GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 326 Full Version January 2010

[“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]
Note: The food section of this edition was released earlier as a separate edition.

[Economy]
Cabinet Orders Factories and Public Enterprises: “Make a List of Reserve Goods and Return them to the Cities and Counties."
“Currency Exchange Rate of 100 to 1 not Equals to Buying 100 Products at Price of One"

[Politics]
The Aftermath of Yoosun Hospital Espionage Case is Fierce
Organization Secretary of Hoeryong City Party Involved in the Espionage Case is Placed in the Buryung-town Collective Farm
Unregistered Lodging in Border Areas to Be Punished Even for Relatives

[Society]
Public Sentiment Worsens Over Market Closure

[Women/Children/Education]
University Faculty Used Students for Currency Exchange

[Accidents]
Son Commits Suicide after Being Scolded by Father for Ice (amphetamine) Use
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[Hot Topics]
Note: Hot Topics of this edition were released earlier as a separate edition.

[Food]
Note: The food section of this edition was released earlier as a separate edition.

[Economy]
Cabinet Orders Factories and Public Enterprises: “Make a list of reserve goods and return them to the cities and counties."
On January 10th, the Cabinet issued a nationwide directive requesting to "make a list of all foods and merchandises kept as reserve or retained for purposes of managing factory and enterprise and return them to the cities and counties in their jurisdiction." Since January 11th, the city and county parties in the nation held all-member meetings and delivered the order to each factory and enterprise. Each factory and enterprise subsequently held internal meetings and launched projects to return those reserve foods and products. Each city and county party inspection committee and prosecutor's office monitor the progress in order to keep individuals from stealing them. Such foods and merchandises will be used to assist people whose lives are at risk because they cannot do business.

“Currency Exchange Rate of 100 to 1 not Equals to Buying 100 Products at Price of One"
In all parts of the country, for each unit and workplace, series of educational lectures were given to people because the government determined that public opinion got worse since the currency exchange measures due to people's misperception on them. The main message of the lecture was that “currency exchange rate of 100 to 1 does not mean one can buy 100 products at a price of one. Due to rising prices, people question the government's policies, but they need to have a right understanding on the currency exchange measures." However, regarding the question of why prices were not set 100 to 1, the lecture only stated that "do not question about why state stores do not sell goods at 100 to 1 prices; all goods are sold at prices established by the State Pricing Committee." In addition, each unit and enterprise party has emphasized repeatedly to the residents that they need to live with the following understanding: "unlike currency exchange rate, prices set by the State are not 100 to 1."

[Politics]
The Aftermath of Yoosun Hospital Espionage Case is Fierce

The Primary Party Secretary Espionage Case of Yoosun People’s Hospital in Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province, is having a fierce aftermath as it escalates into a problem of the Provincial Party of the North Hamgyong Province. Sixteen administrative officers from the Hoeryong City Party have been dismissed for polluted ideological state and lately, eleven officers were additionally dismissed. Currently the investigation is underway on the administrative officers of the City Party, and the investigation is focused on whether there are any connections in China and whether there are any defectors among the family members or relatives. When appointing new officers, only the people who do not have border-crossers among his family and relatives are selected. Mostly the government officials are relocated these days, but it is expected that the low-ranking officers in each sector as well as ordinary residents are to be moved in the future. It is the policy of the Party that the households whose lives are assisted by the family or relatives who have defected to China or South Korea will be unconditionally relocated to other region by 2011. Once the placement of the officials is completed, it is reported that the relocation process will begin after the primary inspection of the residents.

Organization Secretary of Hoeryong City Party Involved in the Espionage Case is Placed in the Buryung-town Collective Farm
The Organization Secretary of the Hoeryong City Party was dismissed for improper handling of the Yoosun Hospital Espionage Case and was placed in the Buryung-town Collective Farm in Buryung County as a farm member. Twenty seven officers—the administrative officers of the City Party who are directly or indirectly related to the Espionage Case and the officers whose relative had crossed the border to China—were also dismissed and were demoted to laborers or farm members. In case of the chief of the Hoeryong City Post Office, it was disclosed that his daughter had crossed the border, so he was assigned to a mining machinery factory as a laborer. The investigation and the relocation of the officers are expected to continue for a while. Starting February, the second wave of expulsion of the officers is expected to be processed. At that time, Hoeryong City Party as well as low-ranking officers from workplaces, public enterprises and farm work units and educational officers from universities, professional schools, elementary schools, middle schools and kindergartens are expected to be placed under investigation.

Unregistered Lodging in Border Areas to Be Punished Even for Relatives
As the Duman River has frozen, the police department along the national border in North Hamgyong Province is making an all-out effort to prevent people from crossing the border. The number of guards at the second line patrol along the border has doubled and the patrol system has been intensified. The department thoroughly inspects unregistered lodgers because many people crossed the border with their families. Residents cannot avoid punishment if visitors from other areas or even relatives are reported as unregistered lodgers. If residents allow visitors from other areas to stay illegally, they are expelled to other areas. If unregistered lodgers are relatives, residents are sent to the Labor Training Center for two to three months. Thus, the police department is educating residents not to provide unregistered lodging.

[Society]
Public Sentiment Worsens Over Market Closure
With the strict banning of general markets and conversions to farmers market, the supply of food and other goods that used to be distributed by train has disappeared. As even the black market has no inventory to sell, conditions have continued to deteriorate. People working in the market are deeply worried about the economy, saying “unless the government distributes daily necessities, many couples will get divorced. If they keep on choking the market economy, then ordinary people will suffer severe hardship.” Workers are also worried about how to make a living during this economic crisis. Old people wish their offspring could secure the food they need to survive. After the currency exchange measure, the people’s lives have not been stabilized resulting in spreading of public sentiment saying “The national measure (Currency exchange measure) is not fair.” To make situation worse, the market trade was banned and female breadwinners’ complaints increased. People who have received some money since the currency reevaluation and who therefore supported the change in denomination say the revaluation is now pointless because of inflation and market closure.

[Women/Children/Education]
University Faculty Used Students for Currency Exchange

It has come to light that the faculty members of Kim-Jung-Sook University of Hoeryung city in Northern Hamgyung have been forcing students to exchange notes in the old denomination into the new currency on behalf of themselves. In the beginning, the authorities exchanged thirty thousand won of the old currency for three hundred won of the newly distributed currency. In the case of students who have been discharged from the army, they have been receiving less and less money from their families. Due to a lack of food in the school cafeteria, students have had to buy food using credit at nearby Nammun Dong. Sixty percent of students have credit debt, let alone the three hundred won they received during the currency exchange. Responding to the financial difficulties of their students, the school faculty distributed thirty thousand won to each of them, requiring that the students exchanged the currency. Those faculty members who seek to exchange more than the thirty thousand won maximum announced by the state typically use a proxy and then divide the new currency evenly. In the case of students, students received only ten won in compensation for their service. The people exclaimed, “The currency exchange system only benefits faculty members.”

[Accidents]
Son Commits Suicide after Being Scolded by Father for Ice (amphetamine) Use
On January 5th, in Hoeryong City in North Hamgyong Province, fifth-grade student at Osan Middle School (equivalent of High School) Jungsu Kim committed suicide after being punished by his father who found out that his son used ‘ice’ (amphetamine). In the morning of the suicide, his father hit Kim and scolded him saying, “You are supposed to study but you did ice instead!” Then the son said with his all fury, “It is no use studying. You can do anything if your parents have money power in this society. You are daily laborer so I can only become a laborer!” His father was angry with his son because the younger Kim had stolen money from his home and bought drugs, even though the currency redenomination had reduced them to poverty. The father said in anger, “Are you still going to do ice? What does a junkie have to live for? Go and die. At least do that for our family.” The son, upset at being scolded, went out to buy and use as much medicine as he could find. After abusing the medicine, the son fell into a coma. He was moved to a hospital immediately, but due to the side effects of the medicine, he was unable to breath and passed away. The People’s Safety Bureau investigated the situation and decided to punish the boy’s homeroom teacher and his parents. The authorities are likely to punish them quite severely holding accountable for failed moral education because drug abuse and suicide problems among students began to spread in the society.

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