Thursday, January 31, 2008

Article of Daily NK (from North Korea Today No. 109)

Price of Flour Goes Up, So Difficult to Sell Dumplings
By Yang Jung A [2008-01-31 17:06 ]-Daily NK.

Due to the food export restraint imposed by China, the price of food items have been rising significantly recently, revealed Good Friends, a nongovernmental organization for North Korea, through a newsletter released on the 30th.The newsletter relayed, "The price of rice, flour, corn, and grains has been continuously rising due to a systematic adjustment in trade exchange with China. With the Beijing Olympics ahead, the duties on food items have gone up 5% for rice, 20% for corn, and 20~25% for flour.The newsletter also divulged that “China demands an export permit for grains. Rice and corn are flowing into North Korea because the export permits issued last year still remain in effect. However, China has not yet demanded any export permits for flour, and therefore flour cannot be exported to North Korea.”"As a result, the price of flour has been increasing rapidly within just a month. In December of last year, the price of flour remained at 1,000 won per unit for the most part, but since the new year, it rose to 1,700 won per unit. People who have been selling bread, dumplings, and snacks have not been able to do business due to the shortage of flour."The source relayed, "The North Korean custom house has been requesting a quality verification report on par with international standards at the time of the importing of Chinese food products, but a majority of merchants with whom food is traded has not been able to follow the new standard yet, saying such documents are hard to provide.""So, the food items have not been imported into the market, which has caused the price to continuously rise due to the lack of provisions. Nowadays, even if people tried to buy a 1 kg of rice for over 1,400 won, they are unable. Chinese companies who have been dealing with North Korea have predicted that the cease in trading with Chosun (North Korea) will give rise to a food shortage.The Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China announced the process of registration and 2008 conditions for registration for milled farming export quarter on the 19th and has implemented a method for the provisional food export of rice, corn, and flour starting January of this year. Related parties of North Korea-Chinese trade forecasted that food exports to North Korea will be reduced significantly as a result of the stringent food export conditions imposed by the Chinese government.

“밀가루 가격 올라 만두 장사도 못해”

중국의 식량수출제한 조치로 최근 북한 식량 가격이 큰 폭으로 오르고 있다고 대북지원단체인 좋은벗들이 30일 배포한 소식지를 통해 밝혔다. 소식지는 “요즘 쌀과 밀가루, 통옥수수 등 곡물 값이 계속 오르고 있는데 이는 중국과의 무역거래에 제도적 조정이 생겼기 때문”이라며 “중국은 북경올림픽을 앞두고 자체 식량 확보를 위해 식량 관세를 입쌀 5%, 옥수수 20%, 밀가루 20~25% 등으로 대폭 인상했다”고 전했다. 또한 “중국은 곡물에 대해 수출 허가증을 요구하고 있다”며 “쌀과 옥수수는 작년 허가증이 남아있어 조금씩이라도 북한에 들어가고 있으나, 밀가루는 그동안 수출 허가증을 요구하지 않았던 터라 거의 들어가지 못하고 있다”고 설명했다. “그로인해 한 달 새 밀가루 가격이 가파르게 상승하고 있다. 작년 12월만 해도 밀가루 가격은 대체로 1,000원대에 머물렀지만 새해 들어 일제히 1,700원 대로 올라섰다”며 “꽈배기, 빵, 만두 등을 팔아 하루 한 끼 벌이를 하던 사람들은 밀가루가 없어 장사를 못하고 있다”고 밝혔다. 소식지는 또한 “북한 세관에서도 올해부터 중국산 식량 수입 시 국제 기준에 맞는 품질서를 요구하고 있지만 중국의 대다수 식량 거래 대상들은 그런 서류를 공급하기 어렵다며 아직까지 새로운 기준을 따르지 못하고 있다”고 전했다.“이렇다보니 시장에 식량이 수입되지 않아 공급부족으로 가격이 계속 오르고 있다. 현재 쌀을 1kg당 1,400원을 넘게 주고 사려고 해도 없어서 못사는 형편”이라며 “북한과 거래해오던 중국 회사들은 조선과의 장사가 정지되면 식량난이 초래될 것이라고 예상했다”고 소식지는 전했다.한편, 중국 상무부는 지난 19일 2008년 양식제분수출쿼터신청조건 및 신청절차를 발표하고 올해 1월부터 쌀, 옥수수, 밀가루 등에 대해 잠정 식량수출제한 조치를 실시하고 있다. 북-중 무역 관계자들은 중국 정부가 이처럼 식량 수출에 까다로운 조건을 제시함으로써 북한에 대한 식량 수출이 대폭 감소할 것이라고 전망했다.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

North Korea Today No. 95

Research Institute for North Korean Society

North Korea Today
95th Edition October 2007

Harvest Season, Rice Price Gradually Going Down
As the harvest time begins in October, the price of rice which had been skyrocketed has started to fall. Now, the rice is sold at 1,300-1,400 won per a kilogram while it was sold at 1,700-1,800 won per kilogram before. In the case of Sinuiju신의주, the wholesale price of rice which had been 25,000 won per 15 Kg (1,600 won per kilogram) at the beginning of October has gone down to 20,000 won per 15 Kg (1,300 won per kilogram). The citizens of Sinuiju are happy about this price drop, and expect the price would continue to fall down to 17,000 won. The value of the US dollar which had been 330,000 won has fallen to 327,000 won since Oct. 17th. The value of the Chinese currency ‘Yuan’ has fallen to 43,800 won from 44,500 won per 100 dollars.

Farmers Busy Pocketing Harvested produce
It is at the peak of harvesting crops in most agricultural districts nationwide. As the crop production is low as the result of last year’s flood disaster, farmers began to pocket the little they harvested. Some farmers dig holes in the fields, bury maize and rice there, and sneak them into their homes at night.

The local police, without any notice, searched a work unit작업반 - consisting of about 90people - of a farm in Chulsan county철산군, North Pyongan Province평안북도, where farmers were busy harvesting crops around lunchtime. The police confiscated 260 kg of rice as a result of this search and found an average of 500 kg of rice disappear per work unit per day. Normally there are about 10 work units in each farm, this means about 5MT(metric tons) of rice are missing everyday.

As more rice is missing, less rice will be distributed back to farmers, especially those farmers who can not steal crops will be most affected. However, farmers are complaining that they have never been provided with crops as promised by the government and there is no way to pay back their food borrowed in spring unless they steal the crops at harvesttime.

Ban on Landline Telephones
After the ban on cell phone use, people will not be able to use landline telephones as well. Following Sariwon사리원, Hamheung함흥, and Pyongyang평양, Sinuiju신의주 has announced that from Oct. 15th, it would prohibit the use of wire telephones to prevent trades and circulation of information. In the North Hamgyung Province함경북도, it is announced that from this month, landline telephones work only within some designated cities. Thus, people cannot make long distance calls without government’s permission. Even the Party officials have limited access to telephone use depending on their rank.

The North Korean authority is explaining that these measures have been taken to prevent trades and information leakage. The government criticises that merchants leaking the prices in the markets to deal more effectively by using landline telephones, and blames that it destroys the socialist system. Moreover, they blame the merchants as collecting information and distributing them nationwide by using telephones.

Women in their 30s cannot trade at a market
In addition to women in their 20s, women in their 30s cannot trade at a market any more because the government decided to prohibit women under 40 from running small businesses at the market. Last month the government banned trading in themarket for young women under 30. As a result, the Ministry of Labour of each cities and counties in North Korea bewildered about the unexpected extra labour capacity. With the order from the high authority of the Party, chairpersons of city councils were told to allow these women to work at factories without any condition. This decision has caused much trouble at factories and companies. They complained about this decision because they cannot pay the new workers let alone current employees. They say that they do not even have enough work to run the business.

Troubles with creating jobs for women under 40
Regulation banning trade for women under 40years of age at the market, every local government of North Korea has difficulty creating jobs for women in their 20s or 30s. In Sinuiju, the local government began to make certificates of women labor dispatch and send them to factories, such as textile companies. But, it is a problem because companies strongly complain about the decision. Hamheung함흥 issued a certificate for the extra women workers to work in the factory, but it temporarily stopped the certificate because of the strong objection from the factories. Women under 40 who have traded in the market to meet their family’s basic needs do not have anything to make money. Now they cannot support even themselves. Because of this situation, many women in their 20s or 30s are extremely disappointed.

Increase in the Border Crossing
Onsung온성 and Hamheung함흥 recently has fortified the border security between North Korea and China because the number of people fleeing is increasing. Everyday the number of people has been counted at a residential meeting, but there are still people leaving. A couple of days ago, entire members of two families disappeared and two female merchants at the same town fled. On the very next day of the incident, a rich female merchant ran away with her entire family. The police and the border patrols of the national intelligence are intensely watching the runaways. When Dooman River두만강 is frozen in winter, the number of refugees will increase substantially. Some residents say, “Because young women cannot trade at a market, there are no jobs to make money, or the government does not give rations, we starve to death. When we know we would die anyway (either killed by punishment or die from starvation), trying to flee is better rather than waiting for a day of starving to death.” They continued that the punishment of those who flee is very severe, but the number of people who are fleeing is not going to reduce.

Frequent accidents from Chinese Pharmaceutical products
Similar accidents have happened consecutively in Sinuiju among those who used Chinese medicine that was sold on the market. A male college student who was 24 years old died right after he took Chinese medicine for a headache he had on October 5th. He complained about a stomach ache and bleeding not long after taking the medicine, however; he died while receiving emergency treatment in the hospital. An autopsy has shown that there were some holes in his stomach. A local doctor in Siniju said, “Because some people sell cheap Chinese medicine to make a good profit, they take several lives away every month”. On October 15th, the same hospital encountered an old man facing the same situation, but fortunately they were able to save his life with surgery.

Sinuiju begins to examine Chinese food products
The body of a student in the Sinuiju Medical School was discovered three days after death. Examination results revealed that he died after eating tainted Chinese food products. This incident triggered an across the board examination of food products coming into North Korea from Dandong, PRChina. Among the products examined were ramen, gum, cookies, sausage, milk, candy, etc. with much of the food products examined failing to pass muster. There has been a country-wide problem with distribution of sub-standard food products. Although the immediate vicinity of Pyongyang평양 does have tight control, the rest of the country is defenseless.

Hoeryung City evict homeless
In anticipation of the 90th birthday anniversary of Kim Jung-Sook김정숙[1], the Hoeryung회령 City Council at the meeting on the October 1, 2007 has decreed that all city buildings, factories, and public buildings must be cleaned and all construction finished using all resources and methods necessary before the winter cold arrived. Such clean-up is especially due to the expected arrival of central officials for the 90th anniversary celebrations. Approximately 100 homeless families who have been living in warehouses have been forcibly evicted. Officials working for the city council have been making inspection rounds of warehouses and ordering the dwellers out. The collective farms that own the warehouses have also ordered the dwellers out. The dwellers have been threatened with fines and other punitive measures.

When the dwellers protested en masse this past October 3, 2007, the security officials cut off all the electrical wires into the warehouses. They also demolished the roofs and flooring of the houses. The slightest hint of resistance brought about few days of confinement in prisons with forced examination of ideology and cultivation education. The officials simply told them to go live together elsewhere or live with relatives in other regions.

[1] Kim Jung-Il’s mother and Kim Il-Sung’s first wife

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If you need further information, please contact
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Tel: 82-2-587-8996
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North Korea Today No. 96

Research Institute for North Korean Society

North Korea Today
96th Edition November 2007

No More Phone Use if the Telephone Bill Exceeds 3,000 won
Authorities are continuously issuing directives that limit the use of landline telephone nationwide. Even for those residents who have permission to use the phones, if their usage exceeds 3,000 Won, they will no longer be able to call outside the city limits. This directive is a step up from the previous directive that cut off the phone when the usage went over 5,000 Won.

Residents Complain Restrictions on Landline Phone Use
As authorities cut off landline phones as an attempt to crackdown on phone calls outside the city limits, there have been strong complaints by the affected residents. As the result, some cities are reconnecting the landline phones. In some areas such as Hamheung함흥, Hyesan혜산, Chungjin청진, Pyongsung평성, and others, the residents went down en masses to the local post office wanting to “unsubscribe to the phone service that is no longer useful” and wanted a refund of 700,000~750,000 Won that they had each paid to initiate the service in the first place. Since some post offices couldn’t refund the money all at the same time, they are reconnecting the phones beginning around October 17, 2007. In midst of this situation, the initial connecting fee for the phones has dropped from more than 700,000 won to 200,000 won.

No Public Lecture after President Roh’s Visit Baffles the People
Although there was a post-summit lecture for bureaucrats in the central government, the lack of organized and mandatory lectures aimed for ordinary North Korean people have left them baffled. Immediately after the first summit with President Kim Dae-Jung, there were a series of lectures to remind people not to engage in any illusions about or expect anything from South Korea.

This time there was frequent TV coverage of the President Roh’s visit. One official opined, “They were perhaps trying to encourage those people having a difficult time or reverse the mindset of those who are planning to escape to the South. It’s a silent warning that the South will no longer accept defectors from North Korea since the inter-Korea relationship is improving.” Recent rumors of imminent delivery of American heavy oil and South Korean rice have piqued the interest of the residents.

Hostility Towards South Korea Gradually Decreasing after Roh’s Visit.
Many residents are reporting that any lingering hostility they felt towards South Korea have decreased because of Roh’s visit. Although South Korea had supposedly sent a large amount of aid, very few residents have actually seen any and the strong ideology education effort that followed on the heels of Kim Dae-Jung’s visit had actually left many North Korean residents with a sour taste in their mouth. However, the recent visit by Roh was neither accompanied by any strong language from the authorities nor followed by ideological crackdowns on the residents, leading to a more relaxed, favourable climate.

Although regular residents don’t hear detailed news of the summit, there have been rumors that South Korea has sent fertilizers and flood aid this past summer, and rice, trucks and cars along with Roh’s visit. There have been no special restrictions on talking publicly about Roh’s visit or how well-off South Korea is. This is in stark contrast to the recent regulations against assemblies of more than 3 people at a time andearly-morning exercises. At the same time, officials have been more cautious about what they say since they don’t want to be caught off-guard thinking that the authorities have relaxed in their vigilance.

The First National Party Cell-Secretary Conference held in 14 Years
The national party cell secretary conference당세포비서대회was held at the 4.25 People’s Cultural Center4․25인민문화회관 in Pyongyang on the October 26, 2007 for the first time in 14 years. There were about 300 participants from each province, all of whom were model cell-secretaries chosen from every county and city. Under the guidance of organizational heads, about 300 cell-secretaries from North Pyongan Province, including 10 participants from Sinuiju신의주, used the reserved train to go to Pyongyang on the night of the Oct. 23rd, as did those from other provinces. As the result regularly scheduled train services from October 23rd to 26th were all canceled. The program of this conference includes 5 days of lectures, 3 days of training, and 2 days of meetings for a total of 10 days. It will last till early November.

Rationing Long Grain Rice Has Begun in North Hamgyung Province
Since October 29, North Hamgyung Province began rationing 3 kg of long grain rice per household that has been received through the port of Chungjin from South Korea on the loan base. Apart from Pyongyang, North Hamgyung Province is the only region where rice distribution has been resumed. The North Hamgyung province was a highly threatened area since there were deaths from starvation since June 2007. The mortality rate is expected to decrease for awhile, as the residents receive rations again.

Children Unwilling to Go to School for Pressure of Contribution
There is no sign that pressure over school children to make various contributions to schools will diminish. One middle school in Pohang포항 in Chungjin청진, North Hamgyung Province, requested its students to contribute 2,000 won to the school under the pretext of furnishing class rooms and any 3 items among notebooks, pens, winter vests, waist belts, and winter socks to the People’s Army. Elementary schools in Hoeryung are collecting 500g of sunflowers from students to prepare birthday presents for Chairman Kim Jong-Il’s upcoming birthday. Even in other regions, elementary and middle schools are collecting various items from students. Normally, they require upper grade students to donate 20kg of scrap iron, 4 pieces of rabbit skins, and 1kg of apricot seeds, while lower grade students to donate 500g of scrap iron, 500g of apricot seeds, and 200g of castor oil plants.

However, because students from poor families can hardly catch up with these excessive requirements, increasing number of poor students have already stopped going to school. Teachers are giving up poor students and caring only for rich students. In the past, teachers used to visit each student’s house to persuade him/her to attend school,but, it is unthinkable for teachers to do the same presently. A teacher in Chungjin says, “To feed ourselves, we have to flatter rich students.” He also agrees discrimination between rich and poor students has become more severe.

Poor School Attendance in Gangwon Province
Many children in Wonsan, Gangwon Province cannot afford to attend even elementary school. They often drop out of school and trade in markets with their parents or gather herbs in the fields or mountains to make a living. The situation may be the same in other regions, but some high officials of Gangwon Province express concerns for these children who do not receive any proper education. Some say with a sigh, “Wouldn’t everyone Gangwon province will turn illiterate?” In fact, in Wonsan, one can easily find children selling water in the markets or on the streets. People say that it is easier to see children on the streets and markets during the day rather than in schools.

Homeless Children(Kkotjebi) Increasing in Chungjin
In September one could spot an increasing number of homeless children꽃제비 in market areas of Chungjin; by October, the number seems to have doubled. In the market, younger homeless children are often seen fighting for food waste thrown away from restaurants. One resident living near the market says: “I cannot even tell whether they are people or animals. By day, theyare begging or looking for some food waste in the market and by night, they gather together and sleep in places such as iron ores. Their faces and clothes are so dirty with dust and soot.” The other day, one homeless children was severely burned by a fire while he was sleeping at an iron ores and finally died suffering from a third-degree burn without any medial treatment.

Explosion of Gasoline Tank Truck
Recently a truck carrying 8MT of gasoline that belongings to a Moran branch모란분사 company in Chungjin, exploded when it tumbled down Musanryung Hill무산령. With this accident, passengers in the vehicle were burned to ashes. The truck was carrying gasoline which was bought with the investors’ money. Upon the news, the investors gathered at the company and demanded their money back. The managing director of the branch and the foreman are investigating the cause of the accident, but it is predicted that they will soon be discharged from their positions because of the substantial monetary loss. In addition to this accident, on October 17, 2007 a truck rolled down at the entrance of Raksan락산 (Kwang-ju-ryung Hill광주령) located between Rajin라진 and Chungjin청진 and killed a 35-year-old woman, two soldiers in their 20s, and two university students.

A gold mine collapse killed 3 miners
At 10 am on the October 23, 2007, a goldmine excavating gold-bearing rocks in Hwechang County회창군, South Pyongan Province평안남도 collapsed. Because of this accident, three miners from the No. 2 squadron died and two were severely injured.

Hoeryung City Discontinued Construction Again
Due to insufficient construction materials, the city of Hoeryung discontinued the construction project again. The construction was interrupted since 40% of construction units was short of lumber and 35% lacked cement. The construction headquarters pressuring the units to finish covering roofs, walls, and setting windows by the end of November with no exception.

The Hoeryung Construction Discontinued Again, the Central government Rushing for Answers
Along with the Party of the City of Hoeryung, the Central Party had an urgent meeting to try to find answers for the Hoeryung construction project, which was put on hold again. The case is so critical that the Prime Minister recently visited the city. He expressed that this situation would be investigated thoroughly to make sure the construction would be completed by December 24 to celebrate the ‘Day of Mother Kim Jung- sook’김정숙 어머니 명절[1]. During this visit, he also investigated supplies and funds that all provinces, cities, and counties in North Korea had supported for the Hoeryung City Project. It seems that the central party will give order for additional assistance immediately. A couple of days after the Prime Minister’s visit, the Minister of Agriculture stated his plan to visit Hoeryung. With the news of the Minister’s visit, an official of the Hoeryung government says, “When the agricultural situation of border cities is improved, people’s lives are going to be stabilized and the current problems can be solved. Because the minister needs to manage the agricultural issues of Hoeryung thoroughly to satisfy the Chairman Kim Jungil on his field supervision, the minister is going to visit the city,”

A useless regulation banning trading of certain items
Although the rules and regulations about trading in the market have been reinforced, banned items are still traded and sold as usual. Since October 8, 2007 in Sinuiju, officials have been confiscating banned items such as cosmetics, bags, cigarettes and medicines as soon as they were displayed in the showcases, and have been collecting fines from the sellers. However, when the police come, traders hide them under the showcases and sell them to buyers in secret. In some unlucky cases, police uncover the illegal trading. However, the merchants bribe them with cigarettes or alcohol to be released. However, some of the strict police officers would forfeit all the items. Many traders complain the government about the banning rule, but some of them said that any regulation is useless.

Shortage of Beans
There is a shortage of beans throughout the country. In the case of North Hamgyung province함경북도, most of the collected beans are processed as food for consumption and then rationed for high ranking officials. The rest is sent to factories in Chungjin to make soy sauce. However, it is very hard to make soy sauce in these factories, as they have only three hours of electricity per day and do not have enough salt, which is a key ingredient for soy sauce. They then make soy sauce out of extracted protein from wheat and acorns which are then treated with hydrochloric acid. 1,500 MT of Chinese Bean Oil have been also imported recently due to lack of bean oil in the country. When tested, the Chinese bean oil contained four times more harmful substance than regular bean oil. Regardless, it is widely available in the local markets in North Hamgyung Province, and is sold at 4,000won per kilogram.

Drug Use Inspection
The ‘Ice’얼음 [2]inspection is being carried out in North Hamgyung province since late September as part of the nationwide ice inspection and crackdown efforts. Consequently, seven people were caught and had their trial is on the September 28. One person was out on bail; two were sent to the Re-education center 단련대; three were sent to Labor Education Centre로동교화형; and the last one was sentenced to ten years in Detention centre교화소. On the October 5th in Hyesan혜산, Ryanggangdo량강도, six households were banished because of drug abuse.

[1] Kim Jung-Sook: Kim Jung-Il’s mother, her birthday is also celebrated nationwide
[2] Ice: a kind of amphatamine – common illicit drug readily available in North Korea

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North Korea Today No. 97

Research Institute for North Korean Society

North Korea Today
97th Edition November 2007

General Assembly of the National Party Cell Secretary Ends Early
The National Party Cell Secretary General Assembly당세포대회[1] ended earlier than planned. The deputy heads and high officials of provinces, cities and counties stayed behind in Pyongyang to participate in the ‘Fight for Ideology meeting’사상투쟁회의, but the cell secretaries were disappointed that they had to return home without having finished the event. Cell secretaries had the highest expectations and were looking forward to taking a photograph with Chairman Kim Jong-il, considering it as a family honor.

No women under 45 allowed to trade
On the October 26th, the Democratic Women’s Union(DWU) of North Hamgyung Province decreed that, beginning on December 1, 2007, no women under the age of 45years can engage in trade. The original decree had put the age limit at 30years and then increased it shortly afterwards to 40years. Now the decree bans trading by women under 45years . Each city circulated the official decree document to the members of the Women’s Association, which is part of the Kim Jong-il Revolution Studies Center, and followed up with ideology education lessons.

Members of the DWU complain strongly against the banning women under 45 to trade
When the decree was circulated in the city of Hoeryung on October 28th, most of the members of the DWU protested, “They gave us only 3 month’s worth of corn ears to eat for 6 months. How are we supposed to survive when you won’t let us trade in the markets? Husbands only make from 800 to 1,000 won per month, which is not enough to survive on. Does that mean we should only eat air?” After the announcement of the new ban, the meeting hall was noisy with loud complaints until high officials of the Propaganda Office regained control. As the women came out of the hall, they were still complaining, “This is the same as saying that we should starve to death and do nothing,” and “What on earth is going on?”

On October 30th, in Chungjin City청진시’s Soonam Market수남시장, the Division Chairman of the People’s Committee 구역 인민위원장and market managers told the women to no longer trade in the market but look for jobs in workplaces. But women’s complain voices were often so loud as to drown out the officials’ voice.

Crackdown on the market resembles martial law
Traders in their 20s and 30s are not allowed to trade in the markets. Furthermore, the authorities are getting rid of counters selling cosmetics, medicines, bags, and other prohibited goods. Many people are inspecting in the market, followed by police officers cracking down on any violations, making the whole scene resemble a martial law crackdown. In Sinuiju, each security office was ordered to continue the crackdown until individual trade activities have been completely stopped. This has caused almost all of the available police officers in the police station to basically live in the markets. They pretend to be potential customers and approach the traders. Once the traders show their goods, then they threaten him with two options, “Give up your goods or go to the municipal jail?” Which then the traders’ goods are confiscated by the officers.

Price Increase of Vegetables Causes Worry Over Making Gimchi
The season for Gimjang김장[2] has now set in as soon as the busy harvest time had ended. For North Korean residents, Gimjang at this season means preparation for next half year’s food. Since North Korean people, poor or rich, regard Gimjang before winter as a must, they are fretting about the price of vegetables higher than that of rice. Not only vegetables, but seasonings and condiments such as hot pepper, garlic, and salted fish are several times more expensive than rice. People can not even think of buying them. Some residents complained that they would not dare to purchase them because they had more basic food shortages. Even if each city government has decided to give out Chinese cabbage and Korean radish to each district, with the exception of a few big districts, those small districts do not expect much.

It is true that the prices of vegetables and other food items are indefinitely going up. While the price of Chinese red pepper powder is around 5,000-7,000 won per kg, that of domestic red pepper powder is between 10,000 and 30,000 won per kg. The price of red pepper powder has been hiked up from 18,000 won to 25,000 won per kg between Oct. 20th and 22nd in Hamheung함흥 . By Oct. 23, it went up to 30,000 won per kg in Pyongyang. The price of garlic also has gone up from 2,300 won per kg to 2,800 won per kg in Hamheung. It is 3,500 won per kg in Pyongyang평양. As of Nov. 1st, in Sinuiju, Chinese garlic is sold for 1,200 won per kg, and domestic garlic for 3,000 -5,000 won.

In addition, the price of Chinese cabbage and Korean radish has been hiked up since last fall. Korean radish now is sold at 400-700 won per kg, but it was sold for 100-200 won per kg nationwide last year. As for Chinese cabbage, the price was relatively stable – it was traded for 200-350 won per kg in major cities last year, but this year, it varies from 450 won to 1,300 won per kg depending on the region. Pyongyang has the highest price of Chinese cabbage. These circumstances make poor people unable to consider Gimjang this year. Meanwhile, rich people are upsetting them by fussing over how much red pepper and garlic they would put or whether they would put octopus in Gimchi.

Price of Rice Has Decreased More in the Beginning of November
The price of rice, which had gone down to 1,300-1,400 won per kg from 1,700-1,800 won per kg last month, is now about 1,200-1,300 won per kg. In some regions, it is 1,000 won per kg. As of Nov. 3rd, Chinese rice is sold for 1,000 won per kg and domestic rice for 1,200-1,250 won per kg in Sinuiju신의주and Hamheung. The price of rice is between 1,250 and 1,300 won in Pyongsung평성 and Chungjin청진. The price of corn is 380 won per kg in Hamheung which is the lowest, 450 won in Chungjin and Sinuiju, and 600 won in Pyongsung which is the highest among these regions.

Keep your eyes open until uncovering spies
The crack down on spies has started again the inspection of export trading companies when people thought it has come to an end. The main reason for resuming the inspection is to investigate any connection between export trading companies and the embezzlement of the government money and leakage of internal information to the outside world. Since the leakage of the internal secrets has not stopped, the government issued a special order to continue to inspect the companies until uncovering the spies.

Pursuing people disappeared for two days
Police in North Hamgyung province have been actively tracking if the residents are missing for two days. The police department and regional intelligence agencies summon family members of the missing people and investigate meticulously where the people are, what they do, etc. When the answer is not clear, they lock each family member in an individual chamber and continue the interrogation. They also ascertain whether people on a business trip are actually performing their duties in the planned location.

Workers taken to the police station just on a joke
Because of a joke, some people were taken to the police station on September 29 and are still detained. On January 17, during a break, workers at an automation company in Hoeryung회령 sat around having chats. While talking among themselves, someone joked that he wanted to visit China. A passer-by heard this and reported to the police that everyone involved in the chat wanted to go to China. The police arrested them on the spot then took them to the police station. As nobody has been released yet, there is a rumor that they might have been sent to a prison camp for political criminals.

5000MT of Rice from South Korea Provided to North Hamgyung Province
Of the loan-based rice received from South Korea through the Port Chungjin청진항, 5000MT weredistributed to North Hamgyung Province. 3000MT of rice were sent to the Gimchaek Steel mill김책제철소 and the remaining 2000MT were distributed to the regional Parties in each cities. Authorities continuously give orders to distribute rice to people to take care of the welfare of the people, and not to allocate it to the military.

Countless new policie measures Overwhelms the People
Provincial governments have intensified their fight against local traders. Upon the Chairman Kim Jung-Il’s remarks that “the market has become an antisocialist sanctuary,” the August 26 policy has been issued. The entire country has been bustling with implementing the new policy. An official said, “Recently, dozens of new measures are issued almost every week. To include detailed regulations to be implemented, they are countless. Many officials said they are overwhelmed by numerous new policies. Some of them even described new policies as a supra-party action.” As new rules and regulations are continuously announced, some people even derided this phenomenon as good news only to people who work for law enforcement agencies because of increased opportunities for regulators to accept bribery.

Both officials and residents seem to be in great confusion. While emphasizing the “information era,” the government continues to impose extensive regulations on cell-phones, Internet cafes, and even landline phones. Moreover, people are not allowed to trade or engage in market activities anymore, even though there is no sign of resuming wage payment or rations. Many people said that they do not understand what the goal of all these policies is. As a series of shackle-like policies are imposed during this difficult time, some people expressed their concern that something terrible and disastrous might happen.

Collecting Money While Implementing a Policy to Abolish Excessive Tax Burden
Meetings are held around the each provincial and metropolitan government to implement a new policy to reduce the excessive tax burden. These meetings are taking place at various units such as colleges, hospitals, organizations, companies, and town offices. However, money is collected for some other purpose as soon as the objective of the meeting is announced. For instance, participants in a meeting in Sinuiju could not help but laugh bitterly when they were told, right after they heard the meeting was to eliminate the tax burden, they had to give 10,000 won to pay for the materials for road construction in South Sinuiju.

The officials said they have no choice although they were told not to burden people with additional taxes. “How can we get the materials for construction without money?” they said. Every official agreed that it is not possible to complete the construction on time without assigning sand, pebbles, wood, petroleum, and electricity to the Neighborhood Units인민반. They rationalize this by stating, “It is better to have completed the construction by collecting money and have some officials fired for not implementing the new tax policy. Otherwise, all of us will be fired for not completing the construction on time.”

Table 1. Price of Rice and Corn in Major Cities As of Nov. 3, 2007
(Unit: North Korea Won/kg)

Chungjin Hamheung Pyongsung Sinuiju
(North Hamgyung) (South Hamgyung) (South Pyongan) (North Pyongan)
Rice 1,300 1,200 1,000-1,250 1,200
Corn 450 380 600 450

[1] Cell secretaries: those who are responsible for lowest unit in the Korean Workers’ Party
[2] Gimjang: preparing large amounts of Gimchi to consume throughout the winter

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North Korea Today No. 98

Research Institute for North Korean Society

North Korea Today
98th Edition November 2007

Responsible Officials for the Administration Bureau meet in Pyongyang
This past October 28th, Pyongyang was the site of a meeting of responsible officials for the National Advisory Council for Administration. The main message was for them to manage the economic situation of their cities and counties well. Specifically, they were told to develop and strengthen foundation for export-related economic activity and pay the workers on time.

No flood aid to Saepo County in Gangwon Province
Saepo County세포군 in Gangwon Province, which suffered greatly from this summer’s floods, has not yet received any flood aid to speak of. What they have received in the way of flood relief aid per household are 2 kettles, 3 water basins, and 3 pairs of underwear. The majority of residents of Saepo County have been making rounds to their respective circle of siblings and relatives; however, since the relations are also in the same dire situation, their outlook is bleak. Meanwhile, Saepo County has many abandoned houses. This is because they are filled with mud, making it impossible for people to live in them.

Reinforcement Lectures on the Prohibition of Market Activities
As the crackdown on market activities continues, with consequent complaints among the residents, there have been a ‘flood’ of reinforcement lectures on the prohibition of market activities. Some examples of the titles of the lectures are: “Let’s have the right idea and position about the market and do well in our own jobs” and “Let’s strengthen the business of organizational ideology so that we have the right position on the prohibition of market activities.” The key messages of the lectures are “Market activities are the shortcut for twisting us away from our socialist state from the inside out. Market activities have created a huge difference between rich and poor. The purpose of our society is to allow everyone to live well despite their age or work status. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer, and this disease will lead us to the sickness of capitalism. This comes from market activities. All citizens should know this truth about markets and have the right ideas and do their best in their own jobs.”

In Pyongsung Market, women under 30 continues to trade ignoring orders
The reinforcement lectures also highlight the case, “Women under 30 are ignoring orders from above to stop going to the markets and are still engaging in trade activities around the periphery of the market. The Pyongsung city평성시 police are patrolling the market with officials from the Department of Labour in local government and seizing products and levying fines from 5,000 to 10,000 won. If the attitudes of the traders are bad, the penalties are adjusted accordingly.” Pyongsung city has issued passes for these women to work in factories, but there are no women who are actually going to these factories. This is because no factory seems to want to accept these women, and, even if they do so, the women won’t get paid. That’s why the women don’t even go. The complaints against the authorities for prohibiting market activities without suggesting realistic, alternate ways to survive are not subsiding anytime soon.

No Trade - when there is No Food?
Women in Soonam Market in the city of Chungjin are still debating over the ban on trade. Some expressed their strong complaints by asking: “Why do they not allow us to trade when they don’t give us food at all? Do they want us to starve to death?” Meanwhile, in the Chungjin city, since Oct. 29th, meetings are held on a daily basis to date (Nov. 10th) in all factories to discuss how not to have any more opinions about the ban.

Hazardousness of ‘Ice’ Being Stressed
As all types of lectures are taking place to warn on the use of ‘Ice’[1], Chungjin city has handed out an educational material about Ice to Neighborhood Units. The material states “The use of the drug is a very bad activity which undermines the ‘Our Way of Socialism우리식 사회주의’”. Moreover, it stresses the hazardousness of this drug by saying that it is the worst one which dims mind and destroys one’s health, also disturbs family life and social activities. It also instructs that: “You should not use Ice for when ill. It harms health rather than healing disease. You should teach your parents and children not to smoke Ice.” It also warns that those who sell or buy Ice for money will face harsh punishment. 120 Drug Abusers in People’s Hospital in Hamheung, South Hamgyung province In Hamheung함흥, South Hamgyung province함경남도, 13 households were expelled after the investigation from the Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol비사그루빠 called the ‘Bi-sa-grupa’. There are 120 drug abusers hospitalized in the People’s Hospital인민병원 in South Hamgyung province. In Hoeryung회령, North Hamgyung province함경북도, 61 drug abusers have been hospitalized and 35 people have been arrested for trading the Ice.

Individual Land Not Retracted – Only to Increase Tax Instead
People continue to farm in their individual patches of land along with organisations, workplaces and various other units cultivating additional crops. This spring, the government banned farming for 6months fields and growing on individual patches of land. Individual patches of land and fields used by organizations and workplaces were supposed submit back to the collective farms. Soon after, for instance, and the land were returned to the people in the boarder area. They also have altered organizations to grow crops. Instead, they increased the land tax by 50 won. Whereas the tax on the land cultivating beans, barley or potatoes are still remaining at 12 to 28 won. Same applies for the individual patches of land. After the prohibition of individual crops, there were raising complaints from the community. At that time some people would set fire on the fields, and they were taken to the police station or dead, while some committed suicide. As the result, the government eventually lifted the ban with the condition that,“Do not farm on the land like the ‘landlords’” and allowed people to cultivate on small land by following the regulations that the government set. The government also increased the tax on the individual patches of land by 50 won. Some people gave up cultivating all together because they could not benefit after deducting expenses, such as the fertilizer and land tax. Only in 2006, the land tax was determined by the quality of land, ranging from 8-12 won to 30 won. Currently, individuals would have to join the Utilization Unit리용반 that distributes land and pay the tax for use.

After the 2.13 agreement, decision on withdrawing small land
Since 2006 there had been a talk about retraction of 6-month-farming fields, but the decision was only implemented after the 2.13 agreement this year. An official says, “After the 2.13 agreement, I was told the government would provide rations because the United States would send food assistance. The government opened up the food storage stored for the state of emergency비축미 in March and April 2007 when the grain was out of stock, since they thought they would receive food assistance from outside. If the government did not release the food for the state of emergency, the military might not be experiencing such difficulty now. At that time, they have opened-up all the food for the state-of-emergency in the military divisions and brigades.”

“The Chairman orders “Trains to run on time”
The Chairman Kim Jung-il ordered, “Trains must run on time.” From October 1, the order was made that the trains should operate on time under all conditions, running time was temporarily shortened. The running time between Pyongyang평양 and Hamheung함흥 was shortened from one week to 1 ~ 2 days, and it took only one day from Kangwon province강원도 to Pyungsung평성. It used to take more than 2 weeks for the train departing from Kangwon province to Siniju신의주 via Pyongyang평양, but since the order it only took 1 or 2 days. Trains between Rajin라진 and Pyongyang were operating regularly. After only a month, however, the train schedule seemed to return to the previous situation because the shortage of electricity. An express train for Siniju, scheduled to arrive at 10:00pm, was delayed until 8:00am the next day. The international train which should have arrived at 7:30 pm did not arrive until around 11: 30 pm. Operating trains on schedule seems realistically difficult.

60 Ships Still Missing
Of the ships that left ports between late September and October 1, approximately sixty ships which met storms have not yet come back. These missing ships belong to various government bureaus, including the 6.2 Port Enterprise of Construction6.2항만건설사업소, the Shinjin Enterprise of Fisheries신진수산사업소, the Ryunjin Enterprise of Fisheries련진수산사업소, the Cooperative Gold-Rock Mine협동금바위광산, the Ryunchun Natural Sea Farm련천천해양식, and the Dosanwon Enterprise도산원기업소. From September 21 to October 3, a sea alert had prohibited ships from leaving the ports. Nevertheless, ships were still allowed to leave ports with the connivance of guards at observation posts who were bribed with fishermen’s secret deals, a half haul of fish. As a result, the number of casualties has increased. Meanwhile, on October 3, five fishermen of the squid boats from Ryunchun련천, Chungjin청진 were all killed by big waves.

Controls over Incoming and Outgoing Vessels Tightened
On the East Sea동해, both incoming and outgoing vessels are under a tight control. Due to the growing number of escapees by ships, even permitted ships are required to leave a starting gear with guards at posts and to bring it back when they leave ports. Approval procedures are also complicated: brothers cannot embark on a same ship, and it is required to receive eight permissions such as an operator’s license and an entry pass. An entry pass costs 10,000 won (North Korean). To receive permissions from the eight different divisions, it costs from at least 100,000 won to 200,000 won. In addition, in order not to let it go far, a ship is not allowed to carry more than 5 litres of petrol, which is not enough to sail offshore. Thus, rich ship owners bribe guards at posts by offering one third of caught fish and carry 20 liters of petrol. Due to excessive fees and bribes they have to pay, the amount of money that fishermen eventually earned is often insufficient to afford gas fees. Some fishermen in Chungam district청암구역 sighed that “it is hard to raise a child with our annual income by going out to the sea.”

Table 1. Grain prices in four major cities as of November, 2007
(Unit: North Korea Won/kg)
Pyungsung Soonchun Chungjin Hoeryung
Rice 1,300 1,250 1,250 1,200
Maize 650 600 500 380
Long-grain rice 800 750 700 -
Powdered Maize 570 550 - 340
Kernel Skin
Noodles 200 650 580 500
Beans - 1,300 1,000 700
Mung Beans - 2,500 1,600 1,200

[1] ‘Ice’: a colloquial term for a kind of amphetamine used in North Korea

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North Korea Today No. 99

Research Institute for North Korean Society

North Korea Today
99th Edition November 2007

Soonchun Vinalon Factory President Publicly Executed
This past August, the president of an export company of the Soonchun Vinalon[1] factory 순천비날론공장 in South Pyongan Province평안남도was publicly executed. The main reason for the execution was that he sold the factory equipment in order to buy food to distribute to the workers when they were dying of hunger because of food shortages in the first half of the year. After an official investigation, he was convicted not only of selling the factory equipment but also of hiding his past as a Chi-an-dae치안대member. Chiandae refers to a low level civil militia during the Korean War that arose out of those groups oppressed by the communists and took the side of the American and South Korean forces when they briefly occupied North Korea.

The Soonchun Vinalon factory has not been operational for a long time because of lack of carbide. Also, the factory has suffered from inoperable facilities due to the inadequate construction from the very start. Therefore, the factory had also sold part of the facilities as scrap iron – like other factories in the country. However, when the former Prime Minister, Park Bong-joo 박봉주, was appointed as the overall manager of the factory and performed a comprehensive audit, the selling of factory equipment became an issue.

The selling of factory equipment is not something that can be authorized solely by the president of the export arm of the factory. It had to have involved everyone from Party officials당간부, National Security Council officers보위부원, Police Officers보안원, and other people in power.

Therefore, they needed a scapegoat, and used the executed president’s record of the Chiandae membership as a way out for them. Even the workers who had angrily reacted by claiming, “What crime is there to selling off equipment to buy food for us,” have now given up, saying, “I guess there is nothing to be done since he was a Chiandae.”

Although the official investigation revealed that he was a Chiandae member, no officials really believe that he was a real Chiandae. They say it’s ridiculous for such a past to be suddenly revealed in a society like North Korea in which the resident registration and record keeping is so strict. Basically, this scandal was concluded by the sole execution of the president, along with the inevitable conclusion that the factory would be difficult to restart because of many crucial pieces of the equipment have been sold off.

Public Lectures on the Result of the 2nd Inter-Korea Summit Begins
Public lectures on the results of the 2nd Inter-Korea Summit have begun. According to an official who attended one of the lectures, they said that they have agreed to cooperate with South Korea to construct a ship building dock in Anbyun County안변군, Gangwon Province강원도and a shipping industry base선박공업기지 in Nampo남포 in the West Sea of Korea because South Korea’s shipbuilding industry is about to go under. Also, they are saying that the NLL is now designated as ‘Joint fishing area’공동어로구역 called the Peace Line. But the attendees at the lectures seem so indifferent. They are all waiting for the lectures to end. They are probably all thinking they cannot afford to waste time and attention politics because they have to worry about earning even one more cent to feed their families.”

Impromptu Remarks Made during the General Assembly of the National Party Cell Secretary Led to the Cancellation of the Picture-taking Event with Kim Jung-Il
The reason has been disclosed why the General Assembly of the National Party Cell Secretary전국세포비서대회 held in late October had ended earlier than planned and cancelled the picture-taking event with Kim Jung-Il (the No.1 Event1호행사). It was the impromptu remarks made by a cell secretary from Baekam County백암군, Ryanggang Province량강도 during a meeting. As the discussant, he was speaking according to the transcript which had been approved by the Propaganda and Agitation Department선전선동부, but in the middle he suddenly added his complaining remarks about how the residents from his county suffers from hardships, which were not on his transcript. One party cadre pointed out the seriousness of this incident by saying: “The General Assembly of the National Party Cell Secretary전국세포비서대회 is where we learn what to do from now on, not where we speak out our complaints. Speaking about something that the Party did not direct to speak should become an ideological issue.”

Eventually, the picture-taking event with Chairman Kim Jung-Il(the No.1 Event 1호행사)was cancelled. Only high party officials of each county, city, and province remained and had the ‘Fight for Ideology meeting’사상투쟁회의. The cell secretary from Baekam County백암군 said that an ideological secretary사상비서 of the primary party초급당 had ordered him to say that, which made the matter even worse. One attendant at the meeting expressed his disappointment: “We controlled ourselves everyday not to drink alcohol just for the event to take pictures with Chairman Kim Jung-Il, but we are so disappointed at today’s cancellation of the No. 1 event1호행사. After the meeting, every participant left with presents: a bag, some magic markers, ten ball point pens, and a hanging scroll.”

Direct Report from Central Party Officials to Chairman Kim Jung-Il (No. 1 Report) Led to Stricter Market Control
According to some party officials, the reason for tighter control on the market is because some central party officials made a direct report to Chairman Kim Jung-Il about what they had seen in person. While they were driving around Pyongsung City평성시, they saw people trade merchandises at markets and even on the roads. The report which was ratified by Chairman Kim Jung-Il allegedly includes the following statements, “ People are obsessed with money, break away from teamwork, and do all kinds of wrongdoings for money. If we let this happen, our socialism will evolve into capitalism and we might face the pains that the Soviet Union and East Germany had suffered. Therefore, we should strictly prevent this from happening and solidify our socialism.”

The Price of Gimjang for a Family of Three Costs 100,000 Won in Sinuiju
The Public Enterprises in Sinuiju신의주 have distributed 15kg of Korean radish무우 and 40 kg of Korean cabbage배추 to each resident. However, every working-class household is complaining that the amount distributed to them is not enough to do Gimjang김장 (preparing a large amount of Gimchi김치 for the winter consumption) this year. Rich people can purchase additional vegetables in the market, but poor people can not afford to do that. Because of the price increase for Korean cabbage and radish a family of three people would need at least 100,000 won for Gimjang. This means that the very poor cannot prepare Gimjang for this winter. Women in Sinuiju are deeply concerned at the high cost of doing Gimjang this year, and sigh whenever they gather together. Containers and urns for Gimchi are not produced in North Korea anymore, so people have to use 50-liter Chinese soy oil containers. This Chinese container is sold at over 10,000 won. Even though it is the Gimjang season now, it is too quiet to think it is. In an apartment complex where 36 households live, only one household among them may be able to finish Gimchang this season.

A nationwide order to help flood victims in South Hwanghae Province
The central government issued a nationwide order to donate goods in aid to South Hwanghae province affected by the flood. The rationale behind this order is, “Because people in South Hwanghae Province are suffering from the flood, households should help and support to meet the daily needs of the flood victims.” Therefore, each district offices녀맹동사무소 of the DWU (Democratic Women’s Union) are asking the members to send goods to people in South Hwanghae Province.

Banning water trade has a negative impact on children
The number of homeless children, Kkotjebi꽃제비, is increasing in Gangwon Province강원도. Since the government issued a ban on water trade물매대 , a primary livelihood activity for many children, they have lost their main source of income overnight and have become beggars and are living as Kkotjebi.

Investigating Market Traders in Pyongyang
In Pyongyang평양, the Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol비사회주의그루빠 officers visit the houses of market traders for inspection. The officers usually ask, “When did you begin the trade at the market?” and “Why do you trade?” When the officers asked an old couple when they began the trade, they answered “We began to receive our retirement pension several years ago. However, because our pension is 3,000 won and it is not enough for us to live on, we have been meeting our everyday needs by selling socks at the market. If we don’t trade at the market, we cannot survive at all.”

Besides these questions, the investigators asked them in detail what their children do now; from where and how many items they bought for trading. The couple who served as Party officials all their lives were not only disappointed that the reward for their loyalty to the Party was trading in the market in their old age, but also aggrieved that they have to be inspected repeatedly and comply with new regulations and restrictions on selling goods in the market.

Fees for School Firewood 5,000 won 10 Times higher than of Last Year
Schools are collecting fees for firewood this winter as expected. The fee increase this year is inconceivably high, which left parents speechless (or in shock). The fee has gone up ten times, from 500 won last year to 5000 won this year. Even when the fee was 500 won last year, parents from an elementary school in Sunam district수남구역, Chungjin city청진시, North Hamgyung province함경북도 considered the fee high, and took a so-called “collective action” and refused to send their children to school three times. This year, stronger resistance by parents to the fee increase is expected.

“Not to Collect Non-Tax Fees from Students”
On November 4th, the Ministry of Education issued an order not to collect non-tax fees from students, because the non-tax burden for students is becoming exceedingly high. School teachers and officials are making strenuous efforts to take measures to meet the increasing number of students who cannot afford firewood fees. Some schools announce that they would take two straw bags of cobs of maize instead of firewood fees.

In order to prepare for firewood, some teachers take their students to the mountains to get firewood, and this is hard work for little children who do not even know how to cut trees. Moreover, as it is often hard to find trees on nearby hills, these young students have to walk to distant hills or mountains, and thus it is frequently past dinner time when they arrive home. Concerned parents, who were waiting for their children for dinner without eating first, even go to hills and bring their kids home with them.

[1] Vinalon비날론: A Synthetic fiber invented by North Korean scientist called Lee Seung-ki, two years after the invention of nylon. This fiber is close to cotton that Kim Il-sung awarded Vinalon as the Juche Fiber주체섬유.

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North Korea Today No. 100

Research Institute for North Korean Society]

North Korea Today
100th Edition November 2007

Warning Issued to Make No Objection to the Party Policy
The other day, the Chief of the People’s Assembly인민위원회 in Pohang district포항구역 of Chungjin City청진시 was dismissed and reduced to a laborer. It was his remark about the recent ban on not allowing women under 45 to trade in the market that caused his downfall. After hearing about the ban, he said, “Nowadays, women play major roles in bringing income to their families. I am too concerned about this ban because it will cut family income substantially.” And this remark was reported to the Party as the No.1 Report1호보고. The People’s Assembly in Chungjin City warned high government officials not to object to any directions and policies from the Party. Meanwhile, in Shinam district신암구역 of Chungjin City, some woman was arrested for her words of complaint over the ban. She was taken to a police station, and released after going through much suffering and the self criticism battle비판투쟁 of the Democratic Women’s Union(DWU)’s general assembly.

Sinuiju, Banishes Once Divorced
The residence registration control주민정리사업 in Sinuiju신의주 is getting tighter since the latter half of the year. Sinuiju is the gateway to the national border and regarded as the second most important city after to Pyongyang. In Sinuiju, the residence registration is usually not easy to file; war prisoners and Voluntary Returnees의거입북자[1] are not allowed to register their residency. These days even people who have committed crimes for food and went to the detention center교화소or the re-education center단련대for the crimes have to forfeit their residency. The city considers them not qualified to reside in the city. Even for those who are divorced, are being banished to other regions for the speculative reason that many of them turn devious. The city even makes up some reasons to expel those who are suspicious or not favored by the city. If somebody does something that is even slightly against the censorship and precepts of anti-socialism, he is banished after a public trial공개재판 or open campaign (all out campaign against reactionaries) 공개투쟁. One government official has suggested that the residence registration task would go on for a while and it would be directed to diminish the entire population in the city to make sure there is no room for disloyal people불순분자.

Cracking Pine Nuts rather than Attending School
Some school children in Wonsan원산 Gangwon province강원도, are cracking pine nuts instead of going to school. They are engrossed in peeling pine nuts and receive 500 won per 1 kilogram of pine nuts they peel. One child boasted about earning 2,500 won after having peeled 5 kg of pine nuts in 4 days. These pine nuts peeled by these innocent little kids are sold for 20,000 won per kg in Wonsan, Hamheung함흥and Pyongsung평성, 23,500 won per kg in Chungjin청진, and 26,000 won per kg in Musan무산. Considering how hard this work is for children, the wage is very low.

Control On Anti-Socialism Retrieves Brewing Residue
Members of the Democratic Women’s Union (DWU) 녀맹원began to control trade and manufacture of homemade liquors under the banner of “Remove the Anti-Socialism Among the Members!” There are many families manufacturing and trading liquors secretly to be for living. The DWU has framed a plan to control trading and manufacturing alcohols and to confiscate alcohol manufacturing equipment from those houses. They even decided to confiscate the residues from brewing술깡치. However, some poor people have barely managed to earn their living bymaking liquors and feeding the residues to their pigs. They are deeply concerned that they are no longer allowed to make their living by liquors any more, as they do not know what else to do to survive.

Pyongyang Citizens Complain on the Trade Ban
Even Pyongyang평양 is going to ban women aged under 49 from trading in markets from the end of November. Currently only women under 39 are prohibited from trading in Pyongyang. The city has forced women under 39 to go out to work for various agencies such as the Road Management Breau도로관리국or the Land Management Office국토관리반. Some are deploring the fact that the most affected group because of this ban is those belonging to the lowest socioeconomic class making only 1,000 or 2,000 per day. In addition, people are experiencing major inconveniences as the new regulation prohibits street trading. They have to go all the way to the crowded market just to buy small amounts of food and vegetables, because trading is allowed only in permitted stands in the markets. Some expressed a strong complaint, pointing out that the government is banning trades without any back-up policy. Some officials are worried not only about people’s livelihoods, but about the huge burdens on the entire society as a result of this new regulation.

Luminous Traffic Signs Urgently Needed in North Hamgyung Province
Installing luminous traffic signs is urgently needed in North Hamgyung Province 함경북도. About 80 percent of this province is mountainous areas, so most roads connecting cities and counties in North Hamgyung Provice are rough and winding. Even though the road conditions are poor, they used only regular paints for the traffic signs which cannot be seen at night. Consequently, accidents have occurred consistently. For instance, Machunryung Hill마천령, which is on the border between Danchun단천, South Hamgyung Province함경남도 and Gimchaek김책, North Hamgyung Province, has one of the highest vehicle accident rates in the country. The road along the side of precipice is notorious because it is so narrow that only one car can pass at a time, and those drivers who have steel nerves find it difficult to drive on the road even in the daytime. It is all the more dangerous on foggy days, and is closed on heavy snow days. Drivers have made an urgent request to the government to install luminous traffic signs as soon as possible instead of widening and paving the road. They believe that the luminous traffic signs will reduce the number of accidents and casualties.

A bus accident at Bangwon Hill
Around 3 pm on November 17, 2007, the bus number 116 running between Chungjin and Onsung 온성tumbled down at Bangwon Hill방원고개 when it was returning to Chungjin. Four people were killed and twelve people were injured in this accident. The bus was severely damaged and cannot be repaired. Those injured from this accident were sent to the Hoeryung hospital회령병원, but they have not received any proper treatment due to lack of medication.

Manufactured Goods Can Be Traded at the Designated Stores
The government issued again a nationwide order that people should purchase all industrial goods only at the designated stores. This order intends to encourage more trading activity in these shops, and to limit the trading in the markets to agricultural products only.

45 % of Students at the Chungjin College of Mining Experienced ‘Ice’
Research on the condition of education in North Hamyung Province revealed that 45% of students at Chungjin College of Mining have experienced ‘Ice,’ classified in the category of amphatamine in North Korea. Students who have taken ‘Ice’ said they did it to keep themselves awake during an exam period. More than half of the organization and enterprise workers in Pyongyang, too, have used ‘Ice’; because it is common to take ‘Ice’ for diseases such as common cold, diarrhea, headaches, and neuralgia, due to the serious shortage of essential medicines. It is reportedly common to take ‘Ice’ during an exam period because of its stimulant effects. The ‘Ice’ is becoming considered a medicine to treat rather than an illegal drug. In the meantime, North Korean authorities are intensifying control and punishment for ‘Ice’ users and traders.

Hamheung City Ordered to Set Countermeasures against ‘Ice’
Until October 2nd , 2007, Hamheung City함흥시 had conducted an investigation on ‘Ice’ related anti-socialist groups and arrested nine producers and dealers of the ‘Ice’. The investigation results revealed that over 60% of the used ‘Ice.’ Accordingly, the Municipal Party officials and Municipal People’s Assembly officials are sharing responsibilities by the Neighborhood Unit인민반and are providing residents with lectures everyday. These public lectures aimed at propagating messages about the side effects of the ‘Ice’ and its negative impacts on the country. The Central Party requested the Anti-Socialist Conscience Investigation Patrol비사회주의그루빠 of the Hamheung City to set “countermeasures to deal with the ‘Ice’ producers and traders as well as producers and dealers of ‘Ice’ raw materials until December 10.” It was also ordered “to eradicate drug production from its roots, so that no drugs including the ‘Ice’ can be found in the city.” An official said that “these orders of the Central Party seems to come from a great concern that drugs produced in Hamheung are spreading throughout the country and they are becoming a threat to the foundation of the country.”

National Border Control Reinforced Starting November 20
The national border controls have been reinforced as the number of smugglers and escapees increase in winter when the Tumen River두만강 freezes. Since November 20th, all buses and other vehicles traveling between Chungjin and Onsung are checked at the checkpoints in the border area. At every checkpoint, prosecutory officials and National Intelligence Agency officers 보위부원check the baggage of travelers, and confiscate items such as CDs, ‘Ice’, medicines, and tradable products, and issue fines. In worse cases, people who have the above-mentioned items are sent to the police detention cells집결소or Labour Training Centres 노동단련대from one week to fifteen days. In Hyesan City혜산시 in Ryanggang Province량강도, any travelers from Chungjin or Musan are not allowed to pass through the city. As for buses and other vehicles, they are required to stop at every checkpoint in Hyesan City and male passengers are required to get off the vehicle for inspection.

Hoeryung City residents make strong complaints against National Holiday-related non-tax obligations
The City of Hoeryung회령시 is collecting 10kg of cowpeas from every household for the purpose of holiday distribution in commemoration of the Day of Mother Kim Jung-Sook. If a household is not able to give 10kg of cowpeas , then it has to pay 9,000 won in cash. This is eliciting strong complaints from the city residents. They are saying, “How much would we really get even if they collect 10kg of cowpeas Since it’s not easy to receive these holiday distributions, we’d rather they don’t collect it in the first place.” Some residents are also protesting bitterly, saying that they don’t have any place to make money now since the authorities have cracked down on market activities. They have no way of generating cash. In the face of rising complaints, some officials are cautioning, in meetings, that these complaints are very dangerous ideologically and that people should tone them down. Despite such cautions, the residents – faced with ceaseless requests for contributions such as 2kg of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, castor oil plant seeds, in addition to 2 bottles of liquor, promising a later distribution of liquor, etc. – are not showing signs of quieting down.

Residents of Onsung County also Against Non-Tax Contributions
Residents of Onsung County온성군 are also up in arms against the constant barrage of demand for non-tax contributions. Onsung County officials have ordered the residents to remit 300g of rice for the military and a sack. This past September, when some households could not remit 5kg of beans for export, as demanded by the Neighborhood Unit 인민반 of Jongsung-Gu종성구, Onsung County, they were forced to give 6kg of yellow beans. Moreover, in the elementary and middle school of Woonahm-Gu운암구, Onsung County, they are collecting 10-15kg of corn ears per class. The graduating class must remit 20kg because they have to take into account the teacher’s part as well. The parents have been up in arms against such demands, saying that they cannot possibly give so much as non-tax contributions when they don’t have enough food to eat at home, especially during such a season of lack.

Editorial To us, North Korea is still a closed society.
The most difficult and immediate problem we faced in understanding North Korea was the limited, and sometimes distorted, information. In this context, the Good Friends North Korea Research Center began to publish the weekly publication, “North Korea Today”, in order to give an objective picture of the North Korean society, thereby increasing an understanding of North Korea and contributing to unification efforts.

It is only natural that we published stories and editorials that the North Korean authorities did not find pleasing to hear, or would have rather had swept under the rugs. However, it was inevitable in our pursuit to bring to the public an accurate depiction of the difficult lives that the North Korean people lead. Every society has aspects that it would rather keep under wraps; however, these shadows disappear much more quickly when they are exposed to the sun.

The North Koreans are voicing their strong disapproval of recent orders by the authorities greatly restricting market activities. The opposing voices are unusually strong because the matter is directly related to their survival in a reality in which the central distribution and other productive work are no longer viable options. As the saying goes that it is impossible to live in Josun (North Korea) without aggressive desperation, most female heads of households can only survive by drawing from their sense of desperation. If the authorities really want to create a market management policy that caters to the difficulties of people, they should listen to the residents on what their greatest hardships and most urgently needed solutions are.

The voices of people and conscientious officials can be a medicine to cure the ills of the current situation. If there are other ways for people to survive besides the market-based trade, then the authorities must provide realistic options and create jobs before issuing the ban. Only then the authorities can convince the people not to engage in market activities. Unless the fundamental issues are addressed, it is difficult to remake the economy and elevate the quality of life of people using only temporary and superficial solutions. This is an ideal time to engage in all-inclusive governance by embracing the needs of even the lowest and the weakest.

As we look back on our time from the first to the 100th issue of North Korea Today, it is clear that North Korean people are doing their best to survive and have become much more conscious of their current situation. Therefore, we will listen more proactively to their voices and carry them more faithfully, so that their lives could undergo an improvement as quickly and securely as possible. We will also examine more carefully the policies of the North Korean authorities.

All in all, we are sincerely grateful to all of whom have supported us throughout. We promise that we will do our best to bring you news of North Korean society with objective and balanced perspective.

[1] Volunteer returnees: Korean nationals living abroad – mainly from Japan - who have voluntarily came to North Korea

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North Korea Today No. 101

Research Institute for North Korean Society

North Korea Today
101st Edition December 2007

Under 49 years Prohibited from Trading Beginning December 1st
Beginning on the December 1st, anyone 49 years and younger is not allowed to engage in market and/or commercial activities across the country, according to a new central directive on market management. It instructed city administrations in major cities to examine the current state of market counter/transaction space usage and crackdown on anyone who have access to them. Furthermore, they are urged to keep a close eye on the overall climate of the market and report to the local police superintendent anyone who is non-cooperative so as to ensure a smooth operation of the markets. When notified of this latest directive, the residents expressed strong displeasure.

Prohibition of trade should come after the Welfare of the People
After a series of recent directives imposing age limits on people who can engage in market activities, countless people are complaining that these directives are unfair. Joining them – although not always out loud - are many government officials and police officers보안원 tasked with enforcing the directives, who say they have no choice because it is an order from above. People say, “How are we to live if they don’t let us trade in anything contraband, in the markets, and force us to go to work when they don’t give any public distribution or pay salaries? If this is not a world in which only the bad people thrive, then what is it?” Other voices complain even more belligerently, “They should prohibit market trade only after they make sure people are living well. Otherwise, the only people who are well-off will be the government officials간부, intelligence agency보위부, and police officers보안원.”

Phone Tapping makes Trading Difficult
Intelligence Agency officials보위부원 in the border regions are tapping the phones of the residents. It is inevitable that the people who engage in trade will be more exposed in phone tapping operations. Especially, trade people who engage in contraband items are understandably more anxious over phone tapping than others. This reflects an overall trend among the National Intelligence Agency and police stations. This past October 28th, a state-of-art phone detection device from Israel was installed between Onsung온성 and Hoeryung회령. High-tech phone detection devices have also been installed not only in border areas such as North Hamgyung Province but also in Sinuiju신의주, Hyesan혜산, and other regions.

Residents complain cell phone search as human rights abuse
Officials in Hoeryung City of North Hamgyung Province함경북도 are stepping up inspection in time with the Day of Mother Kim Jung-sook. Recently, inspectors from the National Intelligence Agency came to Hoeryung to conduct a thorough search of cell phones. The agents have been carrying around a portable phone detection device and checking houses for possible cell phone use. In one instance, agents forced themselves into a house, searching and demanding the people in the house to hand over cell phones. Recently, the agents did a surprise inspection of a neighboring house when the first house they searched didn’t turn up any cell phones. Neighbors, who were upset by the sudden forced searches, gathered around to witness the commotion. Although some complained that these searches were a violation of their personal rights, the agents paid no attention to them and yelled out to the people gathered as they were leaving after failing to find any phones, “Next time we detect any phone signals, we will levy fines no matter what!” To this, the neighbors expressed their anger and resentment.

Compassion is unaffordable
Cell secretaries and Party Secretary units from each city and province held meetings recently. They discussed how the basic, on-the-ground units of the Party can become more integrated with theeveryday lives of people and try to diagnose and alleviate some of the difficulties that the people are facing as part of an effort to bring the people closer together around the centrality of the party. But some attendees are not optimistic, saying, “How can we take care of them when we ourselves have trouble surviving? These days, compassion can lead to a trap which we can’t get out of.” On November 22nd in Sinuiju, the cell secretaries held a meeting on the problem of city residents leaving and loitering of unemployed hoodlums. They discussed how the lack of food is creating the increase in the number of residents leaving and unemployed ruffians. They discussed the problems the whole day without coming up with any specific plans; they wrapped up the meeting by saying only to pay more attention to people’s lives. Attendees said, shaking their heads that things won’t change unless there is an improvement in the fundamental living conditions.

‘Get Rid of Formalities and Vanity’
On November 30th, each district of Sinuiju City held document-based Study meetings학습회의. The first point stressed in those meetings was the removal of formalities and vanity허례허식 from the city. It included directions such as: “Make wedding ceremonies as simple as possible; don’t build luxurious 2- or3- story houses because it is against the socialistic idea; and teach your children not to hold festive birthday or other celebration parties.” The meetings also held lectures insisting on holding onto strict anti-Americanism and class consciousness. Those lectures repeated an old concept arguing that “We should not expect too much from the Six-Party Talk with America because nature of American imperialism will not change just as wolves do not change into sheep. Therefore we have to fight against the American imperialism.

“Let Them Exercise and Take Walks.”
The order prohibiting elderly people from exercising or taking walks in the parks or other recreational places has been withdrawn. The Chairman Kim Jong-Il said: “Even other countries criticize the prohibition. Our people need a freedom to exercise for their health. Let them freely do their workouts and take walks.” Due to the remark, the special order from the Party which allows exercises and walks has been issued.

Children Abandoned by Parents
Many Kkotjebi꽃제비 (homeless children) are usually orphans, but recently the number of children abandoned by their own parents is increasing. After divorce, many parents often find difficult to raise children due to strained circumstances; thus neither parent wants to take their children and abandons them in the end. Most of 4-6 year-old Kkotjebi said that their parents left them and disappeared whilst struggling with poverty. They often abandon their children on the train. It is common that parents vanish after asking their children to stay in their seats and assuring them that they would come back soon. This is how abandoned children become Kkotjebi. Some people blame those parents for abandoning their own children but more people express their sympathy toward those parents and deplore such devastated living conditions, which have driven people to do tragic things like giving up their own children.

Many Kkotjebi (homeless children) Dying of Cold While Sleeping in Winter
There is no designated sleeping place for Kkotjebi. Still fortunate are some Kkotjebi who have found places, like a heap of ashes with remnants of burning charcoals or a gas-fired boiler room, where they can warm themselves. However, Kkotjebi who fail to find such places usually sleep in a small space by the apartment buildings and cover themselves with pieces of plastic bags. Under the given such poor circumstances, especially during cold winter days at sub-zero temperatures in Celsius, many of Kkotjebi die while sleeping. In Sunam Market수남시장in Chungjin City청진시, there are more parentless children than ever before. Those parentless children roaming in Sunam Market are in very bad shape; it is even hard to recognize if they are human beings or animals. Besides those parentless young Kkotjebi, there are (grandmother-age) female senior Kkotjebi in the market. A blind female Kkotjebi in her mid-60s lives like a beggar with a small amount of money collected through singing songs on the streets.

Fight for Seats to See Movie Stars From Pyongyang
Since last November 27th, 20 movie stars from the Pyongyang film studio평양영화촬영소has started to give performances in Hoeryung. They had a performance tour visiting many places including the city culture center, University of Education교원대학교, and the Daesung Cigarette United Enterprise대성담배련합회사. Hoeryung residents even fought for better seats to see their stars more closely. To keep order, police officers turned up, shouted at them, and forced them to make lines to get into the places of performance. These performances were 2-hour long with free admission.

Rajin Residents Petition to Flood Victim Relatives Get Out of Their Houses
Rajin City라진시of the North Hamkyoung Province 함경북도 has been controlling non-registered residents within the city. Those non-residents are mostly flood victims and currently residing in their relatives’ homes in Rajin. The police stations of Rajin warn them if they do not leave within a couple days, they will be sent to the Re-education Center단련대. This intense control is due to the continuous petitions from Rajin residents. The petitions say that it is too much for petitioners to feed both their own families and the flood victim relatives, but they cannot tell their relatives ‘cold-hearted’ to get out and hope that the city take some actions on behalf of them. The number of petitioners was so large that the city could not but direct the police stations to control those non-residents. Even if those non-resident flood victims complained strongly against the control because they have nowhere to go and no food to eat, it is of no avail. Some of them tried to flee to China since they believe that it is better to be a defector than to starve to death here.

“Women Can Wear Pants Until Next February.”
Pyongyang has granted permission for women to wear pants. It used to make women to wear skirts only, but this new permission allows women to wear pants this winter from November 15th until next February.

“Ice” Presents a Big Headache to the Government
The central government is facing a difficult situation as the drug addiction problem has worsened and the occurrence of the crimes related to drug abuse is more frequent throughout the country. Teenagers’ addiction of “ice”(a kind of amphetamine)얼음 is particularly critical. One official says, “Because some teenagers rely on “ice” so much, they cannot have a normal lifestyle.” He explained several features of the “ice” addiction. “The “ice” addiction has become deep-rooted and chronic problems in this area, so the addicts want to do nothing rather than working hard; young women take “ice” before they go to the market for trading; and even old people take “ice” for light headaches. For instance, in Hamheung City함흥시, South Hamgyung province 함경남도, where the “ice” abuse is the worst in North Korea, 60 of all the “ice” addicts in the city hospital were diagnosed as mental patients in the month of November.”

Movie Theaters become Meeting Places
Nowadays movie theaters in North Korea are used as meeting places rather than places to show films. Until the end of 2005, people used to go to the theaters when new films were released. However, it is very hard for people to manage their living, so they rarely go to the theaters nowadays. There are no new good movies any more, and although new movies are released or any interesting shows are performed, people can not waste time by enjoying them because they are extremely busy with feeding and supporting themselves and their families. Some Public Enterprises기업소 and the members of the Democratic Women’s Union (DWU) 녀맹 are using the theaters for public lectures and as a community hall for public movies, references, or lectures or study meetings.

Parents Deplore an Order that Students Should Wear their School Uniform
The Department of Education has issued an order that students should wear their school uniforms that the central government distributed 3 years ago. However, most people do not keep the uniforms distributed 3 years ago. Even if the students still have the uniforms, they cannot wear it anymore because they have outgrown their uniforms. Parents are complaining about the order because the rich can buy uniforms at the market, but the poor cannot afford them. Most parents do not have extra money to buy school uniforms which are 18,000 won for a boy and 15,000 won for a girl. Parents’ overall opinions are “If the central government is not going to distribute again school uniforms, they should allow students to wear their ordinary clothes in their school. How can we buy the uniforms for our children with the money we don’t have?”

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North Korea Today No. 102

Research Institute for North Korean Society

North Korea Today
102nd Edition December 2007

Pyongsung Market to be the New Model for the Market Operations
With the official release of the new regulations on the market operations, there has been a decision by the central party to make Pyongsung City평성시 into a model to spread the nationwide. To that end, the central party dispatched a subject matter expert 전문지도성원 to correctly manage the operations of the Pyongsung Market평성시장. This is the first time that the central party dispatched anyone for the purpose of directing the market operations.
As such, Pyongsung City residents are worried that a maelstrom will occur in the near future.

Peddling Increases After the Ban on Market Trading Activities
Now that no one under 50 is allowed to trade, it is been tough for younger people to even come near the marketplace. However, since they are banned from trading in the marketplace, it was only natural that they engage in trade in back alleys out of sight from the police, creating a ‘hide- and-seek’, between the traders and the police. The traders would engage in selling all day except for 7-8 am and 7-8 pm, during which the police commute between work and home. The illegal traders disappear so quickly during those times that it’s almost impossible to catch them in the act. Since they barely survive on their daily earnings from trade activities, they are desperate and do not get easily discouraged. It’s called grasshopper trade메뚜기장사 when the traders and police play hide and seek with each other. It’s called so because the traders pop in and out so quickly depending on police presence. Recently tighter restrictions on the markets have caused such grasshopper trade to skyrocket.

Commercial activities run out of back alleys usually consist of the food trade, from rice cakes, tofu, rice, to fried foods. Near Hamheung City함흥시 Apartments District , retired seniors earn survival money by fixing bicycles, repairing shoes, popping corn, refilling lighter fluids, and repairing other odds and ends such as umbrellas and bags. In Sinuiju신의주, one scoop of corn (around 1.4kg), when popped, will fetch around 350 won. On the average, you have to pop corn ten times a day to earn 3,500 won. After the market restrictions have been enforced, it is common to hear tear-filled stories on how much more difficult it has become just to make it day by day.

It gets worse every day
After the crackdown on the market activities, everyone is saying that it’s getting worse every day. One woman complained, pounding her chest in frustration, “All possible means of making a living is cut off and we are faced with no options, which makes me feel angry as I sit helpless in my kitchen. My husband’s workplace wants something, my kids’ schools want something, and even the Democratic Women’s Union 녀맹 wants something. Anything that is still in operation wants something from us. So, how am I supposed to keep a family together?” As the situation gets worse, there are more women who are turning to the sex trade.

Wives Nagging their Husbands Not to Work at Public Enterprises
As living in North Korea is getting tougher recently, most wives have been nagging their husbands not to work at the public enterprises기업소. A laborer in Soonchun순천 said that his wife nagged him so much to find any job where he can make even a single penny, and he also shared his wife’s biting comments at work, “My wife asked me why I work for the public enterprise when they don’t distribute any food or any payment. Why do you work for free?” He stated that for a while they had made a bare living due to his wife’s trading used clothes at the market, but since the government inspected and banned her trade a while ago, so she became easily agitated. He deeply lamented this situation, “I know that I should have collected even firewood in themountain to make money. However, if I don’t go to work at the public enterprise from tomorrow, the judicial authority will annoyingly summon me and I don’t know how I can avoid the situation.”

Government Officials are the Targets of Complaints about Inspection
As the central government has tightened up its control by adding layers of restrictions and inspections,, some residents began to complain about the governmental officials . Every resident says, “Nowadays the officials do not seem to think about the solutions to improve people’s living, but instead consider ways to rake in money by unscrupulous means.” This interviewee cynically remarked the officials’ unscrupulous behaviors that they inspect in public but embezzle in private.

Electric Power Lines Thieves Arrested in Urang County
Hoyang Fisheries Villiage호양수산마을 in Urang County어랑군 of North Hamgyung Province함경북도 is a small village where only 60 households live. However, the villagers have been living a life without electricity since last May until now. The total length of one power line into the village is as long as 25 Li리 (approx. 10km), but the line is stolen as soon as it is connected. The Fisheries Enterprise 수산사업소 explained that they had given up on bringing electricity to the village because the lines have been stolen so many times while the price of one line for 10km is as much as 600,000 won. The lines have been stolen on 10 occasions so far, they explained. Meanwhile, suspects have been recently caught on the spot by the security officers while they were trying to steal the power lines. They were college students who came to a side-working field부업장 to do some farm work in the Metal Department of Chungjin College of Mining청진광산대학. It is alleged that 3 college students and one professor have conspired, stolen power lines, copper wires, and aluminum wires on many occasions, and sold them for 15,000 won per kg. The students and the professor have been expelled from their school right after they were caught and the person who had received and sold the lines has been sentenced to Education-Centre. It is said that they have earned 5 million won as a profit from selling those stolen power lines.

Dongpo Coal Mine Stopped Operating Due to Absence of Its Workers
The Dongpo Coal Mine동포탄광 in Onsung County온성군 of North Hamkyung Province stopped its operation since its workers did not come to work for a while. Even the mine officials탄광간부 visited every worker’s home to persuade them to come back to work arguing that only if you work, you can feed yourself. Nonetheless, the workers would not listen to them, complaining they did not have the energy to work because they could not eat, and even though they dug out a huge amount of coal, they did not get any food in exchange for it. Even threats and pleas from the mine officials did not work out.

This incident has been finally reported to the Central Party, because the mine could not force the starving workers to work any more. After examining the situation, the Party held a meeting to give out some food to the workers and finally provided one-week amount of emergency food to each worker’s household. Besides, thanks to Chairman Kim Jong-Il’s consideration, two large-sized cars and one crane have been endowed to the mine. Only after that, the mine has resumed its operation. The coal mined here is sent to the Daeheung Mine대흥광산, the stone powder from which is used for manufacturing ceramics.

Non-Tax Contribution Causes Inflation on the Price of Sunflower Seeds
Each Neighborhood Unit인민반 in Chungjin City청진시 is collecting every kind of non-tax contribution from its residents, which has led to the price increase of some items. The Namyang 2-dong남양2동 Neighborhood Unit in Pohang district포항구역 is collecting 4kg of sunflower seeds from its residents who reluctantly donate the seeds by purchasing them at markets. And thus, the price of sunflower seeds has gone up to 2,200 won per kg from 1,600 won per kg.

Hoeryung City Ordered to Dismantle Houses near Railroads
Hoeryung City회령시 is bustling in preparation for the festivities to celebrate the upcoming 90th anniversary of the ‘Day of Mother Kim Jung-Sook김정숙.’ As the Central Party officials from Pyongyang평양, officials of the People’s Armed Forces인민무력부간부, and other municipal officials are planning to visit Hoeryung City for the festivities, by train or by car, Hoeryung City hasissued an order to dismantle all residential houses near the railroads. Most of those houses were randomly scattered and were so shabby as though they would collapse at any time. To enhance its overall landscape, therefore, Hoeryung City has decided to tear down all old shacks and houses and to rearrange the area. If the residents of the area do not follow the order, the City announced, they will be forcefully removed by the police officers. In executing the order, the managers of every factory and enterprise as well as the Secretary of the Party are in charge and are told to watch on any undesirable thoughts and behaviours may arise and control before it takes hold of the people and no trouble would arise. In addition, the City is also ordered to clean or remodel the houses which are not on the removal list.

Residents to be Removed in a Severely Cold Winter
Since the dismantling of houses near the railroads was decreed, the residents must face many obstacles. Some of them have been sent to farms, day care centers탁아소, or warehouses. The residents complained, “In this severely cold winter, how come the City decided to put people in a temporary place without any consideration of our convenience? How can we possibly live here?” Despite their concern, the City enforced its decision to demolish the area. Besides, it was also ordered to cut off all the corn stalks near railroads, to paint all buildings’ exteriors, windows, doors, the ridges of roofs city-wide, and to clean up untidy and disorderly areas.

“Root-Out the Causes of Drugs”
Hamheung City함흥시is conducting a joint operation with the Anti-socialist Conscience Investigative Patrol비사회주의그루빠검열조and National Security Council보위사령부검열조to search out anti-Socialist groups. They are especially focusing on “Ice” (a kind of amphetamine)-related cases, encouraged by the recent Chairman Kim Jong-Il’s policy to pull out the roots of “ice” from the society. Part of the people who were caught in the anti-Ice investigation were researchers and junior and senior Ph.D.’s from the Hamheung branch함흥분원 of the Science Center과학원. Faced with lack of research funds, equipment, and even survival essentials, these scientists had engaged in the drug production trade to make money. The Anti-socialist Conscience Investigative Patrol비사회주의그루빠검열조 brought up the issue of punishing these scientists to the superiors, who decided to let the senior and top-notch scientists go while handing out in-party penalties to the others. They had originally recommended that every single one should be exposed and punished for what they had done, but the policy makers countered, “Who then would engage in research if all those scientists are punished? There are those among them who had contributed to the nation and should be allowed to continue their work.”

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Prices in Sinuiju Market (2022)

Feb. 1, 2022 Feb. 14, 2022 Feb. 21, 2022 Mar. 3, 2022 Mar. 15, 2022 Apr. 14, 2022 May 06, 2022 100 USD  495,000 560,000 665,000 720,000 675,...