GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 352 July 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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The Rice Price Goes Up Along With Sudden Increase of Foreign Exchange Rate in Chungjin
Operation of Market Prohibited Nationwide in Commemoration of the 16th Anniversary of Late Kim Il-Sung
75% of Workers at July-Seventh Enterprise at Eunduk County Cling to Small Plot Farming
Pyongyang city Reduces its Administrative Districts
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The Rice Price Goes Up Along With Sudden Increase of Foreign Exchange Rate in Chungjin
The foreign exchange rate in Chungjin is skyrocketing in July. On July 1st, 1 renminbi was 142 won, and it has jumped to 168 won on the fifth. The exchange rate for a dollar was increased by 170 won, and became 1,180 won per dollar. As the foreign exchange rate skyrockets, the price of rice goes up along with it. The price of rice, which had been staying around 500 won, has increased to around 800 won, and the price of corn has also increased from 350 won to 400 won. This problem is not only for Chungjin. In Hamheung, the price of rice was 800 won while the price of corn has increased up to 450 won on July 8th. As to the reason for the value of the foreign currency increase, an officer of Chungjin City says, “Since the 5.26 Directives, people were asked to find their own ways to survive, so they are trying to finance the goods as much as possible from everywhere. Since our currency does not have credit, only the value of the foreign currency is increasing. As the value of the foreign currency is increasing, the price of rice goes up along with it”. On the other hand, the residents of Chungjin City sigh as the price of food goes up, saying that they do not know what they will do to support themselves and how they will be able to get through this year.

[Table] The Exchange Rate and the Price of Food in Chungjin on the First Week of July







Operation of Market Prohibited Nationwide in Commemoration of the 16th Anniversary of Late Kim Il-Sung
As the 16th anniversary of the death of its founder Kim Il-Sung is approaching on July 8th, the Central Party delivered an instruction prohibiting the operation of the market to the cities and counties nationwide. Each region received the instruction and began to regulate the market since the day before. In Hoeryong of North Hamgyong Province, even the great numbers of people who make a day’s earning around the market were regulated.
The residents of Hamheung, South Hamgyong Province, snorted at the instruction of the Party that stated “As a token of commemoration, do not express laugh and live the day with a grieving heart”. As the price of food increased up to 800 won approximately, the residents say, “Even if the Party does not compel us not to laugh, we do not laugh.” “A daily food, regardless of whether it is sufficient or not, can be prepared only by operating a market, and they are banning the commerce; I cannot laugh even if I would be forced to laugh,” sighs Choi, Young-Mi (alias), who lives in the area of Sungchun River.

75% of Workers at July-Seventh Enterprise at Eunduk County Cling to Small Plot Farming
It is reported that 75% of workers at July-Seventh Enterprise are clinging to small plot farming. There was no food distribution at this factory during the past two months in May and June. The workers are barely feeding themselves with two meals of porridge made of mixture of corn powder, artemeiia, and wild herbs. After being informed by the County Party about the 5.26 directives, the workers completely gave up on the possibility of food distribution and immersed in finding side jobs, and relatively easy to find is small plot farming. Up until last year that was not an easy work because it had to be done in hiding. The number of workers who engage in small plot farming has gone up because the ban on small plot farming was lifted this year.

Pyongyang city Reduces its Administrative Districts
The Central Party issued an order regarding Pyongyang city’s population reduction and district restructuring. The Pyongyang City Party met for the issue of restructuring four counties and reached a conclusion to keep Kangdong county and transfer Junghwa, Kangnam and Sangwon counties to other regions. Those three counties were included to North Hwanghae Province except for the Sangwon Cement Factory in the middle of Sangwon county. Therefore, the factory remained to belong to Pyongyang City. Originally, Kangdong county was also discussed to be excluded from Pyongyang administration, but the fact that it has one of Kim Jong-Il’s vacation villas saved it. In those counties excluded from Pyongyang, the authorities are collecting people’s Pyongyang ID card and issuing new resident ID. In response to the new situation of complicated demography, police stations also restructured themselves to increase public security starting from June. The security guard troops are now called security guards departments and their rank is also downgraded from army officers to noncommissioned officers. Security guards have always been treated as noncommissioned officers rather than security officers, and now they are officially called as what they actually are.
When asked why the administrative district reduction measure is implemented only now, an official of the Central Party answered that it is because “Pyongyang city is experiencing food supply problems due to the food crisis”. The current food crisis of 2010 is too serious to ignore and to delay the needed decision. Pyongyang has to be protected because it is the nation’s capital and the center of politics; and the city authority is receiving a continuous stream of reports of failed food supply. On the other hand, this measure also aims to manage the city more complete and pleasant for the 2012 Strong and Prosperous Nation. Pyongyang is always better managed and groomed because of the presence of many foreign embassies in the city. If sufficient efforts are made to groom the downtown, it would look much cleaner and beautiful. According to him, the population reduction and administrative district restructuring was in summary ‘for smooth food supply to Pyongyang’ and ‘for better management of Pyongyang’.

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