GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 362 August 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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Lack of Feed Led to Killing Pigs at Kang-Gye Pig Farm
Wonsan Bongwha Garment Factory has Seen an Increase of Absence
Farmers of Kangwon Province Conflict with Soldiers
Soldiers Ate Infected Horse Meat Intended For Feeding Military Dogs
Loyalty Leads to Tragedy
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Lack of Feed Led to Killing Pigs at Kang-Gye Pig Farm
A large number of pigs were slaughtered at the Kang-Gye City pig farm in Jagang Province because of pig feed shortages. People were shocked because the farm was praised as "a forerunner of self-sustenance." When Chairman Kim Jong-il visited the farm for an on-site inspection in February, it was reportedly evaluated as “a place being renovated into a modern pig farm. It allows our scientific technology to produce processed feed easily and breed lots of pigs.”

However, the report stated that the story of how the feed production system was established with domestic technology was an exaggeration. An official of the Jagang Provincial Party said during a visit to the farm at the end of June, “It seems the farm officials made a false report from the beginning to make a good impression. They bred lots of pigs claiming that they can provide sufficient amount of feed easily due to the production system. However, in June, the pigs were almost starving to death.” Processing feed requires energy such as electricity and coal. It is reported that the farm experienced difficulties with energy supply, which caused a problem in feed production. Unable to secure enough feed, the farm kept only those pigs over 40 kg and killed all the rest, which amounted to 280 heads. The Jagang Provincial Party promised to provide 5kg of pork to each household on Party Foundation Day on October 10th. However, even a 500g distribution does not seem possible considering the situation.

Wonsan Bongwha Garment Factory has Seen an Increase of Absence with Reduced Provision
In Wonsan, Kangwon Province, the number of absentees at the Bongwha garment factory increased significantly since July. Until this May, there were on average one or two people absent from work without notice. As of July the number of absentees rose to between 10 and 15. According to the factory representative, the cutting and processing department provided adequate food and monthly pay until April which amounts to between 10,000 and 15,000 won per person on average, and a 20-day quantity of rice is provided. However, because of fewer orders from overseas and market reductions, the factory was not able to provide food and salaries for the workers. Workers who used to receive over 15,000 won do not earn more than 8,000 won. Lower salaries probably reduced motivation to produce, and the amount of production declined accordingly. In the processing department, workers once produced eight clothing items per day, now the number is reduced to three or four pieces.

As the production rate is cut in half, managers and directors started to reprimand the people in charge of the factory in leaders’ meeting. Faced with strong criticism, managers in leadership positions emphasized the fact that workers must maintain the efficiency, quality and speed of the labor. These chiefs criticized the workers by saying “your absence because of the reduced supply during the past couple of months reveals your corrupt ideology, knowing that you have been treated well as a special public enterprise level so far. Others could not get any pay or food while you were even given unglutinous rice regularly. It is totally absurd.”

Farmers of Kangwon Province Conflict with Soldiers
An increasing number of farmers in the towns of Chul-Won and Yi-Chun in Kangwon Province are dying of starvation since July. Limited to one meal per day of thin gruel, many farmers cannot even work in the fields. Because of the low number of working farmers, soldiers try to assist working on farms; however, insufficient amount of meals cause the soldiers to steal food. Farmers in Yi-Chun consider people who steal food as enemies and express their hostility towards them.

Chul-Won is said to be an area with “nothing to steal” as well as a large number of troops. Soldiers are having a hard time because of the food shortage, but the town’s farmers are also even more sensitive. This is because while soldiers can just leave after stealing some food, but farmers left with none of their year’s crops starve. Soldiers stole food from farmers on several occasions so whenever soldiers are reported to be in town, the village is put on alert.

In some cases soldiers are disciplined for theft. Six soldiers from the Fifth Corps of Fifth Division in the Tenth Regiment stole and ate eight goats and were punished in late July. The platoon leader and three cadets who were caught by the farmers were fired and put in the Defense Security Command Labor Discipline Center for six months. Three soldiers lost their rank for damaging relations with citizens and received six months punishment in the army division refinement platoon. The reports about soldiers’ tyranny have made the punishments harsher. Although harsh punishments were called for the Defense Security Command stated that the punishments were lightened because the soldiers' poor nutrition was taken into consideration.

Soldiers Ate Infected Horse Meat Intended For Feeding Military Dogs
In Pyongwon County of the South Pyongan Province, the soldiers at the training camp ate horse meat provided for feeding the military dogs. From May 29th to June 1st, more than 30 horses at the Border Guard Training School for Military Horses died from unknown causes. The veterinary vaccinated the horses but it did not prove to be effective. The Military Horse Training School sent the dead horses to the Military Dog School to be used as dog food under the vet’s instructions. Although the horses died from an infectious disease, the veterinary doctor said feeding their meat to the dogs would not be problematic. However, the students at the Military Dog School ended up eating the horse meat for themselves, saying how fortunate they were. The authorities criticized the students when they learned of the news.

Loyalty Leads to Tragedy
At a farm in Onsung Town of Onsung County in the North Hamgyong Province, a couple committed suicide after a heated conflict over their livelihoods. Shin Il Kang (alias), the husband, was a foreman of a sub-team and a householder known for his diligence and skill. When the sub-teams of the farm were ordered this spring to prepare the fertilizer and the vinyl films on their own, Kang had no choice but to tell the members of his group they were required to contribute 100kg of corn each. Not a single household was able to contribute the whole amount, and the sub-team ended up being 500kg short of corn. Kang, after much consideration, decided to contribute a year’s worth of food out of his own pocket.

Kang’s decision was not surprising since he was known for his strong sense of responsibility. But his wife began lamenting and nagging him after finding out that they had less than 100kg of corn left to sustain them for the whole year. The night before their deaths, the couple had a big fight and Kang beat his wife. The wife was furious, and after telling her husband that she would not live with him any longer, she ran out of the house. The next day her body was found in the Tumen River. Kang was at a loss and did not know what to do when he heard this. The evening after his wife’s funeral, he hanged himself. The couple was known to be very harmonious, so the neighbors were shocked at the news of their deaths.
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