GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 433 December 14, 2011

[“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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[Intro] Let us Begin a New Era of Cooperation
Kim Jung Un in Charge Since October 10
New Policies from Kim Jung Un's Political Team?
No Officials to Be Dispatched Overseas in January
Tracking Down Anti-government Organization Liasons
Crackdown on Domestic Liasons to Overseas Anti-NK Organizations
North Koreans Suffer from Starvation and Increased Restriction
Rice Price Now Over NKW 5,000 Per Kilogram

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[Intro] Let us Begin a New Era of Cooperation
North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that "The Chairman Kim passed away on December 17, 2011 at 8:30 a.m. due to accumulated physical and mental fatigue in the way while on the way to conduct a regional oversight guidancedue to accumulated physical and mental fatigue." On Dec. 20, the South Korean Government stated that "We offer our condolences to the people of North Korea regarding the passing of Chairman Kim Jong Il. We hope that the situation in North Korea will quickly stabilize so that there will be a South-North cooperation for the peace and prosperity of the peninsula." Despite the recent rumors of Chairman Kim's poor health, with his active involvement with local supervision guidance visits these days, his death came as a shock. We offer our deepest condolences for to the people of North Korea.

During Chairman Kim’s rule , there was a possibility for North-South reconciliation, but in the end, the confrontation between the two did not come to an end. Now, with his death, the era of confrontation must be put to an endconcluded, and a new era of mutual cooperation must begin. We shall not become uneasy aboutRather than becoming anxious over Chairman Kim's death; rather, we must create a new era of hope.

The world is currently being reorganized realigned into the G2 structure. To survive in this age of unlimited competition, South and North Korea must create a future of coexistence and prosperity. With an increased economic ties with South Korea, the North Korean economy can revive at a very fast rate. The South Korean economy will also benefit from the North Korean economic growth.

North Korean people are suffering from cold and starvation now. On top of it, t The mourning period for the death of Chairman Kim that put a stop to prohibited any market activities is aggravating , aggravating the suffering. The governments of North and South Korea must prioritize the alleviation of alleviating the suffering of 20 million people in North Korea.

The South Korean government must at once start humanitarian food aid to people in North Korea so that they can livesurvive. The North Korean government must protect the right to survival for its people and make progress in respecting human rights. Now the time has come to stop the long history of confrontation, mistrust, and hatred amongst the Korean people, and for South and North Korea to start cooperation for a future ofon the path of reconciliation reconciliation, coexistence, and prosperity. To do so is the only road way toward peace and reunification.


Kim Jung Un in Charge Since October 11
It is reported that the government has been operating under the leadership of Kim Jung Un since October 10. Chairman Kim Jung Il, because of health-related reasons, confined limited his attention to the himself into the task of maintaining the regime and overseeing party officials, and while Vice Chairman Kim Jung Un's political team exercised real power. However, Vice Chairman Kim stated that he "would not become the official national leader in Chairman Kim's lifetime."

The task of replacing the older generation of officials with new ones started in 2009, starting with from the Central Party's leadership; , and in 2010, it the changeover went through the local parties and legal institutions (the prosecution , and the court systems), and this year, there was a complete replacement of top officials and local party officials, who were already powerless by thenthis time. During this process, the people loyalmen of to Kim Jung Nam and Kim Jung Chul, as well as other people of influence that can could hinder the generational leadership change of the leadership, were eliminated purged from their positions. After this year's generational changethe wholesale changeover came to an end this year, Vice Chairman Kim Jung Un started being in charge of the government , only internally but, nevertheless, officially. This is was the time that Vice Chairman Kim's team came into life and started new national policies. However, because of Kim Jong Il's presence, they did not start policies that departed much from the existing ones.


New Policies from Kim Jung Un's Political Team?
The new political team of Kim Jung Un that came in life on October 10 of this year started new policies about general national management. The following few are examples of new policies that are already being implemented:

First, resolving the problem the electric shortage is the top priority.

Second, all the factories in the countries must be put into its full capacity and life essential goodss should be supplied normally at a normal rate in 2-3 years.

Third, next year's food supply must be ensured, prioritisingprioritizing Pyongyang, Hoeeoryong, officers in government institutions and local officialsgovernment officials, and all legal institutions and the army bases.

Fourth, all lawful institutions operating inside or outside of the country must concentrate their energy in the crackdown of anti-North Korea organizations overseas and those who have contacts with defectors. Border crossing must be eliminated by any means. All illegal cell phones must be confiscated and all cell phone users must be thoroughly investigated. Even those who were prosecuted before 2010 must be investigated again to eliminate all destabilizing factors in border areas.

Fifth, imports must be reduced, and foreign currency must be saved to be invested in important industries, including the defense industry, related to the goal of building a Strong and Prosperous Nation., including the defense industry.

Sixth, by 2013, the presence of foreign goods in the domestic market should be reduced into by half, and Chinese goods in particular should be limited. Gradually, foreign goods must be eliminated from the domestic market, and all markets other than the farmers' market should be reduced or eliminated by ensuring the satisfactory supply of goods domestically.

The political team of Kim Jung Un has implemented sub-policies to achieve these goals. In the case of electric power production, it ordered the ban of coal export, which is a main source of foreign currency. The coals that are exported to China are the ones that were sold obligated on prior contracts. From next January, all coal exports will be banned so that the coal will go to domestic power plants. The plan for increasing overseas workers for earning foreign currency is currently under consideration. Other "new" economic policies were mainly the ones that were attempted with the currency reform in 2009. With the failure of the currency reform, however, they were put into a halt; but, , and with the new political team of Kim Jung Un this time, the policies are being endorsed again, with the belief that "The only way out of long-term economic crisis is to develop the domestic economy despite the possible short term difficulties."


No Officials to Be Dispatched Overseas in January
Beginning in January 2012 for at least a month, officials will not be dispatched to their overseas offices in across all the government agencies, enterprises and trade companies. Those officials will not resume their work overseas until they study the detailed objectives and plans following the announcement of Joint New Year’s Editorial, observe birthday celebration of Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission Kim Jong-un (January 8), Korean New Year and February 16 holiday (birthday of late Kim Jong-il), and finally attend the general briefing for overseas officials.


Tracking Down Anti-government Organization Liasons
Recently, the North Korean security authorities have watched carefully the political movesactivities of defector organizations and anti-North Korean organizations overseas. Ministry of External Communication, Ministry of External Intelligence, National Security Agency and Guard Command Headquarters are closely watching each organization’s activities and making all-out efforts to track down their domestic liaisons. The authorities obtained the information that those organizations in foreign countries set February 16, the birthday of late Kim Jong-il, as ‘North Korean Defectors’ Day’ and will hold a wider coalition meetingconference of like-minded groups on April 15th, the 100th anniversary of late Kim Il-sung’s birthday. Particularly, the North Korean authorities are putting utpmost efforts to find domestic and overseas liaisons and eradicate treason these “treasonous” groups in order to prevent simultaneous anti-government North Korea activities in both Koreas.

Currently, the North Korean security authorities are reported to have figured out the personal personally identifying information of the members, schedules and activities of anti-North Korea and defector organizations overseas, but they have not been successful with locatingpenetrating the organizing organization structure lines preparing to act on the home front. A few who were caught so far turned out to be single lines, lone wolves and the authorities are working hard to identify important liaisonsinsider connections. The North Korean authorities decided that, should an anti-North Korea convention be hold next year, they will consider it as an act of provocation. The authorities are preparing themselves for the a worst case scenario. “We can close our eyes to the anti-government radio broadcasting, but this (the convention) we will not condone. If South Korean government does not take any action to stop it, we will consider it as an act of provocation and respond accordingly. Seoul needs to recognize the severity of the situation and stop the irritatingon actions of the organizations. Only then the Republic (North Korea) will join the North-South talk,” one official warned sternly.



Crackdown on Domestic Liasons to Overseas Anti-NK Organizations
It is reported that the North Korean authorities believe that behind the anti-North Korea activities of defector organizations and overseas organizations is Lee Myung-bak administration. They think there is a Lee administration’s calculation to provoke local clash by manipulating those organizations to instigate North Korea. Thus, staff officers of Kim Jong-eun pointed out anti-North Korea organizations made up of defectors as a security threat and indicated that it is more urgent to catch a thief at home than spies overseas. Among outside forces, the United States, more than South Korea and Japan, is regarded as a big threat. According to one official, North Korean authorities predict that “The fastest way for the United States to turn around their economy is through arms sale and production. If they start a war in the Chosun (Korean) Peninsula, they can conquer Chosun (the peninsula) and keep China in check, while saving their own soil from the ravages of war. Hence, there is a high possibility of them to take risky actions” and prepare to have a talk with U.S.



North Koreans Suffer from Starvation and Increased Restriction
While As North Koreans face the immediate risk of starvation of such scale as rivaling that of mid or late 1990s, the officials at local levels are deeply frustrated in by their inability to deal with it. Food ration and other aid provided by government are made available only to all of party and government officials, and continue to remain out of reach of ordinary people. The sharp drop in temperatures worsened the suffering from food shortage, giving rise to death from cold and starvation. Both Kangwon province and South Hamgyong Province reportedly began to see starvation, and about 10 people have reportedly died of hunger and cold during December in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province.

The Central Party, however, strengthened the security and tightened the restrictions on travelers in order to head off any hint of unrest. As part of its efforts to shut down communication between regions, (towns or areas?), the members of cell party members vowed not to reveal whatever happened in their own region s(towns or areas), and were reminded of punishment that would follow if they fail to keep to themselves whatever they knew about their region. Every day, all party cell agents members instruct Housewives ofhousewives belonging to Neighborhood Units, including the members of Democratic Women’s Union, not to communicate whatever happens in their own region to people of other regions, claiming that encouraging communication is part of plot by nation’s enemy. Harsh Stringent travel restriction is also in place.


Rice Price Now Over NKW 5,000 Per Kilogram
December has seen a drastic rise in food price. Till November, the rice price in major cities except for Pyong-yang ranged from 2,800 to 2,900 NKW/Kg. However, it went up by leaps and bounds beyond 5,000 NKW/Kg by the middle of December. In Pyong-yang where rice price had plunged to 3,300 NKW/Kg in November, it is now above 5,000 NKW/Kg. The pessimistic forecast that rice price would soar to 5,000 NKW/Kg by December without food import turneds out to be right. The exchange rate moved togetherin parallel to the rice prices. Black market dollar rate went up beyond 5,000 NKW.

Food price and dollar exchange rate in Pyongyang (November – December, 2011)
(Unit: NKW)





North Korea Today No. 432 December 7, 2011

[“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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North Korean Mineral Sources As A Win-Win For Both North And South Korea.
Crisis Over Fuel Shortage Put On A Brake On Coal Export.
Will Reducing Coal Exports Relieve The Power Crisis?
Life Of An Aged Coal Miner Couple
3000 Won For A Kilogram Of Rice In Pyongyang

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North Korean Mineral Sources as as a Win-Win for Both North and South Korea
The reason for the lagging production of coal in North Korea is due to the lack of electricity, aged facilities and infrastructure. Shortage of electricity supply causes ineffective production of coal, and without coal, it is impossible to run thermal power generators. Yet, the amount of coal export increased. Uncontrolled coal export will lead to electric power shortage. This is the reason why government put on the brakes on further coal exports. Also, investment in coal mines by China did not live up to the expectation. Even if the quality of coal is high, no business is willing to foot the bill to upkeep the road, arrange transport, and manage facilities and materials involved with coal mining and export. Furthermore, missing deadlines for delivery and doubling up supply contracts with different partners are affecting the mines’ ability to meet the demand. Without improving the system, attracting investment will be difficult, and without investment, productivity cannot be improved; further, the lack of domestic supply will not help electrical power shortage. This vicious circle, however, can be overcome. North Korean mineral sources are a god candidatre to serve as a platform for North and South cooperation. North Korean government should work on building trust among related parties by improving its convoluted system, and South Korean government should administrate North Korean resources with long-term goal.


Crisis over Fuel Shortage Put on a Brake on Coal Export
North Korean government started to put on a brake on the coal export in those cases where it has handed over its coal mining concession and administrative development rights to China. For more foreign currency, it has been exporting domestic coal supplies, but recently an awareness over the crisis of speedy coal depletion has been raised. It reduced the export amount of coal recently, which goes much farther than its original plans to merely curtail the awarding of more mining rights. The reduction in export cannot be confirmed clearly as contracted export deliveries still continue, but it is expected that coal export will drop to one-tenth of the current amount. One official in the Central Party said, “We are not proposing a ban or limit on resource export. This doesn’t apply to those companies tha already has contracts or has already been awarded mining rights. We have decided that minerals such as iron ore, bronze and silver are still open to investment bids, but we won’t be granting operational rights to the mines. We will see how this goes. But if we block everything, the source of foreign currency will dry up, so we limit the export limit only to coal. He also added that there is no other alternative option other than mineral export in this time of economic hardships.


Will Reducing Coal Exports Relieve the Power Crisis?
According to Party officials, the recent policy of reducing coal exports is in response to the worsening power crisis. The power shortage in North Korea has been exacerbated by the export of coals normally used for domestic consumption. There is no alternative way to address this issue. Higher productivity of coals mines cannot expected without foreign investments, and most of coals that are currently produced are sold to China.

One of the Central Party officials said, “To ease the severity of the power shortage, workers in power plants are working hard. But the plants are not fully operational because supplies for the facilities are not guaranteed, especially coals. The Central Party has demanded workers in coal mining industry to increase coals output. We know it’s not a perfect condition to produce more coals, but, as the only solution, workers are requested to work diligently with a sense of responsibility to the power crisis, rather than just being idle until working conditions get better. The Party insists on the workers to be the driving force of the Revolution. After all, it lies upon the workers. Even though we said that the coals supply to thermal power plants should be guaranteed, nothing has been changed as a policy, but reducing the export of coals has been just announced. We said that this is the necessary measures to relieve the shortage of coals for domestic consumption and fast exhaustion of coal reserves. However, the main reason is more likely that there is no actual investment in North Korea. Chinese investments focus just on the border area. Companies are actively investing in the border area since roads and railroads are constructed and electricity is easily supplied by the Chinese government, but it’s very passive in the inside of North Korea. It’s difficult to produce more coals without foreign investments. I am lost where and how we should start first since we have to address so many challenges before we to the power crisis”. He sighed hopelessly.


Life of an Aged Coal Miner Couple
Workers at the coal mines work day and night under life threatening circumstances regardless of age or gender The coal mines which are referred to as People’s Mines are extracted using labor teams organized by neighborhoods or families, who dig using vertical shafts as a unit. The dug up coals are called ‘self-coals’ or ‘People’s coals.’ Hak Sung Song, who turned seventy this year, mines for a living at a coal mine in Saebyul District, North Hamgyong Province. He is sought out among the youths for his ability to build shores while digging. Song can also detect locations of coal seams like no other. This sustains him because the young workers share their coals with him in exchange for his skills. His wife earns money by waiting by the pit’s mouth and transporting the extracted coal on her back. On their days-off, the couple sells their coal for profit. The neighbors view the old couple approvingly, praising them for the diligence they show despite their age.


3000 Won for a Kilogram of Rice in Pyongyang
Price of rice in Pyongyang shows no sign of going down from the current 3000 won per kilogram. A kilogram of rice was traded for as much as 3,800 won in early November. Corn cost 2,300 won, equivalent to the cost of the rice in other regions. The price usually falls around this time of the year as food is brought in from Hwanghae and South Pyongan Provinces, but this year the food production has taken a nose dive in North Korea’s granaries. The price remains around 3,300 won although the harvest has ended and the food has been brought in. Corn price on the other hand, has dropped drastically from 2,300 won to 1,300 won because corn is released in the market more frequently than rice. In North Hamgyong Province, which suffered less damage from the heavy rain, the price of rice dropped from 3,600 won to 2,900 won in Chungjin, and 2,700 to 2,800 won in Hoeryong. Corn is sold for around 750 to 760. Other provincial cities share similar prices.


Comparison of Pyongyang food prices and dollar as of late November, 2011
1 dollar 3,450
rice (kg) 3,200
corn (kg) 1,700

North Korea Today No. 431 November 30, 2011

[“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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[Intro] Supporting Overseas Representative Officers Will Ease the Trade
Overseas Representatives Returning Home Subject to Surprise Investigations
Chinese Travelers under 24-hour Surveillance
A Bad Year for Squid Fishing
Selling Vegetables Instead With Lack of Squid This Year

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[Intro] Supporting Overseas Representative Officers Will Ease the Trade

The overseas representative officers do not have a magic wand. They cannot create gold and silver by simply chanting, “Come out, gold; come out, silver.” One should not just impose each officer with the yearly contribution of 50,000 euros for the state’s food budget and badger them about not achieving the goal fast enough. They must find a way to stimulate the trade if they want the officers to secure more food. The aftereffects of inspection at the Ministry of Foreign Trade still continue to this day, and the most urgent issue now is to provide support for the officers working on the frontline of foreign trade. The ministry must have trust in its officials and let them make whatever deal with any business partner they may find. Trust must be given in order to demand loyalty from the officers; summoning them whenever they return to North Korea to conduct an investigation about their overseas activities only undermines their morale. At this point, it is necessary to examine whether the loyalty competition of the security officers is going too far, and if it is the case, stopping them from putting trade officials under too much scrutiny can help revitalizing foreign trade. The North and South Korean governments work together for economic cooperation as soon as possible, starting from the areas that are mutually beneficial. The mineral resources, or agricultural and fishery products of North Korea sold in large quantities to China at an absurdly low price is a disastrous loss for the nation. There are many ways for North and South Korea to coexist, and it is frustrating to see them perpetually in a confrontation that brings loss to both of them.


Overseas Representatives Returning Home Subject to Surprise Investigations

The officials at Overseas Representatives are put under surprise investigations upon their return to North Korea. An official who returned to Pyongyang the end of last month testified that when he arrived at Sinuiju, security officers who were waiting for him took him away for questioning.

“A black sedan came to the bridge, and asked me if I was so and so. When I said that was me, they told me to get in the car and I was taken to a government office building. I was taken into an empty room where a security officer suddenly asked me, “Okay, Comrade, I want you to tell me truth. How many South Korean people have you met until now?” When I said I had no idea what he was talking about, he suddenly became angry: “We know everything, Comrade, so it’s best to tell me everything when I’m in a good mood. Who did you meet, and how many times did you meet them?” I suddenly felt my heart sink. I wondered what they had heard about me, and because I could not pretend not to have met with any South Koreans, I said, “I met some South Korean people a couple of times at restaurants and tea shops.” I said I could not remember their names. When the security officer countered angrily that “it’s ridiculous to think that you don’t know their names after meeting with them several times,” I became angry. I too am in a position of responsibility and hold rank within the government, so I retorted, “Comrade, you are saying that I hung around South Koreans, but what are you basing these accusations on? Show me your evidence.”

The security officer responded by threatening to interrogate me somewhere else if I did not tell the truth. But seeing that they could not provide any evidence, I guessed that they were just putting on a show. With confidence, I replied, “I never met any South Korean people on purpose, nor have I hung around with them.” When the security officer countered with what I had said before about meeting South Koreans at tea shops and restaurants, I replied by saying: “I dined with some of them because they are working with fellow representatives of the Republic, and as for the others, I simply exchanged greetings with them while meeting colleagues in tea houses to discuss projects.” At this, the security officer threatened me again: “Are you crazy, Comrade? You clearly know that as a member of the party, you are forbidden from any unauthorized encounter with South Koreans, but not only did you meet with them on purpose, you also failed to report your contact with them. Think hard about who you met, and what you talked about, and tell me the truth!” In anger, I countered with the following: “Why are you really doing this? Comrades, you would not be saying these things if you knew about how people lived while they are overseas. If meeting with South Koreans is a problem, you would have to interrogate every single overseas restaurant manager and their employees about their daily encounters with South Koreans. Comrade, what in the world are you trying to do?” Some time after I told the security officer my place of work and rank, and that I would be filing a report to the main office, his attitude began to soften considerably. “Don’t misunderstand. I have just been asking these questions as a formality. You are not guilty of anything per se, but we have been ordered to thoroughly investigate all those living overseas who interact with South Koreans or who are involved in trade with the South. You told me yourself that you have been meeting South Koreans, so I was just asking these questions as a formality.”


Chinese Travelers under 24-hour Surveillance

Recently, the North Korean authorities have been putting some Chinese travelers who are in the country for a personal trip under a 24-hour surveillance. Among these Chinese travelers who entered North Korea this year, approximately 60 were arrested, and it is reported that some of them were released after admitting their charges and taking an oath to cooperate with the Security Department. An officer in the Central Party acknowledged that there are some Chinese (ethnically Korean) brokers who work as the informants for the Security Department. He said, “My understanding is that from April to the present, more than 100 people (North Korean defectors in China) were repatriated through the Chinese travelers who were released after agreeing to participate in the Security Department.” He said that even those who took the oath have probably paid more than 50,000 yuan in fine. He was reluctant to comment on the question whether the people who could not pay the fine, saying that “I do not know everything that the Security Department does. I do not know any further.” The inquiry was made through another officer, and it was found that there has been a series of deaths; a woman in her fifties was interrogated for espionage in the Security Department for more than 20 days and died from severe torture, and at least three people, including the woman, were dead.

A Bad Year for Squid Fishing

Winter is the season for squid fishing, but this year, the harvest is not as good as it used be. Some even say that there is no more squid in the ocean at all. Kim Kwang-oh (alias), a squid fisherman in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province, says, “It seems that the harvest decreases every year. Squid fishing is the only way I can earn my living. However, starting from a few years ago, the number of days without any harvest has increased. It is very difficult to see even a single squid this year. This year’s harvest is less than one-fifth of the last year’s.”

One city official states, “It is true that the number of squids have decreased, and the matter is made worse by Chinese fishing boats whatever squids that are left in the ocean. Our fishermen’s boats and their equipments are old, and they don’t function well. They are also short on oil; things are just not great for them. In contrast, Chinese boats function well, so they fish better. The fishermen also pointed out that the government’s tougher restriction on going out to the sea is another reason for the difficulty in squid fishing. It has become more difficult to get a certificate for the sea access, because there have been cases of North Korean fishing boats crossing the sea border to South Korea. All these factors have played their part in making this year the worst year for the squid harvest, to the distress of fishing villages.


Selling Vegetables Instead With Lack of Squid This Year
Shim Minhui (alias), from Undok, North Hamkyung Province, is a brave 25-year old woman who is the breadwinner of the family. She was looking after her father who was suffering from a liver failure until his recent death, as well as earning living to sustain her mother and her older brother. She has made living by selling whatever item that makes a profitable business. Around this time of the year in the past, she normally sold a lot of squids, getting it from fishing villages in Chongjin, Hoeryong, or Onsong. However, she says that this year is different: “This year I can’t afford squids, because the price went up so much with the lack of squids in the ocean. Now that I have to sell something different, I started selling vegetables which I grew at home to the Sunam Market in Chongjin.”

She also sells her neighbors’ crops as well. She says she had sold eggplants that cost her somewhere around 200-250 won in kilogram at a price as high as 700 won at Sunam market. The high retail price is due to the heightened demand for vegetables in late fall for making the reserve of kimchi for wintertime and this year’s dismal vegetable harvest. Vegetables are sold for more than double their usual price, sometime even triple, as long as there is a supply. Cucumber, normally priced at 150 won, is sold at 500-600 Won these days; and a green pepper, normally priced at 300-350, is sold at 700-800 won.

With a smile, Ms. Shim said that she is almost done paying back the 300,000 Won loan she had. She also said that she feels like she can sustain her three-person family as long as she can cover the cost for the ride to and from Chongjin. When asked about maintaining her official job, she answered that she was okay with her bribe payment of 20,000 won to her boss every month. “Selling squid is more profitable than selling vegetables. According to the fishermen, the next year is not likely to be any better, and it’s a source of concern for me that I might have to find alternatives to selling squids again next year,”said Ms. Shim.

North Korea Today No. 430 November 23, 2011

[“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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[Intro] Finding Confidence in the Regime Comes Before Banning South Korean Goods
Tough Crackdown on South Korean Goods
Young Women Sport Bolder Hairstyles and Fashion
Popularity of European goods in the Upper Class

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[Intro] Finding Confidence in the Regime Comes Before Banning South Korean Goods
The news of tough crackdown on South Korean goods brought a scene from the flim J.S.A: Joint Security Area (2000) back to mind, in which the North Korean Sergeant Oh Kyongpil becomes friends with Sergeant Lee Suhyuk and his men from the South, and together they share the music and food from the South, listening to Kim Kwangsuk’s songs, and sharing Choco Pie. Lee tells Oh that he could have as many Choco Pies as he wants if he defects to South Korea. Upon this comment, Oh spits out the snack from his mouth, and tells Lee that his dream is to see the day that his country makes a better Choco Pie than that from the South. Although it was a scene from a movie, there was something admirable about the pride that the North Korean soldier had about his country. However, if that pride about one’s country is only a product of constant crackdowns and inspections, maybe it would not be so admirable after all. Even putting the crackdown on South Korean goods aside, from the way that the North Korean state scolds young women about the way they dress claiming that it reflects their poor ideological moral, it seems clear that the state feels insecure about maintaining the regime. Before admonishing young women, the North Korean state must find confidence in its own regime. The only way to do so is to seek economic development through the cooperation with the South. A South Korean Choco Pie factory built in the North and its products being exported to Russia is an entirely possible dream. In that case, the North Korean public will support the regime, notwithstanding whatever clothes or hairstyle that they choose to have.


Tough Crackdown on South Korean Goods
In Pyongyang, since Jaunary of this year there has been a crackdown on South Korean goods, films, and video clips. It seemed to come to an end in June, but it re-started again in September and it is continuing on. This time, the crackdown effort was focused on border areas where there are customs. An official from Pyongyang says that it is a measure initiated by the concern that South Korean culture may spread wider. Not a long ago, the Central Party stated that the most powerful threat to domestic political stability, next to the food shortage and economic crisis, is the spread of South Korean ideas, culture, and goods, and that for the next three years, the crackdown on South Korean goods must be taken as seriously as the crackdown on border crossers. The Central Party is also meticulous about regulating the public’s fashion and appearance, cracking down on “the phenomenon of exotic clothes and hairdos.” Choi Yoonjong from Kwanghwa-dong, Haeju, South Hwanghae Province was caught by an officer “wearing an indecently twisted shirt, and pants that hideously cling to the body,” and had to endure a sermon that lasted for a long time. Soyong Kim, who works at a textile mill in Sinuiju, North Pyongan province was admonished for her long hair worn loose, and baggy trousers without pleats. The offier scolded her: “Do you not understand that one’s clothes and hairstyle reflect the person’s ideological moral? How am I to think of your ideological moral, with your exotic clothes and hairstyle that reflect no national pride?” The Central Party states that “To open the doors to the future as a Strong and Prosperous Nation, everyone has to work with a revolutionary fervor, and even in choosing their clothes and hairstyle, they must do it while being conscious about the societal demands of our time.” The abovementioned official said that the reason that the North Korean government orders that the crackdown on South Korean goods should taken as seriously as the watch on border crossers is that it is concerned about the ideological effect of the Korean culture and goods that came in during the time of active North-South cooperation on the younger generation.


Young Women Sport Bolder Hairstyles and Fashion
The recent strengthening of clothing regulation can also be attributed to increase in women’s desire for self-expression. The Station 3 and the neighborhood unit lectures also express frustration toward the women who adamantly refuse to obey the societal dress code. “We were lectured about not wearing exotic clothes yesterday. They started the lecture saying that ‘we shall discuss about the evil trend engulfing the women nowadays,’ so I thought it would be about something really serious. Then, they talked about a woman who was caught growing her hair to her waist and dying it brown. After the lecture, older women seemed astonished at the strange things done by the youth, but younger women were complaining about the ridiculousness of these regulations. The lecturer seemed so frustrated that women wouldn’t get rid of their exotic hairstyle and clothes,” said Han Mi-ok, a recent graduate of Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies.

Han says such lectures are counterproductive because they give young women ideas about the latest trends in fashion. Young women take note of the examples of dress code violations as a way to find out what is in trend these days, using them as fashion inspiration. They are also put at ease knowing that there are those who make more bolder fashion choices.

“We come across many strangely dressed women during crackdowns. Their numbers have gone up. I usually patrol the Botong-kang area, and once I caught a woman wearing skin tight pants and black rimmed glasses that weren’t made in our country. At first I thought she was a foreigner so I let her go. But I took a second look at her and found out that she was indeed Korean. Other officers were deceived by her appearance too. She told me she lived in Moranbong. I admonished her, asking her if she was out of her mind, but she showed no signs of remorse, claiming other women dress like her too,” said a police officer in Pyongyang. Joo Miyong, a resident of Seosung was also caught wearing tight pants and a shirt with English writing. She was harshly scolded for lying the police that she’s from the overseas. The police officers claim that they were almost tricked into believing her at first, because she spoke in a Japanese accent. Still in doubt, they continued to question her until she eventually told the truth. “She was released with only a warning, but she would have faced harsher penalty if she pretended to be from South Korea,” added the police, and said that South Korean accent is widely spread among the young women as well.


Popularity of European goods in the Upper Class
The recent trade inspects has had the effect of changing the variety of imported goods in the North Korean market. The difficulty importing Chinese goods from the trade inspections created market for goods from other countries. According to Jang Haksung (alias), a traveling salesman supplying imported goods to business in the Jung district, Pyongyang, the ratio of goods from Europe and Southeast Asia has gone up with the difficulty in importing Chinese goods. European goods are expensive, but their high quality attracts mid- and high-level officials in Pyongyang into purchasing them. Goods from Thailand used to be considered as the better ones among those imported from Southeastern Asian countries, but the damage from the recent flood in Thailand put a halt to the import, causing a shortage in Thai goods. Jang added that the lower middle class households are the main consumers of Chinese goods, which are cheap but of a poor quality. Some middle class families purchase goods from Southeast Asia, while upper class families purchase European goods, which are the most expensive. European goods, even a simple bucket, have a better design, quality, and durability. They are, however, far too expensive, and only a few can afford them. According to a law enforcement officer in the market, there had been no order to restrict the circulation of goods from Europe or Southeast Asia, meaning that they are freely traded in local markets. However, compared to Chinese goods, there are fewer imports from these regions, making them not easy to find in markets. Some government officials voice the idea that the Central Party might be trying to expand the number of countries from which North Korea imports goods, as a measure to prevent Chinese good overtaking the domestic market, and to reduce the North Korean dependence on China in general. The analysis on this rise of European and Southeast Asian goods is that they are filling the gap created by the complete ban of South Korean products and the import of Chinese goods limited by the active trade inspection these days.

North Korea Today No. 429 November 16, 2011

[“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.]
___________________________________________________________________________
[Intro] Tough Crackdown on Border Crossers is Not the Answer
Extreme Sea Border Control Against North Korean Refugees
“Tight Control Was Foreseen after the Execution of Ryu Gyeong”
Capital Punishment Now Possible on Food Crimes
Overcoming the World Food Crisis with Willpower?
A Fierce Competition over Offices at the Ministry of Foreign Trade After the Inspection

___________________________________________________________________________

[Intro] Tough Crackdown on Border Crossers is Not the Answer
After the frequent occurrences of sea border crossers these days, the North Korean government now allows on-the-spot execution for defection attempts. Every year the crackdown on cell phone users and border crossers was an important task. This year, with the tightened border control on the land, there has been an increase of people who attempt to cross the sea border with the replacement of the border patrol and regional security officers. It is especially noteworthy that that there have been a substantial number of defectors from Hwanghae-province, where the food crisis this year is at its worst, because it signifies that if the food crisis issue remains unresolved, border crossing in a mass scale such as the one during the mid- and late 1990s can happen again. A scenario as such is the North Korean government’s worst nightmare. However, it is impossible to overcome the crisis by relying on the power of the gun. The only reason that hundred thousands of people attempted to cross the river during the Arduous March was that they wanted to live. No military power can deter the will to live. The only fundamental solution is to supply food. The North Korean government must immediately stop shooting its own people, and make all possible efforts at securing food supply. The South Korean government must take note of the sufferings of people who cross the border risking their lives, and make sure that there will be no more tragic deaths as such.


Extreme Sea Border Control Against North Korean Refugees
After experiencing frequent occurrences of defection attempts on the sea this year, the North Korean government intensified its border control to maximum. The government delivered a strict order that any ship that attempts to go out to the sea without permission from the Security Department or the Guard Command must be seized, and people in the ship who do not obey the orders or try to flee can be executed on the spot. In addition to the sea border, the areas in vicinity to the land border are tightly controlled to allow no border crossing.

One of the officers in the central government said, “Border control centers were notified that if necessary, guards can execute people who try to cross the border on the spot and file an official report afterwards.” The reason behind the drastic measure is that the number of family-unit border crossers has been going up, and there is a concern that an even greater number of people will try to escape when the river freezes. The central government delivered orders to the local governments to devise strategies to prevent border crossing and make a weekly report on the progress.

The biggest victims of the stricter border control are smugglers, who used to cross the border relatively easily, with their connections with officers in the Security Department and the Guard Command. Choi Jungkeum (alias), who has traded South Korean movie DVDs illegally in Hyesan, Ryanggang province for a long time, said that the current border situation “gives [him] chills.”

Smugglers like Choi Jungkeum have struggled to build connections with new officers in the Security Department and the border patrol who came to replace the old ones after the round of inspections last August, and they find the new officers harsher and less flexible than the old ones in terms of organizational operation, regulations and human relationships. With their harsh and merciless approaches, people hardly dare think of crossing the border these days. Another smuggler, Cho Hyuk (alias) said that it is not an exaggeration to say that nine out of ten previous officers in the Security Department went to prison, and the rest were suspended or sent to remote areas. He also said that “The new officers are working so hard that smugglers like me, cell phone users, and border crossers – we are all paralyzed with fear.” Almost 3,000 people who used cell phones in North Hamkyong’s border areas were arrested and investigated. There are more than 10,000 people who were investigated for charges including corruption, smuggling, assistance in border crossing, contact with South Korean culture and people, and drug trafficking, and more than 3,000 were sent to re-education centers and disciplining centers. People found with major crimes charges in local security departments are handed over to the General Guard Headquarters for further in-depth investigations.


“Tight Control Was Foreseen after the Execution of Ryu Gyeong”
With intensifying government control in border areas, it seemed that some officers of the Central Party were disturbed by the extent of strictness in recent policies. They have expressed their concerns over the fact that the firm determination of the highest leadership to deter border crossing at any cost may overheat the competition between the newly appointed Safety Bureau officers to demonstrate their loyalty. They think that the reign of terror may be effective for a short while, but rampant firing of gun in a long run may provoke people to revolt. Some argue that the seed for a future revolt has already been planted with the secret execution of Ryu Gyeong, the former Vice Minister of the National Security Agency (Colonel General of North Korean People’s Army) in January, 2011, and the downfall of people in his inner circle. The execution of Ryu, also known as “The Ryu Gyeong Affair,” was not just about the execution of one high-ranking officer; rather, it symbolized the generational shift within the center of political power in North Korea. Ryu was the symbol of those who used to maintain and manage the state system on the front line, such as the officers of the People’s Safety Agency and the National Security Agency, who were swept away in a flash with his execution.
A Central Party officer said: “After the Ryu Gyeong Affair, the Security Department and Safety Bureaus nationwide were investigated thoroughly, and the party began a general purge, starting with high-rank regional officers. To prevent people from noticing what was going on and then running away to a foreign country, they suspended the targeted officers from their dutie and tightened the surveillance to make sure that they remained in their region. Their subordinates were transferred to other regions, so that they would not be there to cause trouble when their superiors were removed - nipping a potential rebellion in the bud. Charged with various offenses, those who had faithfully worked for 30 years under Ryu Gyeong’s administration in important positions were eliminated, and the officers in the Security who were thought to be affiliated with this faction were also discharged. By executing Ryu Gyeong, they discharged the old workers in Security Departments nationwide, and thus accomplished a fast generational shift. It seems like the newly ascended officers are eager to immediately surpass the accomplishments made during the days of Ryu Gyeong. Although it is tough work, investigation on North Korean defectors and mobile phone users is an area where one can achieve the most outstanding result if it is done properly. With the power of immediate punishment given to the new leadership, the world will be at their disposal.” He expected that the tightened control will continue for a while.


Capital Punishment Now Possible on Food Crimes
In addition to allowing on-the-spot execution for border crossing, the Central Party has also warned that food crimes can also result in capital punishment. Food crimes include theft and illegal transaction of agricultural crops. A Central Party official remarked that there is a nationwide inspection on ideological discipline, and out of one hundred offenses on the list, thirty of them are classified as political crime. Political crime includes corruption, border crossing, usage of cell phone, smuggling, long-term absenteeism, lack of participation in the labor force, circulating illegal DVDs including South Korean movies, circulating South Korean goods, and drug dealing. Among these crimes, usage of Chinese cell phones in particular is investigated by the Security Headquarters. “Permitting capital punishment for food crimes is the expression that they will now be considered as serious an offense as political crimes”, said the Central Party official. On the other hand, the Central Party has repeatedly ordered not to waste even one grain during threshing. The point that the government tries to make is that this is an important year for opening the doors for being a Strong and Prosperous nation, and in order to resolve the food crisis, threshing should be done has to be as quickly as possible, and not even a single grain should go to waste in the process.


Overcoming the World Food Crisis with Willpower?
North Korean government authorities have been emphasizing the importance of crop harvest and rice threshing, and they have tried to convince the public that the current food crisis is caused not just by domestic problems, but by the world food crisis. Associating domestic food crisis with world food crisis has been going on for several years now, but Central Party officials say that the association is particularly emphasized this year. On government official said, “It means that the food shortage this year is that bad. But it’s been several years since we started blaming external conditions for the domestic food crisis, and now people are fed up with it, making the state’s promotional work difficult.” A government official who just gave a lecture on the topic at a cooperative farm in Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province, said that people don’t even listen to a word he says these days. The public sentiment seems to be that they are fed up with such lectures, especially with their very livelihood at risk at this point. Although people do accept the idea the current food crisis is related to the world food crisis to some degrees, the reaction from the public is cold when comes to the exertion that they must persist and finish threshing successfully by using sheer mental force. “Maybe it’s just the way I feel about the audience reaction, but in any case, I don’t want to continue this kind of lecture anymore,” he complained.

Following is an excerpt from his lecture:
“The current food crisis that has been affecting the whole world is very serious. Even countries that normally export grains control the distribution of grains and limit the export. The current reality proves to us that we have to be self-sustainable in terms of food with strong agriculture on our land. We cannot emphasize the importance of the thresh process enough in this time of a worldwide crisis. To ensure a timely completion of threshing, we must make sure that the threshing machines run well. Work shifts should be arranged thoroughly to prevent any misalignment. It is also important to prevent the loss of electricity by with regular examination and maintenance. All these projects should be led by the strong willpower of the people.
Many collective farms, including Dongbong Cooperative in Ham South Hamkyung’s Hamju country, are continuing to thresh in the face of fuel shortage by burning woods and using the gas from it to run the threshing machine. These collective farms in various places have been fully exerting the revolutionary spirit of self-sustenance in the midst of difficulties. We have to learn from these cooperatives, and do out absolute best on every threshing floor. The only way to solve the food crisis for our people will be to strengthen our farming and fill up the grain reserve of out fatherland.”


A Fierce Competition over Offices at the Ministry of Foreign Trade After the Inspection
With the generational change among high-ranking officials that followed the inspection at the Ministry of Foreign Trade now complete, the replacement of lower-ranking managers has begun. New faces have been appearing, with previous officials being discharged or relocated into less important offices. The competition for the position handling foreign currencies in particular is fierce. It is especially the case for trading companies located in Pyongyang, because it is easy to go overseas from these places. Many try to get a spot, even an entry-level position, in these companies, by utilizing personal connections and paying an enormous sum for bribes. Meanwhile, the new officials in important offices at the Ministry of Foreign Trade accept a bribe and try to fill lower-level manager positions with their own people. Although the old officials were discharged with the pretext of corruption charges, corruption is rampant in hiring new people. An official who was replaced during the inspection of the Ministry of Foreign Trade said, “This proves that new generation of officials with their passionate display of loyalty are in fact not that much different from us. It wasn’t about getting rid of corruption. It was about the generation replacement by their own people.”

North Korea Today No. 428 November 9, 2011

[“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.]
___________________________________________________________________________
[Intro] There is a way to prevent loss of grains
Station 3 Focuses on the Issue of Threshing
Grain Losses While Threshing
Despite Asking Farmers to have a sense of ownership…
With Stricter Border Controls, Chinese Villages Lack Farmhands
Hard to Cross the Boarder with No Cellular Phones

___________________________________________________________________________

[Intro] There is a way to prevent loss of grains
A significant loss of grains in the process of threshing is said to be present. The effort to minimize grain loss has started in the context of reduced crop prospects due to the damages from the flood that hit rice producing areas. However, questions remain over how effective an effort that’s limited only to ideological disciplining of the workers could be. Station 3, which exposes in detail and sternly criticizes who did what wrong in which farm focuses on heightening the sense of ownership among farmers in order to halt the loss of grains. Farmers, in turn, ask the government why electricity is not provided. While criticizing workers for not demonstrating enough sense of ownership, the government is failing to fulfill its own responsibility. Working on their own private plots on a priority basis in order to avoid hunger is the reality faced by farm workers. If farming on private plots is banned, there will be more stealing and smuggling of grains from the threshing process. A fundamental solution for ensuring the supply of food is needed. There is a way: permitting private farming will do it. The South Korean government and the international community, seeing the willingness on the part of the North Korean government to resolve the food shortage, will provide agricultural supplies and technology. The food shortage in North Korea can only be resolved by a fundamental restructuring of the society aimed for an increased food production.


Station 3 Focuses on the Issue of Threshing
With the harvest season coming to an end, the threshing process has started. Not only is the significant reduction in crop from the last year’s worrisome, but also posing a problem is the loss of grains in the period between harvest and threshing. Farm workers, regular citizens mobilized for agricultural production, soldiers – everyone in the sight is fighting tooth and nail to pilfer and smuggle as much rice as possible. To move sheaves of rice, cars are a necessity, and farms that cannot afford vehicles or shipping charges resort to using ox carts. Using an ox cart means rice sheaves are left in the field for days and stolen easily as a result. Even when there are guards on watch for the rice day and night, the rice gets stolen in any case by the guards themselves. When it rains, the situation is even worse, and it is not uncommon that rice gets wet from rain and goes bad.

The North Korean government has emphasized the importance of threshing via Station 3, and made pointed criticism toward specific cases, making a focused effort to warn people. Station 3 is the cable radio broadcast, which deals with internal propagandas with special importance, national issues that the government does not want to be revealed to the outside world, and foreign affairs explained to North Korean citizens. In contrast to the Korean Central Broadcasting Station (Station 1) and Radio Pyongyang (Station 2) directed mostly toward South Korean audience, Station 3 is only for the North Korean audience. The following is an excerpt from Station 3’s criticism on Dong-am Cooperative Farm in Sunchon, South Pyong-an Province, where sheaves of rice that did not get moved to the threshing floor got wet from rain, causing loss of grains:

“A few days ago, at Dong-am Collective Farm in Sunchon City, we were surprised to see the amount of crops harvested by the work unit 4. It had rained since the night before in the field, and we saw all rice paddies filled with water to ankle level. The rice plants, with or without supports, were flooded and destroyed from the wind and rain. The situation at the threshing floor was far worse. The threshing machines were outside under the rain, disabling threshing altogether despite the fact that electricity was available. The lack of a plan for preparation caused the rain to flood the rice plants. When we asked the managers of the threshing floor about where the workers were, they said that the workers were given a break since there was no work to be done because of the rain. The rain had already stopped at that point, and it was well after 3 p.m., but there were no workers on the site except for two security men. It was clear to us that at Unit 4, there was no one who cared about the fact that the rice sheaves were drowned in rice paddies, and the threshing machines and harvested rice were wet from rain.

We would like to question Lee Chansil, the head of the work unit 4 at Dong-am Collective Farm, for his actions. We citizens are harvesting with our minds set on the goal of making a strong and prosperous country; why aren’t those workers doing the same? Neither the lack of workers nor distance was a problem in this case.

We have inspected four work units at Dong-am Collective Farm in Sunchon city. At the nearby 6th Ryonpo Collective Farm, sheaves of rice were already moved to the side of the road to avoid getting wet from rain, and they were stacked up and covered. Also, they applied a double plastic thin film in order to keep the rain in the field of threshing. The different attitudes of Mr. Lee Chansil at Unit 4 at Dong-am Collective Farm in Sunchon, and Mr. Chun Sangbong at the Unit 6 at Ryonpo, make a striking contrast. It is not even the case that they are in different cities. They are located next to each other, but the difference is huge. The difference between the two work units shows that Mr. Lee and the workers at Unit 4 at Dong-am are working unwillingly not with a sense of ownership. This is the time when we need to put forth our best efforts, but some people regard their labor as a burden, and not with a revolutionary fervor, and thus they lost our hard-earned grains from rain without feeling any remorse.

In the end, the leader of the work unit, Mr. Lee, did not have any sense of ownership for the grains and the threshing floor, and thus had no interest in saving the grains from getting wet from rain and mud. On the other hand, we think the problem also lies in the management at Dong-am, including its head manager, Mr. Moon Hyangsik. If managers at each work unit could have been extremely careful and prepared for the rain, things would have been different. In particular, Unit 4 is very noticeable being located right beside the road, so it is obvious that workers did not even give it a glimpse at the field while it was raining heavily.

Workers at Dong-am collective farm at Sunchon city should renew their resolve. A powerful nation can be only achieved victoriously through the mind power and patriotic resolution from workers to be the owners of the country. Farm workers must consider themselves as problem solvers, so they need to do their best. We need to attain victory through grain production as one with high spirit and resolution.


Grain Losses While Threshing
Grain losses continue even after the sheaves are moved to the threshing floor from the field. Although farming villages are supposed to have priority in getting electricity during the threshing season, the lack of machines and poor supply of electricity slows down the threshing process. During the slow threshing process, there are many who steal rice by sheave. On Station 3, listeners were reminded of the importance of the threshing process with Anheung Farm and Daeyang Farm of Pyongyang’s Sunan district pointed out as bad examples.

“One way the lack of ownership manifests itself in Unit 3 of Anheung Farm is the rough treatment of rice sheaves during threshing. Because of negligence in picking out the ears of rice from straw stacks after threshing, 10 to 12 ears of rice gets left on average on a stack of straws. Despite such a big loss of grains, the workers in this unit, without any remorse, proceeded to use the straw stack with ears of rice still on it for other purposes, and piles it on top of manure for composting. In Daeyang Farm, the process of threshing was equally rough. Unit 2 at Daeyang also had more than ten ears of rice left on a stack of straws, which the unit nevertheless sent to the livestock and the vegetable farming unit.

This phenomenon at Anheung and Daeyang demonstrates how the members of these farms are not trying their hardest at filling up out nation’s rice reserve. Could you say that those workers at Anheung Farm, who do nothing about more than ten ears of rice being left on a straw stack, are working patriotically to ensure the supply of rice for our nation? There is no loss of grains more regrettable than to lose them from the negligence during harvest after long and hard spring and summer days of raising rice plants. However, at Anheung and Daeyang, such a loss does not seem to be minded, which casts doubt on the prospect of making this year’s harvest into a success. The failings at Anheung and Daeyang is partly to be blamed on the unit workers not fulfilling their duty, but a more fundamental problem lies in the shortcomings of the managers at the farm. If the managers made sure to take a proactive role for the harvest, and prepared the farm workers mentally with good planning and leadership, a disaster as such would not have happened. In other words, if the managers had set a good example, the harvest would not have been the way it is now (...)”


Despite Asking Farmers to have a sense of ownership…
The North Korean government is also having trouble with farmers who have no sense of ownership in its collective farms. Through Station 3, the government has fiercely criticized the farmers winding up their workday on their own before the end of a work shift at a collective farm in Rajinpo, Yonan County, South Hwanghae Province, in the peak of the threshing season. The government made a resentful statement: “How can all farmers possibly leave their working place before the end of their shift? What could they have possibly been thinking?” The government also stated with anger that the farmers should have stayed at work until the electricity was back, rather than just leaving, risking missing the chance of utilizing the threshing machine when the power comes back. The bottom line was that every worker should work with a sense of responsibility in collective farms. The government delivered a warning that the farmers will have to use a treadle thresher if they continue not to put in their best effort.

Whenever criticized as such by the government, workers express their agony. “We know that there is nothing wrong in what the government says, but with everyone suffering from hunger pangs, who is going to use all their energy up in collective farms instead of tending their own private plots? Even though the government promises a preferential supply of electricity to the threshing floors, we have more days without electricity than with electricity. Nobody knows when the electricity is going to come back. In such uncertain circumstances, who will just stay and wait for the electricity? Don’t you think that it makes sense that we work in our own private plots if there is no electricity instead of just waiting for it to come back?” The workers would give their best effort if they get to keep whatever they harvested themselves at collective farms, but the ration that they get usually isn’t even sufficient for half a year’s food, and using that to pay back the food debt incurred during the spring season, there is not much to be left. Naturally, people put most of their energy and time into cultivating their private plots. One collective farm worker says that the best that the government can do is to allow private plots for the farm members, and that no amount of criticism and disciplining through Station 3 would change anything. The following is quoted from Station 3:

“Those who threshed grain beforehand should have worked with a determination to keep threshing until the rotational shift arrives. Nevertheless, the farm members’ state of mind has been so lackadaisical to the point that the entire members of the threshing group just stopped their work and went home. Currently, every worker in the country is greatly helping and leading each other in order to fully open the gate of the strong and prosperous nation for those who come after them; in such a circumstance, how can Rajinpo Collective Farm in Yonan County show such a pathetic attitude with their terrible teamwork, and by going home carelessly even though the next shift did not come and not coming to work on time for their shift? Furthermore, even though we are in a difficult situation with the power shortage, the state is trying to secure electricity in the farming areas by all means these days to ensure that this year’s crop will be harvested as soon as possible; under such circumstance, how can they do such a pathetic job on threshing floors? How can you act so nonchalantly about threshing, instead of trying to maximize the use of the limited time when electricity is available? Have you already forgotten about the times when we toiled using the treadle thresher during the Arduous March? Also, you can still using the treadle thresher while waiting for electricity, and try to make a more efficient use of time to get as much threshing done as you can.

Choi Youngbin, the Chief of the Management Committee at Gwanyoung Collective Farm in Songhwa County, and Oh Dongsik, the Chief of the Management Committee at Rajinpo Collective Farm in Yonan County, demonstrate poor ideological moral and bad work behavior. We must ask them whether they have any patriotic spirits at all to have a good harvest and resolve the food problem. We must ask whether the people like them who caused disruptions in the threshing work because they cannot even do a single organizational work are worthy to be managers. The reason that Choi Youngbin and Oh Dongsik failed in their leadership is simple. It is because they have a poor ideological moral; harvesting this year’s crop well is an important task in resolving this year’s food problem, but they did not take the matter as that of life and death in supporting the future of Socialsm; instead, they just saw it as routine farm work, and in the hope to do the least amount of work possible, did not even do the organizational work properly. We all must learn the important lesson from these bad examples. The quality of organization and leadership in harvest determines the crop yield. Those whose names were mentioned above must keep in mind that they are in charge of their respective farms and do their hardest to collect the crops into the nation’s grain storage without wasting a single grain, by scrupulous organizational work and a firm sense of ownership. Every worker in the agricultural sector of each region must put effort to improve the farm work organization so that they can contribute to resolving the nation’s food problem by reaping a splendid harvest this year.”


With Stricter Border Controls, Chinese Villages Lack Farmhands
The consequences of stricter border patrols have affected the Chinese farming villages along the border between North Korea and China. Every fall, North Koreans have traditionally sneaked across the border into China to earn wages. However, this year almost all border crossings into China have ended. During the harvest season Chinese farmers usually hired North Koreans to work as farmhands to compensate for the lack of Chinese labor. It is not that no one crossed the border this year, but there was a dramatic reduction in the number of people doing so, less than 20 percent of the previous years. Like China, North Korea is also mobilizing its farmers for border patrol, making the border security much stricter. The Chinese farmers have expressed regret about the lack of North Koreans coming in for work. Jo Jung-geum Jo (alias), an ethnic Korean with Chinese citizenship living in Changbai, said “After working them for a couple of days we paid them a few hundred yuan and they said ‘we’ll be back next year’ and they went back home happily. They were tremendously happy even if we gave them clothes that we no longer wear at home. They worked so enthusiastically that we almost wanted them to stay and continue working for us. This year it has been hard to find laborers to the end of the harvest season. Last year, they came in groups of two or three, or in larger groups of five or six, going from a house to another, working. But this year hardly anyone had North Koreans coming in at all. Many said that they had difficulty finding help for their farms. Choi Sunghee, an ethnic Korean woman who says that she has hired North Koreans many times, said that she had trouble finding them this year. She also said, “If we gave them old clothes, bean paste, red chili paste, or rice, they were so happy that their families would not have to starve, but I don’t know how they’re going to make it through this winter. We were more worried about how those people will survive than the work we have left to do at home. So we often find ourselves glancing over the other side of the river. Over the years, we grew very fond of them. When we think of all the suffering they will have to go through just across the river, we feel sorry for them.”

Now that the harvest season is over, there has been a large decrease in workers. One person who has been helping the North Koreans for a long time said, “There have been more Kottjebis (street beggars from North Korea) this year. The kids cross the river looking like ghosts and their nutrition has gotten visibly worse. I think that these days there are more North Koreans who don’t plan on going back to North Korea after crossing the river. There is so much crackdown and hardship over there these days that no one wants to go back.”


Hard to Cross the Boarder with No Cellular Phones
According to one government official in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, the main reason for the difficulty in crossing the border to China during the harvest season was due to a complete confiscation of cellular phones from security agents. A strict border security and new security agents who replaced the previous agents made it hard to cross the border, and moreover, seizing cellular phones from agents has eliminated the tool by which border security guards and defectors used to arrange safe times to cross the border, especially when coming back to North Korea. The official said, “Every year many people had gone to China to earn money during the planting season and the harvest season and then came back, but this fall, there weren’t many who did so. I heard from them that they earned 200 Yuan and were able to live through the winter on it. I am not sure how people will survive this winter since they couldn’t go.”

He also said, “The Chinese usually overlook North Koreans working illegally unless someone intentionally reports them to the authoritie so that they wouldn’t have to pay them, but, in most cases, they didn’t report them because they were in need of their labor. However, North Koreans didn’t even try to go to China this fall because of new border security agents and the prospect of severe punishment. I wanted to help them to cross the border, but it was impossible without a cellular phone to find out when the best time to let them cross the border was. People are very upset by the fact that they lost a valuable income source. ”

North Korea Today No. 427 November 2, 2011

[“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.]
___________________________________________________________________________
[Intro] There is a way to prevent loss of grains
Station 3 Focuses on the Issue of Threshing
Grain Losses While Threshing
Despite Asking Farmers to have a sense of ownership…
With Stricter Border Controls, Chinese Villages Lack Farmhands
Hard to Cross the Boarder with No Cellular Phones
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[Intro] There is a way to prevent loss of grains
A significant loss of grains in the process of threshing is said to be present. The effort to minimize grain loss has started in the context of reduced crop prospects due to the damages from the flood that hit rice producing areas. However, questions remain over how effective an effort that’s limited only to ideological disciplining of the workers could be. Station 3, which exposes in detail and sternly criticizes who did what wrong in which farm focuses on heightening the sense of ownership among farmers in order to halt the loss of grains. Farmers, in turn, ask the government why electricity is not provided. While criticizing workers for not demonstrating enough sense of ownership, the government is failing to fulfill its own responsibility. Working on their own private plots on a priority basis in order to avoid hunger is the reality faced by farm workers. If farming on private plots is banned, there will be more stealing and smuggling of grains from the threshing process. A fundamental solution for ensuring the supply of food is needed. There is a way: permitting private farming will do it. The South Korean government and the international community, seeing the willingness on the part of the North Korean government to resolve the food shortage, will provide agricultural supplies and technology. The food shortage in North Korea can only be resolved by a fundamental restructuring of the society aimed for an increased food production.

Station 3 Focuses on the Issue of Threshing
With the harvest season coming to an end, the threshing process has started. Not only is the significant reduction in crop from the last year’s worrisome, but also posing a problem is the loss of grains in the period between harvest and threshing. Farm workers, regular citizens mobilized for agricultural production, soldiers – everyone in the sight is fighting tooth and nail to pilfer and smuggle as much rice as possible. To move sheaves of rice, cars are a necessity, and farms that cannot afford vehicles or shipping charges resort to using ox carts. Using an ox cart means rice sheaves are left in the field for days and stolen easily as a result. Even when there are guards on watch for the rice day and night, the rice gets stolen in any case by the guards themselves. When it rains, the situation is even worse, and it is not uncommon that rice gets wet from rain and goes bad.

The North Korean government has emphasized the importance of threshing via Station 3, and made pointed criticism toward specific cases, making a focused effort to warn people. Station 3 is the cable radio broadcast, which deals with internal propagandas with special importance, national issues that the government does not want to be revealed to the outside world, and foreign affairs explained to North Korean citizens. In contrast to the Korean Central Broadcasting Station (Station 1) and Radio Pyongyang (Station 2) directed mostly toward South Korean audience, Station 3 is only for the North Korean audience. The following is an excerpt from Station 3’s criticism on Dong-am Cooperative Farm in Sunchon, South Pyong-an Province, where sheaves of rice that did not get moved to the threshing floor got wet from rain, causing loss of grains:

“A few days ago, at Dong-am Collective Farm in Sunchon City, we were surprised to see the amount of crops harvested by the work unit 4. It had rained since the night before in the field, and we saw all rice paddies filled with water to ankle level. The rice plants, with or without supports, were flooded and destroyed from the wind and rain. The situation at the threshing floor was far worse. The threshing machines were outside under the rain, disabling threshing altogether despite the fact that electricity was available. The lack of a plan for preparation caused the rain to flood the rice plants. When we asked the managers of the threshing floor about where the workers were, they said that the workers were given a break since there was no work to be done because of the rain. The rain had already stopped at that point, and it was well after 3 p.m., but there were no workers on the site except for two security men. It was clear to us that at Unit 4, there was no one who cared about the fact that the rice sheaves were drowned in rice paddies, and the threshing machines and harvested rice were wet from rain.

We would like to question Lee Chansil, the head of the work unit 4 at Dong-am Collective Farm, for his actions. We citizens are harvesting with our minds set on the goal of making a strong and prosperous country; why aren’t those workers doing the same? Neither the lack of workers nor distance was a problem in this case.

We have inspected four work units at Dong-am Collective Farm in Sunchon city. At the nearby 6th Ryonpo Collective Farm, sheaves of rice were already moved to the side of the road to avoid getting wet from rain, and they were stacked up and covered. Also, they applied a double plastic thin film in order to keep the rain in the field of threshing. The different attitudes of Mr. Lee Chansil at Unit 4 at Dong-am Collective Farm in Sunchon, and Mr. Chun Sangbong at the Unit 6 at Ryonpo, make a striking contrast. It is not even the case that they are in different cities. They are located next to each other, but the difference is huge. The difference between the two work units shows that Mr. Lee and the workers at Unit 4 at Dong-am are working unwillingly not with a sense of ownership. This is the time when we need to put forth our best efforts, but some people regard their labor as a burden, and not with a revolutionary fervor, and thus they lost our hard-earned grains from rain without feeling any remorse.

In the end, the leader of the work unit, Mr. Lee, did not have any sense of ownership for the grains and the threshing floor, and thus had no interest in saving the grains from getting wet from rain and mud. On the other hand, we think the problem also lies in the management at Dong-am, including its head manager, Mr. Moon Hyangsik. If managers at each work unit could have been extremely careful and prepared for the rain, things would have been different. In particular, Unit 4 is very noticeable being located right beside the road, so it is obvious that workers did not even give it a glimpse at the field while it was raining heavily.

Workers at Dong-am collective farm at Sunchon city should renew their resolve. A powerful nation can be only achieved victoriously through the mind power and patriotic resolution from workers to be the owners of the country. Farm workers must consider themselves as problem solvers, so they need to do their best. We need to attain victory through grain production as one with high spirit and resolution.


Grain Losses While Threshing
Grain losses continue even after the sheaves are moved to the threshing floor from the field. Although farming villages are supposed to have priority in getting electricity during the threshing season, the lack of machines and poor supply of electricity slows down the threshing process. During the slow threshing process, there are many who steal rice by sheave. On Station 3, listeners were reminded of the importance of the threshing process with Anheung Farm and Daeyang Farm of Pyongyang’s Sunan district pointed out as bad examples.

“One way the lack of ownership manifests itself in Unit 3 of Anheung Farm is the rough treatment of rice sheaves during threshing. Because of negligence in picking out the ears of rice from straw stacks after threshing, 10 to 12 ears of rice gets left on average on a stack of straws. Despite such a big loss of grains, the workers in this unit, without any remorse, proceeded to use the straw stack with ears of rice still on it for other purposes, and piles it on top of manure for composting. In Daeyang Farm, the process of threshing was equally rough. Unit 2 at Daeyang also had more than ten ears of rice left on a stack of straws, which the unit nevertheless sent to the livestock and the vegetable farming unit.

This phenomenon at Anheung and Daeyang demonstrates how the members of these farms are not trying their hardest at filling up out nation’s rice reserve. Could you say that those workers at Anheung Farm, who do nothing about more than ten ears of rice being left on a straw stack, are working patriotically to ensure the supply of rice for our nation? There is no loss of grains more regrettable than to lose them from the negligence during harvest after long and hard spring and summer days of raising rice plants. However, at Anheung and Daeyang, such a loss does not seem to be minded, which casts doubt on the prospect of making this year’s harvest into a success. The failings at Anheung and Daeyang is partly to be blamed on the unit workers not fulfilling their duty, but a more fundamental problem lies in the shortcomings of the managers at the farm. If the managers made sure to take a proactive role for the harvest, and prepared the farm workers mentally with good planning and leadership, a disaster as such would not have happened. In other words, if the managers had set a good example, the harvest would not have been the way it is now (...)”


Despite Asking Farmers to have a sense of ownership…
The North Korean government is also having trouble with farmers who have no sense of ownership in its collective farms. Through Station 3, the government has fiercely criticized the farmers winding up their workday on their own before the end of a work shift at a collective farm in Rajinpo, Yonan County, South Hwanghae Province, in the peak of the threshing season. The government made a resentful statement: “How can all farmers possibly leave their working place before the end of their shift? What could they have possibly been thinking?” The government also stated with anger that the farmers should have stayed at work until the electricity was back, rather than just leaving, risking missing the chance of utilizing the threshing machine when the power comes back. The bottom line was that every worker should work with a sense of responsibility in collective farms. The government delivered a warning that the farmers will have to use a treadle thresher if they continue not to put in their best effort.

Whenever criticized as such by the government, workers express their agony. “We know that there is nothing wrong in what the government says, but with everyone suffering from hunger pangs, who is going to use all their energy up in collective farms instead of tending their own private plots? Even though the government promises a preferential supply of electricity to the threshing floors, we have more days without electricity than with electricity. Nobody knows when the electricity is going to come back. In such uncertain circumstances, who will just stay and wait for the electricity? Don’t you think that it makes sense that we work in our own private plots if there is no electricity instead of just waiting for it to come back?” The workers would give their best effort if they get to keep whatever they harvested themselves at collective farms, but the ration that they get usually isn’t even sufficient for half a year’s food, and using that to pay back the food debt incurred during the spring season, there is not much to be left. Naturally, people put most of their energy and time into cultivating their private plots. One collective farm worker says that the best that the government can do is to allow private plots for the farm members, and that no amount of criticism and disciplining through Station 3 would change anything. The following is quoted from Station 3:

“Those who threshed grain beforehand should have worked with a determination to keep threshing until the rotational shift arrives. Nevertheless, the farm members’ state of mind has been so lackadaisical to the point that the entire members of the threshing group just stopped their work and went home. Currently, every worker in the country is greatly helping and leading each other in order to fully open the gate of the strong and prosperous nation for those who come after them; in such a circumstance, how can Rajinpo Collective Farm in Yonan County show such a pathetic attitude with their terrible teamwork, and by going home carelessly even though the next shift did not come and not coming to work on time for their shift? Furthermore, even though we are in a difficult situation with the power shortage, the state is trying to secure electricity in the farming areas by all means these days to ensure that this year’s crop will be harvested as soon as possible; under such circumstance, how can they do such a pathetic job on threshing floors? How can you act so nonchalantly about threshing, instead of trying to maximize the use of the limited time when electricity is available? Have you already forgotten about the times when we toiled using the treadle thresher during the Arduous March? Also, you can still using the treadle thresher while waiting for electricity, and try to make a more efficient use of time to get as much threshing done as you can.

Choi Youngbin, the Chief of the Management Committee at Gwanyoung Collective Farm in Songhwa County, and Oh Dongsik, the Chief of the Management Committee at Rajinpo Collective Farm in Yonan County, demonstrate poor ideological moral and bad work behavior. We must ask them whether they have any patriotic spirits at all to have a good harvest and resolve the food problem. We must ask whether the people like them who caused disruptions in the threshing work because they cannot even do a single organizational work are worthy to be managers. The reason that Choi Youngbin and Oh Dongsik failed in their leadership is simple. It is because they have a poor ideological moral; harvesting this year’s crop well is an important task in resolving this year’s food problem, but they did not take the matter as that of life and death in supporting the future of Socialsm; instead, they just saw it as routine farm work, and in the hope to do the least amount of work possible, did not even do the organizational work properly. We all must learn the important lesson from these bad examples. The quality of organization and leadership in harvest determines the crop yield. Those whose names were mentioned above must keep in mind that they are in charge of their respective farms and do their hardest to collect the crops into the nation’s grain storage without wasting a single grain, by scrupulous organizational work and a firm sense of ownership. Every worker in the agricultural sector of each region must put effort to improve the farm work organization so that they can contribute to resolving the nation’s food problem by reaping a splendid harvest this year.”

With Stricter Border Controls, Chinese Villages Lack Farmhands
The consequences of stricter border patrols have affected the Chinese farming villages along the border between North Korea and China. Every fall, North Koreans have traditionally sneaked across the border into China to earn wages. However, this year almost all border crossings into China have ended. During the harvest season Chinese farmers usually hired North Koreans to work as farmhands to compensate for the lack of Chinese labor. It is not that no one crossed the border this year, but there was a dramatic reduction in the number of people doing so, less than 20 percent of the previous years. Like China, North Korea is also mobilizing its farmers for border patrol, making the border security much stricter. The Chinese farmers have expressed regret about the lack of North Koreans coming in for work. Jo Jung-geum Jo (alias), an ethnic Korean with Chinese citizenship living in Changbai, said “After working them for a couple of days we paid them a few hundred yuan and they said ‘we’ll be back next year’ and they went back home happily. They were tremendously happy even if we gave them clothes that we no longer wear at home. They worked so enthusiastically that we almost wanted them to stay and continue working for us. This year it has been hard to find laborers to the end of the harvest season. Last year, they came in groups of two or three, or in larger groups of five or six, going from a house to another, working. But this year hardly anyone had North Koreans coming in at all. Many said that they had difficulty finding help for their farms. Choi Sunghee, an ethnic Korean woman who says that she has hired North Koreans many times, said that she had trouble finding them this year. She also said, “If we gave them old clothes, bean paste, red chili paste, or rice, they were so happy that their families would not have to starve, but I don’t know how they’re going to make it through this winter. We were more worried about how those people will survive than the work we have left to do at home. So we often find ourselves glancing over the other side of the river. Over the years, we grew very fond of them. When we think of all the suffering they will have to go through just across the river, we feel sorry for them.”

Now that the harvest season is over, there has been a large decrease in workers. One person who has been helping the North Koreans for a long time said, “There have been more Kottjebis (street beggars from North Korea) this year. The kids cross the river looking like ghosts and their nutrition has gotten visibly worse. I think that these days there are more North Koreans who don’t plan on going back to North Korea after crossing the river. There is so much crackdown and hardship over there these days that no one wants to go back.”

Hard to Cross the Boarder with No Cellular Phones
According to one government official in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, the main reason for the difficulty in crossing the border to China during the harvest season was due to a complete confiscation of cellular phones from security agents. A strict border security and new security agents who replaced the previous agents made it hard to cross the border, and moreover, seizing cellular phones from agents has eliminated the tool by which border security guards and defectors used to arrange safe times to cross the border, especially when coming back to North Korea. The official said, “Every year many people had gone to China to earn money during the planting season and the harvest season and then came back, but this fall, there weren’t many who did so. I heard from them that they earned 200 Yuan and were able to live through the winter on it. I am not sure how people will survive this winter since they couldn’t go.”

He also said, “The Chinese usually overlook North Koreans working illegally unless someone intentionally reports them to the authoritie so that they wouldn’t have to pay them, but, in most cases, they didn’t report them because they were in need of their labor. However, North Koreans didn’t even try to go to China this fall because of new border security agents and the prospect of severe punishment. I wanted to help them to cross the border, but it was impossible without a cellular phone to find out when the best time to let them cross the border was. People are very upset by the fact that they lost a valuable income source. ”
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