GoodFriends: Research Institute For North Korean Society

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North Korea Today No. 460 June 20, 2012


[“Good Friends” aims to help the North Korean people from a humanistic point of view and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean people live as accurately as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]
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Food Rations Suspended for Families of Police and Security Officers
An Official in South Hwanghae Province Tearfully Pleads for Emergency Food Supplies
“Hwang-geum-pyong Development Project Is Unlikely to Proceed”
Illicit Trading Continues Despite Bans on Marine Product Trade Between China and North Korea
Okryu-gwan Restaurant Jumps into Foreign Currency Earning Business
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Food Rations Suspended for Families of Police and Security Officers
     As North Korea’s food crisis intensifies, even the Police Department cannot provide food rations to employees’ families. With an exception of Pyongyang, food ration is given only to police officers; their families get nothing. The concerns of provincial security officers and police officers are rising. A police officer in Pyongsung, South Pyongan province said, “We used to be able to keep six months worth of food, but these days we barely have a month supply. I can handle not getting a ration for myself for a month if my family gets the food ration. However, even people like us have difficulties if there is no ration for the families.” Some security officers are openly pessimistic, thinking that they will be given the overdue rations when the food crisis is resolved. “If someone believes that he will receive the overdue portion of food ration someday, then he is simply naïve. We could be dead by the time arrears of rations are provided. At this point, the only way we can survive is by making money any way we can.”          


An Official in South Hwanghae Province Tearfully Pleads for Emergency Food Supplies
     Day-by-day, food shortages grow worse in South Hwanghae Province. A Haeju City official expressed frustration repeatedly: suffering – due to chronic food shortages every year since the mid-2000s – is worse than during the Arduous March. He tearfully appealed for food aid: “Because of severe flood damage in 2007, there were many starvation deaths during 2008’s “Spring Hardship Season”. Officials were scared by the rise in the number of deaths. On top of that, we were hit by floods in 2008. Since we have to provide rice to the military – and so send rice to the military before distribution – two straight years of poor harvests left farms with little to distribute. Worse yet, after 2008, output has been far from adequate, trapping farmers in a vicious cycle of starvation. Living on the edge of starvation, farmers are too weak to start work this year. Hundreds of tons of food, released by the Central Party for emergency relief for farmers, are not enough to matter, given an already-critical situation. Further, months of severe drought have left fields completely dried-out, so planting is futile. Farmers are mentally and physically exhausted: nothing can motivate them. No words can describe the seriousness of this crisis. I feel like begging people to see for themselves and earnestly ask for help.” 


“Hwang-geum-pyong Development Project Is Unlikely to Proceed”
     An official in Sineuiju, North Pyongan Province, affirmed that projects at Hwang-geum-pyong and Wi-hwa-do are unlikely to proceed.  Because no work had been done under the Authorities’ plans, farmers started to plant rice at these sites. “Chinese will not invest, having concluded that profits will be slim. Chinese investors say the situation is very different from that at Kaesong Industrial Park. Chinese firms cannot control the workforce. Further, the Chinese government does not protect them against the risks involved. By contrast, the South Korean government backs-up companies in the Kaesong industrial Park, e.g., with money and other help. A Central Party official offered a similar analysis. “Our government thinks we should pursue the development of Hwang-geum-pyong and Wi-hwa-do, despite the lack of progress so far. Chinese statements suggest they want to invest, but think that is not really the case. Their priority is to build the New Amrok River(also called Yalu river) Bridge, to ease trade in goods and manpower.”


Illicit Trading Continues Despite Bans on Marine Product Trade Between China and North Korea
     It seems North Korea and China are measuring each other’s strength in a conflict over the import and export of marine products. In June, China issued an order to suspend the import of marine products from North Korea. This was a big blow to all North Korean workers from the Ministry of Fisheries and to trade officers, since their revenue stream will be immediately cut off if marine products cannot be exported. North Korean government officials are wondering whether the sudden ban is not an act of retaliation for the incident a month earlier in which the North Korean military seized a Chinese fishing boat. A government official from Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province said, “Officials from the Dandong Department of Fisheries told us that from now on they wouldn’t import any marine products from North Korea. When I asked why, they snapped, 'You’re asking us this when you already know yourself?' Because of this, our marine products and foreign currency earning businesses have suffered a serious setback. Our province in particular has many trade companies that handle marine products, and tension there is high.”

In fact, it is the North Korean government that first prohibited the export of marine products. Last April 15, after the Day of the Sun festival ended, the First Chairman Kim Jong-un issued an order, stating, “The people have nothing to eat, so from now on do not export marine products.” The intention was to use marine products for domestic consumption, but there weren’t many enterprises that acted accordingly. They are reluctant to relinquish one of the few business opportunities to earn foreign currency. The more difficult legal trade becomes, the more illegal trade is bound to prosper. One Central Party official predicts, “While China and our government continue to squabble with each other, saying, 'We won’t import' or 'We won’t export', illicit trading will continue.” Meanwhile, the Ministry of Fisheries also expects great losses due to the import and export bans of both countries. With export to China in mind, the Ministry of Fisheries has been investing much in the cultivation of shellfish and shrimp in the tidelands of the Yellow Sea coast.


Okryu-gwan Restaurant Jumps into Foreign Currency Earning Business
     The famous Pyongyang Okryu-gwan Restaurant, a pride of Pyongyang and known as the best maker of traditional food, has eagerly joined the foreign currency earning business. Pyongyang Okryu-gwan is the top restaurant in Pyongyang, where people dine on foods such as Pyongyang nangmyun (cold noodles), Pyongyang onban (warm noodles), and green bean pancakes. In the past, the restaurant’s business model was to serve Pyongyang citizens, from which it acquired its reputation as “the Grand Hall of Serving the People”. Theoretically, typical Pyongyang citizens could receive a ticket (a kind of meal coupon) to eat there, dispensed in order to exemplary families. These tickets are so popular they are sold at high prices in black markets. However, these tickets do not actually go to average citizens because officials and wealthy people usually manage to keep them for themselves. Moreover, as Okryu-gwan has started its foreign currency earning business in recent days, the opportunities for the general citizen to eat there are now even fewer.

One official of the Central Party said, “Pyongyang Okryu-gwan extended its second floor in order to serve more foreign customers. Previously, foreign customers could eat only in a small space on the second floor. As a matter of fact, the Koryo Hotel started its foreign currency earning business first, with a nangmyun (cold noodle) restaurant for foreign customers. Later Okryu-gwan came forth to compete with Koryo Hotel for foreign customers. Okryu-gwan charges $3.00 for nangmyun soup because this is the price the Koryo Hotel charges, and tray noodles is $4.50. I received a bill of $10.00 for a double order of tray noodles and green bean pancake the last time when I went there with foreign customers. The bottom line of the Party is that Okryu-gwan operates its business for the benefit of Pyongyang citizens not for the sake of earning foreign currency. Currently, it appears they are quietly extending their business to attract foreign currency without official permission.”

North Korea Today No. 459 June 13, 2012

[“Good Friends” aims to help the North Korean people from a humanistic point of view and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean people live as accurately as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]
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The Price of Land in Rasun Tripled in Recent Years
Maintenance Work on Wonjongli – Rajin Road to be Completed This Summer
Judicial Leniency towards Foreign Investors
The Families of Anti-Japan Freedom Fighters at the Top of the List for Moving in to 100,000 Residential Housing Complex in Pyongyang
Young CEOs in their 40’s or 50’s are Busy Looking for Chinese Traders
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The Price of Land in Rasun Tripled in Recent Years
     Land prices in North Korea’s Rasun district are reported to have tripled in the past two years. Since last year’s increase in investment by China and Russia, the land price is rising accordingly. In particular, after securing the rights to build docks No. 4, 5 and 6 in Rajin port as well as securing the right to the ports for fifty years, China decided to invest in airports for passengers and freights, a thermal power plant and railways. An official from Rasun says that the rise in land price in Rasun was to be expected given the level of foreign interest in Rasun for investment. “To encourage foreign investment, banks started offering loans using buildings or land as collateral. This is the most welcome news to the people who had invested in Rajin by building factories there.  It is because even after a lot of land purchase, factory building, and investment, the rate of return was not too good and the investors had been suffering from lack of funds. Now, if foreign investors offer land or buildings as collateral, they can get loans from the bank. However, they have to pay up to two-thirds of the collateral’s value as interest.” In Rasun, it is easy to spot restaurants or stores run by Chinese, and people from Russia or other countries are seen occasionally as well.


Maintenance Work on Wonjongli – Rajin Road to be Completed This Summer
     The maintenance work on the road that connects Hunchun, China, to Wonjongli and the port of Rajin is expected to be done by this summer. As of this June, about two-thirds of the work is completed. The North Korean government planned on finishing the work by the end of last year, but it has been much delayed because of bad condition of the road as well as the death of Kim Jong-Il. Furthermore, there are Chinese workers participating in the road construction and sometimes there are conflicts between Korean and Chinese workers. One North Korean manager said, “Korean workers and Chinese workers often have arguments, and then someone loses his temper and hits the other person. The situation sometimes develops into a group fight. Just a short time ago, there were two Chinese workers who got into a fight with a North Korean worker, and the Korean worker was beaten to death. The Chinese workers, terrified, tried to get rid of the evidence by disposing the dead body far away, but they were caught by security officers. Although it is rare that someone dies from these altercations, there are frequent fights, with strong egos clashing with each other. It is true that the Chinese are very proud.” Currently, China is paying all the costs involved in the road maintenance work and re-building of the bridge to Wonjongli - Rajin.


Judicial Leniency towards Foreign Investors      
     Last month in Rasun, there was an automobile accident involving a Chinese citizen and the security authorities were under a lot of duress. It is because a Chinese investor was involved in it. North Korea amended and supplemented the “Act on Rasun Economic Trade Zone” which established provisions for the personal security of foreign investors residing within the area. Article 9 of the Act states that, “A foreign investor may not be imprisoned or arrested without a legal basis and their residence may not be searched. With respect to personal security and criminal matters, the treaty between North Korea and the corresponding nation, if any, will preside.” This legal provision was established to attract foreign investment more proactively so that, in the event of any incident, a foreign investor would not be interrogated, imprisoned, or arrested without an arrest warrant.

However, cases often arise where punishment is waived even though a foreign investor was obviously at fault because of the risk of alienating the foreign investors.  The automobile accident which occurred last month is just one such case.  The automobile accident occurred as an intoxicated Chinese investor was driving a steep mountain road. While attempting to navigate the tortuous mountain path, the driver swerved sharply to avoid an oncoming vehicle, and his car ended up sliding down into the valley.  Also in the car was a Chinese co-worker and two North Koreans; a man and a woman.  All men survived with some injuries but the woman died on the scene.  Since the law prohibits North Koreans from riding a foreigner’s vehicle for personal reasons, the court, after much consideration, found that the Chinese driver would not be held liable for the woman’s death.  Although the local governmental party respected the ruling of the court, it advised the perpetrator to pay a reasonable compensation to the victim’s family as he was morally responsible for the victim’s death.  It was rather difficult to reach a settlement since the Chinese CEO offered $5,000 for compensation but the victim’s family demanded more than $10,000.  The litigants were not able to reach an agreement for a month and the case was finally settled with compensation, in the amount of $10,000, after the governmental party conducted an aggressive arbitration in June. “In the end, the case was settled with a large compensation but, had the party not intervened, the Chinese investor would have been freed without any punitive action.  Something like this occurs frequently because the court is not abiding by the rules but instead tries to avoid antagonizing China.  It seems like this is because China is prosperous and we receive a lot of financial help from China,” said an official in Rasun.


The Families of Anti-Japan Freedom Fighters at the Top of the List for Moving in to 100,000 Residential Housing Complex in Pyongyang
     While the construction is still going on for the 100,000 residential housing complex in Pyongyang, 1,800 households were allowed to move in, with a special consideration from the Central Party, to the model houses. 300 houses were allotted to the families of anti-Japan freedom fighters, and 500 houses were to the families of merits in the Korean Liberation War. Remaining 1,000 houses were allotted to the newly appointed officials of the Kim Jong-Un administration.

A Pyongyang City Party official said that these model houses are under the jurisdiction of the Central Party and not under Pyongyang City, and the electricity supply system is different and the security is very strict. He said, “There is no power failure due to the separate electricity supply system. Also other convenience facilities are safely protected. It’s not possible for outsiders to approach the complex, while residents are not allowed to contact outsiders and security is tight.”

The construction of the 100,000 residential housing complex in Pyongyang was one of the major national projects and was a symbol of beginning of the Strong and Prosperous Nation and to commemorate the 100th year of the Day of the Sun, April 15. The project had drawn the attention of the Central Party and was ordered to be completed by the 4.15 holiday. However, due to the shortage of construction materials as well as financial hardship, only the outside structure has been finished thus far. It is projected that for the general residents, the move would be around the end of this year.


Young CEOs in their 40’s or 50’s are Busy Looking for Chinese Traders
     Many young CEOs in their 40’s - early 50’s who have been recently appointed in North Korea are eager to visit China. Because most of them had been to China with other CEOs as a member of delegations, they rarely have individual relationship with the Chinese traders. They mobilize every method to get to know Chinese businessmen and start trading business with them. The basic approach is to obtain an introduction from their friends or colleagues in Pyongyang. They may even approach acquaintances of friends to get an introduction. However, due to low credibility, Chinese traders were reluctant to deal with new faces that replaced familiar ones. An official who had visited China since last fall describes the difficult situation by saying, “Chinese traders gently say no, refusing to deal with you. Who would trust and open a business deal with a person they just met, who they knew didn't have the ability to pay?” Since a large-scale replacement of officials following the inspection of the Department of Foreign Trade, the situation seems to get harder.

North Korea Today No. 458 June 06, 2012


[“Good Friends” aims to help the North Korean people from a humanistic point of view and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean people live as accurately as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]
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Defectors Facing Forced Repatriation Attempt Suicide
China’s Intensified Investigation on Brokers Trafficking North Koreans
Defectors’ Families Frustrated At Losing Contact
“Form a Group of Two or Three When Getting Around in China”
Repercussions of Monitoring Defector Groups on Their Family Members in North Korea
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Defectors Facing Forced Repatriation Attempt Suicide
     There have been some cases of defectors attempting suicide when faced forced repatriation after being arrested by Chinese border patrol. A North Korean official reported that there had been several attempts of suicide at the Tumen detention facility since the end of last year. “I never heard of any suicide attempts at the Chinese detention facility during the Arduous March. But, I guess, people now would rather die there because they shall die anyway once they are sent back to North Korea”, he said. One of the reasons behind these suicide attempts is that the severity of punishment for defectors got increased since last year. Moreover, defectors' despair has been deepened by the food shortage in North Korea that is so severe that many people stay alive only by eating tree-bark and wild-plant roots.

“Some people may go to China for political reasons, but most river-crossers are simply looking for food. In the past, river-crossers used to be punished by being sent to a discipline center. However, these days they are sent to re-education centers and stuck in there for years. That is why those caught while crossing the river having no money for bribes attempt suicide. A young man who was recently repatriated also had tried to kill himself. He said he could not get any food, and now that he got caught by the Chinese border patrol, he did not wish live any longer. He cried and told me that his family of five would starve to death while he is in the re-education center. I couldn’t find any words to comfort him.”

The Chinese government recently re-issued the same order as the one in the last year not to arrest defectors but threaten them on the spot to go back to North Korea. “China probably is concerned about the international opinion. As far as I know, they issued the same instruction last year. It seems that they are re-emphasizing the order this year”, he added. Most of the North Koreans currently held in Chinese detention facilities are those who were caught in cities in the three northeastern provinces in China or were long-term residents in that area rather than those who were caught right at the border.


China’s Intensified Investigation on Brokers Trafficking North Koreans
     A North Korean official reported that Chinese government has reinforced surveillance on brokers helping North Korean defectors just as North Korea does as much as it can to stop defectors and river-crossers. “It seems that the Chinese government lately watches those who are connected with North Korean defectors among Chinese public security units, the border armed police and the border patrol. Anyone slightly related with North Korean defectors get arrested en mass and get punished regardless of their rank, once found to have facilitated them. Those who made illegal phone calls to North Korea are the investigators’ main targets. Foreigners traveling in China who contact North Koreans may also be investigated. I was told that even official contacts are included for investigation”, he said.

The Chinese government imposes penalties of 5,000-20,000 Yuan on those who help defectors or let them stay in their houses. Those involved in trafficking North Koreans are sentenced to at least three years after going through 15-day preliminaries. A recent case was someone sentenced as much as to 17 years. Another North Korean official said, “The Yanbian Autonomous Prefecture, which is home to a large number of ethnic Koreans, is on a war footing against North Korean defectors. Because of the negative international public opinions on forced repatriation, our republic and China are also concerned. I think China is hunting aggressively for their brokers to do their part in deterring North Korean defectors.” He explained that China's efforts to find such connections seem to be driven by its concerns on diplomatic repercussions.


Defectors’ Families Frustrated At Losing Contact
     Nationwide tension about the food shortage is continuing.  North Korean defectors’ family members are worried because it has been difficult to contact with them via cell phones.  Jeong Hae-suk (alias) in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, has been unable to talk with her daughter who went to China for over six months.  The surveillance on phone calls has intensified, making it even more difficult for families to reach out to their family members who left North Korea.  One North Korean official said, “It is considered an act of treason if caught using a cell phone illegally.  If they do not negotiate with the police on the spot, they will be sent to a re-education center. The punishment will be even more severe if they have had previous convictions.  People who can afford to bribe will do so at any cost. Those who cannot afford a bribe do not dare to use cell phones because of the extremely high risk.”


“Form a Group of Two or Three When Getting Around in China”
     North Korea issued an order to its officers dispatched to China to form a group of two or three when getting around and avoid hanging out alone. This is to prevent any possible defection.  A North Korean official said, The issue of North Korean defectors seems to have become a very sensitive problem in China.  Since late last year, the Chinese government has been advising its people that if someone looking like a North Korean tries to stop their car, don’t stop and report it right away to the government.”  The fact that still more people are trying to get out of North Korea despite the extremely intensified border control reveals the severity of the food shortage in North Korea.

An increasing number of people are trying to get out of North Korea who have never been to China before or do not have anyone to help them there. Another North Korean official said, “When we interrogate the defectors sent back to North Korea, seven out of ten have been aided by their family members who had already fled North Korea and are now settled down in South Korea. The rest three are those who know nothing and just tried to get out. Usually, they are women and children who starved to death and desperately tried to cross the border searching for food.  They say they decided to go to China after hearing that even dogs are eating rice in China and humans can definitely eat well as long as they are willing to work.”


Repercussions of Monitoring Defector Groups on Their Family Members in North Korea
     At the end of April, the National Security Agency defined defector organizations in South Korea as a major enemy and decided to strengthen its monitoring of them. There was even a case that North Korean authorities received intelligence on a plot to bomb statues and buildings at main historic sites across the country organized by defector groups in South Korea, and cracked down on some of those involved.

After reckoning that North Korean defector organizations acting abroad have gone too far in denouncing North Korea, the government decided to take firm action against them. Assuming that there is a linkage between defector groups and their family members still residing in North Korea, the government is re-investigating anti-North Korean activities and the connections between them. Persons who were reported missing are also under reinvestigation. Defectors’ family members in North Korea say that they are going through hard times due to these investigations as well as having difficulty contacting their defector family members due to the government’s efforts to detect illegal phones and jam signals.

Kim Jeong-sun (alias), who had not been able to talk to her older sister in Seoul for months, said: “Our younger brother was in near-fatal condition when he returned home from his military service. But there was no way for me to tell my sister, who had taken care of him like a son, about his condition. Because of body searches at every post, I concealed a phone, burying it in a mountainside, but signal jamming by the government has become more severe. I am really anxious about how worried my sister would be when she eventually hears the news about our brother. As security agents’ monitoring intensifies, they press me hard about when I contacted my sister and what I received from her. I have never felt so miserable like these days.”  The government is carefully watching movements of defectors’ family members while tightening border controls and rendering border areas under the jurisdiction of National Security Agency.  

North Korea Today No. 457 May 30, 2012

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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