visits to the randomly selected households and asked the heads of the households of their opinion on the currency revaluation. Questions were centered on whether laborers were compensated properly and whether the market prices were set appropriately. They also asked for frank and honest opinions about the national policies. They tried to persuade people hesitant to speak out that nothing would happen to them for their opinions. Information on the trends of public opinion collected in this manner by the propaganda section of city (county) party was sent to the central party through the provincial party. A party official made a comment, “City propaganda section listened to the words on the appropriateness of national policies and what people’s interests are. They found that presently, all the prices including grain price are going up too fast and closure of markets are causing hard times to people.”

On December 13, City (County) Party Plenary Sessions Get Busy in Efforts to Track Public Opinion Trends Regarding Currency Revaluation
Nationally, all the city (county) parties held plenary sessions to figure out the public opinion on the market prices after the currency revaluation. Present at the plenary sessions were party leaders of factories and public enterprises, general managers, security agency officials, police officials, other law enforcement officials including prosecutors, educators and medical-field officials. Each of them was asked of what changes they observed in their places of work after the currency revaluation. Prevalent were the opinions that instability of market prices since the currency exchange into new one causes hardships on the residents’ everyday lives. All of them urged that city (county) party should provide a means to resolve the problems as soon as possible. The secretary in charge of the party promised to the participants that the market prices will be reverted to the official market prices before December 20 as publicly announced. Currently, the prices of rice and corn per Kg are set at 23 and 8 won, respectively, but suggestions were made that they should come down to 19 and 7 won, respectively. Even the Central Party expressed willingness that it would finish assessment on the overall status of the market prices and residents’ everyday lives by the end of December and provide measures to enhance the standards of living conditions of laborers and farmers to stability as intended with the currency revaluation measure.

Market Operations to Be Suspended for Three Days Beginning December 14, a Sign to Readjust Official Government-set Market Prices
Since the currency revaluation, the market prices precipitously rose. Consequently, governmental authorities decided to suspend the markets for three days beginning December 14. The rationale is that the official national market prices will be readjusted before reopening of the markets. Department of National Price Commission will consider the public opinions and local situations throughout the nation in readjusting the official national market prices. Announcements were made through the city (county) parties that official national market prices would be readjusted during suspension of markets for three days beginning December 14. This news made residents wonder what kind of measures could be prepared during the ‘short’ three-day period.

North Korea Today No. 312 December 2009

[“Good Friends” aims to help the North Korean people from a humanistic point of view and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean people live as accurately as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]
___________________________________________________________________________________
[Hot Topics]
Note: Hot topics of No. 312 were published as a separate issue.

[Food]
Food Rations not Given to Absentee Workers Taken by Other Workers
In Geumya County, Food Bought by Selling Material to be Used for Bridge Construction

[Economy]
Public Food Distribution System used to Cover Food Shipping Costs
Grain collected after Farmers Labor Organizations Ideology Training
National Q&A Contest for the Farmer-Labor Organizations Officials Held
Nampo City, Emphasis on the Transportation of Rice

[Politics]
Heoryung, All-out Effort on Cracking Down of Drug Trafficking and Border Crossing
North Hamgyong Province Youth Special Labor Brigade, Little Accomplishment during 150-Day Battle

[Society]
Youth Union, “Hair Style In Our Own Way”
Movie Artists Given New Clothes for All Seasons
Poor Business causes People Selling Phones in Kangsuh County
Electric Meter that costs 70,000 NKW in Pyongyang Costs 170,000 NKW in Wonsan

[Women/Children/Education]
Hamheung Suri DongRyuk University collects Money from Students to purchase Computers

[Accidents]
Female Middle School Student’s Leg Amputated due to Accident After She Attends a Call Out in place of Her Parents

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[Food]
Food Rations not Given to Absentee Workers Taken by Other Workers
The food rations for the first half of October was distributed in corn to the factories and state enterprises, including railroads in North Hamgyong Province. Railroad-related industry received food starting on the 13th, while regular factories and enterprises began receiving food on the 16th. Factories brought moisture measuring devices and demanded that they be given more since the weight of the moisture should be deducted from the overall weight of the food. But the farmers, arguing against their demands, are saying that this year’s harvest was poor. Attendance sheets were checked for daily absences and food was deducted for the days absent without excuses. This led to food being left over for each factory and enterprise. At an enterprise with around 200 workers, 1,500kg of corn was left over after distribution. In many cases, the workers use this food as they please. However, in the official ledger, they record the food as being spent to purchase work-related material.

In Geumya County, Food Bought by Selling Material to be Used for Bridge Construction
In Geumya County, South Hamgyong Province, the military began the construction of the Geumya Bridge by using its own resources. They are providing one meal per day to the laborers because they did not collect enough food. They usually provide noodles, with only radish flavored by salt and soy sauce as a side dish. Although noodle is not fulfilling, the laborers have no choice but to eat what they can. Some workers are stealing cement and other construction material to sell to buy food. The managers yell and warn the laborers morning and night, to no avail. Thefts are continuing. Some laborers who are in worse shape than others often don’t show up. It has become the job of head manager and cell secretaries to round up laborers by going from house to house. One worker said that, “Although our military try to plan and carry out its challenging goal of constructing this bridge using its own resources; it’s a tough job as long as the food situation isn’t solved.”

[Economy]
Public Food Distribution System used to Cover Food Shipping Costs
Although prices fell in the grain market, offices of the Grain Administration Departments in the South and North Hwanghae Provinces and the South and North Pyongan Provinces have been unable to resume normal business. Each offices of the Grain Administration Department receive food from nearby farms, and it is up to the individual farms to transport the food to the offices. However, because of the lack of vehicles in the farms, the farms use cargo vehicles from factories and enterprises. Moreover, the factories and enterprises are deducting fuel costs from the laborers’ rations. As a result, the laborers are not receiving their full rations.

Grain collected after Farmers Labor Organizations Ideology Training
On October 8, the Central Committee of the Farmers Labor Organization conducted ideology training with the agricultural workers to promote their active participation in the fall harvesting efforts. The main message was to encourage patriotism and to promote grain donations after a successful fall harvesting. In the North Pyongan Province, after a corn harvesting, the farm workers received 70 to 100 kg of corn. However, since October 1, they began collecting grain in the name of patriotism. The management officials of the Woonha collective farms in Woonjun County received a compliment for collecting 30 to 50 kg of grain before the instructions were given to collect grain in the name of patriotism.

National Q&A Contest for the Farmer-Labor Organizations Officials Held
On October 27, National Questions and Answer contest was held for the farmer-labor organization officials in Pyongsung City in the South Pyongan Province. About 1,200 officials, selected from every farm in the nation, took part in the contest. From June to October, the selected officials devoted their time to learning the politics, ideology and agricultural policies under the direction of the propaganda department officials. Many farm workers complained that work forces were unnecessarily reduced during the busy fall harvesting due to the Question and Answer contest.

Nampo City, Emphasis on the Transportation of Rice
On October 1, the City Party Committee of Nampo City, South Pyongan Province, instructed the Ri Party Secretary and the chairmen of farms “to harvest rice without losing any grain.” Because this year’s rice crop production is not good, the Committee told the workers at the Propaganda and Agitation Department and the Committee to go out to farms in order to assure farmers that the farmers are the people who are in charge of the livelihood of the country. The Committee also instructed the workers to conduct a lecture to prevent rice-theft.

According to the Fall Harvest Report submitted to the Nampo City Party on October 7, the number of farmers who participated in the fall harvest at the Cooperative Farms in Shinryung-ri in Woudo County, Ryoungnam-ri, the Doji-ri port area, and Shinheung-ri was very low. At each farm, novice workers brought farmers who did not come to work to their farms. As a way to solve the lack of workers at each farm, the Committee decided to send middle school students to the farms that needed workers for the fall harvest for 15 days. Another problem is that proper transportation for rice-sheaves is not in place. In order to prevent rice theft, rice-sheaves should be brought into the threshing floor as soon as possible. However, many tractors have been out of order and purchasing tractor fuel is difficult as well. Although farmers want to use working bulls (i.e., bulls raised to carry things and plow the field), many of the bulls have died because they were fed cornstalks in order to save the food for them during the spring lean season. However, after the long discussion between the Committee and the Farming Management Commission, it has been decided to utilize all working bulls to transport rice sheaves for factories, enterprises, the City People’s Assembly and the Departments of the Farming Management Commission.

[Politics]
Heoryung, All-out Effort on Cracking Down of Drug Trafficking and Border Crossing
On November 5, Hoeryung City in North Hamgyong Province held a community meeting of Osan Dong Residents. The purpose is to reinforce mass political propaganda as increasing number of defection cases in which the whole family fleeing the country during the second half of the year. On the 7th, they arrested 35 ‘ice’ (amphetamine) dealers and sent 27 of those who were dealing over 100g to the police station. The Security Headquarter arrested a nurse who possessed a fountain pen video camera at the checkpoint. Through this incident, the Providence Security Department arrested a primary party secretary and a doctor at Yusun Labor District People’s Hospital, and 60 residents implicated in the case. City and County Organization Propaganda and Instigation Department issued orders to “Get rid of resident’s fantasy about foreign countries, and engage a battle to locate 100% of those who cross the river to China or trade with China using a cellular phone.”

North Hamgyong Province Youth Special Labor Brigade, Little Accomplishment during 150-Day Battle
North Hamgyong Province Youth Special Labor Brigade received an evaluation of little accomplishment during 150-day battle. North Hamgyong Province Youth Special Labor Brigade worked at several major construction sites such as Bakdu Mountain Military First Youth Power Plant (백두산선군청년발전소) in Ryanggang Province, Ryeosung River Power Plant, and Mirubul Watercourse Construction. The biggest reason for such poor evaluation is because of a large number of escapees. For example, the Youth Union from Chungam District in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province ran away about 15 days after the mobilization because of hard labor at the Bakdu Mountain Military First Youth Power Plant. From this incident, the Youth Union officials were criticized and punished by the construction site commander at the Bakdu Mountain Military First Youth Power Plant. On a daily basis the youth members mobilized to the worksite are asking each agency and enterprise for replacement laborers or better food ration. North Hamgyong Province Youth Union ordered all cities and counties to prepare uniform, shoes, gloves, toiletries and other supplies to send to the Bakdu Mountain Military First Youth Power Plant.

[Society]
Youth Union, “Hair Style In Our Own Way”

November 11, 2009, Central Youth Union Committee ordered, “We need to criticize those who models after foreign styles instead of our own.” Accordingly, Youth Union officials were mobilized to crack down on young people’s hair style. They announced at the Informant Lecture, “at the end of September, our Beloved Leader was on his way to a site visit and expressed a concern when he sighted the hair style of a sales clerk at the Junseung store by saying, what is wrong with her hairstyle?; That is not our native hairstyle.” and added, “Is she really our own Korean woman? Why is she giving up our own traditional beauty and chose to model bad foreign habits of the capitalist? He immediately ordered that women should not wear skirt length above their knee, tight pants, flared pants or anything that shows the contour.” They also identified the traditional market seller’s name, age, and position and proclaimed, “Young people need to dress and do their hair in our traditional style.” Currently, Youth Union officials in Pyongyang and other cities and counties throughout the nation are taking the initiatives and cracking down on hairstyle of students and young women. Women are prohibited to have color dyed hair, twisted up hair style, short hair cuts, and loosened long hair style. Long hair has to be braided. Men are prohibited from having hair length that is perpendicular to ear, regent hair style that are long in the front and short in the back or regent hair style with short front and short back. They are also prohibiting any dress with writings on it.

Movie Artists Given New Clothes for All Seasons
The Central Party recently gave a special privilege to the movie artists and reporters to buy new clothes at especially low prices. One official said, “One female reporter said, in a meeting where the General attended, that she was ashamed to be wearing poorer clothing than those she was covering. Once when the General was attending a dinner party, one actor was sweating profusely. He asked why and told him to take his suit off if he was so hot, but he wouldn’t. So the General found out the reason. The actor wouldn’t take his suit off because, underneath, he was wearing a short-sleeved dress shirt over his long-sleeved underwear. So the General gave a gift of new clothing covering all four seasons – including underwear, shirts, fabrics for skirts and suits, etc.” Because of the special dispensation by the Party, the artists and reporters were able to buy 1,800 Euro worth of clothing for only 20,000 NKW.

Poor Business causes People Selling Phones in Kangsuh County
In Kangsuh County in the South Pyongan Province, increasing number of wealthy merchants is selling their phones due to poor businesses. When businesses were doing well, these merchants purchased phones at great expenses, yet because of the poor forecast for businesses last year and this year, they are selling their phones. Before the currency revaluation, these merchants purchased the phone for 30,000 won, the phone line for 300,000 won, the phone number for 500,000 won for a total of 830,000 won. However, they are selling them for 600,000 won. The post office in Kangsuh County purchased four phones for the county people to use. However, because there is insufficient electricity, at times generators are required to power the phones, which make the phone rates extremely expensive.

Electric Meter that costs 70,000 NKW in Pyongyang Costs 170,000 NKW in Wonsan
Before the currency reform, the basic cost to install an electric meter was 170,000 NKW. The application cost was 140,000 won with 40,000 won for the cost of electric wires. At one time, the locals complained why it cost 170,000 won here when it was only 70,000 won in Pyongyang for the same installation: “Is the electric company making a profit by buying the meter at 70,000 won and selling it to us at 170,000 won?” The locals believe that the electric utility company is making money off them. Park Chul-ryong complained, “Only the rich and powerful get to have electricity while those who are poor don’t?” Members of the city Party, police, People’s Committee, and others with social status can get electricity without needing electric meters. Those who weren’t officials but could afford the 170,000 NKW installation fee received electricity. Ultimately, it was only the poor who had to go without electricity. Park said, “Laborers without money or status work hard all day and come back home only to eat from the light of candles or lanterns.”

[Women/Children/Education]
Hamheung Suri DongRyuk University collects Money from Students to purchase Computers
Hamheung Suri DonRyuk University in the Southern Hamgyong Province collected 10,000 won from each of the students in order to purchase computers for the university. On September 19, the university collected about 6,100,000 won from 630 students. However, because the collected money was not enough, they decided to collect again in November. The average allowance for students attending the university is around 90,000 to 100,000 won. During the last four years, many students were expelled because their families were unable to support them due to financial difficulties. On average, 40 to 50 students are expelled from the university for this reason.

[Accidents]
Female Middle School Student’s Leg Amputated due to Accident After She Attends a Call Out in place of Her Parents
On October 16, in Hoeryung City in the North Hamgyong Province, a log crushed the leg of a 16 year old girl at a construction site. The girl was attending a labor mobilization at the factory in place of her parents. Because of the severe injury to her leg, she was informed that her leg needed to be amputated. The girl’s parents begged the hospital to find another way, but the hospital replied that there was no other way. It is not uncommon to see other young students or the elderly who come to a labor call at the factories in place of their family members. Anyone who misses a labor call pays a penalty of 2,000 won and other workers are forced to stay late to finish the work of the missing person. Therefore, for families whose mothers must go to the market to make a living, they send either the grandmother or the daughter to the call out. A day after the girls’ accident, one special labor brigade member fell from a construction site while carrying timber up to the second floor. He fell because of momentary dizziness. Although he was immediately transported to the hospital, the doctors claimed he did not have a chance because of the severe injury to his head. His fellow workers were distressed because the accident occurred due to his poor nutrition at home and strenuous labor at the construction site.

North Korea Today No. 315-1 Hot Topics December 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 No. 315-1]
Ministry of Public Health Held an Open Meeting of All-members to Prepare Preventive Measures of H1N1
Medical Workers, Take Responsibility and Provide Medical Examinations to People
Jung Tong Pyun and Domestically Produced Aspirins Prohibited
Two H1N1 Cases Reported in Hongwon County
Ministry of Public Health Performs Health Checkups on Elementary School Students Twice a Week
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[Hot Topics No. 315-1]
Ministry of Public Health Held an Open Meeting of All-members to Prepare Preventive Measures of H1N1
On December 7, the Ministry of Public Health held an open meeting of all members at city and county Parties to establish preventive measure of H1N1. Attendees to the open meeting for all members included government officials from public health department, officials of people’s hospitals, heads of the clinics the farmland, and the principles and the vice principles of schools representing all officials from public health and education areas. The meeting was for an open and comprehensive examination of countermeasures against H1N1. In light of the fact that only a small number of authorized personnel attended and discussed the countermeasures against H1N1 in closed door meetings previously, this open meeting is exceptional. A government official indicated two reasons for this. The first is that the government had no choice but to announce the seriousness of current situation to the people because H1N1 has been spreading very rapid since November 2009. Preventive measures in terms of short term prescription are meaningless without cooperation from the people. The second reason cited was that the news of the dispersion of H1N1 in North Korea has been reported outside North Korea already. After the news was broadcasted in South Korea, Foreign Service Employees residing overseas began to inquire about their family, which resulted in commotion in North Korea. Since the news has been widely spread out, the government might have decided to make it public.

Medical Workers, Take Responsibility and Provide Medical Examinations to People
At an all members meeting, officials from education and public health department of city and county raised a big concern that if H1N1 were spread out in times of serious chronic malnutrition caused by great famine, an infectious disease and starvation could sweep the whole country, causing societal chaos." It was ordered in the meeting that as a countermeasure against H1N1, "In this situation, all (medical workers) have to stand up in unity, and take responsibility for the health of the people, and provide thorough medical examinations to the people." In addition, because H1N1 shows the same symptom as a cold in the early stage, they ordered not to use cold medicine without exact diagnosis. They have also decided to instruct the residents not to take medicine at random when they have cold symptoms.

Jung Tong Pyun and Domestically Produced Aspirins Prohibited
The Ministry of Public Health issued a nationwide order prohibiting the use of North Korean aspirin and Chinese Jung Tong Pyun (Chinese made pain reliever and fever reducer). In South Pyongan Province, a series of incidents involving death of H1N1 patients treated with North Korean aspirin and Chinese Jung Tong Pyun was reported. H1N1 patients misdiagnosed as common cold were prescribed cold medicine and children could not be saved when high fever became more serious. However, children who didn't take cold medicine were re-examined and diagnosed as H1N1 and subsequently attempts were made to treat them with other medicine. Even though an immediate treatment could not be given to H1N1, the children could be spared of medical mishaps caused by medicine misuse.

Two H1N1 Cases Reported in Hongwon County
On December 8, 2009, the public health authority of Hongwon county, South Hamgyong Province, announced that two patients were confirmed as H1N1 cases. On the same day, Myungcheon county reported one H1N1 case to the North Hamgyong Provincial Party. At 5:30 pm on that day in North Hamgyong Province, there was an emergency meeting held at the headquarter of the Province Emergency Epidemic Prevention Center. The province government issued an order which requires students not to stay in groups of more than two or three during the winter break and to reinforce inspection of passing of travelers from other provinces. Also the government ordered to prohibit family members who have symptoms of a cold from going out. The city and county emergency epidemic prevention headquarters ordered to devise virus preventive measures that will detect whether people are infected or not.

Ministry of Public Health Performs Health Checkups on Elementary School Students Twice a Week
The Public Health Department of North Hamgyong Province is performing H1N1 related medical examinations on elementary school students twice a week. While schools throughout the country started winter break due to the dispersion of H1N1, elementary schools at Giljoo county and Onsung county began the winter break as well. Although winter breaks are in session, students at these school have to live in the dormitory because they have no parent. The living condition of the dormitory so bad a lot of children are suffering from malnutrition and they are at high risk of being exposed to H1N1 due to their weak immune system. As such, hygiene control workers from the Ministry of Public Health are paying visits to elementary schools and give medical examinations more than twice a week.

Despite the support from the County Party and District Administration Offices, students of those schools are still suffering from hunger and cold weather. Elementary school teachers say, "The biggest concern at this point is not the disease, but the food that can fill up their stomach and winter clothes that can block cold weather." Because the nation's economic situation is bad support to elementary schools has been diminished. Even during cold winter, elementary school students between the first and fourth grades have to wear clothes given by Neighborhood Unit, although the sizes do not fit properly. Most of undergarments are worn out in the areas of elbow and knee. Due to the bad economic condition, the County Party which has been providing support to elementary schools is just encouraging teachers to overcome the difficulties by themselves. During the winter break, teachers cannot teach follow-up classes because of great shortage of notebooks and pencils, let alone textbooks. When this situation was reported to the Province Party, the Education Department of North Hamgyong Province Party ordered county and city teachers to support elementary school students. As a result, each teacher has to submit 10 notebooks, two sharp pencils, and 10 pencils. These school supplies are going to be collected before December 15 and sent to the Province Education Department. However, food shortage problem still remains. A teacher says, "Now elementary school students are getting a small amount of food that will keep them from being starved to death." Elementary school teachers repeatedly stressed that even though they need medicine for H1N1, food is more urgent to elementary school students.

North Korea Today No. 315 Hot Topics December 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 No. 315]
New Currency Prices Announced on December 9
Market Prices Still Unstable Despite the Release of Government Set Prices
Coalminer’s Salary is 8,000won in New Currency
Jang Sung-taek Pays a Visit to Hoeryung on December 8
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[Hot Topics No. 315]

New Currency Prices Announced on December 9
On December 9, new currency prices of goods set by the government were released nationwide. The government-set price of rice is 23 won per kg, corn 8 won, corn rice 12 won, corn noodle 10 won, wheat flour 22 won, tofu bean 9-13 won, bean oil 50 won, pork 45 won, radish 5 won, soy meat 15 won, peanut on string 10 won, and chemical seasoning 45 won per pack respectively.


Market Prices Still Unstable Despite the Release of Government Set Prices
A quick survey of current market prices in the major cities shows that there aren’t many items that are traded at the government set price. Most of the items are traded at prices that are higher than the government set prices. In the afternoon of December 11, rice was traded at 50 won per kg, corn 18 won, and corn noodle 20 won respectively in Chungjin city market in North Hamgyong Province, and they are all twice as much higher than the government set prices. However, only pork was traded at 45 won, which is the government set price. Until recently, pigs were reared in the farm by feeding the leftover grains that comes out of brewing. However, many farmhouses gave up pig farming because the grain price went up and wines are not selling very well. Many farmhouses are selling even the piglets to meat traders. As such, pork price is not rising, so it is traded at government set price.

Coalminer’s Salary is 8,000 won in New Currency
The coalminer’s salary was raised from the current 6,000 won to 8,000 won after currency exchange. The miners in the mine areas of North Hamgyong Province are pleased about it as they feel that they don’t have to work extra jobs to feed the family if they get paid 8,000 won a month with the new currency. Previously, they couldn’t even buy 3kg of rice with the salary of 6,000 won. The salary indeed had not much purchasing power. Since the miners could not make living with the salary they obtained food by excavating coals and sell them at the market, or they carried a bucket of coals on their way home from work and try to make ends meet that way. However, the new salary of 8,000 won in new currency is equivalent of 800,000 won in old currency and that gives expectations for a better life.

Jang Sung-taek Pays a Visit to Hoeryung on December 8
Jang Sung-taek, Director of the Ministry of Administration of the Party visited Hoeryung city, North Hamgyong Province. The purposes of his visit were to survey and direct the municipal affairs for improvement of people’s livelihood in connection with currency exchange. Meanwhile, with a special consideration of Kim Jong-il, chairman of DPRK National Defense Commission Hoeryung city will receive special gifts including an Arirang TV set. Hoeryung city called for an all city party member meeting and discussed how to allocate the special gifts.

North Korea Today No. 314 Hot Topics December 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 No. 314]
H1N1 Flu is Spreading Rapidly in Sinuiju
Sinuiju City Party Official, “Heard the death toll hit forty, but there must be more.”
Strict Inspection of Sanitary Disinfection Certificate at Every Checkpoint in North Hamgyong Province
Still No News about the Price Announcement after Currency Revaluation

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[Hot Topics No. 314]
H1N1 Flu is Spreading Rapidly in Sinuiju
Since the beginning of November the number of people infected by H1N1 flu is increasing rapidly in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province. In Sinuiju, cases of people having fever and collapsing after getting infected by the flu are reported everyday. According to one medical worker, “All the patients can barely open their eyes and suffer from headache and high fever, which hit higher than 39°C. I visited one apartment complex, and patients from several households were suffering from the same symptoms. It looks like the new flu is spreading much faster than I thought.” There is no medicine for H1N1 at the hospital. As such, they are prescribing an antibiotic called Revosacine as a substitute measure. It is a Chinese medicine developed in Beijing reported to be effective. So, everyone is looking for this medicine. However, this medicine is already sold out in Sinuiju. The lower class people are suffering immensely from lack of medicine. Meanwhile, on December 4, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education issued an order of early winter break to schools throughout the country based on the number 1 report.

Sinuiju City Party Official, “Heard the death toll hit forty, but there must be more.”
According to a Sinuiju City Party official, North Pyongan Province, he was informed that more than forty people died from H1N1 in several cities and counties in the province, including Sinuiju, and Pyonsung in South Pyongan Province. However, he stated that the death toll would be more than double the reported number. He added that “the number probably would have been reduced to avoid announcing bad news in consideration of the public sentiment.”

Strict Inspection of Sanitary Disinfection Certificate at Every Checkpoint in North Hamgyong Province
North Hamgyong Province has issued an order saying, “Maintain strict control over passenger traffic to other provinces, cities, and counties’’ to each city, county, and social agencies. Starting from December 10, they will issue sanitary disinfection certificate to those who received vaccination, and allow passage after inspecting the certificate.

Still No News about the Price Announcement after Currency Revaluation
Public notice on the prices of goods and services was supposed to be announced at 5pm on Wednesday, December 9. However, the announcement has not been made yet. People are feeling uneasy because the official notice of the prices are continued to be delayed. The prices have gone up a lot compared to the beginning of currency reform. The prices in Sinuiju show that on November 28 the price of rice was 1,700 Won and it was 17 Won on December 2 which is still the same price after the conversion to new currency. However, today’s price is 40 Won which is more than double. Corn price, which was 7 Won (700 Won in old currency), has gone up to 25 Won which is about 3 and a half times higher. Wheat flour price has gone up twice as much from 15 Won (1,500 Won in old currency) to 30 Won. The price of egg has quadrupled from 2 Won per egg to 8 Won today. The merchants think that the prices are going up rapidly because of psychological factors contributed by the delay in the public notice of the prices.

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