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North Korea Today No. 457 May 30, 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.]
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“Furnish Party Funds to Buy Food” 
New Leadership Is Modifying Regulations Regarding Trade
Unprofitable Factories and Public Enterprises Undergoing Major Restructuring
Delay in Second Rocket Launch under Chinese and Russian Pressure
Students Exempt from Farming Mobilization
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“Furnish Party Funds to Buy Food” 
     Kim Jong-un, the First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, instructed the Ministry of Foreign Trade to furnish party funds to buy food actively. That was due to the decision that emergency food must be supplied in rural areas to make sure there is no setback in farming. An official in the Central Party says, “When (the First Secretary Kim Jong-un) asked a financial management officer why they could not import food in such a dire domestic food situation, he answered that they are experiencing difficulties in purchasing food because they do not have funds to pay for it. Then Kim Jong-un directly instructed him to furnish party funds to purchase food by saying, ‘who would give us goods if we are not paying for it? Make a prompt payment’.” Therefore, the Central Party furnished party funds to the overseas trade officers and assigned the task of procuring 100 tons of food per person. It instructed them to accomplish the task no matter what by the end of May. It also pressured every unit, organization, public enterprise and ministry of the cabinet to make a prompt payment through the People's Living Teams who have been sent abroad and to purchase food and daily necessities as soon as possible.


New Leadership Is Modifying Regulations Regarding Trade
     Since April 15, a series of instructions regarding the economy has been issued, one after the other, under the name of Kim Jong-un, the First Secretary. Since the end of last year, the North Korean authorities have been modifying its economic legal principles including labor laws regarding foreign invested companies. Accordingly, they have consulted international practices in managing economic trade areas and agreed to conform to the International Arbitration Commission’s rules regarding disputes. The Central Party also plans to take the initiative in attracting foreign investments for fear that they may end up being dependent upon the Chinese economy. Recently, it is also known that they are amending the rules and regulations regarding trade. “In order to eliminate the circumstances in which trade fails because the principal is not repaid in time with respect to trade between international traders, we are attempting to amend the rules and regulations of trade. We plan to establish a professional body to handle the situation in the event of trade disputes and conduct an integrated management within it,” says an official in the Central Party.


Unprofitable Factories and Public Enterprises Undergoing Major Restructuring
     The North Korean government will restructure factories and firms that are poorly-run and have not been profitable for a long time. Firms with foreign investment, that are unprofitable, will be included. The government will return money to foreign investors in factories and firms that are to be restructured. A Central Party official said, “The restructuring is to promote the nation’s economic development. If the government determines a restructuring is infeasible, it will either merge the failing organization or change the company’s product line(s). The goal is to pick firms and factories best able to survive and to concentrate efforts on improving them.”

Mines, a key source of foreign exchange revenue, are included. The government decided on restructuring because some powerful government entities – e.g., security departments, law enforcement agencies, Prosecutor’s office and Armed Forces – had ownership but, in its judgement, failed to make a tangible contribution to the economy as they attracted uncoordinated investments for foreign exchange revenue. One Central Party official opines that foreign investment might have helped the upper class, but it had not generated much profit for the nation. “The production environment deteriorates because investment, that should improve output, is mis-used by corrupt officials. Workers find poor shop-floor conditions. As a result, production suffers. With few exceptions, even mines are now banned from exporting. The government will compensate foreign investors and take full control of the selected firms and factories, to allow for more systematic development,” the official added.


Delay in Second Rocket Launch under Chinese and Russian Pressure
     The second launch of the rocket which carries Gwangmyongsong 3 is ready, but the launch is currently being delayed. An official in the Central Party reported that “We are just waiting for the order to launch it, but we don’t know when it will be launched given that we are under the pressure from China and Russia. We are thoroughly reviewing every aspect because we will be internationally shamed if it fails again. It all depends upon Comrade Kim Jung-un’s determination. The rocket will definitely launch, but it is likely we will report it to China.” That infers that North Korea is taking great care in the relationship with China that recently seemed to be distant. Despite their will for self-dependence, in reality, cooperating with China is required more than ever before in order to keep their regime.

A Central Party official said that “Our republic will face more serious difficulties if China doesn’t cooperate with us. The (Central) Party knows it. It has sent instructions to all agencies, enterprises, and units to abstain from any comment that could spark a dispute with China.” He also added that China has been pressuring North Korea not to make a disturbance about the issue of defectors at the border, and also not to conduct a nuclear test.    


Students Exempt from Farming Mobilization
     Students were for the first time excluded from the rural mobilization, began in May. First Secretary Kim Jong-un ordered, “Let students concentrate on their studies.” In Pyongyang, elementary, junior high school and college students were all exempt.  To compensate the lack of hands for plowing, harvesting and planting, the People's Army soldiers were instead mobilized.

Parents praised the decision saying, “The money needed for the rural mobilization of children had been a burden every year and parents suffered. This year, our children can concentrate on studying in school. In the past, it was impossible, so we are grateful to Comrade Kim Jong-un for his decision.”

Non-parent residents often say to each other: “The expectation (for the government) is rising higher and higher as we've seen favorable policies implemented recently. We can soon end the sufferings and afford to live well.”

In rural areas students are still being mobilized due to the lack of extra hands. Units, agencies, and public enterprises are also sent into rural mobilization under the slogan, “All for rural community.” The Central Party and the cabinet participate as well taking turns by dividing 2-3 shifts to avoid impediments to their business operation. Markets are also making adjustments according to their local circumstances by opening at 2 pm or at 6 pm, instead of the regular hour at 4 pm. The entire sectors supply manpower, resources, and materials (to agriculture) sufficiently upholding the supreme order that the food issue needs to be resolved with no excuse this year by farming successfully.

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