GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 376 November 10, 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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Nationwide Pardon on the 65th Anniversary of the Party Foundation

Pyongyang Residents Rejoice at Food Distribution

Pyongyang now Relieved after the 65th Anniversary Celebration

‘Special Safety Force’ in Demonstrative Operation to Investigate Judicial Institutions

Flood Destroys Half of Farm Harvests in Keumya County

Rice Production Likely to Drop by 30% in YeomJoo County

The Ongoing Flood Damage

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A Nationwide Pardon on the Celebration of the 65th Anniversary of the Party Establishment

It was confirmed that a nationwide pardon was issued in mid-September for the celebration of the 65th anniversary of the party establishment. This pardon was supposed to be implemented in early September immediately following the meeting of party representatives, but the plan was postponed and it was issued from September 21st to 27th. Those who were released or received a commutation at this time had committed their crime for family livelihood or unintentionally – i.e. light violence, absence without leave, and stealing. Prisoners who have more than half of their prison term remaining saw their term reduced. Prisoners who spent more than half of the term in prison were discharged. About 150,000 people were released nationwide. However, political prisoners, ideological prisoners, and violent offenders including those who tried to move to South Korea or criticized the social system of North Korea were excluded from this pardon. The South Hamkyung Province released the most prisoners at nearly 40,000 people. About 9,600 prisoners were discharged in the North Hamkyung Province. Park Mihye (alias) in the area of Sungchun River in Hamheung City, states, “Everybody feels so happy that people were released. There are many people who were imprisoned or unjustly accused while they were making efforts for their livelihood.”

Pyongyang Residents Rejoice at Food Distribution

Celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Workers’ Party, Pyongyang City distributed food for October to its residents all at once. This is unlike August and September, when the residents were complaining because the food was being distributed on a weekly basis.

Also given out were 3 kg of tropical catfish and 1 kg of squid to each household. Pyongyang has been importing African tropical catfish since 2000 and breeding them with waste water from thermal power plants. It is also renovating and modernizing flour and grain production factories in order to make candies for distribution. “We are planning to build a new food factory and oil refinery and complete the creation of the food processing plant by year 2012, which is the 100th birthday of our Great Leader, so that we can distribute basic food supplies to the people regularly,” said a Central Party Official.

The provinces also distributed food for two, a bottle of liquor, 1 kg of pork, and 100g of bean oil to each family.

Pyongyang now Relieved after the 65th Anniversary Celebration

After the Labor Party’s 65th anniversary celebration on October 10th, residents of Pyongyang felt relaxed from the big burden. Leading up to the party delegates’ meeting and anniversary celebration, the residents had been at work without rest as a part of mobilization efforts at preparation. Housewives were called to mow grass and clean and mop curbs every Sunday morning at 6, while both young and old people were frequently mobilized to clean the streets. An official living in the East District explained the reason for this great movement of cleaning streets and the town every morning by saying, “When the general (Kim Jong-Il) visited Jilin-sheng (Province) in China, he was surprised by how clean and bright the streets of Changchun were. Even a rural city in China appeared better off than Pyongyang, so the general ordered Moon, Kyong-duk, the secretary in charge of the City Party, to clean and decorate our city in a more festive manner”. Not only have all streetlights been brightened, but the city has also been decorated with lights of various colors, and changed dramatically.

The amount of cleaning, campaigns, and meetings around the city approaching October 10th led some residents to openly state, “We wish the celebration would pass already.” Participants of the various events had even a more difficult time. Whenever there is a large celebration, people are divided into three groups, such as the ‘group gymnastics team,’ ‘dancing team,’ and ‘recreation team.’ For example, the task of the recreation team was to bring non-expensive alcohol and meat with them and take a rest at the designated location. Their role was to demonstrate that families sit and eat together at Mt. Namsan or Moranbong Peak. Although some people who are not team members also come to those areas to rest, it is usually those who are assigned to the recreation team who go to there on the event day. This task is the easiest one, compared to others. Young people are selected for the dancing teams, and after much practice, will dance at designated areas during the events. They must practice every night after coming back from their own work, which results in great fatigue. The hardest task, however, is definitely left to the group gymnastics team, in which members perform according to signals. The dancing and recreation teams usually do not perform the primary event of the celebration. It is the group gymnastic team that is often assigned to conduct the primary event, which Chairman Kim Jong-Il certainly observes, so the preparatory training is very strict. This 65th ceremony was more rigorous than previous years because the North Korean government had invited the foreign press to the event, and did not allow for a single mistake by performers.

Unfortunately, one woman committed an error when she misunderstood the signals. Lim, Ok-ran (alias), living in the Middle District, described the situation, “We were supposed to raise flags engraved with letters or pictures at the verbal orders, and hold up synchronized red or yellow flowers at the signals, but one of my friends mixed up the order and a mistake.” She explained that her friend was confused and lost the order because the leader of the team had raised flags without giving the members any signals. The performer’s mistake happened in a flash, and was a very trivial error that only she and her neighbor could recognize, but it made her extremely nervous to the point of passing out. The pressure to perform had been great, and the oppressive environment that would not accept less than perfection had finally taken its toll. According to Ms. Lim, most performers felt very disappointed because they had endured the hard training for two months without receiving enough food, and just one person had destroyed what would have been a perfect performance. After the culmination of October 10th’s much toiled-after events, Pyongyang seemed to regain its previous peace and quiet.

People’s Safety Bureau Commences Demonstrative Operation of ‘Special Safety Force’, a Squad in Charge of Investigating Judicial Institutions

Since last year, the People’s Safety Bureau is operating a ‘Special Safety Force’ which is in charge of judicial institutions. The Special Safety Force undertakes the mission of investigating various crimes or corruption of the judicial institutions and prosecutions and punishing them. In the past, the judicial institutions have been making some type of sanctuary by protecting the target of the investigation or obstructing the investigation intentionally with the vested power, so a special institution named ‘Special Safety Force’ was established as a part of effort to correct the disturbed law and order. The decision of acknowledging it as a formal institution will be dependent upon the outcome after operating it for three years. However, the problem is not that simple. Although impartial investigation is important in order to uphold the principle that everyone must abide by the law and order, the reality in which one must violate the law will have to be changed first.
The amount of production is extremely small and the laborers do not have monthly wages or distribution; in order for them to subsist, they will have to sell anything in the market by stealing the property of the factory or taking some raw materials to home to make anything. With self-deprecation, the North Koreans refer this as ‘legal crime. Although siphoning off the property of the workplace is obviously a crime, people will die of hunger if they do not do it, and therefore, the Party overlooks the offense. Likewise, going to a business trip to other region is the same thing. Many times, people do the illegal trade instead of taking care of the business of the workplace on a business trip. Because receiving a passport is a rare opportunity, sometimes several people collect their money and give it to the person who goes to the business trip so the person can purchase goods cheaply in the region and distribute them to the people. As this is rampant everywhere and they believe this is the only way to survive, they think it is ‘legal’. Yet, as this is obviously illegal, the judicial institution can arrest people anytime if they choose to do so. The term ‘legal crime’ by itself reflects the contradictory reality.


There are instances in which there is a conflict of opinion between the Safety Bureau and the prosecutorial institution. Sometimes the prosecution arrests a person whom the Safety Bureau needs, and sometimes it releases a person for ‘insufficient evidence’ when the person should have been dealt with more strictly. Typically, the police officers have a witness when they indict a case, but if the prosecution objects by saying ‘the testimony is unclear or false’, the Safety Bureau cannot proceed further. Unless the case is not especially serious, the prosecution is more influential, so the result of many cases has been overturned. Thus, the Safety Bureau was concerned with this problem for a long time since the outcome of a case is often changed by one witness and criminals are frequently found innocent and acquitted as a result. This operation of the Special Safety Force is a result of this concern. However, the dominating opinion within the Safety Bureau is that whether this will be effective is yet to be known. It is because unless the food issue is not resolved, these ‘legal criminals’ will be there indefinitely no matter how many people are captured, the number of people who commit illegal activities under the protection of the prosecution or judicial institution will not decrease, and the obstruction of investigation by other special institutions will not end.

Flood Destroys Half of Farm Harvests in Keumya County

It was announced that the crop harvest in Keumya County was diminished by more than half by a flood that caused landslides. Most houses in a village located at the foot of the mountain were damaged by the inundation caused by the flooding of the mountain valley. According to the government security agency, more than 100 people were killed, about 2,000 houses were damaged to the extent that residents cannot reside in them, and another 2,000 households need amends because the roofs or walls were broken. It is not surprising the farmlands were devastated in the disaster that destroyed houses and took people’s lives. Arable lands were swamped and they became barren after the water ebbed away because of the stones that piled up like a mountain. Even in the land where there was no flooding, the crops were destroyed so that none was left harvestable. In normal years, the farmers would be busy in the fall harvest and would make an outcry for labor assistance for their harvest. This year, farmers in the collective farm in Keumya County heave a sigh since there are no crops to glean.

Rice Production Likely to Drop by 30% in YeomJoo County

Rice production is predicted to decrease by 30 percent in Yeomjoo County, North Pyongan Province. Yeomjoo County is known as one of the breadbaskets of North Korea. “The rice fields have been immersed in water after a series of heavy rains in the summer. The fields have become muddy and unfit for harvest,” said a farmer, who added that rice production has dropped by 30 percent. Around 4 tons of rice used to be harvested per 1 jungbo, which is equivalent to 2.45 acres, but now that number has diminished to 2.5 to 3 tons.

The Ongoing Flood Damage

The damage wreaked by the flood persists. Government fund to assist the flood victims is close to none. The victims are growing fearful as winter approaches for they do not have clothes, flood, or shelter. Many of the victims are diseased and dying. Some are committing suicide at the dark prospect of the future. Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province has shortage of food and water. Water pipes have been destroyed but the water supply system has not been restored, so muddy water runs when one turns the faucet on. Apartment residents need to bring water from a nearby river. In Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province, labor workers and college students have been working to restore the city’s infrastructure, but the effort is far from sufficient, especially since they are working with nothing but shovels and hoes. There is also not enough cement and wood for the construction. Although the flood ended in the summer, its effect is still felt to this day.

North Korea Today No. 373 November 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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Central Party Instructs, “Increase the Import of Chinese Medical Supplies”
Urgent Treatment Needed for a Highly Contagious Tuberculosis Strain in S. Hamgyong
Patients Complain Long Waiting Time for Tuberculosis Medicine
Normal Doses of Tuberculosis Treatment Fatal to Malnourished Patients
Veteran Punished for Singing a Folk Ballad
Body Searches Intensify Amidst Harvests in Eorang County
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Central Party Instructs, “Increase the Import of Chinese Medical Supplies”
The Central Party has decided to increase the weight of Chinese medical supplies among the imported medical supplies. Usually, the hospitals for government officials imported medical supplies and used them. French medical supplies were mostly used in Bonghwa Clinic which treats the high-ranking officials in Pyongyang (higher than ministerial level), German medical supplies were used in Namsan Clinic which treats the vice ministers (vice minister level), and Russian medical supplies were mostly used in Chosun Red Cross Central Hospital, Pyongyang Medical University Hospital, and Kim Man Yu Hospital which treats the general government officers under vice minister level. Sometimes, the dong (ri) clinic which is used by the ordinary residents is equipped with the medical supplies furnished by UN, but more likely than not there is no medicine. The ordinary patients end up purchasing medical supplies in the market by themselves and go to the hospital to ask for treatment. Most of the medicines that are circulated in the market are from China. Sometimes medical supplies manufactured by Soonchun pharmaceutical factory or private individuals are circulated, but the amount cannot be compared with the ones imported from China.

According to a medical officer in Pyongyang Health field, the hospitals for government officials use approximately 30% of Chinese medical supplies and less than 5% of domestic medical supplies; the rest of them are imported goods from places like France, Germany and Russia. Until the manufacture of domestic medical supplies is stabilized, the Central Party instructed to gradually increase the weight of the import of Chinese medical supplies as it takes less distribution costs and the effect is not very much inferior considering its cheap price. The medical supplies imported from places like France, Germany and Russia are less effective and even harmful sometimes because even if they may be medicines of sovereign virtue, they are the expired drugs at a giveaway price. The hospital grinds them, uses them to make domestic medicines, and sells them to the clinics used by ordinary citizens. It aggravates the illness or even kills the patients as they use the medicine believing they are good.

The doctors who currently work in the clinic say that they have to bear with such side effects due to the critical shortage of medical supplies. Especially, the residents suffered severely this year because various diseases were running rampant due to the flood damages and antibiotics were in short. The situation in Pyongyang City was not particularly different, and Lee InYoung (alias), a doctor who works in the dong [smallest level of urban government] clinic, says that he was not able to help patients from dying as a result of waterborne disease because there was not any solutions. When it was reported that the mortality from the lack of medical supplies has increased even in Pyongyang, the Central Party instructed to reorganize the medical supply import guidelines and to fill the certain number of medical supplies by importing more from China. “Even if we import Chinese medical supplies, most of them will go to the government officials, but the government officials will do so if they can purchase better medicines,” Mr. Lee anticipates. “These Chinese medicines will be sold in the clinic in each dong or region, and the residents will use them eventually.”


Urgent Treatment Needed for a Highly Contagious Tuberculosis Strain in S. Hamgyong Province
Although the Second Center for Disease Control and Protection of Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province, announced that the number of registered tuberculosis patients is more than a thousand, officials have not been able to determine an exact figure. Yet, a Hamheung City physician in charge of tuberculosis patients claims that the number of individuals with open tuberculosis alone is in the thousands. This disease is so highly contagious that infected patients should receive treatment immediately, but most patients do not seem to show critical concern for their condition because they are poor. Moreover, while some patients do not even realize that they have symptoms, others view treatment as overindulgences because they can scarcely feed their family and themselves.

Unfortunately, the Center for Disease Control and Protection does not have adequate resources to manage this problem and locations in the South Hamgyong Province often turn away infected individuals. Only very critical patients are hospitalized.

Although patients with open tuberculosis may go to a sanitarium where they receive treatment and carry out simple work to feed themselves, such as growing vegetables, most do not have the ability to do so. Formerly, patients received rations by turning in a provision suspension certificate. However, a ration distribution program no longer exists. Thus, individuals who want to go to the sanitarium must provide for themselves.

Even patients in tuberculosis wards cannot expect to receive appropriate treatment. First of all, medication is on short supply. Second, patients are generally malnourished. As a result, the effectiveness of treatment is very low. In October, when temperatures fell below zero, many patients’ conditions were exacerbated with common colds. The death toll accordingly increased greatly, and during the last week, the daily average of patient fatalities was nine to ten. Although hospital officials were embarrassed with this increase, they could not find a way to resolve the predicament.

Patients Complain Long Waiting Time for Tuberculosis Medicine
The security authorities of South Hamgyong Province asked the Central government for medicine as they determine that the status of tuberculosis patients in the Province in the second half of the year has become unmanageable. The Ministry of Health rushed a good amount of medicine so that they can deal with the urgent situation. As the rumor of medicine spread a large number of outpatients began to swarm to the hospital. Even though they are outpatients most of them have not visited the hospital for a long time because the medicine was not there. They come to the hospital at 8am to get the medicine. As the number of new patients increases the number of patients trying to receive the drugs also increased. It used to take less than an hour to see a doctor including the waiting time. Now, it takes several days to be examined by a doctor and receive medicine. As such, the level of complaints from patients and their family is rising due to prolonged waiting time.

Suh JaeKuk (alias) expressed his anger, saying that the problem lies with doctors playing tricks to profit from the situation rather than the higher demand for drug. According to him, it is because “doctors are trying to get bribes from patients with cigarettes or things they need.” Despite the extra supply of medicine, the amount of available drug is still limited. As the demand for TB drug rises, doctors naturally take advantage of the situation and profit from it. They call patients to come to the hospital, which might take a few days to visit, and give only a tiny amount of drug less than the normal dose. Some patients criticize, “They want to keep you sick so that you have to be dependent on the drug longer. That is why they give you only a little amount of drug.” Since doctors are not immune to the food crisis, they often appropriate some medicine and sell it out in the market, or they accept bribes in return for drugs. However, a doctor at Hamheung Second Hospital disagrees, saying there is misunderstanding. One cannot deny the existence of some corrupt doctors profiting with bribes, but in fact, doctors often have to adjust the amount of drugs given to weak patients because taking a normal dose of TB drug could do more harm than good if the patient is suffering from malnutrition.

Normal Doses of Tuberculosis Treatment Fatal to Malnourished Patients
An experienced doctor who has been working in the tuberculosis division of a hospital for fourteen years says that injecting normal doses of TB treatment to patients is sometimes hazardous. “We [in North Korea] use three types of TB medications: streptomycin, isoniazid, a TB vaccine, and rifampicin (tubocin) for vicious TB. While rifampicin used to be imported from abroad, streptomycin and isoniazid were formerly mass-produced in the Sooncheon Drug Factory and in factories in Nampo, Pyeongyang as well as Hamheung respectively. Accordingly, rifampicin was scarce and only used for emergency cases. Streptomycin and isoniazid, on the other hand, were readily available. However, since the 1990s economic crisis, drug factories failed, and the supply of streptomycin and isoniazid dramatically fell. These days North Korea receives rifampicin from the World Health Organization. One thing to note is that streptomycin and rifampicin are so strong that they can kill cells in the body. Thus, patients treated with these drugs must be well-nourished with protein. If patients cannot afford to eat meat, they should at least eat eggs. However, most cannot afford eggs either. Those without adequate protein will become weakened despite a proper course of medication. When severely malnourished, they can even be killed by normal doses of drugs. This is a great dilemma for doctors who cannot afford to feed patients. The only thing doctors can do is adjust doses. Although people should eat well, they cannot. Consequently, the number of TB patients is continuously increasing,” he said in worry.

A Veteran Punished for Singing a Folk Ballad “The Moon that Lee Tae Baek Played Under”
According to an order of the People’s Defense Ministry Department of the General Staff, the nationwide “Civil Defense Drill” commenced on September 10th at the Sooncheon Cement Factory in the South Pyeongan Province. Labor for the project, repairing the river bank in the agricultural district under the inspection of the City Propaganda Department, was provided by the factory. In order to soften the atmosphere, department workers encouraged leisure activities for amusement among laborers during rest periods.

Factory workers reported that laborers sang songs and danced. Moreover, a veteran named Kim Hak Chul (false name), discharged from his military service in July of this year, melodiously sang his favorite song. Not only did City Party Propaganda Department workers and the Primary Party Secretary applaud Kim for his talent, the audience sang along and danced to Kim’s song.

After returning from the Civil Defense Drill, Kim’s ability became the talk of the factory and was reputed to be no less than that of a professional. The rumor continued for a week and ultimately came to the attention of Factory Security Department workers. They later learned that the song Kim sang was a South Korean folk ballad named Moon.

Representatives later contacted Kim in order to question his motive for singing a South Korean song in public. Kim was later assaulted and arrested. During his hearing, Kim declared that he was not aware the song was from South Korea. He further stated that he would manage the situation and thought that “[this song] was from his homeland because he learned it in the army.” He also begged to be pardoned and promised not to make the same mistake again.

The hearing continued for a week, and Kim was sentenced to six months in a labor training center for the crime of singing, and distributing knowledge of, a South Korean song in public. Although Kim’s parents cordially pled for leniency, their request was denied. Moreover, City Department workers and the Primary Party Secretary who ordered the formulation of the amusement gatherings were criticized and punished by the City Party Propaganda Department. The sentiment among laborers concerning the incident was bleak.

Body Searches Intensify Amidst Harvests in Eorang County
Under the order of the Ministry of Agriculture, the entire nation is busy with harvesting crops. In the North Hamheung Province, Provincial Party officials and the Provincial People’s Committee are being sent to every county and city in order to encourage harvest preparations with an ideology campaign. They are also monitoring the work DWU (Democratic Women’s Union) members as well as middle school and college students who have been deployed to rural areas by Eorang County officials from October 6th.

According to a Provincial Party official sent to Eorang County, this year’s yield will dwarf that of last year’s. Even the most productive collective farm, with a record yield of five tons of corn per one jeongbo (2.45 acres), is expected to produce less than 3 tons per unit due to this year’s abnormal climate. He also warned against losses, requesting that farm officers secure every grain and emphasized that respectable harvest records cannot be attained amidst the projected low yields and widespread thievery. Every year, hungry soldiers from a nearby army base as well as mobilized workers steal from the corn harvest, resulting in significant losses.

The official further commented to “watch the DWU members especially.” Following this edict, farms intensified their body searches to prevent workers from hiding grain in their clothes. DWU members typically steal in order to compensate their losses from not being able to sell at markets due to their forced harvest work. Women typically steal five to six cobs of corn daily. Although some collective farms decided to use young students for work in lieu of DWU members due to their presumed innocence, their decision ended in disaster. Middle school students not only steal as much as DWU members, who attempt to do so discreetly, they steal openly. Accordingly, a significant amount of reports received by local police stations are of instances involved with young students.

Nevertheless, DWU members report they have been stealing for many years. In order to bypass body searches, they make large pockets inside of their clothes to hide corn. In addition, they do not wait until they finish their work but steal whenever the chance arises, particularly on their way to lunch or dinner. In other cases, some people dig deep holes in the ground to hide corn and come back to retrieve them at night.

This almost comical dilemma repeats every year. Registered farmers attempt to curb thefts because of their obvious losses. Mobilized workers desperately steal because they know it will be difficult to survive through next spring if they do not gather contingency food during the harvest season. Despite the official announcement to tighten control over thefts, the response from residents is as follows, “Can the initiatives against theft work when people are starving?”


North Korea Today No. 372 October 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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Inhabitants of Pyungsung Express Need to Solve Food Problem after Party Leader Meeting
Social Control Tightened After Party Congress
Harvest Lower than Average at the Cooperative Farm in Sagu-ri, Chungjin
“Officials Abuse Market Control to Fill Their Own Bellies”
Soonchun’s Handicrafts Known in the Nation for Their High Quality
Miners Retort to Officials Who Pushed Them, “Just Look to Yourself!”
Why has the Dukheung, the Best Coal Mine of the N. Hamgyong, Stopped Operating?
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Inhabitants of Pyungsung Express Need to Solve Food Problem after Party Leader Meeting
People of Pyongsung, South Pyongan Province are quietly accepting the results of the Party Congress. However, one official reported that there seems to be disappointments also. This is because, despite the ongoing rhetorical emphasis on raising the living standards of the people, in actuality the 1st Party Congress in 44 years did not address this matter. An anonymous official opined that the reaction of the people was cool because “there was no resolution for the food scarcity crisis for the people. “Neither extra rations nor any consideration from the Young Leader came out as a result of the Party Congress.”

“The result of the Party Congress forced even the people who had been holding to the faith that the government was working for the welfare of the people change their minds. Workers or intellectuals who only looked up to the leader expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of improvement. That sense of dissatisfaction will be transferred to the heir.” “There is no longer a firm faith in the leader, nor any heartfelt willingness to follow him,” and the reason was because the nation did not provide food. Without food, no matter how able the heir is, there will be no warm welcome. An official who worked in the City Party for 17 years expressed that “People still will try to follow the Great General’s order, by hook or by crook, but no telling how they will react when the new leader tries to assert his will.” While excitement and expectations are usually expected with a new leader, there is just more disappointment at the lack of solution for the food crisis. With growing disappointment, there will be the questioning of leadership, and less followers. One official said that “though it is not openly discussed, it is already talked about that without the resolution of the food crisis, no leader will be accepted well.” And that “someone needs to solve the food problem.”

Social Control Tightened After Party Congress
Since the Party Congress, governmental control seems to have tightened. As orders to tighten social control have distributed down to the local police stations, many people suspicious of violating the social order, including past convicts, have been extensively caught and investigated. It has become difficult to receive money or help from relatives from China, due to the strict control of Chinese residents. Among residents, there is more fear than the hope of having a new leader. As secretaries of the provincial parties have been replaced, many officials of the city and county parties have been replaced as well. The deepening investigations into officials in security departments have especially added to the wholesale changes in personnel.

This Year's Harvest Amount Lower than Average at the Cooperative Farm in Sagu-ri, Chungjin
The cooperative farm in Sagu-ri, Chungam District, Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province began their harvest about one or two weeks earlier than usual, and it was reported that the overall harvest was lower than last year. Together with the District Party members, the farm organized a team to measure this year's harvest, and even though the harvesting is not completely done, the corn crop was estimated about 2.5-3 ton per 1 jungbo (about 2.45 acres). This was lower than the average, 3 ton per 1 jungbo, up until last year. Considering that Sagu-ri farm is a relatively large farm with 8 farm production units, it is expected that other farms would have similar level of harvest or less. One worker listed the chronic shortage of fertilizers and manpower as the main culprit for the crop decrease but also added the abnormal weather to the list. He said, "From the beginning of this year, we encouraged the farmers to work hard and resolve the food shortage problem to become a strong and prosperous nation, but food ran out since early spring and the farmers could not report to work, and the heavy rainfall destroyed some of the cultivated land. Now that we've done harvesting, it seems impossible to meet the production goal, and although we want to distribute food to the hungry farmers according to the number of days they had worked, it's not going to amount to much."

Additionally, the amount of pilferage by the army unit adjacent to Sagu-ri farm should not be overlooked. To stop stealing by military, the officials of the farm strengthened their own security and reported (such incidents) to the military unit, but it was useless. The soldiers were starving like everybody else and unless they resorted to eating stolen corn, they would not survive. Weather was the official reason for the early harvest but the real reason was the military thieves. Because they were hit by the thieves six to seven times a day, they decided it would be better to harvest early. As the farmers did early harvest, soldiers began to look for smaller private plots. The owners of these smaller farms were trying to hold on to their meager harvest, and instead of reporting to their regular job, they were guarding their plots. Almost everyday there are incidents where the farmers who are guarding their plots are assaulted by soldiers and or harmed in various ways. The war of nerves regarding the corn harvest between farmers and soldiers is going to continue for the time being.

“Officials Abuse Market Control to Fill Their Own Bellies”
Market control on certain items is currently in effect in Soonchun City, South Pyongan Province. The market in Soonchun quickly became the largest one in the province after Pyongsung market was closed. Although it is only open from 2pm to 6 pm during the current autumn harvest season, the stalls are quite active. Even though the Soonchun market replace the role of the former Pyongsung Market by serving as a wholesale market at the national level, a steady supply of small items made by individual craftsmen meet the demand in the market. Retailers who had left the market due to a shortage of money and supply are gradually coming back with items from cottage industries. Residents are in the firm belief that the market is the only way to survive the food and economic crises exacerbated by the currency reform. Factories remain idle, salary and rations are not being distributed, and small land-patch farming has been destroyed by the abnormal weather and floods. Market is the only mean for sustenance that is left.

Not taking into account the situation faced by the residents, the city security authority have resumed market control in the name of restoring order. It wants to slow the merchandise production by individuals, which has been proliferating beyond control. The police are confiscating illegal counterfeit items and issuing fines to the merchant. Ingrained prejudice against items made by individuals and the serious side effects of fake food and medicines are also stated as reasons for the control. There are indeed cases of people who take medicine made by individuals and become more ill or even die from it.

Merchants argue that control over counterfeits is needed but the prohibition of all trading is not the solution. They admit that items made by some individuals are of poor quality, but those made by the Soonchun craftsmen are good and curbing their production is problematic. Moreover, banning all products made by individual craftsmen because some are deemed fake will leave the market empty. Chinese imports continue to dominate the market, but the imports are not as abundant as before due to the currency reform and the ban on foreign currency notes. Domestic light industry is still lagging.

However impoverished the residents may be, they still need basic items to live. Even if the cottage industry products are fake or merely copies, they fill the gap created by the shortage of supply. Some people even argue that the ban on cottage industry products equals a complete ban on selling and the ban should be removed. Ordinary people favor pragmatism over principles. People are not naturally against principles per se, but they know that many public officials and security officers take advantage of situations for their own benefits by misapplying certain principles to justify their actions.

People are suspicious about the control. Kim Ye-Ryung (alias) asks, “For whom are they enforcing the ban? As people’s lives worsened, the security officers were also affected negatively. Because they have less to eat, the security officers are trying to strip from the residents their market products and put them in their own pockets.” Criticisms against security officers who use the ban on the market for their own benefit sometimes turn out to be true. Some security officers sell the items they confiscated to another merchant or give to their wives to sell them in the market. It is therefore widely thought that public officials and law enforcement and security officers “use the law to rob others and break the law to fill their stomachs.” Not surprisingly, no one really trusts the authorities or abides by the law. The prevalent perception is that the market ban is for the benefit of public officials and security officers.

Soonchun’s Handicrafts Known in the Nation for Their High Quality
There are many large factories producing medicines, chemicals, cement, Vinalon, compost and other products in the city of Soonchun. These factories are nationally renowned for their large capacity. It is not too much to say that half of the population in the city are workers at these three major factories. The productivity has allegedly dropped recently owing to the shortage of resources, electricity and technology, but its national renown is not worn out easily. Even if the factories do not run normally, individual workers still produce some commodities and medicines using factory facilities and resources available. There is a lack of commodities in the market place. The reputation of the Soonchun products is quite good, especially the medicine. It is known to be of high quality. The factory also has many other products except for metal products. There are many laborers from big enterprises, so domestically produced goods are also of superb quality. The handicrafts made in Soonchun have gained popularity because of the products’ excellent quality and lower prices compared to Chinese goods.

Antibiotics such as penicillin and mycin are also produced in large amounts. Individual manufacturers sell their medicines using second hand medicine bottles, and these have been deemed acceptable for several years. Nevertheless, there have been some medical accidents owing to the worsened resource shortage, and there is also a possibility of problems originated from the way goods are processed. Furthermore, sometimes we see some counterfeit of Chinese goods. However, consumers can easily tell the difference between domestically manufacturing products and goods and Chinese made products. Thus, the current crackdown of the markets in order to spot counterfeit products or medical accidents is not a very persuasive. It is considered as stemming from the officials’ personal attempts to help their own interests, not of helping the people’s livelihoods. It is also problematic to try to regulate the market without making efforts to produce more Sunchun goods, particularly at this time of daily necessity deficiencies.

Miners Retort to Officials Who Pushed Them, “Just Look to Yourself!”
The Dukheung Mine in Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province has not distributed food to workers for two years. Managing unmotivated workers is a problem. Even though officials encourage and force them to work, these workers are not concerned about the officials. They openly criticize officials by saying, “Don’t force us to do difficult work. You should lead us by setting good examples.” Once a worker responded to an official who criticized the worker for his idleness by retorting, “Just look to yourself!” A fight started when the official answered that by saying, “How dare you preach to an official?” Lee, Young-soo (alias) described the shift in the climate, “When officials cursed us before, most workers just endured. But now some workers do not stand for these humiliations.” Kim, Geum-cheol (alias) reacted cynically by saying, “I don’t care about their cursing. No matter how severely they curse and criticize me, I don’t care about that because I am at rock bottom. We are among the poorest.” Although party members try to propagandize workers to increase productivity with a new resolution after meetings of the national party, workers seem indifferent now because surviving is harder than during the period of Arduous March.

Kim, Geum-cheol describes the situation by saying, “Party members and officials can feed themselves and their families by taking from here and there, but how can the poor and hungry people work? Can you work hard for a company which does not give you food when your family is starving? In fact, we could not work with limited food even if we wanted to.” According to Lee, Young-soo’s statement, the situation in the mines has drastically worsened since last year. When a coal bed ran dry, they stopped work and closed the mine since February of last year. Before long the superior authorities ordered them to dig new shafts, but it was not easy to complete because the old mine was shut down due to a lack of electricity and mining equipment as well as worn out support beams. To add insult to injury, miners did not come to work because they did not receive any food. The mine has several safety issues. It cannot drain water because of the lack of water pumps. The wooden support beams are so old that there is high possibility of accidents. And workers do not go to work. To dig new mines, they should handle these issues. However, how can they develop new mines when they cannot even maintain current mines? Workers go to work because they have to. But they just kill time by hanging around. Although they have their daily duties to accomplish, they spend time shirking their duties. The higher up pushed officials of the Dukheung Mine to increase productivity, but officials did not seem to find any solutions. An official complained about the difficult situation by saying, “If they want miners to work hard, they should give them food and proper equipment first. We have requested to the higher party office to give us proper mining equipment, but they ignore our requests. So how can we do our work? They said that everyone is having a hard time right now and you should complete your duties with the spirit of self-reliance and revolution. We would like to oblige, but cannot.” Fortunately, they gave workers some corn last June and distributed potatoes harvested on a small patch of the mine from July to August. But the workers have not received anything since then.

Why has the Dukheung, the Best Coal Mine of the North Hamgyong Province, Stopped Operating?
Dukheung coal mines produce high heat-rate coal, reputed to be the best coal quality among coal mines in North Hamgyong Province. Why have the pits been closed and the operations stopped? Mining operations are largely divided into two workstreams; a gallery-making workstream and a coal-extracting workstream. A gallery-making workstream creates a gallery to a mining pit. Administrative officials of the Party Committee must coordinate this well. They must create a new gallery to a mining pit that contains a lot of coal, but they instead allocate too many workers to the coal-extracting workstream for short-term productivity and profits. For the purpose of achieving a production goal set by the upper management, they assign too many workforces to “easy” pits that require a short or no gallery-making operation, and thus coal deposits are exhausted too quickly. Then, they must look for new mining pits, and they are forced to assign workers to gallery-making workstreams; during gallery-making, coal miners do not receive food rations as they extract no coal. Also, there are many difficulties to confront, such as no electricity, no wood support, and various malfunctions of mining equipments. These are the main reasons that the productivity in coal mining is low for many famous North Korean coal mines, despite the existence of significant coal deposits. Dukheung coal mine suffers from the same issues. They are conducting gallery-making operations in order to find new mining pits, but no one wants to work anymore. As the gallery-making operations have taken more than a year, support from the Provincial Party has been discontinued. Upper management and coal mining officials blame coal miners for not working. But it’s really the fault of the administrative officials, due to their lack of long-term production strategy and their focus on short-term goal-making and profits.


North Korea Today No. 375 (Priority Release) November 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.]
________________________________________________________
Rice Price Drops at the News of Lifting Rice Support Obligations
Upon Arrival of Food from China, Food is Distributed to Each County.
Raise in Pay Next Year
Significant Improvement in Electrical Power Conditions since October
“Now that we have electricity, it’s like drinking the nectar of the gods”
_________________________________________________________
Rice Price Drops at the News of Lifting Rice Support Obligations
As of November 7, market price of grains is going down at the news of lifting of military rice remittance obligations. Rice and corn prices were 920 NKW/kg and 200 NKW/kg a couple of days ago but they quickly fell to 800 NKW/kg and 150 NKW/kg. As the food prices fell, diesel fuel and gasoline prices also dropped to reach 800 NKW/kg and 1800 NKW/kg respectively. Exchange rate is currently 300 NKW/Yuan and is expected to drop to as low as 170 NKW/Yuan shortly. The markets are open from 1 pm to 6 pm.

Upon Arrival of Food from China, Food is Distributed to Each County.
In addition to the lifting of mandatory rice and meat support obligations to the military, large quantities of food have been coming in from China; as such, the market price of rice has been falling. 5 trucks loaded with 80 tons of corn entered the border region and the corn has been distributed to each county. More food is coming from China. As the Central Party announced that rice and meat will not be collected for the military, the farmers are pleased for the first time in a long time with smiles appearing across their lean and wrinkled faces. It is also reported that laborers will get food and wages on time, and housewives will no longer be treated as “#26 recipients.”

“#26 recipients” refer to those who are of working age but do not work and live on provision. Daily provision amounts to 300g a day, which equals to what a kindergartener receives. Women in neighborhood units are happy at the news because that means that they will be getting equal amount of food as regular laborers.

Chung Mi Hwa (alias) expressed joy to be treated as an adult even if the provision may not come out regularly as promised. As the market price of rice falls, people are being hopeful and say “if I work a little bit harder, I can make ends meet.”

Raise in Pay Next Year
Since Ruling Party Conference ended, the overdue wages have been paid out in order to ensure the people’s minimum living welfare. The average monthly wage of laborers is between 1,500 and 2,000 NKW. Skilled workers get paid an additional 200 to 300 NKW. In the past, laborers did not rely on monthly payroll. They couldn’t make a living based on such a small amount and were only paid a few times throughout the year in any case. Under such circumstances they tried to survive by farming small land patches or selling raw materials from factories rather than simply waiting for unpaid wages to arrive. However, optimism is now spreading among workers rapidly as the overdue wages are paid out all at once and a pay raise is expected next year.

Significant Improvement in Electrical Power Conditions since October
North Korea’s electricity supply has begun to show a sign of improvement since the Ruling Party Conference on September 28 and the celebration of the 65th anniversary of the Party’s Foundation on October 10. Pyongyang City has bore the most witness to this welcome change. People have expressed their joy by saying that, unlike the limited and sporadic increase in electricity supply during previous holiday seasons, this recent improvement has been consistent enough and well received. They claimed that it even brought forth a holiday spirit among them. As the public energy situation has taken a positive turn since the beginning of October, people have been able to enjoy more than four hours of uninterrupted electricity everyday for the first time this year. One of the Central government officials stated, “On October 6, the General had observed the early morning streets of Pyongyang City and remarked the streets were too dark. He said ‘Do Pyongyang residents still have difficulties regarding electricity? Residents should be allotted with sufficient electricity, even if that would cause deactivation of one or two factories’”. The explanation indicates there was a consideration for the people at the Party level.

The electricity supply has been improved by better utilization of hydroelectric and coal-fired thermal power plants. North Korean government officers also said that the improvement is due to “the reservoirs at hydroelectric power plants that are now full”. Sufficient amounts of water to operate hydropower facilities was a result of major Aprok (Yalu) River flooding, albeit it also resulted in serious flood damages. Without plentiful rain fall, Jangjin River and Bujeon River hydropower plants have the reservoir capacity to produce energy for at least 2-3 years, while Sinuiju and Supoong hydropower plants havae the capacity for only one year. The Supoong facility generates 700,000-800,000 KWH and half of the electricity is distributed to China and the other half to North Korea. Jangjin and Bujeon plants together generate 400,000-500,000 KWH. The improvement of coal-fired power plants operation also contributed to the better electricity supply. Pyongyang and Bookchang coal-fired plants together produce an average of 1,200,000 KWH due in part to small-scale resumption of coal production at Anju coal mine.

“Now that we have electricity, it’s like drinking the nectar of the gods”
Electricity supply for the public also improved significantly in Ryanggang Province. Residents of Ryanggang say in unison that the progress is due to the Mt. Baekdu Military First Power Plant. The Military First Plant was built on the backs of young men who had to carry rocks and sands on their backs. Most of the young members of special labor brigade joined the construction project to escape poverty and are from underprivileged background, although some volunteered to join the brigade as their entry into the Party. The residents hence call the Plant as “a plant that underprivileged young people, disenfranchised party officials and starving soldiers built with their bare hands at the risk of their lives” and are grateful to the plant for providing a normal supply of electricity around the clock. As the power supply normalized, plants and public enterprises resumed full operation and farms are threshing grains with ease. Residents are also processing food conveniently. Before, women had to thresh barely, corn or rice manually by putting it into a large mortar and pounding it repeatedly. Now they can crush corn without much effort. Hwang Soonock (alias) from Hyesan City who came out to a threshing floor to make crushed corn says with a big smile, “(thanks to the electricity) it’s became so convenient. It’s as if I’m drinking the nectar of the gods.”

North Korea Today No. 374 (Priority Release) November 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.]
_________________________________________________________
Central Party Orders to Stop Collecting Rice for Military Provision
Sound of Hailing at Farms at the News of No More Collection of Rice for Military Provision
“Finally They Think of People”
Meat Support Obligation to the Military Also Lifted
“At least now we can fill our bellies with potatoes.”
_________________________________________________________
Central Party Orders to Stop Collecting Rice for Military Provision
Every year when the harvest season approaches there were big conflicts at each regional farm between the military which tries to secure rice for military provision and farmers who refuse to hand over the rice they grew for the past one year. The conflicts are especially severe this year as the yields of harvest decrease because of the cold weather in the spring and the flood in the summer. In the case of North Hamgyong province it was reported that the level of discontent among farmers was serious enough to make the authorities worry. As the damage from flooding was so severe in the granary regions of North and South Hwanghae Provinces and North Pyongan Province it was decided that North Hamgyong Province was to provide rice for military provision first since it had better harvest. The level of dissatisfaction in the farms of North Hamgyong Province was at its peak at the news saying that “The allotment of rice left for farmers will be only 10 days worth if the military provision is taken first.”

To their surprise the Central Party announced on October 30th that it will stop collecting rice for military provision which was done annually as a priority business and notified each region throughout the country beginning November 1st. The farmers in such regions as Baekam and Deahongdan Counties in Ryanggang Province and Musan in North Hamgyong Province are all jubilant at the news. Every year the food shortage problems suffered by farmers were aggravated even further by taking of rice for military provision, and the hardship the farmers had to endure was enormous in the event they are unable to provide rice for military provision as the problem escalates to a party problem or political problem with the label of “a criminal who disobeys the order of Military First given by the Dear Leader.” Kim Jeong-hak (Alias) who heard the news in Daehongdan County, Ryanggang Province said, “Many people have been falsely accused and politically persecuted and countless farmers had to suffer from hunger because they had not much rice left after giving rice for military provision.” He commented that the news of lifting the obligation for rice for military provision is the most epoch-making event.

Sound of Hailing at Farms at the News of No More Collection of Rice for Military Provision
According to the farmers in Musan, North Hamgyong Province the rice collection for military provision was something nobody dared to object to because it was an obligation everybody has to contribute even in the face of starvation as it is a campaign driven by the Party in the name of Military First policy. A farm member, Park Gwang-chul (Alias) expressed his grief saying, “Who would dare to challenge when they say the nation cannot exist without the military? We were armed with the ideology of “we cannot exist with the nation.” Since you cannot live without giving rice to the military we had no choice but to give up the rice. I had to give rice to the military even though my daughter was unable to walk or crawl due to malnutrition.” Like Mr. Park, people are still in disbelief even at the news of no more giving rice for the military provision. Son Young-sun, a farm member in Baekam County, Ryanggang Province, said, “People clamored saying if the news was really true and hailed out of joy.” An official of Baekam County Ryanggang Province also confirmed people’s joy over the news saying, “I heard the sound of people hailing from several places at the farm when the news of no more rice collection for the military was announced.”

“Finally They Think of People”
Residents are thrilled at the news of ending the army provision and busy sharing the news full of hope. They have been quite discouraged by the fact that nothing has changed in their lives despite the political festivity of the convening of the Party Representatives after 44 years and the appointment of the new leader.

People are saying, “The government finally care about us” and anticipate more positive changes to come. They have been in so much distrust of the government, but now they see hope with the new announcement. Choi InHo (alias) from HyeSan City in RyangGang Province shares his thoughts: “The measure must be drawn from the fact that this year’s yield has dropped so much. If they continue prioritizing the army provision, there will be no way for people to live on with the left over. Wouldn’t that be the reason?” He positively interprets that this incident shows the government actually cares about the people.

Meat Support Obligation to the Military Also Lifted
It has been confirmed that the recent central party directive lifted the obligation to remit not only the grains but also the meat for the military. For the farmers who had, in the past, remitted additional crops to fulfill their responsibility to contribute to the cost of buying meat for the military, this recent relief would mean more food for them. This means that they now would have enough food to last them through next year’s lean months. Every year in March and April, the farmers would suffer because they would have run out of food already, and the collective farms would consequently experience a serious lack of workers because the farmers would all be out foraging for food. People might wonder that relieving the farmers of the meat support burden would make that much of a difference. But to the farmers, who had to always worry about what they would eat the next year, even one grain saved is a cause for happiness. “Usually, once we are done remitting our grain and meat obligations to the military, we would be less three months’ worth of food for our family,” said the farmers, unable to hide their joy. “This now means that we have three more months’ worth of food left.”

“At least now we can fill our bellies with potatoes.”
In Daehongdan County of Ryanggang Province, which traditionally produces lots of potatoes, the farmers would remit the equivalent of state-mandated amount of military grain and meat in potatoes. Since pork was expensive compared to the much cheaper potatoes, the already small allotment that each farmer was entitled to became that much smaller. Potatoes are 50 won per 1 kg, but pork is 4,000 won per 1 kg. This means that you needed 80kg of potatoes for just 1 kg of pork. To remit 14kg pork equivalent in potatoes, you needed one ton. As such, the 720kg of potatoes that a farmer receives for six months ended up being much less when the amount for the military meat support was taken out. It’s not for nothing that you hear that people hadn’t been able to fill their stomachs for the last ten years even with the plentiful potatoes. That’s why you are hearing the local residents shout with joy that, “At least, we can fill our bellies with potatoes.”

North Korea Today No. 371 October 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.]
___________________________________________________________________________
Delay in Flood Recovery in Soujin-ri
Flood Victims Leave Home, Seeking Help from Relatives after Halt of Food Supply
Delayed Construction of Shelters for Flood Victims in West coast
Children Suffering from the Flu during Early Cold Spell
Who is Responsible for the Aging War Veterans?
Veterans Committing Suicide to Avoid Burdening Their Children
___________________________________________________________________________
Delay in Flood Recovery in Soujin-ri
The recovery work from the flooding in neighboring areas of a collective farm in the Soujin-ri in Uiju County of North Pyongan Province has not been going well. In the case of the collective farm in Soujin-ri, the flood swept over crops (such as corn, sweet potatoes, and vegetables) and livestock (such as pigs, ducks, geese, and chickens). One fifth of the farms were completely or partially destroyed. Pillars from some of the houses were broken off and swept away, exposing their floors. Since farmhouses are made of mud, they easily collapse and become formless when there are heavy rains.

According to party officials in the county, the authority in charge had sent warnings about the heavy rains, but not many houses managed to move the kitchenware, appliances such as TVs and video players, food, and other possessions. As the heavy rains continued and the flood waters continued to climb, going from people’s knees to their thighs, many residents returned to their houses to save their belongings, which caused many of them to drown. Son Myunghee (alias), the head of a Neighborhood Unit, described the situation: “Those people who were saved by the Border Patrols barely survived but with no possessions. Nobody expected such heavy rain.”

Nothing was left after the flood swept over the area. Small land plots as well as larger farms were all damaged because of the flood. Members of the collective farm stated, “There is not enough food for the fall distribution, due to a lack of grain production.” People who lost their homes and assets including livestock due to the flood are powerless and frustrated. Although the collective farm and social service organizations have been building or repairing buildings for daycare centers and kindergartens, the lack of materials for construction, including cement, has been a problem.

The process of rebuilding houses, either half or completely destroyed, has also been slow. Although the government provided each house with 300 grams of cement for repairs, it’s not enough. The amount can only cover repairing the ondol, the floor heating system, and the kitchen wood-burning stove. Furthermore, there is no government support to farmers for construction materials other than cement. As a temporary measure, farmers are recycling the wood from destroyed houses and replacing the concrete blocks with soil mixed with sorghum. The government has provided a few pieces of clothing and blankets and small household items per household. However, it is far from satisfying the needs of the families since the government did not take into account the number of members per household.

Flood Victims Leave Home, Seeking Help from Relatives after Halt of Food Supply
Many households are resorting to sweet potatoes three times a day as their daily meals in the severely flood damaged areas of Loynggae-Li, Lyong woon –Li and Daewha-Li including Eujoo-gun. Most at risk are the households with children and the elderly. In the initial aftermath of the flood, the government provided flood victims with emergency food aid, but now, all aid has come to an end. The residents who have lost their homes and property from the heavy rains are experiencing difficulty in meeting basic needs, and the number of those leaving their homes to seek help from relatives is on the rise. The Central Government has ordered issuances of travel certificates, and in turn, the Regional Government is supplying travel certificate to allow them to be helped by relatives from further inland.

It is emphasized, even for the farmers, that if they can receive help from family relatives unaffected by the flood, they should do so. Even though this is usually a full mobilization period for the harvest season, the government’s permissiveness regarding travel reveals the serious threat this flood has posed to the livelihood of residents, not to mention the lack of crops to harvest. Since the government isn’t able to provide food to those affected, it’s at least allowing them to move around freely as a temporary solution.

In order to prepare for the expected shortage of food for the following year, residents are planting cabbage and radish, which they can mix and eat with other grains. They have overturned and plowed through the soil of the cornfields that have been destroyed by the heavy rains, and are planning to plant cabbage and radish in allotments of 700 pyung per household. For the next year, cabbage and radish are seen not only as supplementary food that they have traditionally been, but as a potential substitute for grains as a main staple, as it is too late in the season to plant grains. Supplying residents with plots, the Farm Management Council is actively encouraging cabbages and radish farming.

Delayed Construction of Shelters for Flood Victims in West Coast
Restoration in the flood-damaged area of the South Hwanghae Provincedue has been delayed due to a lack of building material. Restoration efforts for partially and totally destroyed homes in Oongjin Count, Baechun County and Ryongyeon County have been taking place for over a month, but the process is far from over. With the early arrival of cold weather, flood victims’ disappointment in restoration efforts is increasing. The County Party attributes the delayed recovery process to shortage in building materials and is asking for patience. As a consequence, residents have repaired the walls and roofs themselves, albeit imperfectly, and covered windows and doors with plastic sheets to prevent drafts. Those without access to plastic sheets have been forced to seek alternative materials. And those acutely suffering from food shortage cannot afford to start even thinking about building houses. Their only preparations for the winter are holes dug in the ground – a home consisting of a half dugout with a covering over it. In contrast, some government officials and those better off have moved into newly constructed houses and quickly settling in.

Children Suffering from the Flu during Early Cold Spell
There has been a sharp increase of people dying from the flu between mid September and mid October. In flood stricken areas in the West coast, children and elders are becoming particularly vulnerable as the temperature plummets. Starved and poor, families of the patients have difficulty paying for the medicine or give up treatment altogether. Infectious diseases like eczema and scabies broke out, and the number of victims of tetanus is also increasing. Local People’s hospitals and health officials of Emergency Prevention Command are only repeating that, while measures are needed to stop the diseases from spreading, it is difficult due to the lack of medicine.

Meanwhile, flood damage to the breadbasket areas exacerbated the already abysmal food situation. Farms in North and South Hwanghae Provinces, North Pyongan Province, and North and South Hamgyong Provinces are severely damaged by the recent heavy rain and lost most of the crops. Gangwon Province had the best corn crop in ten years, which ended up being damaged by landslides from the hills softened by the heavy rains. South Pyongan Province was fortunate to have no major damage and estimates an average harvest amount. In an attempt to prevent a soaring of food price and gouging, the Central Party banned sale and transportation of food nationwide, including by all trade companies and state enterprises.

Who is Responsible for the Aging War Veterans?
Korean War veterans, faced with threats to their survival from the stoppage of food distribution and lack of trade income in Pyeongseong, South Pyeongan Province, pleaded to the city council for relief.

Five war veterans including Kim Cheonil and Choi Myeonghak living in Jooraedong, Pyeongseong requested the city council to resume food distribution and provide substitute food to take care of the immediate hunger.

The veterans had been making a living by repairing shoes at a factory. Since the currency reform, they have had less work. The reduced workload has worsened the food situation, and they complained it was becoming harder to work due to hunger and asked for the party's assistance.

The city council members responded that food would be distributed and the veterans should return home and wait. After waiting a month since the veterans spoke to the council in August, they went to the party council of South Pyeongan province in September to raise the matter again.

"We've never suffered this much even before the war ended. But we're about to die because we can’t even grow corn in the modern 21st century," cried the veterans.

The Pyeongseong city council requested that the province council handle the issue. The province councils (including that of Pyeongseong) only frowned upon the request, saying that the council cannot give to some and not to others when everyone is in the same situation and they are being flooded by similar pleas.

This type of requests was rare before the currency reform, but inquiries have rapidly increased this year. The province councils do not have the capacity to respond to them.

The disagreement between the city council and the province council even led to shouting match arguing who is responsible for the war veterans.

Eventually, the city council gave up on receiving support from the province council and contacted the city food policy sector, ordering that it distribute ten days’ worth of food for war veterans, exceptional laborers, and the elderly pensioners.

Due to the shortage of corn, the city food policy sector was only able to distribute a mixed ration of half barley and half potatoes to barely meet the order.

Veterans Committing Suicide to Avoid Burdening Their Children
Suicide rates for destitute veterans wishing to avoid burdening their children are rising in Pyongsung and other places in South Pyongan Province. There have been over seven cases reported to the provincial party just in the last two months. Of course, those who have starved to death far outnumber the suicides. After the currency reform, young people are at least eking out a living but the elderly are just waiting to die. Their physical conditions make them unfit for working in the market. Due to extreme malnutrition, many old people are susceptible to death from common ailments, such as the cold or even diarrhea. Veterans who are over the age of 70 are feeling desperate as one veteran has expressed, “After the currency reform, living conditions have worsened and I am tired of living like this. I wish I could die quietly in my sleep.” A veteran cried as he said, “I want to die, but cannot when I think of my poor children. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

The government had at one time provided special benefits and reserved the utmost respect for the veterans and people who have distinguished themselves with service to their country. However, with the discontinuation of the daily distribution of 600g of food, veterans are unable to even afford 1-Kg of rice on their monthly pensions of 1,000 won each. This is causing widespread disappointment and resentment among the group. Older veterans have strongly expressed their disappointment. “I fought for my country when I was young and what is the reward for my sacrifice?” Another claimed, “In light of the desperate economic situation, who would devote their lives to a country that is not able to provide for the most basic human needs? Who would be willing to continue guarding the Dear Leader with a do-or-die spirit?” Jeong, Ho-sung (alias), living in Pyongsung, cynically stated, “This country does not care about its old veterans any longer so we don’t expect any changes from whoever becomes the next leader.”


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