GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 363 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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Opening Floodgate of Soopoong Power Plant Aggravates Cropland Damage
Relief Supplies to Be Distributed to Flood Victims according to Classification
Farmers Cry 'Nothing to Harvest'
Checkpoints at Natl. Border of N. Pyongan Province Suffered Critical Water Damage
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Opening Floodgate of Soopoong Power Plant Aggravates Cropland Damage
Due to the localized torrential downpours throughout August, the floodgate of Soopoong Power Plant, located at Soopoong Labor District of Sakjoo County in North Pyongan Province, was opened. The croplands near Yalu River, including Sinuiju in North Pyongan Province, which were already inundated with the torrential downpours, ended up suffering serious damages once again. It was revealed that in addition to Sangdan-ri and Hadan-ri of Wehwado, Sinuiju, in which more than 80% of the land from the entire area is a cropland, areas such as Ryongun-ri, Ryongye-ri, Sujin-ri, Daehwa-ri in Uiju County and Chungsu Labor District in Sakju County also suffered serious damages, particularly in corn farming and rice farming. Since the authorities had sent a timely evacuation notice this year, the casualty was not that high, compared to last year. Currently as of the end of August, it was found that 38 people are missing and 32 corpses have been identified in this area.

Relief Supplies to Be Distributed to Flood Victims according to Classification
The flood that swept the entire nation this year particularly brought devastation to the areas of the west coast. In the areas of the west coast including North Pyongan Province, tens of thousands of flood victims are starving because there is no food. The residents in this area have been only waiting for the assistance of the government. However, the North Korean government had not secured the materials that will guarantee the daily necessities to the flood victims who have suffered from the flood, so it has not been able to do the rescue work actively. The government has a difficulty providing material compensations; so instead, it plans to supply simple goods to the household of victims such as bowls, toiletries and blankets. According to the officials of the Provincial Party in North Pyongan Province, the household of the flood victims will be rated and the distribution will be made according to the classification since even the simple relief supplies such as toiletries are insufficient. The households who suffered the most property damages are to be sorted into class 1 and the households who suffered partial property damages are to be sorted into class 2 or class 3, and the goods from the Ministry of Industry are to be distributed differently according to the class. An officer from the Provincial Party said that they will pile up the goods in a public place such as an athletic stadium, and will supply the goods according to one’s level after briefly finishing some sort of political ceremony that gives thanks to Chairman Kim’s considerations.

In addition, as a result of investigating the damages of the flood-stricken area, it was revealed that the households who have elderly people to support or who have three or more children were barely surviving. The Provincial Party directed that the respective People’s Assembly of the City and County as well as the farming region must take the initiative in helping them. However, every area that suffered from the flood is experiencing difficulties securing relief supplies, so the supply of daily necessities is not adequately provided to the households who live with elder or three or more children.

Farmers Cry 'Nothing to Harvest'
Living conditions in the west coast of North Pyongan Province has been worsening after the heavy rain poured down for over a month. Livelihood hadn't been much better since the currency reform, and the long-lasting downpours just worsened the situation. The critical issue is food shortage. People had been waiting for fall looking forward to the harvest to relieve their hunger but that has gone to waste after the heavy downpours. They neither have energy nor urge to attempt to mend the situation since it continued to rain the last week of August. Devastated farmers could only say "There's nothing to harvest. The fields and paddies are ruined." They say it's difficult to bring back the seedlings, so they'll have to plant fall cabbages or radish to prepare for winter Kimjang, (making Kimchi) for the winter. They say they'll eat whatever corn, sweet potatoes and potatoes they had picked before the storm, whether ripe or not. Villagers in the area have been boiling spoiled corn ears and sweet potato sprouts to survive day by day.

Checkpoints at National Border of North Pyongan Province Suffered Critical Water Damage
The flood damages at checkpoints of the National Border Patrol were extremely critical in North Pyongan Province. All of the checkpoints belong to the 31st brigade and based in Chaeha, Sinuiju were all swept away. The brigade headquarters expected that it would be hard to repair the damaged checkpoints this year even though they drained the water because all sentry posts belonged to battalions of the brigade had flood damage. It does not seem possible to restore these checkpoints this year, so the operation section of the brigade was ordered to construct temporary checkpoints by digging trenches after repairing the critically damaged sections. They thought these temporary trenches could help guards to endure the coming severe winter.

All sentry posts of the 4th battalion based in Uiju-eup, Uiju County in North Pyongan Province were also swept away by a heavy downpour. Two checkpoints in Daehwa-ri, two checkpoints in Soojin-ri, three checkpoints in Ryongye-ri, and three checkpoints in Ryongwoon-ri vanished without any traces. The heavy rains washed away all kinds of weapons, ammunition, and military supplies. They lost tons of rice because they did not have time to move it to a safe place. Right now, they have a big issue with distributing food to guards on the national border. The upper unit of the system had sent these checkpoints six months’ worth of food already. So, there is no extra food to distribute. The brigade was ordered to give food to the guards who received flood damage since they can’t be left to starve. The soldiers cannot stand starving because the amount of rice was so little. On the other hand, the headquarters of the National Border Patrol will investigate damages to the checkpoints and request cooperation from the Provincial Party of North Pyongan Province. They will emphasize a tradition of cooperation between military and civilians and ask a village with no water damage to restore checkpoints.

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