GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 366 September 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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Conference of Party Representatives was Postponed due to not Enough Members to meet Quorum
Absenteeism Increases due to Ceased Operation in Soonchun Cement Factory
Saguri Farm in Chungjin Suffers Absenteeism from Fatigue although Successful Harvest is Expected
Goywonri Farm in Chungjin City Stands Guard Against its own Members
Hoeryong City Assigns Land at Random and Demand Potatoes
Drug Offenders’ Family say “Punish the judges who colluded”
Corruption Mounts as Cell Phone Crackdowns Tighten
Border Patrols Receive Rewards Using Deceit
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Conference of Party Representatives was Postponed due to not Enough Members to meet Quorum

The Conference of party representatives scheduled to be held in 44 years was eventually postponed on the evening of September 14th. The news of the postponement was announced to the congregation of representatives who had been waiting for the opening of the Conference in Pyongyang. Originally, this conference was scheduled to start on September 4th with participant registration and pre-program events followed by main conference proceedings for about 7 to 8 days, and then finish after the September 9th event. However, it was delayed once and was expected to start on September 8th, but it was further delayed. The representatives who gathered in Pyongyang had no idea about the cause of this delay. There were some rumors about conflicts over Chairman Kim Jong-Il facing health problems or succession issues. Some rumors even speculated that the conference would be delayed until the end of this month. However, the participants had been waiting with the expectation that it would be held soon since it is not easy for all representatives to convene nationwide.

The final decision to postpone the conference came in yesterday. It was found that the reason for postponement was not enough members to meet the quorum. On September 4th when participant registration started, half of the participants were not able to make it to the meeting. Even though the waiting continued until the September 9th event ended, the necessary quorum had not been met even until the night before the postponement was announced. One participant was quoted as saying, “There were many guesses about the cause of the delay among the representatives. It was confirmed that the representatives from each province could not make it because the roads are blocked due to flood damage. Representatives either arrived late or were not able to come.” It was expected that the successor to Chairman Kim Jong-Il would be designated at this conference. However, there is no reason to proceed with an official announcement of the succession based on not enough number of participating representatives. For these reasons, even though all documents that were to be disseminated to the participants at the conference had been prepared, it seems that the conference schedule was put off. It was reported that Chairman Kim Jong-Il was waiting for participating representatives and continued the inspection tour, and that he arrived in Pyongyang on September 14th. However, given the lack of participants there was no justification to proceed with the opening of conference, and the final decision was made to defer the conference schedule.

Absenteeism Increases due to Ceased Operation in Soonchun Cement Factory

A cement factory in Soonchun, South Pyongan Province is still not able to provide food and monthly salary to its workers as of September. This is at variance with what the authority impels people to put more effort in the production of the cement than any other year, as North Korea embraces 65th Party Foundation Day on 10th of October. Originally it was planned to supply cement for building Heechun power plant. However, the deficit of raw material and the issue of energy supply have hampered the production. Along with this, the factory was unable to provide food and salary to its workers. In the past, workers were exhorted to work for seven days a week without holidays, as the officials highlighted the ideology, but it did not last long. Workers in hunger are not able to live on their ideology, apparently. Even meager amount of cement production drew workers for pilfering some of cement, but the number of absentees increased with the halt of production. According to one official, in the time of having meager production at least, people were rarely absent from their workplace, even though there was no public distribution. On average, 50 kg per one person would be pilfered, but in some cases it mounted up to 100kg. Up until last year, this deed was criticized and punished harshly, but it is not bothered this year. One workplace has over 80 absentees out of 180 people, but officials cannot say a word to workers about this, since they do not provide food at all. Even if officials criticize the conduct of workers, they do not pay any attention whatever officials say, owing to miserable situations.

Saguri Farm in Chungjin Suffers Absenteeism from Fatigue although Successful Harvest is Expected

In Saguri farm in Yeonjin-dong of Chongam District in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province, people survive on newly harvested grains since they ran out of food. Most households eat barley or early crop potatoes, but those without enough amounts of new crops eat mixture of potato and grass. The 4th work unit experiences more cases of absenteeism since there are more households without enough food to survive. Village Party officials and farm officials do not pay attention to those suffering people but warn that the fewer days you come to work, the less autumn allocation you will receive. Starving farmers plead that although they know they should go to work if they want the fall distribution they are unable to do that due to the lack of energy. Some ask farms to spare some amount of food temporarily. However, farms give a cold shoulder to them saying that they cannot help only a fraction of numerous households that are suffering from food shortage. This year, Saguri farm is expected to provide a decent amount of fall distribution since they were not impacted by flood as heavily as the West coast of the country. Poor farmers are anxious to work and receive a little more of the crop in fall, but their lack of physical strength prevents it.

Goywonri Farm in Chungjin City Stands Guard Against its own Members

The Goywonri farm of Chungam district, Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province stands guard against its own members. Despite poor harvest last year, the Chungam District Party collected grains for military provision. As a result, farmers had to suffer from food shortage since this spring. As such, it is natural for many farmers to be absent from their work. Instead of working for the farm, farming on their own small patches field, at most 200-300 pyong (a unit of land: 1 pyong is 3.954 sq. yds), was the only way to survive. When early crops become available in August, many people could sustain their lives with unripe corns and early crop potatoes. However, this year the crop yields from small patches of field is not good due to cold weather and flood. As a result, some farmers began to go to work at the farm to fill up their workdays so as to become eligible for food distribution. Although they do not expect to receive a good amount of distribution for the first half of this year for not having enough workdays at the farm, they are trying to get as much food as they can by working at the farm. The farm is suspicious about these farmers. The farm officials issued an order to stand guard against these farmers by saying, “When we asked you to work for the farm, you did not come. Why do you come to work now when we are going to harvest corn and rice? Each unit must carefully guard the harvested early crops.” Each unit is taking turns to guard the grains, but they were told to guard against the farmers as well. Accordingly, the farmers who recently began to show up at work have a lot of complains. They say that they did not go to work intentionally. They were not able to go to work because they were starving. They are coming to work as the early crops come in August, but now they were treated as thieves. These farmers complain about this treatment and protest by saying, “Although I have grown grains by myself and eaten them to go to work at the farm, the officials do not care about how much work or what kind of work I have done. They did not count my attendance.” But the officials are suspicious of these farmers and the conflicts between them have worsened. The officials said, “They just show up at the farm to get more distribution by adding their workdays rather than really to work at the farm. It is a dirty trick.”

Hoeryong City Assigns Land at Random and Demand Potatoes

To solve food problem of laborers, Hoeryong City in North Hamgyong Province allocated side-working fields to factories and enterprises in May and encouraged them to grow potatoes. Since the city distributed farmlands often times infertile at random the crop yields were lower than expected. Some lands were impossible to farm, so people gave up cultivating them. Some enterprises just pretended doing potato farming and ended up changing the crops to pepper or cabbage. For various reasons, few factories and enterprises actually distributed potatoes for August ration, which was in effect a very small amount. An official in an enterprise which distributed potatoes said they worked hard to cultivate the land only to receive 25kg per person. Those who were able to give any amount of provision were in a better place than other factories and enterprises because many of them were not able to distribute food due to low yields. Officials of factories and enterprises say they wish to have lands suitable for farming. They complain that they cannot grow potatoes in barren lands, particularly under the current circumstances of fertilizer shortages and the bad weather.

Drug Offenders’ Family say “Punish the judges who colluded”

Security authorities of Hamheung in South Hamgyong Province severely punished eight chronic drug users including life sentence and death penalty. They have been charged of trafficking over 55 kilograms of drugs in and out of the country since 2007 until April of this year. When they were arrested four years ago, they barely escaped by bribing the provincial judges. After being released they created a hideout and professionally produced and distributed “ice”, or amphetamine. Although the quantity of drugs involved in the case was serious enough security authorities took the case more seriously in that the perpetrators were not first-time drug offenders. Three of the eight charged are sentenced with death penalty, two received life sentence and the other three received eight to 12 years at labor reeducation center.

Once the trial was over, the offenders’ families petitioned to the regional party that the ‘judges who colluded with the offenders to be punished.’ They said it’s illegal to break the law and sell drugs, but it was only possible to do so under the consent of the regional party officials, security officials, defense officials, prosecutors and those of the judiciary. In the petition the families insisted that it was often the case that the offenders gave a considerable amount of cash made through drug dealing to the party and judiciary officials, or often times the officials were part of the collusion from the very beginning. They stated it’s unfair that officials in the party and judiciary can avoid the punishment and continue to live their comfortable lives. “The judges did not crack down on the process, rather released the offenders alive and joined in the dealing process and made profit. These same judges are now making their way out of the joint crime and the only ones that are punished are those that handled the task of making and selling the drugs. It is not fair”, they argued. Finally in the report to the party committee they added “It was the judges who ordered to make and sell the drugs, so we want a just decision made right now”

Corruption Mounts as Cell Phone Crackdowns Tighten

The 27th Radio Wave Detection and Enforcement Bureau of the Security Department at the national border is taking the lead of cracking down the usage of cell phones. This year with the introduction of newer and better radio wave detectors, their performance has improved greatly, and as a result, cell phone users have largely decreased in number. Since the enforcement bureau has begun receiving fewer bribes, the enforcement agents have been trying to get the most money out of any violations that come in their way by demanding large sums of money from the arrestees in exchange of exemption from serving time at the Labor Training Center. Although Security Agents and prosecutors once were two of the most privileged jobs, they too were affected by the currency revaluation, which explains why they feel so attached to money. Some officers demand explicitly for bribes. However, cell phone users who are politically affiliated must be arrested and be sent to Re-education Centers.

Border Patrols Receive Rewards Using Deceit

The Defense Headquarter has enhanced the rewards given to its security guards from February, 2010 in order to crack down illegal border crossing. If a guard arrests even one border-crosser, he can receive either an Arirang television set or a privilege to attend his desired college. The headquarters have raised enforcement level of border-crossing as more people try to cross border because the currency revaluation and its toll on the economy. People, who used to try bribing the security guards into letting them cross, are beginning to try crossing on their own. Not only do they have no money, but they feel more apprehensive toward the guards than ever before.

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.

North Korea Today No. 361 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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Kkotjebis Increase in Welfare Institutions
Members of Farm Youth Group Ran Away from Pyonggang Collective Farm
An Elderly Recollecting “The Days When I was Living in Japan..”, Received a Severe Warning
Prisoners Escaped after Drugging Police Officers in Baekamryung

[Editorial]
Unification Should Start from Real Actions, Not Mere Words
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Number of Kkotjebis Rise in Welfare Institutions
It is reported that number of kkotjebis in Gimchaek City Kkotjebi Welfare Center has reached 100, tripling the number from the end of last year. According to an authority, before the currency exchange measure, 30-people capacity was maintained by sending people to nearby elementary schools or Farm Youth Group. Now, the intake between this March and late June already exceeded 30. Among newcomers, 10 are adult kkotjebis in their 30’s and mid-50’s and the rest are children including middle school students. The overcrowded institutions resulted in food problem. The manager asks at every plenary meeting, saying “The Institution is not capable of feeding all the people, so decrease the number by reassigning them to elementary schools or farms.” Those in charge of the institution complain that the city party does not provide food for the excess, and when they request for it, the party reprimands them, “We don’t have enough food for government-run construction projects, much less for welfare institutions.” The institutions provide ground corncob meal and water-soaked corn noodles.

Meanwhile, a 9-year-old kkotjebi starved to death in Chungjin Station, North Hamgyong Province, at 4 pm, July 11th. The provincial rail authority warns sternly that this kind of incident should never happen again since it tarnishes the image of the Republic and has a negative influence on the public sentiment. Chungjin Station decided to allow no kkotjebis in the waiting room hereafter. Young kkotjebis still wander around the station seeking food. In late July, a kkotjebi child was trapped under a train wheel while escaping after stealing food at Gowon Station in South Hamgyong Province.

Members of Farm Youth Group Ran Away from Pyonggang Collective Farm
The Pyonggang Collective Farm in Pyonggang County, Kangwon Province has been facing problems as the members of its Farm Youth Group, comprised of homeless children, have been running away. Eight members ran away in April and May. The farm was thrown off by the children committing such a bold act because they were under strict surveillance and now allowed to go outside. At first, the members of the Collective Farm tried to find the escapees on their own without reporting to the County Party. But the news eventually reached not only the County Party but the Provincial Party, when three more Youth Group members ran away in June. The leading secretary of the County and other appointees were criticized, and the chairman of the farm and the Farm Youth Group faced punishments. It is told that the run-away Youth Group members bore discontent with the food and the pay they received, and complained that “the work is boring” and “they wished to be free from all the restrictions and rules imposed on them.” The search is on near train stations and travelers’ lounge, where most street kids hang out, but the chance of finding the escapees seems slim.

An Elderly Recollecting and Talking About “The Days When I was Living in Japan..”, Received a Severe Warning
An elderly person, Kim, Jungbae (alias) living in Hamheung, South Hamgyong Province, suddenly became a dotard after he talked about his old days. He and some primary party cell secretaries who came to the Residents’ Life Meeting in the Shinheung 1-dong office talked a lot together because most of them, including Mr. Kim, were about the same age. Mr. Kim returned from Japan during the 60s. He said he returned to North Korea with the help of Chochongnyon (i.e. Pro-North Korean Residents’ League in Japan) because he was so impressed with North Korea’s propaganda at the time. He told his friends and colleagues about the days when he lived in Japan. While proudly reflecting on various Japanese foods and customs, he also mentioned that he had received some help from his sister who still lives in Japan. He rambled on endlessly: after the trade with Japan was completely suspended a few years ago, he no longer could receive assistance from his sister, which made his life more difficult; he wants to see his sister at least once before he dies; he wants to lavishly spend and eat heartily for the rest of his remaining life.

After much talk, he returned home. However, the police officer in charge of the cell came by his home that afternoon and warned him, “Do not talk about your life in Japan unnecessarily in front of others. Be prudent in your future speech and behaviors.” The officer also criticized Mr. Kim, saying, “Without realizing that he is a cell party secretary, Mr. Kim, Jungbae mentioned his days in Japan were better than those in North Korea based on his experiences in the two countries. His behavior indicates that he, although he is old enough, does not have a firm conviction in the socialistic North Korean society. What he did is the same as the false propaganda that the North Korean government keeps pushing its people into unfavorable conditions to make them die.” The officer also told Mr. Kim’s son, “Your father is out of his mind. Maybe senility has begun to set in him. I will pardon him this time. Make him rest and take good care of his health. If possible, do not let him go out.”

The Shinheung 1-dong office ordered, “Kim, Jungbae, a primary cell secretary, is too old to participate in the party activities. He should be removed from his current position and then will take part in the party activities as a rank-and-file party member.” It has been said that Mr. Kim could maintain the party membership because the office positively considered the future of his children who are doing a great job at work. Mr. Kim’s family was so relieved that his issues were settled in these ways. Mr. Kim was suddenly branded as a senile and disgraceful criminal to the country because of the idle talk about his old days he did to kill time.

In Baekamryung, Prisoners Escaped after Drugging Police Officers
On June 27th, a train connecting Hyesan – Pyongyang stopped at Baekamryung for 28 hours due to broken power lines. In this train, 3 police officers from Soonchun City, South Pyongan Province had arrested 6 thieves and were escorting them to Hyesan City. The prisoners were seated on the train and the 3 officers took turns watching the prisoners. Around 2 A.M., two passengers offered the police officers beer. The officers gladly took the drinks and collapsed almost immediately. The beer had sleeping drugs. The two passengers helped releasing the prisoners’ hand cuffs and they all ran off. The officers were discharged from their positions and sent to the Soonchun coal mines to work in consequence for their mistake. Hyesan and Baekam County Security Department has mobilized many people to search for these six thieves and the two passengers who helped them escape.

[Editorial]
Unification Should Start from Real Actions, Not Mere Words
August 15th this year is the centennial of the Japanese annexation of Korea and the 60th anniversary of Korean War. Through the prime minister’s discourse, the Japanese government expressed its 100 years late apology for colonizing Korea. Now, 60 years after the Korean War, where are we? In Korea, we have a North-South military tension higher than in any other years instead of moving toward ending the war and making perpetual peace.

The recent Cheonan incident clearly reminded us that the two Koreas are still at war and our peace is only temporary maintained by a truce. Without a fundamental solution, there will always be possibilities of incidents like Cheonan, and the temporary peace between the North and the South can be destroyed very easily. It also made us realize that sound of gunfire can echo over the Korean Peninsular any time if we do not solve the problems of division and unification.

In this regard, the premise of the presidential address for this year’s 8.15 celebration of independence is noteworthy, which states that the ultimate wish of the Korean people is the mutual prosperity both in North and South Korea and the move forward towards unification; that is the way to true independence. President Lee Myung-bak said that we need a new paradigm for the North-South relationship, and we should aspire for co-existence, not confrontation, and moving forward, not stalemate. He also said that we should aim for the peaceful unification beyond the current management of division. It can be viewed positively that he set out the road map for a peaceful, economic, and national community of one people. He even suggested that we should prepare ourselves for unification by setting up a unification tax because someday the two Koreas will eventually be unified.

However, he did not stipulate how we will implement it. The relationship between the North and the South is at a de facto stand-still, and we even had such a serious incident like the sinking of Cheonan. Even in a situation where the number of North Korean people dying from hunger is increasing, the president who should be responsible for 70 million people does not even mention how to solve this problem. The proposal to collect a new tax for preparation of unification can be perceived suspiciously when there is no explanation as to what the money will be spent for.

The current South Korean government has expressed its open position for humanitarian aid to North Korea. However, we have seen not a single humanitarian aid delivered at the governmental level so far. The government announced a new tax for unification while it is not even giving a grain of rice to hunger-stricken North Koreans. Who can be persuaded and buy the idea? We cannot help questioning who and what this unification tax is for. Currently, so many North Korean people are suffering from the aftermath of disastrous floods and hunger, and the South Korean government has not expressed any willingness to provide aid. A proposal of unification tax in this situation may well be puzzling not only to South Koreans but also to North Koreans.

The two Koreas fought each other in a war. It is not easy to restore trust between them. Even if we say let us overcome the division and carry out unification, it is just empty words when not matched with real actions. Words can easily be said. The agreement of the six party talks was “word for word, action for action.” Only when accompanied by real actions, the words are trustworthy and can be influential. The action needed now for unification is to provide aid to North Korean people suffering from hunger and flood disasters. The government should take the initiative and also open the door for civilian organizations to deliver aid to North Korean people. If we do not provide considerations to the life of the North Koreans suffering from hunger, what is the use of creating a peaceful, economic, and national community? The first action toward unification should be to save lives of our people now. We urge the South Korean government to provide humanitarian food aid to North Korea.

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.

North Korea Today No. 364 (Priority Release) September 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 3rd Party Representatives Meeting Convenes on September 4th
The 3rd Party Representatives Meeting to Discuss Measures to Improve People’s Lives
Officials and People Give a Cold Shoulder despite the New Prospect
Kim Jong-il's Visit to China was “to Secure Urgent Food Aid”
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The 3rd Party Representatives Meeting Convenes on September 4th
It is reported that the 3rd Party Representative Meeting of North Korea will convene on September 4th. Since last August, elections have been going on at the city, country and provincial levels to elect representatives to participate in the Meeting of the Party Representatives. It is speculated that three major agenda items will be discussed in the meeting. First, elections for Party Central Command Units, including the nomination of Kim Jong-un as Kim Jong-il’s successor. Second, setting the direction of the Party line policy. Third, solutions to improve people’s livelihoods through economic development. The meeting will discuss Kim Jong-un’s succession as core agenda item to lead the whole society to revere the new successor. The logic is that it has to be Kim Jong-un who will succeed the revolutionary achievements of Kim Jong Il and complete them because he is descendent of Kim Il-sung, the Great Leader, and Kim Jong-il, the Dear leader. The information gathered from our sources suggests that it is somewhat widely known among the party members, government officials, and ordinary people that Kim Jong-un will be the successor, but it is not a completely established fact yet. It is expected that the Meeting of the Party Representatives will promote Kim Jong-un as the successor, draw consensus from high ranking officials, and then organize a succession ceremony to officially announce the next leader. It is also said that preparations are being made for the new successor to oversee every aspect of government work from October 10th celebration of the 65th anniversary of Korean Workers’ Party.

However, different opinions also exist. A high ranking official of the Central Party argued that the nomination of the successor still needs more time, saying, “In the covenants of the Korean Workers’ Party, there is an article stating we shall succeed the revolutionary tradition, but no article supporting a succession by lineage. Who among the high ranking officials would accept the new leader if they select Kim Jong-un, who has no experience whatsoever, only because he is Kim’s son? Even if they try to promote him as the successor, he has to be officially promoted as a committee member of the Meeting of the Party Representatives. This will entail a very complicated procedure. Discussions on who this person is, who his mother is, and this sort of issues will be inevitable. It would not be easy for Kim Jong-il to nominate Kim Jong-un as his successor. We still have to wait and see.”
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• What is Korean Workers' Party Meeting?
The Party's highest authority as specified in the clause 21 of Chapter 3 in the Korean Workers' Party Covenant. Regular meetings are convened once every 5 years by the Central Committee. The meeting dates and schedule are required to be announced 3 months ahead of time before the members to convene. Key functions: 1) Review of the Party Central Committee and the Party Central Inspection Committee business, 2) Adoption, modification, supplementation of the Party’s general principles and Covenant, 3) Decision making on Party’s doctrine, policy and tactics, 4) Electing Party Central Committee and Party Central Inspection Committee members.

• What is Party Representative Meeting?
It is a meeting convened by the Party Central Committee to deal with urgent matters that occur in between two party meetings. Specifically, "the Party Central Committee reviews and makes policy decisions on the Party line and pressing issues on strategy and tactics, and removes those party central committee members, candidate members, and semi-candidate member who failed to perform the duties of the Party Central Committee and hold elections for vacancy."

• What is Party Representative Committee?
Main functions: 1) Reviews province, city, county, district party committee and Inspection Committee's business, 2) Holds elections for province, city, county, district party committee and Inspection Committee, 3) Elects representatives for higher level party or representatives to be sent to party representative meeting. In other words, municipal, county (district) party elects representatives who will participate in the Provincial Party representative meeting and the Provincial Party representative committee elects those who will be sent to the Party Convention (Party Representative Committee).
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The 3rd Party Representatives Meeting to Discuss Measures to Improve People’s Lives
It is reported that one of the main issues that will be discussed at the third Party Representatives Meeting is to come up with measures to improve people’s lives. First of all, it appears that participating officials as party representatives will pledge themselves “to make food problems as their fundamental task and have civil consciousness on the matter, and accomplish in the vanguard and lead the labor public,” and “to make a huge innovation in the agricultural revolution and increase grain production.” That is, they will confirm their resolution to solve ‘food problem’ by bring about an agricultural revolution successfully, in order to enhance the standard of living and build the Strong and Prosperous Nation. In addition, it is known that they will also discuss ways to provide products manufactured in Kaesong Industrial Complex for domestic use to normalize people’s daily consumer goods supply. It also appears that the representatives will make a resolution to support the successor who will inherit Kim Jung-il’s ideas to build an ideologically and economically strong nation. Besides, the successor elected by the representatives is said to publicize the achievement of introducing CNC automation to the national industry and make a speech on improving people’s lives at the anniversary celebration of the Korean Worker’s Party on October 10th. This aims to stabilize public sentiment and raise social eagerness for the Strong and Prosperous Nation.

Officials and People Give a Cold Shoulder despite the New Prospect
Some within the Central Party suggest that the election of a new successor at the Party Representatives Meeting aims to reform a series of recent maladministration cases in economic measures at once. After the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994, the Kim Jung-il regime has claimed to accomplish the Strong and Prosperous Nation during his reins. In reality, the food and economic crisis has aggravated for more than ten years. It also has emphasized guarding of the Dear Leader with a do-or-die spirit more than ever, but on the contrary, the ideological consciousness of the people has been changed in the society at large. The government kept saying they would build the Strong and Prosperous Nation, but the people, who have suffered exacerbating food crisis year by year, now do not regard the Party’s words reliable any more. Some suggests that designating a successor will transform this atmosphere all at once. A new face, the successor will bring about change in the public sentiment and make people expect, “a stable life will be realized and the country will prosper.”

Several opinions are circulating about the Party Representatives Meeting, but even officials are giving a cold shoulder. “Everything sounds great, but we have no conviction at all about how it will be accomplished.” Among primary party secretaries and city and provincial party officials, more experienced ones express skepticism. The dominant view is that the more assurance the party proposes, the less likely the results have turned out to be the case. Lay people are also saying, “(the party) has put people into a difficult situation ever since the establishment of Korean Worker’s Party, and starving households are increasing to a larger degree compared to the Arduous March. I cannot trust their promise to bring us to a better life.” Many officials and residents give a pessimistic prospect stating, “People’s lives will not improve but rather worsen.”

Kim Jong-il's Visit to China was “to Secure Urgent Food Aid”
On August 26, Kim Jong-il's surprise visit to China drew the attention of international community. The fact that his unexpected visit to China occurred while the former US president Jimmy Carter was visiting North Korea to secure the release of Aijalon Gomes (age 30) elicited flurries of speculations about his move. A source of information within the Central Party said the purpose of this visit was to secure economic cooperation and humanitarian aid. The source identified the reason as the level of food crisis which became heightened more than ever before due to the flooding which lasted for more than two months on top of this year's already gravely difficult food situation. It was reported that the Central Party and the Cabinet unanimously determined that the only way to solve the problem is to request an urgent economic aid from China and the highest level initiative is required in order to secure the aid in the shortest period as food aid is urgently needed. Since the successor has not been formally designated Kim Jong-il was the only one who could carry out the task. The information source claimed that the main reason for Kim Jong-il's visit after his recent visit to China in May was for economic cooperation, but the real reason for his visit indicates the seriousness of domestic food crisis.


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