GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 452 April 25, 2012


[“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.]

The Ministry of Agriculture Orders Purchase of 200 Thousand Tons of Fertilizer

200 Million Dollars Allocated for Repairing Agricultural Equipment

North Hamgyong Province in Better State as Crisis Continues to Worsen Nationwide

“Do Not Ignore” the Hostile Remarks from North Korea, a North Korean Official Said

“The Possibility of North-South Dialogue Had Been Open since May”


“A Monk’s Earthly Mission: Easing North Koreans’ Pain”
by Choe Sang-hun (April 27, 2012, NYT)
Venerable Pomnyun, Chairman of Good Friends, speaks on North Korea Today in his recent interview with New York Times.  Follow the link to read the article on NYT’s website:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/28/world/asia/venerable-pomnyuns-earthly-mission-is-to-aid-north-korea.html?_r=1



The Ministry of Agriculture Orders Purchase of 200 Thousand Tons of Fertilizer

North Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture has ordered the Ministry of Foreign Trade officers stationed abroad to purchase 200 thousand tons of fertilizer.  There are about ten officers of the Ministry of Foreign Trade currently stationed abroad to buy agricultural input materials including fertilizer.  According to one officer from the Ministry of Foreign Trade, it has been virtually impossible to buy Chinese fertilizer, lately.  China, with a purpose of restricting fertilizer export, adjusted its import and export tariffs starting on January 1st this year, with a special tariff imposed during seasons of high demand.  The special tariff rate of 75% is imposed between January to May and again from October to December on a number of fertilizer products, including chemical fertilizers and ammonium chloride.  The Ministry of Foreign Trade officers are looking into buying Russian fertilizer, and it would cost one hundred million dollars just to purchase.  North Korea’s annual fertilizer need is approximately 500-600 thousand tons and its output is known to be about 50 thousand tons.  After construction of Hungnam Chemical Fertilizer Company, the output may have gone up to 100 thousand, but is still far below the amount needed.





200 Million Dollars Allocated for Repairing Agricultural Equipment

The Ministry of Agriculture allocates two million dollars for repairs of plowing tractors and other agricultural equipment that are aged or broken.  Most of the tractors found on the collective farms are not in good condition as they were mostly made in Russia back in the 1950s or 1960s.  The Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Foreign Trade are working hard to purchase tractor parts to make the most use of the existing ones.  However, one staff at the Ministry of Foreign Trade had stated that:  "Even in Russia, these parts are hard to find.  Due to the age of the equipments, there are very few people who recognize the parts, and we need to find retired mechanics to ask about the parts.  Many factories have been closed.  Even the ones that still make parts, unless it's a big order, they hesitate to commit as it may not be profitable.  We could buy new ones from China, but we have no money.  Although the archaic Russian tractors are not gas efficient, the machines are sturdy and strong as long as their parts are replaced properly, hence we continue to seek new parts in Russia."       





North Hamgyong Province in Better State as Crisis Continues to Worsen Nationwide

As deaths from starvation due to the ongoing food crisis continue to be reported across the country, one official of the Central Party had expressed concern that even in Pyongyang the food situation was worsening.  "The South and North Hwanghae Provinces currently have nothing to eat, not even plant roots.  People who have returned from those areas have said that there seemed to be more suffering than during the Arduous March.  Even the granary areas are so horrible, it is needless to state the severity of the food situation in other areas.  The mountain areas of Kangwon and South Hamgyong provinces have been in a food shortage for a long time, and the current food situation in Pyongyang is no better.  People are constantly dying across the country; furthermore, I’m afraid to even think about the number of lives that would be lost once the spring lean season befalls."  According to this official, the situation in the border areas is better than that of the interior.  The livelihood in North Hamgyong, Pyongan and Ryanggang Provinces is relatively easier, thanks to the peddler businesses with Chinese.  An official of the Central Party stated that:  "The country would reach a pivotal moment this Fall.  If there are no aids or no rations, it may lead to either deaths of a great number of people or a mass defection.  Depending on the Government's action or inaction, public sentiment can either turn against the state or remain calm."  He added that resolving the food crisis needs to be made the top priority of the new leadership.   





“Do Not Ignore” the Hostile Remarks from North Korea, a North Korean Official Said

The ferocity of North Korea’s declaration of war against South Korea is getting more aggressive.  The President Lee Myung-bak’s radio address and the series of anti-North Korea rally that had been held in Seoul before and after the 100th commemorative ceremony of the Day of Sun were picked as issues.



On the 13th, members of a conservative organization had an event of missile intercepting performance at Gwanghwamoon Plaza in Seoul; following this, college students from a conservative group held a flash-mob event censuring North Korea’s third hereditary succession and the likes on the 15th.  On the 16th, President Lee Myung-bak criticized North Korea’s Kwangmyongsong-3 launch in his radio address.



Through the statement by spokesperson of the People’s Army Supreme Command on the 18th, North Korea denounced the evil deed that dashes cold water on the celebration mood of the 100th Day of Sun and defiling the supreme dignity, and they escalated their degree of fury adding the comment, “whoever he is, wherever he is, a merciless revenge will be given upon him. Even if it is a center of Seoul, a special action will be conducted to blow the whole thing up.”  The next day, on the 19th, [North Korea] issued a statement that demands an apology for the serious crime that gravely blasphemed the Day of Sun in the name of government, political party, and organizations.  In this statement, [North Korea] points out the President Lee Myung-bak’s mentioning of the missile launch cost in his radio address on the 16th, and rebukes it as an “intolerable insult and most vicious provocation raising a fury.”  President Lee has said, “It is assumed that North Korea spent $850,000,000 directly on launching this (Kwangmyongsong-3).  With that much money, 2,500,000 tons of corn could be bought and 6 years of food shortage could be solved.”



On the 20th, the anti-South Korea protesting rally by the military and civilians of Pyongyang City was held at the Kim Il Sung Square.  At last, on the 23rd, the Supreme Command of People’s Army Special Action Unit predicted a provocation to South Korea by saying “Soon special actions of revolutionary power will commence.”



An official of the Central Party warned “not to ignore” the North Korea’s daily and continuing hostile remarks.  [According to him,] These are not an ordinary response.  Another Central Party official said, “The External Communication Unit and External Intelligence Agency had already received reports about the enemy’s move on February 16 Holiday and the 100th anniversary of the Day of Sun since end of last year, and they had sent letters to ask South Korean government to stop it through many channels.  We have been making it clear that we will even wage a war if South Korean government encourages rather than controls the anti-North activities by the groups mostly consisted of North Korean defectors,” and said that waging war is not a just political rhetoric.  Since the end of last year the North Korean Security Agency obtained information that anti-North activities will occur in both North and South at the same time by the anti-North organizations including the defectors group on 2.16 and 4.15 holidays, and they have been devoting their efforts on disclosing the spy connection in the country.  At the time, North Korea had warned, “Scattering fliers and setting up a broadcast for propaganda may be overlooked, but the anti-North rally can never be overlooked," and that they would consider it a war waging conduct.  





“The Possibility of North-South Dialogue Had Been Open since May”

One official of the Central Party criticized South Korean government’s bellicose attitude against the North Korea’s major agenda such as the recent Kwangmyongsong-3 launch, the memorial event of the Day of Sun, and the likes.  North Korea issued warnings several times by letter, and at the same time kept the door open for dialogues, but South Korea never accepted that, according to the official.  He said, “We were about to start the dialogue with them from May if South Korea government banned the anti-North activities acknowledging the gravity of the situation, but they ignored.”



He also said that the plan has been prepared already since the October of last year, even before the death of Chairman Kim Jong-il, that “Keep on the hard-line to South until April, then after the general election of South Korea, get into the soft-line by opening the window of North –South dialogue.”  He said that the further plans have been prepared by considering both domestic and international variables.  The Central Party official reported, “Our government thinks that Lee Myung-bak government intentionally irritates us to wage a war.  It will hold South Korean government responsible for local skirmishes if any of it happens in the future.”
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