GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 434 December 21, 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 ((KCNA) reported that " Chairman Kim passed away on December 17, 2011 at 8:30 a.m. due to accumulated physical and mental fatigue while on the way to conduct a regional guidance." On Dec. 20, 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 peace and prosperity of the peninsula." Despite recent rumors of Chairman Kim's poor health, with his active involvement with local guidance visits these days, his death came as a shock. We offer our deepest condolences 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 concluded, and a new era of mutual cooperation must begin. Rather than becoming anxious over Chairman Kim's death, we must create a new era of hope.

The world is currently being 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 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 North Korean economic growth.

North Korean people are suffering from cold and starvation now. The mourning period for the death of Chairman Kim that prohibited any market activities is aggravating the suffering. The governments of North and South Korea must prioritize the alleviation of 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 survive. 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 on the path of reconciliation, coexistence, and prosperity. To do so is the only 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, limited his attention to the task of maintaining the regime and overseeing party officials, 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 the Central Party's leadership; in 2010, 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 this time. During this process, people loyal to Kim Jung Nam and Kim Jung Chul, as well as other people of influence that could hinder the leadership change were purged from their positions. After the wholesale changeover came to an end this year, Vice Chairman Kim Jung Un started being in charge of the government internally but, nevertheless, officially. This 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 essential goods should be supplied at a normal rate in 2-3 years.

Third, next year's food supply must be ensured, prioritizing Pyongyang, Hoeryong, government officials, 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.

Sixth, by 2013, the presence of foreign goods in the domestic market should be reduced by half, Chinese goods in particular. 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 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, 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 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 activities 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 conference of like-minded groups on April 15th, the 100th anniversary of late Kim Il-sung’s birthday. Particularly, the North Korean authorities are putting utmost efforts to find domestic and overseas liaisons and eradicate these “treasonous” groups in order to prevent simultaneous anti-North Korea activities in both Koreas.

Currently, the North Korean security authorities are reported to have figured out the personally identifying information of the members, schedules and activities of anti-North Korea and defector organizations overseas, but they have not been successful penetrating the organization structure preparing to act on the home front. A few who were caught so far turned out to be lone wolves and the authorities are working hard to identify important insider 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 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 irritating 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 rivaling that of mid or late 1990s, officials at local levels are deeply frustrated by their inability to deal with it. Food ration and other aid provided by government are made available only to 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, cell party members vowed not to reveal whatever happened in their own regions, 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 members instruct housewives 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. 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 Pyongyang 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 Pyongyang 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 turned out to be right. The exchange rate moved in parallel to the rice prices. Black market dollar rate went up beyond 5,000 NKW.

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