Friday, October 30, 2009

North Korea Today No.301 October 2009

[“Good Friends” aims to help the North Korean people from a humanistic point of view and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean people live as accurately as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]
[Hot Topics]
Skyrocketing Number of Starvation Deaths in Rural Areas during 150-Day Battle
“Worst Year of Famine in 80 Years”, Rumor Spreads in North Hamgyong Province
Government Issues Policy Regarding Punishment of Grain Thieves
North Hamgyong Province Bans Release of Grains to Other Areas
Drought Devastates Farms in South Hamgyong Province

Increasing Households on Porridge
Chungjin Mine Metallurgy College Food Shortage
Order for Jangpung Military Officers’ Families to be Self-Sufficient with Food

Department of Agriculture Prohibits Transport of Food between Counties
Controversy over Grain Theft in Pyongwon County

Strict Regulation of Mobile Phones in National Border Area
Serious Human Rights Violations in Traveler’s Police Detention Cells in Chungjin

Large Number of Absent Workers on First Day of 100-Day Battle
Confession of Officer at People’s Committee, “Pity on Ordinary People”

Prostitution Increases as Means of Survival

Fishing Boat Sinks in Shinpo City, Eight Missing

[Hot Topics]
Skyrocketing Number of Starvation Deaths in Rural Areas during 150-Day Battle

While the Provincial Party of North Hamgyong Province was surveying the crop yields of farming villages, it was highly disturbed to discover that there had been many starvation deaths at the villages. Even though the precise number of deaths is yet unknown, the Party had to admit that it did not realize the scale of the tragedy. Most deaths allegedly occurred during the 150-day battle. Although food rations were provided during the first month, the rations did not continue during the next four months in many places. Labor hours increased and labor became more intense but the food situation worsened. Therefore, it is no wonder the residents are going through immense difficulties. Especially, many poor farmers who already ran out of last year’s food rations died. There are rumors that people starve to death not only in North Hamgyong Province also in South and North Hwanghae Provinces and Kangwon Province as well. In many parts of North Hamgyong Province, many residents who have nothing to eat during the fall have resorted to collecting mushrooms and herbs for food in mountainous areas.

“Worst Year of Famine in 80 Years”, Rumor Spreads in North Hamgyong Province The crop yields of this year in the North Hamgyong Province are already alarming. Many residents believe this year will be the worst year of famine in 80 years and are already worried about the next year. They believe that even the year of the Arduous March was not as bad as this year. Since early spring, the North Korean government mobilized people in its efforts to build a strong and prosperous nation in 2012 by providing material assistance and labor for farming areas. However, all of the efforts seem in vain. Farmers attribute the poor harvest to the long-lasting low temperature in May during the sowing season. Many farms and private small plots were substantially damaged because they could not properly sow their fields with seeds. After they barely managed to purchase the Heungnam fertilizer, they applied it to the fields. However, corn bugs were widely spread due to the low temperature that lasted until the end of July. Moreover, the ears of many corns did not come out because of the draught from the end of July to the end of August. Many private farming residents gave up the farming because there was no hope of harvesting crops. At this time of year, residents used to be busy guarding their small plots but many of them are going to the mountains to collect acorns.

Government Issues Policy Regarding Punishment of Grain Thieves
Regular and private small plot farms that planted seeds following the lunar-leap year schedule suffered from poor crop harvests. Only the farms that planted later than previous years could harvest some grain this year. The government, which was well aware that the situation would lead to an increase in grain thefts, held the Party’s Open General Assemblies across the country to arouse attention to the thefts. The policy details were delivered to everyone, including laborers: 1) Any grain thief will be punished by law, regardless of his or her rank or position. 2) Any laborer who steals grain will be moved to farming areas or to the farm, where he or she stole it, to work as a laborer. 3) If the damage to the farm is severe, the thief will be detained at a police station or sent to the Labor Education Center or the City Training Center. The family of the thief will be evicted to rural areas. The Party’s Open General Assembly is supposed to be held to deliver the Party’s instruction to the public as quickly as possible. However, the fact that the Assembly was held to discuss grain thefts made the residents wonder, saying, “This has never happened in the history of the North Korean Labor Party. This year surely is a year of bad crop yields.”

North Hamgyong Province Bans Release of Grains to Other Areas
On September 2, the Provincial Party of North Hamgyong Province issued a ban, which prohibits the release of grains to other areas. All of the party secretaries and chairmen of each city and county management committees held phone conferences regarding the ban. Check points will be set up to ensure that no grain is released to outside the Province. Grain merchants and vehicles, such as trucks, cow-driven carts and bicycles, carrying grain from small plot farms will be subject to inspection. Police stations will inspect and release vehicles if there are no problems. However, if the vehicle violates the ban, they will legally proceed investigating further to confiscate the grains. The residents of Hoeryong, Chungjin and Onsung said they have already been bribing government officials with cash or cigarettes. The complaints are widespread among the residents because they have to bribe the officials with more cash or cigarettes because of the ban. The ban will only be another favor for party leaders and law enforcement workers who don’t contribute to producing grains and do nothing but living idly. Some residents excoriate saying, ‘This ban will only enrich the policemen living off others’ properties like parasites.’

Drought Devastates Farms in South Hamgyong Province
South Hamgyong Province’s large fields were expected to produce a larger grain harvest than its smaller northern counterpart. But despite success in seeding the corn crop, the summer droughts have prevented the plants from sprouting. The South Hamgyong Province Agricultural Administration Committee did not announce the exact size of the corn harvest, but they have stated that the corn harvest is lower compared to last year. The Committee also announced that a few thousand acres of dry field were damaged. According to a principal member of the organization, Yoduk, Jeongpyung and Gowan Districts experienced difficulty, as their grain crop has dropped to less than 1-2 tons per acre. The Provincial Rural Management Committee was disappointed by the small harvest despite having supplied much more fertilizer to the farms of South Hamgyong Province than those in other provinces. The extra fertilizer distribution was made possible because the Heungnam Fertilizer Factory is located in South Hamgyong Province.

Farmers have expressed worry that if their crop is taken for military provisions there will not be enough food for the farmers, let alone residents of the province. South Hamgyong Province and the Public Security Authorities decided to enforce security on the farms, anticipating a rise in grain thefts in the midst of short harvests. Public security members are going directly to the agricultural district to cooperate with the farm patrolmen for added security.

Increasing Households on Porridge

In South Hamgyong province, the number of households living on porridge and reducing to two meals per day has increased in the early fall. A farmer from Hamju plainly said, “If people live on porridge in early fall, how they are going to make it to next year? Without foreign food aid many farmers and citizens will die from starvation next year. This is very similar to what happened before the North Korean famine in 1995 and 1996. One can predict a food crisis because if people are living on porridge in the early fall, many people are bound to suffer next year”.

Choi Donggil (alias), a resident in Hamheung city, criticized, “If the harvest was so bad, then the government should allow people make a living with street peddling. However, the government criticizes and tightly regulates self-business, calling them an anti-communist phenomenon.”

Chungjin Mine Metallurgy College Food Shortage
In North Hamgyong province, the Chungjin Mine Metallurgy College was once known to have a great school food service, similar to the one in Kim Il-Sung University in Pyongyang. However, in the last few years the school has been suffering with food shortages and the provisions for the current year ran out on September 16th. Since the provincial government could not provide provisions, the school became self sufficient by harvesting corn in the school’s subsidiary farm. Three ears of boiled corn were distributed daily. Fortunately due to a recent import of corn at the Chungjin harbor, 130g of steamed crushed corn meal is distributed per meal. The food shortage has affected basic food ingredient factories in Chungjin city and halted the production of soy sauce; causing students to consume soup flavored with salt rather than soy sauce. The students agreed that the current situation is much better than last year’s farm hardship period during which 120g of ground corncob mixed with stones was distributed. Unfortunately, poorer students are facing starvation. The students expressed that they felt better when they thought back to the days when they ate steamed rice with a block of tofu.

Order for Jangpung Military Officers’ Families to be Self-Sufficient with Food
In September and October, the Gunpowder unit in Jangpung Military the 2nd Corps in North Hwanghae Province, only provided food rations to high ranking officers and not their family members. The family members were mobilized to farm, but the harvest was poor this year. Some wives of military officers grew and harvested corn, beans, hog millets, peanuts, etc., but could barely live off them for two months. The officers had difficultly focusing on their work because they worried about their family’s shortcomings and the food crisis. Consequently the control of the unit became unfocused, which resulted many illegal accidents. Last September 8th, there was an incident when a company commander ordered his subordinates to steal grains from a farm. The commander was accused of causing conflicts with farmers and sent to the Labor Discipline Center. The sergeant and nine solders that executed the order of stealing grains were punished by military law.

Department of Agriculture Prohibits Transport of Food between Counties

Given the projected food shortage caused by the drought this year, the Department of Agriculture issued an order that prohibits transporting of agricultural produce harvested in one city or county to another. The order also bans private vendors who operate trucks and demands that their grain be confiscated if they are arrested. Following the order, each city and county in the nation set up food check points in every rural village and demanded that passers-by show authorized food transportation permits. Even if someone is going to his relatives to borrow food to save his starving family, he must obtain signatures and official stamps from the head of the farm, from which he is taking the food, the police officer in charge of the farm, and the head of the Neighbor Unit in charge of the relative who is lending food to him.

Controversy over Grain Theft in Pyongwon County
South Pyongan Province is struggling to tighten its control over agricultural production, which seems harder to do this year due to a bad harvest. The number of grain thefts this fall has greatly exceeded the average from previous years. Ehpa Farm in Pyongwon County reported a 60% loss of the corn harvest from the field assigned to Nongsan no.2 work unit and an independent work unit after soldiers stole part of the harvest. The farm authorities announced that security guards must be held responsible for the loss and their share of food rations this year will be reduced by the amount of the loss to the work unit. This policy sparked furious resistance from workers at the farm, who argued that no security guard would be able to get any food rations at the end of the harvest. The workers expressed their discontent: “We heard that this decision was made by the County Party and the Rural Management Committee. Then, why aren’t the officials held responsible for it as well? They are just idling around and only exploiting others. That is too much.”

On another occasion, Cheongam District in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, decided to harvest corn early rather than let it ripen in the fields and be stolen by thieves. The district started the early harvest on September 21.

Strict Regulation of Mobile Phones in National Border Area

The National Border Area, including Hoeryung, Musan, Onsung in the North Hamgyong Province and Hyesan in Ryanggang Province, was declared a major surveillance area. If it is discovered that the husband and wife both own mobile phones, it is considered a transaction benefiting enemy, and the entire family is sent to the detention center. If one person uses the mobile phone for simple operation and no one else knows about the use of the mobile phone, the person receives three years of re-education. However, if the entire family conceals the use of the mobile phone, the act is considered a transaction benefiting enemy, and the family receives a more severe punishment.

Serious Human Rights Violations in Traveler’s Police Detention Cells in Chungjin
The traveler’s detention center in Chungjin City in Soonam District in the North Hamgyong Province mostly detains people who are caught while using trains or freight vehicles in the North Hamgyong Province. Most of them are charged with misdemeanors which they could get out of if they bribed the officials with a pack of cigarettes. Most detainees are men between the ages of 19 and 40 and women between the ages of 18 and 30 and come from North Hamgyong Province, South Kangwon Province and South Pyongan Province. Many of them are in dire situations and are caught while traveling to the Northern provinces to seek help from their relatives or make a living by peddling goods. A man was kicked out of his house because he could not provide for his family; a teenager ran away from home, unable to withstand her stepmother’s abuses; a woman was kicked out of her house because she could not earn living by selling goods; and another woman came to peddle goods after a divorce. While their stories may be different, many of them leave their homes due to shortage of food. In the detention center, the detainees are treated like criminals. If they break any of the detention center rules, they are stripped down to their underwear and beaten with a belt or a club.

Furthermore, if a woman is pretty and young, prison guards and police officers request sexual relationships from them in the evenings. If they obey, they are given the tasks of washing the prison guards’ clothes and beddings. If they resist, they are taken into the discipline room and physically and verbally abused. If these women become unconscious during the beatings, cold water is thrown over them. These women are also punished by being forced to repeatedly do sit-to-stand movements.

On August 5, a woman from Anju County in the South Pyongan Province died of high fever after being detained for 20 days. The death certificate stated epidemic hemorrhagic fever as the cause of death. Despite the medical certificate, the cause of death cannot be verified. The public sentiment is growing more outrageous as the abuse and acts of violence within the detention centers are revealed. Some residents have filed complaints to the authorities which have led the Chungjin Police Detention Center to provide internal countermeasures.

Large Number of Absent Workers on the First Day of 100-Day Battle

The 150-day battle period ended and another 100-day battle started on September 23 with a large number of absent workers reported at the factory in Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province. Factory primary party laborers searched for absentees and picked up workers. Laborers expressed their fatigue with the battle period and said, “Does the battle feed you?” Choi Hyungchul commented, “I don’t think the central officials know the realities of the lower class. They think it would work if they push us around but that’s a big misunderstanding.”

Confession of Officer at People’s Committee, “Pity on Ordinary People”
The following is a story shared by an officer with Chung Kwangho (alias), a businessman in Pyongyang.

“On August 7, 2009 I went to visit my cousin in Pyungsung. He introduced me to his uncle-in-law who works at the City People’s Committee. He seemed to be 47or 48 years old and appeared very well educated. After exchanging introductions with the in- law, we sat down to drink. We made small talk and somehow started talking about this. He said, ‘In the old days, the Great Leader (Kim Il Sung) used to emphasize the importance of education of people over and over again. But nowadays, the Dear Leader (Kim Jong Il) tells us that we have educated people enough and need to purge those who deserve to be purged. This is the Dear Leader’s political view. Am I not right, in-law?’ So I asked, “How can you talk like this when you work at the People’s Committee?”

He laughed and said, “Why should I hide anything from my in-laws? We don’t have to worry about putting food on the table, but do you remember how many people suffered and lost their lives during the Arduous March? Whenever our officials sit around, we talk about those days and compare these days to that time. Ah, please do not assume that I am opposing or criticizing our society because I am saying this. We need to righteously judge and analyze in order to develop the society, right? I am saying it because I am upset that we have to hold our thoughts in our head and only speak about what is appropriate. It is not as bad as the Arduous March, but people are suffering. The Great Leader guaranteed food, and there was no complaint about society. Nowadays people gather and agree that those were the days of communism. Isn’t it natural to miss those days because life is so hard these days? With the Dear Leader, citizens are starving to death and factories are closing down.

How are living standards? There is so many non-tax duties imposed on people, and you can see how badly our living conditions deteriorated. Even children and elderly people complain about this hard life. What is the cause of this? Because there is no food, people try to survive by escaping to China and South Korea. How can they possibly arrest all these people? Even if they successfully arrested all of them, how are they going to feed them? If they can’t solve the problem within their country, isn’t it right to save their family by working abroad? During the Japanese occupation, people migrated to foreign countries to survive. Those are the current Jochongryun in Japan and Korean-Chinese in China. I don’t understand why they stop those who are trying to save their families. Then, is it right to sit and starve to death? You must know very well. What is the root cause? Is it politics or management? They all know the answer but never talk about it. Only the poor citizens are suffering.

It will be especially hard to find food because all of the bread basket regions had a poor harvest this year. If they can’t bring foreign assistance to solve the problem, at least they should not stop people from going abroad in search of food. That is saving lives. Am I not right? Tell me, please. If they know that they would die either way, wouldn’t they give it a try? Ha ha. You are not going to report me for saying these words, right?”

This is what I witnessed. He told me because he trusts me, but I was surprised by his courage. It is more shocking that it wasn’t an average citizen but an officer at the People’s Committee is thinking like this. He must have seen and heard many things and then reached that conclusion. But what surprises me most is that, as he told me, many other high ranking officials in the country are thinking the same way.”

Prostitution Increases as Means of Survival
The hard economic times have caused an increasing number of women, who have completed their middle school (equivalent to high school in other countries) education, turn to prostitution to feed their families. In the Pohang District in Chungjin City, North Hamgyong Province, a drug bust by the enforcement division this past August and September revealed that most drug users in the area were women who abused the drugs in order to endure prostitution. As the problem of prostitution gains attention, the police authorities condemned it as a side-effect of capitalism, and sent the drug traffickers to Re-education Centers and the drug abusers to discipline centers of the People's Safety Agency (the police). The police authorities also decided to send prostitutes to Discipline Centers of the People’s Safety Agency on the grounds that they are disgracing themselves and their families, without taking into account the circumstances and conditions that caused the women to turn to prostitution in the first place.

The Youth Union in each district is tasked with census of every one in each village offices and Neighbor Units during 100-day battle, identifying individuals who have graduated from school since 2007 and reporting on their first full-time job and employers. The government will take action against those who do not secure employment after graduation or are absent without leave. The Investigation Team of the Youth Union, organized during the 150-day battle, was also reorganized to decrease the number of youth committing delinquency and criminal behavior.

Fishing Boat Sinks in Shinpo City, Eight Missing

On September 6, in Shinpo City, South Hamgyong Province, a fishing troll boat carrying nine sailors and ten temporary workers sank due to a breach on the bottom of the boat. Five sailors and six temporary workers were rescued by the coast guards, but eight others could not be found. Authorities believe that the eight did not survive. The cause of the accident was discovered to be an improper repair of the boat. As a result, the chief engineer of Export Seafood Company was held responsible and relegated to a laborer. The accident temporarily stopped all fishing boat traffic, negatively affecting the fishing industry.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

North Korea Today No.300 October 2009

[“Good Friends” aims to help the North Korean people from a humanistic point of view and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean people live as accurately as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]
[Hot Topics]
On Releasing the 300th Edition of North Korea Today

Grain Prices during 2008 – 2009
Food Situation during 2008 – 2009
2008 Food Situation Log
2009 Food Situation Log

Announcement: Abolition of General Market in 2008
2008 Market Situation
2008 Market Controls
2009 Market Controls
People’s Response to Market Control by Government

Investigations on Officials in 2009
Control over Residents in 2009

Enforced 150-Day Battle in 2009
[NKT No.283] Production of Six Million Ton, Goal of 150-Day Battle

Women’s Heavy Labor Burden
Three Big Issues for Children

[NKT No.292] Surplus Rice Stock Should be Sent to Save Lives!
[NKT No.279] Ban on Business and Small Patch Farming, Why Repeating Bad Policies
[NKT No.154] Starving Children Are Innocent Victims
[Hot Topics]
On Releasing the 300th Edition of North Korea Today
This issue marks the 300th edition of the North Korea Today which was first published on September 1, 2004. All those issues represent a lot of effort on the part of many hard-working individuals. It is a pleasure and a privilege of North Korea Today to express gratitude and appreciation to those who made contributions with sacrifices.

The 300th edition summarizes the most up-to-date news of residents with simple explanations. We hope the newsletter will be of help to individuals who conduct research on North Korea and other interested parties. North Korea Today is focused on the lives of North Korean residents. Efforts are made to include stories of the residents as they are. These efforts cause more sadness than joy, as we uncover more heart-breaking incidents than happy occasions.
One issue is clear that the focus of such events whether of happiness, anger, sadness or joy, lays the issue of eating. This is the reason why information about food is so important, and consequently the trends in price changes of rice and corn are treated prominently. Reviewing recent news reveals that the economic activities of North Korean residents are limited to peddling and small plot farming. Inspections and prohibitions against the residents are causing friction throughout the nation. Awareness on the part of mid-level leaders and the residents is changing rapidly. We learn from all these processes that the keyword to core understanding of the residents is the ‘issue of eating.’ This reveals the painful reality of the residents and at the same time acts as a measure of stability in North Korean society.
North Korea Today will continue listening to the North Korean residents and report on what they think and want. Their lives, at some time in the future, may lead us to the issues of humanistic aid for North Korea and/or human rights. In the meantime, such information could be useful in supporting projects for North Korean development on a short-term basis. In the mid- and long-term the accumulated information could serve as useful resources for a peaceful unification policy.
We are well aware of our limitations. One thing we can promise, though, is that we will try our utmost efforts in our sense of responsibility toward making a bright future for all Koreans.
Grain Prices during 2008 – 2009
1. Changes in price of rice during 2008
1) April – 2,500 to 2,800 NKW (3 times that of previous year)
2) May-June – 3,800 to 4,000, Steep rise varies on region and dates {unstable market}
3) July – 2,400 to 2,500 (Generally uniform prices nationwide, High price, but stable market)
4) September – 2,800 to 3,000 (Price rose during mid-August)
5) October – 2,200 to 2,400 (Lower prices due to early harvest)
6) November-December – 2,000 to 2,300 (Lower prices due to harvest. Higher than 1,300 to 1,400 during January)

2. Causes of steep rise in grain prices in 2008
1) Internal factors
- Natural disaster: Flood damages during 2006 and 2007. Damages to grain warehouse area Hwanghae Province, South Pyongan Province and mountainous Kangwon Province
- Policy failure: Ban on market activity and small plot farming. Confiscation of small plot farms. Failed attempt to return to food rationing system in October, 2005 led to reduction of food reserve by individuals.
- Lack of maintenance of collective farms and fundamental shortage of agricultural material such as fertilizer, vinyl and pesticides
2) External factors
- Reduction of external aids due to missile launch and nuclear test in 2006
- Suspension of support from South Korea in 2008 (400,000-ton grain and 300,000-ton fertilizer)
- Ban on grain export by Chinese government causing steep rise in grain prices)
- Rise in international grain prices (reduced grain imports)

3. Changes in price of rice during 2009
1) First half: stable in general in the range of 1,800 to 2,000
2) Towards the end of August: Increasing to the range of 2,500 to 2,600
3) Rise anticipated until harvest

4. Causes of changes in grain prices in 2009
1) Stability during first half: Food shortage still serious. Restriction of market and reduction of purchasing power are the main reasons for rising prices.
- Shrunk market due to ban on market activity and 150-day battl
- Shrinkage of purchasing power of the residents
2) Reason for steep rise in September: Prices tend to rise until autumnal harvest in previous years.
- Residents ran out of food by early fall
- Residents could overcome this past difficult spring with previous year’s crop but ran out of food by end of August
- Price increase is anticipated until harvest

Price of Rice 2008 – 2009 (unit: N.Korean Won)
Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province
Price of Corn 2008 – 2009 (unit: N.Korean Won)
Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province

Food Situation during 2008 – 2009
1. Characteristics of food crisis in 2008
1) Shift of regions of occurrence of starvation deaths and type of people: South and North Hamgyong Provinces (1998) to South and North Hwanghae Provinces (2008), city laborers (1998) to rural farmers (2008)
2) Reason why farmers of Hwanghae Provinces suffered most:
- Steep reduction of crop due to flood damages, which occurred in 2006 and 2007
- Steep reduction of food allotment to the farmers because of priority collection of grain for military provisions
- City laborers have learned to adjust to the harsh reality in the past 10 years by means of peddling, small plot farming. Rural farmers, on the other hand, continue with their traditional methods.

2. Persistent social phenomena in 2009
1) Inattention to long-term malnutrition, especially among the most vulnerable groups (elderly and infants)
2) Increase in dismantling of families and suicides out of despair
3) Increase in desertions due to malnutrition, thefts and robberies by soldiers

2008 Food Situation Log
Month / Food Situation in North Korea /N.Korean Government’s Response and External Situation
- Farmers begin borrowing corns from January
- People concerned about running out of food by late February.
-Hungry soldiers desert from military bases
- China discontinues 13% tax return on major export grains from 12/20/2007
- Impose 5-25% export duties and put food export quota into effect
-Ration suspended for Haeju railroad workers (for 3 months) and Gimchaek Steel Mill workers
- In welfare institutions, kids live on ground corncob
- “Even landladies beg for food this year.”
- Lee administration in South Korea took office
- Absentee rate rises in Ryongyeon County and Jaeryung County (South Hwanghae Province), Chunma County (North Pyongan Province), Eunduk County and Chungjin City (North Hamgyong Province), and part of Pyongyang due to food shortage and suspended ration
- In breadbasket areas, farm workers could not work due to food shortage
Serious shortage in the army provisions.
Record-breaking high price of rice and corn
- Death by starvation in detention camps, Kkotjebi shelters and orphanages
- Death by starvation in Yangduk, South Pyongan Province
- Despite strong measures to hold down the rice price at 2,200 won, the rice price in Haeju soars to 2,750 won/kg
- Farming preparation delayed due to national fertilizer crisis and farm workers’ absenteeism
-Pyongyang announces no ration until October
- More people run away from work due to food crisis
- Farming mobilization begins on April 23
- Spring food crisis is worsening nationally. “The second Arduous March” begins
- Suicide cases on rise nationally
- “Food crisis is not only our problem but a global phenomenon.”
- North Korea requests China’s permission on 150,000 tons of grain export but China only permits 50,000 tons
- Death by starvation occurs every day in almost all areas in North and South Hwanghae Province
- Number of wanderers and Kkotjebis increases
- 70-80% of children in farming area in South Hwanghae Province quit school
- Food situation aggravates in Kangwon Province. Nampo City asks for food support. Residents near Pyongyang eke their living on thin gruel
- Regulation on market activities became hazy as food crisis worsens
- Food price soars. Rice price control has no effect.
- North Korean authorities start to use the Party fund to distribute food in major cities and Public Enterprises
- Rally to criticize South Korean President Lee’s statement started
- Central Party, “No possibility of solving food crisis”
- The cabinet plans to announce the US aid of 500,000 tons of food
- Death by starvation expands to all parts of North Hwanghae Province
- Rice prices in North and South Hwangehae Province exceeds 4,000 won at once
- The Party, the government and the military struggle to purchase food provisions
- Famine and death by famine spread across the nation, including Hamju and Hamheung in South Hamgyong Province and the areas in Kangwon Province
- The military force relies on porridge
- Camps in Kangwon Province begin the “two-meals-a-day” campaign
- Due to the ration shortage, military ordered to relocate the family of high ranking officers
- In Seungho Division in Pyongyang, 65% of residents live on porridge
- Death toll increases among people excluded from food distribution
- UN food inspectors visit North Pyongan and North Hamgyong provinces
- Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visits Pyongyang
- China permits additional 100,000 tons of food export to North Korea
- Border pass to purchase food made easier to issue
Chairman Kim Jong-Il, “Solve food problem as the top priority”
- Chungjin, Heungnam and Pyongyang begins distributing corns
- The initial allocation of the food aid from the US arrives on June 29
- The carpentry working unit in Ryongyeon County in South Hwanghae Province made three times more coffins than last year
- Due to food crisis, the number of Kkotjebi and crimes caused by poverty increase
- The educated turn to market activity due to continuing food crises
- Truancy increases in elementary schools and kindergartens in rural villages in South Hwanghae Province
- Rice price, 2,500-2,700 won/kg nationwide
- Heungnam Fertilizer distributed in North Hamgyong Province
- Food condition worst in Kangwon Province
- Early barley harvest in North Hwanghae Province
- “The US aid is our trophy.”
Merchant age regulation reemphasized
- UN food inspectors visit Onsung and Hoeryong in North Hamgyong Province
- WFP concerns over “humanitarian emergency” exacerbated
- S. Korean tourist shot dead in Kumgang Mountain. The inter-Korean relationship worsened
- The US-aided food distributed in parts of Hamgyong and Hwanghae provinces
- Heavy rain fall damages in Kaesong, Seoheung, Pyonggang (Kangwon Province), Gimhwa, and Jungpyung(South Hamkyong Province)
- Pyongyang, no hint of August ration
- 35 dead in spring hardship season, Taesung Farm in Nampo
- 32 dead in spring hardship season at Jungbong Farm in Shingye County
- 28 dead in spring hardship season at Heukkyo Division Farm in Hwangju County
- 70% of death certificates issued in hospitals in Jangyeon County are Farm laborers
- 70% of death toll in Haeju is among Farm laborers
- 38 dead in spring hardship season in Anju in South Pyongan Province
- The Second and third allocations of US aid arrive
- Department of Agriculture reports, “the sum of the harvest this year might only be the amount to feed the total population for 6 months at best.”
- “Provide food by October 10 by all means.”
- Pyongyang holds Public Lectures regarding food situation
- Pyonggang and Chulwon counties in Kangwon Province troubled by corn thieves
- Corn thieves increasing in Yeonan and Bukchung counties
- The 1st Corps of the 46th Division lived on grass meal in spring hardship season
- Mining Public Enterprise in Northern District receives US aided wheat
- Workers of munitions factory in Jagang Province receives US-aided wheat
- South Hamkyong Province University distributes 15 potatoes a day
- Sinuiju University distributes 15Kg of corn in September
- Soonchun and Pyongsung will not provide food this and next year
- Chungjin looses regulation until food distribution restarts
- Authorities of each province resolve to secure the army provisions

- In Kangwon Province, households who are able to eat potatoes considered to be wealthy
- Construction sites, military bases and orphanages in North Hamgyong Province distribute the October ration
- Residents in Kaesong live on corn, except those in Kaesong Industrial Complex
- Food distributions completed in early October in Gimchaek Steel Mill, Chungjin
- Hamheung branch of National Science Institute restarts food distribution after a lapse of a year

- Soonchun Vinalon United Enterprise restarts corn distribution after a lapse of a year
- Danchun Refinery in South Hamgyong Province distributes food by late November

- Ryongpo-ri Farm in Jungju city, North Pyongan Province, two meals of potato per day
- Yeonbak Plain farmers’ crop share only equivalent to 4 to 6 months’ food supply
- Annual grain production increase in Kangwon, South Pyongan, and North and South Hwanghae provinces
- Medical workers in South Pyongan Province receive ration of whole corn
- Soonchun Mine Machinery Factory distributes 7.5kg of corn ration in December

Food Situation in 2009
Month / Food Situation in North Korea / N.Korean Government’s Response and External Situation
- Pyongsung Food Distribution Center in South Pyongan Province fails to operate properly.
– Food Distribution Center in Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, fails to sell food
- Price of rice at the Food Distribution Center in Cungjin, North Hamgyong Province, only 100 N.Korean won lower than the market price
- Each collective farm in South Pyongan Province distributes food in 7-8 month quantities
- Jickari Farm in North Hamgyong Province distributes food in 6 month quantities
- Ongjin County Farm in South Hwanghae Province distributes food in 3 month quantities
- Jaeryung County Farm in South Hwanghae Province distributes food with an average quantity of less than 150 kg
- Chungjin Saguri Farm in North Hamgyong Province distributes whole corn amounts that average 230kg
- Soonchun Cement Factory, no food distribution in January
- The government announced that it would operate food distribution centers as part of the implementation of the general market closure policy, but failed to deliver promised rations due to a lack of food in the distribution centers
- The Jilin Province of China allows the export of 20,000 tons of food to North Korea
- Anak County in South Hwanghae Province, absenteeism appears on collective farms due to lack of food
- Gimchaeck Steel Mill in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province, distributes food for February holiday (15 day quantity)
- Only the Yonghae unit in the Gimchaeck Steel Mill in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province, distributes food for February (in addition to the holiday food distribution)
- 40% of the Miners in Seongchun County in South Pyongan Province survive on grass porridge
- No 118 Missile Engine Factory in Kaechun City, South Pyongan Province, halts food distribution starting in February

- People in Danchun City, South Hamgyong Province, survive on porridge
- People in Hongwon County, South Hamgyong Province, survive on corn porridge
- People in Shinpo City, South Hamgyong Province survive on grass roots and vegetable porridge
- Gimchaeck Steel Mill in Chungjin, North Hamgyong Province, no food distribution for March
- Hoeryung City, North Hamgyong Province, distributes 7.2 kg of corn for March
- People survive on sweet potatoes in North Pyongan Province

- Pyongyang halves food distribution starting in April
- Kangdong County Mine, South Pyong-an Province distributes food in 15-day quantities
- Kangseo County Mine, South Pyong-an Province distributes food in 15-day quantities
- Ohbong Mine in Eunduk County, North Hamgyong Province, no food distribution at all this year
- Workers in Danchun Machinery Repair Factory, South Hamgyong Province, survive on tree-bark porridge
- Agricultural Department holds meetings for “good agricultural performance this year”
- Public lectures in military supply factories on ‘food self-reliance’
- People on the Moonam Collective Farm in Danchun County, South Hamgyong Province survive on sea algae porridge
- Chulwon County military unit in Kangwon Province, distributes 400g of food
- Heechun City Machinery Factory in Jagang Province halts food distribution from April on
- Distribution of Heungnam Fertilizer to major agricultural areas nationwide
- Ryongsung district in Pyongyang give out advance notice that there will be no food distribution until September
- The Central district in Pyongyang anticipates a food deficiency starting in July
- Workers in the Petrol Barrel Factory in Pyongyang are provided with one meal of porridge a day
- Kaechun Mine Association, South Hamgyong Province, halts food distribution starting in late May

- 40% of doctors in Kim Jungsuk Nursing Home survive on two meals of porridge a day
- South Hwanghae Province halts food distribution to workers mobilized for farming
- Lack of food and construction material at the Uhrangchun Power Plant in North Hamgyong Province
- Shinpo Seniors’ Home, South Hamgyong Province, provides corn-powder porridge
- Department of Agricultural worries about small harvest due to low temperatures
- North Hamgyong Province suffers severely from corn insects due to low temperatures
- Food crisis among people in rural areas with no food left. They try to borrow food from others
- People in rural areas in South Hwanghae Province survive on three meals of early-harvested corn a day
- Farmers in North Hwanghae Province survive on one or two meals of porridge a day
- Farmers in Ryonggan County, South Pyongan Province, survive on one or two meals of porridge a day

- Food crisis continues until harvest season in North and South Hwanghae Province because people cannot afford to buy food
- Kowon County in South Hamgyong Province distributes 5kg of barley to households surviving on porridge
- Food crisis in the construction brigade in Heechun Power Plant, Jagang Province

Announcement: Abolition of General Market in 2008
1. The 2008 New Year’s Editorial Announced the Abolition of the General Market
1) The editorial, emphasizing the restoration of true socialism, warned more intense control of the General market
2) The editorial stressed the overcoming of the ideological penetration from U.S.A and South Korea and an ideological solidarity to build a strong socialistic nation. This reflects North Korea’s underlying sense of crisis, that is, economic reforms and open door policies will lead to its collapse
3) The market system is regarded as an anti-socialism habitat

2. Strong Repeated Emphases on the Abolition by the Second Half of 2008-- Launched the Model Farmers’ Markets in Major Cities including Pyungsung and Hamheung

2008 Market Situation
1. January 2008: Six month delay of the abolition and the restructuring of the farmers’ market

2. In some areas of Northern Hamgyung Province, women under 40 facing livelihood difficulties are allowed to do business. For example, women living with in-laws or with college student husbands who can’t earn salary or distribution for their wives, and women with low incomes should work in markets to make a living

3. Intensified market control after the election of the Supreme People’s Assembly delegates on March 8
1) Prohibition of doing business for women under 40
2) Restriction on sales Items: products manufactured by joint ventures, heavy machinery, electronic products, and American and South Korean Products
3) Restriction on the number of sales products. (e.g., the sales limits per person are 5 ready-made clothes, 10 processed goods, and 20 kilograms of grains.)

4. Cold wave of recession over major markets.
1) More sellers than buyers in markets. Sellers are crying over their slow business.
2) Markets faced difficulties due to intensified regulations and restrictions on the mobility of residents during the March 8 Election and the 150 Day Battle.
3) 40% decrease of the number of sellers in Hamheung City

5. Punishment on the sales of non-agricultural items according to the ‘February 17 Policy’
1) Announcement: ‘Selling prohibited items will be punished as an act of anti-socialism’
2) No official announcement regarding the reform of the farmers’ market but the restructuring of the market has been accelerated.

6. June 2009: Decision to shut down the Pyungsung General Market, known as ‘the source of all market businesses.’

7. As of September 2009: Due to the first half of the 150 Day Battle and the gradual transformation of general markets to farmers’ markets, markets in general have been shrinking but still continue and survive.

2008 Market Controls
Month / Control / Details
- Age Restrictions of Sellers
- Announcement : “No business in markets is allowed for women under age 40”
- Deployment of Women under 40 at factories
- Announcement: “Deploy all women under 40 at work places”
- Warning: Absent women will be reported to their husbands’ workplaces
- Regardless of age, women with three or more children are allowed to do business in markets
- Sinuiju: No Sales Products in Carts
- “Don’t carry luggage in carts or on bicycles,” meaning, “do not carry sales items.”
- Pyongsung: Ban on Big Sales
- The activities of the Joint Crack-Down Team organized between Pyongsung City Party, Peoples Council, Police Office, and Market Management Office
- “No big sales is allowed”
- Criticism on Pyongsung : “The whole sale center of the nation but is the main source of all market businesses ”
- Pyongyang: Emphasis on the Deployment of Women at Factories
- Age Restrictions of Sellers. Emphasis on placing women in factories: “Women should contribute to social development” and “Pyongyang should be the example for local cities and counties”
- Age Restrictions of Sellers.
- Shoe Sales Ban
- Agricultural and Hand- Crafted Product Sales
- Age restriction reissued – sales ban on sellers under forty
- Nationwide ban on domestic shoe products in markets: Department of Commerce decision issued to markets nationwide
- “Sales of individually cultivated fruits and vegetables, fish and daily-use items are only allowed for sales.”
- Direct: Restructuring of general markets into farmers’ markets (Department of Commerce Direct No.23 and No.61)
- Yeonsa County: Goods in Stock are only allowed for business
- Announcement of market conversion to the farmers’ market from Jan 1, 2009
- Sales are allowed only on the 1st, 11th, and 21st of each month. Sales of individually cultivated fruits and vegetables, fish and daily-use items are only allowed
- Food, industrial products, and pork are banned. Food is sold only at the Food Distribution Center. Other products are sold only in the state-run stores
- Yeonsa County, Northern Hamgyong Province: “Get rid of all stock items. The sales will be entirely banned from the new year.”
- Model Farmers’ Markets In Major Cities.
- Major cities such as Pyongyang, Hamheung, Soonchun, Kaesung, and Chungjin run model farmers’ markets
- Sales are allowed only on the 1st, 11th, and 21st of each month
- Sales of food and industrial products are banned.
- Agricultural products are only allowed for sales

2009 Market Controls
Month / Controls / Result
- Closed national comprehensive market. Restructuring of farmer’s market was postponed for six months

- Strict movement control in preparation for Supreme People's Council Senior Members Assembly (March 8)
- Business at marketplaces drops due to travel restrictions
- In Chungjin, N. Hamgyong, ban on sale of items other than agricultural produce in marketplaces
- Vendors occupying sales booths reduced by 40% due to market control and slow business
- Increase in price (esp. of imported or manufactured items) due to high exchange rate of Chinese Yuan
- Sellers go door to door, back-alley sales, sell & run sales in order not to pay the sales booth fee or continue selling of banned items
-Ban on sales of food in the marketplace.
-Re-opening public lectures on nationwide regulation of market.
-Vending from carts (rather than stationary booths), illegal market activities of enterprises
-Vending by women under 40 (although Gov. allows only women over 40 to occupy vending position)
-Pyongsung is taking shape as the national wholesale market
-Separate sales office in the market
-Gov. threatens to severely punish back-alley sales, sell & run sales

- The government closed Pyongsung market in Pyongan Province because of its role as a nationwide wholesale market
- Small scale periodic markets in each district
- Sellers in Kanggye, Jagang Province to be fined if their luggage is larger than regulation permits (from August 2)
- City parties hold public lectures on “Reduce the volume of sales luggage”
- Sellers seem to be indifferent

People’s Response to Market Control by Government
1. Restriction on sale and operation hour, rise of back-alley sales, sell & run sales tactics, trading in cars and black market
2. Restriction on the item of sales, increase of door-to-door sales and soliciting customers only by the list of items (sales by invitation – in which sellers approach potential buyers with a list of items and invite interested persons to a private place to complete the transaction)
3. Restriction on the age of seller (under aged vendors required to bring mother or mother-in-law to transaction) women’s anti-age restriction protest in Chungjin City, frequent conflicts between sellers and enforcement officers and attempts to cross border by women at the border towns
Investigations on Officials in 2009
Month / Region / Subject / Control
Dec (2008) / Major cities nationwide / All officials
Investigation on private houses: punishment on new construction of private houses or luxurious houses
- Hyesan City, Ryanggang Province: 54 officials dismissed
- Hoeryung, N.Hamgyung Province: City prosecutor dismissed. Other officials demoted to laborer or farmer status
- Pyongsung, S.Pyongan Province: 21 officials dismissed and ousted from the Party
- Provincial Party Work Secretary of Jagang Province dismissed for illegal modification of his private house on May 2.
Jan / N.Hamgyong Province / Agricultural workers in N.Hamgyong Province
Punishment for insufficient military rice provision- 9 of Ri Party Secretaries dismissed due to failure to secure their assigned military rice provision
Feb / N.Pyongan Province / Hospital workers under Provincial Health Department
Control on counterfeited medical certificate
- Laborers demand counterfeited medical certificate to avoid attendance to their work place
- 40 incidents identified during investigation. Actual cases presumed to be more than that
Officials related to electricity
Electricity Department led Provincial Electricity Cross-Investigation (But Hwanghae and N.Pyongan Provinces performed self-investigation)
-Pyongsung, S.Pyongan Province: Provincial Chief Instructor and Electricity Distribution Manager put into public execution(Feb 2)
-Hamheung, S.Hamgyung Province: 7 managers of factory and national enterprises sentenced to re-education
-Heungnam, S.Hamgyong Province: Technical manager of a steel goods factory sentenced to 9 years and 6 months re-education
Mar / Bochun, Ryanggang Province / Police officers
Illicit sale of scrap iron
- Expulsion and dismissal of 40 incumbent police officers
- They are accused of taking the profit from selling scrap iron collected from residents for 600 won per kg
Hoeryung, N.Hamgyung Province
Ri Party Secretary, Workers in collective farms
1. Collected money for buying agricultural supplies and took it for themselves
2. Selling or using of grain for personal benefit
Apr / Nationwide / City/County Party Leading Secretary
1. Responsible official at the Central Party dismissed for delayed construction at Mt.Baekdu site
2. Warning of punishment of the responsible official if food and other necessary supplies are not provided to the laborers at Mt.Baekdu Construction Site
May / Nationwide / All Party members
1. Party Central Council ordered “Officials must spell out in repentance every illegal acts they committed within the last three years”
2. Reinforced Public Letter Diary in order to encourage cross surveillance over each other
Jun / Ryanggang Province / Provincial Party officials
After fleeing of Provincial Youth Alliance 1 Secretary, all related officials were punished
- Dismissal of Provincial Party Leading Secretary, Organization Secretary, Propaganda Secretary, Work Secretary, Head of Security Department (June 17)
Aug / National Border Area /All officials
Central Party Investigative Group
- investigate illegal acts of officials in the national border area
- comprised of exemplary workers of National Security Agency and students of Keumsung Political College (School of Officials)
- 60 officials arrested for illicit trade and protection in Sinuiju, N.Pyongan. Most extreme punishment expected for 20 of them
All Party, Administrative workers
Ideology investigation project
- Anti-socialism investigation in Kangwon Province resulted in 80 officials arrested, 20 sentenced for re-education, some for death penalty. Others dismissed from their position, or their family members expelled to other regions

Control over Residents in 2009
Month / Region / Authority /Control
Jan / Ntional Border Area / National Security Agency
1. Anti-socialism Investigation Group
- investigated number of family members, names, livelihood
- in order to control spy activities and crossing the national border
2. Special Lectures
- “Report on people who defected to South Korea”
- “A family member crosses the border, everyone will be expelled”
- “Those deported from China will be sentenced to re-education up to 10 years”
- “Save food and make careful allocation for many days”
Feb / Nationwide / Safety Bureau of each region
1. Strict movement control in preparation for Supreme People's Council Senior Members Assembly (March 8)
National Border Area
Safety Bureau of the region
1. Reinforced control over lodging
2. Radio wave detection team was sent to investigate
3. National Security Command investigation
4. Anyone without a pass to be put into detention center from March 9
All N.Pyongan Province
National Defense Council, Central Party Investigation
February 10-14. Full-scale control over trading in small alleys
Apr / National Border Area / 27th Office Investigation sent by the Central Party
1. Investigate if the TV channel is set to a fixed position
2. Investigate possession of illegal video
3. Sudden withdrawal of 27th office investigators on May 17
- because they interfere with 150-day battle work
- people whose TV and computers confiscated do not go to work and try every means to get them back, so County Parties appealed to the Central Party
May / Hamheung, S.Hamgyung / Safety Bureau
Cracking down on drugs until Sept 9
Jun / Eunduk, N.Hamgyung Province / Safety Bureau
Cracking down on illegal alcohol until June 2-4
Safety Bureau, disciplinary teams
Control on women's dress
- Cracking down on women who are not wearing skirts
- Pants are allowed for women to wear from July, but the color should not be gray or black.
Jul / National Border Area / National Security Agency
Increased control on households whose family member defected from North Korea
- 20 people arrested in N.Hamgyung Province from January to June accused of their relation with South Korea. 15 of them put to life sentence.
- Order issued to tighten the surveillance of every family member of defectors who went to South Korea
National Environment Bureau under People’s Safety Agency
Nationwide forest investigation from June 20
Sariwon, N.Hwanghae Province
City Party, Safety Bureau
Final review of Anti-socialism Investigative Group's work
- Comprised of selected 25 from each of Youth Alliance, Workers Alliance, Women's Alliance, Farmers' Alliance
- Results of investigation in June revealed 58 drop-outs of organizational life without any job, 27 Party members, 37 Youth Alliance members, 30 farmers who do not go to work. They were sentenced to be punished at City Discipline Center
- 10 women who traded sex for money put to public trial
- 60 households without registration identified. 40 of them were fined, the rest 20 were expelled
Aug / Chungjin, N.Hamgyung Province / National Security Agency
Political lectures against border crossing
-“Anyone accused of crossing the national border and/or using cell phones will be severely punished and put to public accusation.”

Enforced 150-Day Battle in 2009
1. Background of the 150-Day Battle: Kim Jung-Il Announces the Construction Scheme of the Strong and Prosperous Nation to the Officers of the Central Committee of the Party on December of 1994
- Scientific revival by one’s own effort – the nation must be revived by its own efforts by securing the modern scientific technology, not by making a rule-of-thumb estimate
- Improvement of the relationship between North Korea and the U.S. –improvement of foreign trade relationship and the relationship between neighboring countries is the precondition for the construction of rich and powerful nation
- Emphasis on scientific technology

2. Objective of the 150-Day Battle
- A strategic move to open the Strong and Prosperous nation by 2012
- The 150-day battle is the realization of the Strong and Prosperous nation
- Promoted national policy towards ‘Strong and Prosperous nation’ on this basis for the past 15 years
- The relationship between neighboring countries is still unstable due to: the aggravation of North Korea’s isolation in the international community; the North Korean nuclear issue resulting in conflict between North Korea and the U.S.; and the new South Korean administration of Lee Myung-bak resulting in tense relationship between North and South Korea
- Internally, aggravation of food and economic crisis and the people’s poverty problems increase social confusion
- ‘2012 Strong and Prosperous nation’ is presented as a national vision that will overcome the national and international insecurity and an attempt to gather the full ability of the people for the last time

3. Method of 150-Day Battle: Full-Throttle Attack, Full-Throttle Mobilization, and Full-Throttle Battle by Entire People
- Emphasizes the three spirits: do-or-die spirit to guard the Great Leader, spirit to revive by one’s own effort and spirit of collectivism
- Encourages the 150-day battle with propagandas such as, “Learn the combative spirit of the people from Jagang Province,” “Attune the heartbeat with the arduous march of the General. Then a miracle and a reformation will occur,” and “Show the three: the courage of a forerunner, the pride of a powerful person, and the boldness of a creator.”

4. People’s Response
- Officers are skeptical about the outcome of the 150-day battle due to the ‘destruction of the resource supply system, lack of materials and lack of food’
- People complain that their lives are worse off due to the restriction in trade, regulation on mobility, harsh labor and food crisis
- “The 150-day battle is not to open the gate of the strong and prosperous nation but to close the gate so the strong and prosperous nation would pass by”
- Complaints are internalized as it is said that “the 150-day battle is the battle of death and inflicts pain on the laborers”

Re-visit to related previous articles
* The article below is an anecdote that shows the impossibility of achieving successful results from the 150-day battle due to the lack of materials, food, fertilizers, and other farming equipment

[Correspondence from Pyongyang]
[NKT No.283] Production of Six Million Ton, Goal of 150-Day Battle
It has been one month since the 150-day battle started. On June 6th, which is the usual day for residents’ monthly general meetings, an extended general meeting of the primary party was called. This meeting featured enthusiastic members of Korean Farm Labor Union as instructed by the superior party. The meeting was guided by the county party secretary and was attended by the chairman of county cooperative management and neighboring Li party secretaries. The meeting was held at the county conference hall and all the empty seats were filled with county workers. Everyone in attendance wore a solemn expression. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and pass a resolution that called for the production of six million tons of grain, as demanded by the party. The hope was that the meeting would provide workers with ideological motivation to encourage farm workers to increase their efforts for the next farm battle. For most of the meeting, not a single word of counter-criticism was uttered at the meeting and the entire time was spent repeating standard and motivational slogans. At one point though, the entire meeting was brought to a stunned silence by blunt statements made by a party member and veteran:

“If our farms are to achieve the goal of six million tons of grains, they would need to produce about 4.5 tons per Jungbo. That might have been possible during the 1970s, or even in the middle of 1980s, but since then haven’t production levels fallen to no more than 1.5 or 2 tons per Jungbo? Isn’t the problem obvious? Everyone knows that the lack of fertilizer is the problem. Why does everyone try to find other causes? Our farms have been fertilized with manure for the last ten years. We have spent a lot of manpower and money. Did it make a difference? Manpower has not been the problem and this year is no different. Everyone talks about, ‘Farmyard manure, farmyard manure, farmyard manure.’ Where are we supposed to get good farmyard manure? Isn’t that true that this county (Gangnam County, Pyongyang) does not any? The mountains don’t even have any trees left. Is it really surprising that the dirt from the mountains is no better than the dirt from the fields? Human excrement is limited. Dirt dredged from the bottom of the river would be good, but it is far away and we would need fuel we don’t have to get it here. We would need at least several hundreds of Jajooho truckloads. ”

The county party secretary anxiously interjected, saying:

“Comrade, what you are saying is something everyone in this meeting already knows. What good is pointing out something we already know? The challenge is to find a solution. Instead of complaining, give us some solutions.”

I could not stand it any longer. I got up and said, “I have an alternative solution; Fertilizer issues should be addressed by the farming system. Shouldn’t we be helping the farmers? Farmers cannot solve these problems by themselves, can they? What happened to all the ammoniated fertilizers that were so popular in 1970s? If we can’t solve this problem, how can we expect the farmers to solve it by themselves?”

I added, “Comrade, what you have said is already known by the Party and the Cabinet, but the state is facing difficult times. That is why this problem remains. As you know, there is 150-day battle going on. If everything was going well, why would there be the need for a 150-day battle? If you are aware of the problem, why do you say things like this, as a member of the party? Please think about what is happening and stop complaining. Don’t we need to face these difficulties together? We should remain optimistic with all our hearts about our future, because if we do the gates to a strong and prosperous nation will be opened in 2012.”

Some in the audience applauded and cheered, “Yes, way to go!” Even though I had spoken, I am not really sure what the solutions to the problems we face are. Who can possibly solve this problem? Everyone knows there is no answer, so they just try to ignore it. This is the way it has been and, barring a miracle or unforeseen events, this is the way it will be for a long time to come.

Women’s Heavy Labor Burden
1. Women’s labor duties to maintain family living includes: trading any possible items, farming on the small patches of land, collecting wild greens, etc.
- Intensified inspections on female traders under the age of 40 have caused difficulties maintaining a family living with trades. Trading in markets is not allowed, so more time and effort is being transferred to door-to-door sales and peddling.
- Women have to clear an additional patch of land on top of their usual duties of farm labor and obtaining fertilizer because of the ban on small patch farming and land confiscations.
- Cool temperatures and a drought this year have produced poor harvests forcing women to collect acorns, wild greens, mushrooms, etc.

2. All kinds of labor for the society: repairing roads, cleaning up town, construction of the Uhrang Power Plant, construction at Mt. Baekdu, construction of the Heecheon Power Plant in Jagang Province
- Housewives have typically been regarded as supplemental workforce and mobilized for non-payment labor such as road repair or cleaning.
- Because many farmers died of starvation last year causing the workforce at the farm to decrease, the government promised to provide women with food to entice them to work on the farms → The government did not keep their promise, so many women left the farms.
- For the purposes of creating a powerful nation, the government mobilized members of the Democratic Women’s Union (DWU) for construction of the Urang Power Plant, Mt. Baekdu, and the Heecheon Power Plant, referred to as the special labor brigade. Women complained about their treatment and called themselves “members of the DWU Discipline Center” rather than members of DWU.
3. Full responsibility of house chores
- Since the socialist system collapsed, it became impossible to convert domestic labor into social work supported by the government
- Women’s full responsibility of domestic labor is unlikely to change because the entire society still follows the patriarchal value system.
4. Result
- Severe inspections on trade in the market, small patch farming, and the government’s mobilization caused critical economic problems for women and their families.
- As supporting family became harder, the number of women who crossed the river to China, traded drugs, or conducted more dangerous and illegal behaviors increased.
- Women’s health has deteriorated due to physical fatigue caused by prolonged labor.
- In general, when a woman dies, her family loses unity and disperses.
- The remaining family members separate and wander, negatively impacting social orders. North Korean women’s overt burdened of labor to earn a living for the family, non-payment for society labor, responsibility for all domestic labor, and more are negatively influencing women’s health. When women are sick or pass away, poor families tend to face severe economic problems and finally break up and disperse. Because the society cannot take care of the problem, the children of these families become Kkotjebis and wander around. Women’s issues are directly related to children’s issues and hence become social problems.

Three Big Issues for Children
1. Health: Children are the most serious victims of malnutrition. It hurts their physical development and there is a high rate of infant mortality and a low average life expectancy
2. Education: Because of the critical burden of non-tax payments, poor families cannot send children to school. The poor have lost their rights for education
3. Kkotjebi (children without any guardians or protection): Most children of extremely poor families, orphans, or whose mother died or is sick, become Kkotjebis. The government runs welfare Institutions and orphanages, but these institutes are very poor and cannot care for these children. The extremely bad conditions of these institutes send children back into streets, where they are neglected

* Re-visit to previous editorials that are still relevant

[NKT No.292] Surplus Rice Stock Should be Sent to Save Lives!
There is a country where surplus rice is a concern. By the end of this year the rice stock inventory in South Korea will surpass over one million tons. Since the maintenance cost of storing 100 thousand tons of rice is about 30 billion won per year, the amount of tax money spent on storing one million tons of rice is about 300 billion won. The government has announced that it will purchase 100 thousand tons as a remedy for this problem. Also, there are talks regarding developing dried bread made of rice, rice instant noodle, rice bread, rice wine and rice pasta to encourage the consumption of rice. This is the current situation in South Korea as of August 2009.

A household where people eat three meals per day is considered a well-to-do home. We are talking neither about eating rice nor about eating corn meal. We are talking about “grass porridge” although we’re not sure if we can call it porridge because grass is diluted to the maximum in order to increase the quantity. People can’t even afford to eat this grass porridge to fill their stomachs. That is the reality of rural areas in North Korea.

The major media channels in South Korea cite suspension of food aid to North Korea as the reason for surplus rice. Every year since 2000 about 400,000-500,000 tons of rice was sent to North Korea, but it ceased last year. So, that is the reason for surplus rice. Some say that the level of rice inventory can drop 200,000 tons if North Korean food aid is resumed. As such, those who are in favor of resuming North Korean food aid just for the purpose of adjusting the rice supply are gaining support. Some of the farmers’ organizations claim that the fallen rice price is causing a disaster for them and insist that, “Food aid to North Korea should be put into a law,” in order to ease the rice surplus problem.

In South Korea, people are worried about a disaster caused by too much rice, whereas in North Korea people are concerned about a disaster caused by lack of rice. Since South Korea has to consume the surplus rice one way or another, there is no reason why they should not resume the food aid to North Korea. The budget earmarked for North Korean food aid in 2008 was 197 billion to 400 million won. Although not a single coin was actually spent from that allocation, wouldn’t it be better to spend 200 billion won for North Korean food aid than spend 300 billion won for maintaining the inventory of rice? Wouldn’t it be wise if we resolve the rice surplus problem and provide relief to the farmers while at the same time save fellow Koreans in North Korea from starvation? It is hard to understand why the government is hesitant about resuming food aid to North Korea when doing so is clearly humanitarian as well as rational. Perhaps their sentiment is such that they would rather throw away the food instead of giving it away as aid to spite the North Korean government. However, we must not forget the fact that the starving children and the elderly are alienated people who are not cared for by the North Korean government.

The Minister of Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries said on August 13th in an interview that, “Solving the surplus rice problem by providing food aid to North Korea is not the fundamental solution.” It is questionable that the tariff policy being discussed within a related government agency is the fundamental solution. However, it is deplorable that “people” are invisible in the government official’s view of the problem. We hope that government officials with executive power recognize the desperate people in life threatening situations separate from politics or ideology.

What would those starving North Korean people think if they hear that they are making dried bread and instant noodles with rice in South Korea because of an unmanageable surplus of rice? What a dreadful and shameful thing it is. What is more important than saving lives? How does it differ from dumping the rice into the sea because of a surplus? Why look for a complicated solution when there is a simple one? Let’s send the surplus rice to North Korea. That is the humane and rational thing to do. That is the way to prevent the rice price from falling as well as offering a stable solution to resolve the current tension between South and North Korea.

[NKT No.279] Ban on Business and Small Patch Farming, Why Repeating Bad Policies
“We would die without small patch field.” That is the immediate reaction from North Korean people in response to confiscation of personal small patch field. We can feel the urgency of people’s feeling with these words. It was during the Arduous March during the 1990s when small patch farming spread out nationwide. That was because people desperately clung to small patch farming, as they were being starved to death and felt that the only way to survive is doing small patch farming with their own hand. Since then people desperately worked on small patch farming so that they could survive. Rough terrain in the mountain with over 60 degrees of slope was not an issue in front of their determination to survive. This is why bare mountains spread throughout the country and big flooding is recurring every year. It is not an overstatement to say that ‘small patch farming’ along with ‘doing business’ is the only means of survival.

In May of 2007, wild fire in the mountain broke out consecutively in Hoeryung and Changpyong, North Hamgyong Province. That was an act of arson committed by those who lost their small patch fields. One of these who got caught shouted, “If you don’t allow me to do small patch farming, I would not allow you to plant trees either.” Sensing the complaints among people the Central Party initiated ideological lectures and announced, “This year, we will release the food distribution unconditionally. Therefore, small patch farming is no longer necessary. Do not continue the absurd behavior that will harm yourself and your family.”

The policy banning small patch farming was issued in 2008 as well. However, the policy had to be on hold due to severe food shortage comparable to Arduous March. In 2009, the authorities started recalling small patch farms as they announced. The phenomenon of ‘death’ is occurring immediately because the elderly people who know nothing other than small patch farming are committing suicide. The authorities are afraid of rumors spreading about the suicides. So, they are handling them quietly because they are aware of people’s sentiments.

Even then, the authorities are currently executing ‘150-day battle’ (work as if in battle). There have been several battle style business practices such as 70-day combat, 120-day combat during the 1970s and 1980s. Those battle business practices were to encourage mass movement. However, the current battle is different in nature. It is being executed aimlessly without clear economic indices. The rules are very stiff as well. Previously, there was no such rule saying you have to report to work by certain time. Everything was done voluntarily. The current situation of ‘forced mobilization’ clearly shows the level of non-compliance on the part of people. It appears that the gap between the people and the Party is widening just like that.

People speak out without hesitation. Again, only the weakest will be sacrificed and the policy is going to wither away. Not being able to abolish general market is for the same reason. The question is whether implementation of this policy is feasible when the majority of people make living out of small patch farming and business with the exception of a small number of privileged classes in Pyongyang, officials, military personnel, and munitions factory workers. The Central Party must be aware of the problems. Then, what is the reason for repeating the same bad policy over and over again? We can find the answers in people’s distrust of the Central Party, unilateral control-centered policies issued by the Party, and the ever-increasing level of distrust of the Party because of the policies. In short, bad policies can only be repeated as they attempt to recover societal control in the old way although the situation has changed and the Party has lost its control completely.

The authorities must listen to people’s voice coming from the bottom of the society. People act voluntarily only when the state accepts people’s demands and interests and when they develop the feeling of ownership of the society by themselves. Creative ideas are required at this point on. Things should not be banned simply because people’s means of sustenance goes against ‘our own version of socialism.” Efforts should be made to think in mid-to-long terms perspectives and come up with ways to accommodate people’s needs with their ‘voluntary’ cooperation. Attempts of placing tight control on people’s means of sustenance will inevitably translate into political burden on the part of North Korean authorities. North Korean authorities should stop the mistake of repeating the bad policies, and must be able to shake hands with people with policies that save people.

[NKT No.154] Starving Children Are Innocent Victims
Seventeen-year-old Sang-hak went to a potato seed storage cave with his friends to steal potatoes. He asked his friends to be on the lookout and entered the storage, but he failed to come out. He had heard that it’s difficult to breath inside the storage due to poisonous vapor. Nevertheless, he thought that it would be okay if he grabs the potatoes and get out of the storage right away. That was a miscalculation. His dead body could only be recovered 15 days later. Sang-hak was tightly holding potatoes in both hands.

In the swamps along the Suhdoosoo River, frogs were decimated because people caught every one of them to eat. They couldn’t wait for the tadpoles to mature, so they scooped the tadpoles up in a mesh dipper. Then children died from tadpole poisoning. Now toads replaced the vanished frogs. The children that thought they could eat toad just like they ate frog after roasting died of toad poisoning. In Sambong, six friends together caught toads, ate them, and all six of them died overnight.

Fourteen-year-old Soo-myoung cried for a long time because he missed the old lady next door who was taking care of him and his sister after his own parents left them to earn some money. Yeon-shil’s grandma was like his own grandmother to him and his sister. Soo-myoung said he found the old lady dead when he went to her house to give her a few potatoes he kept for dinner in return for the chicken soup. The night before grandmother gave him chicken soup with some meat in it and he ate that delicious soup with his sister. Soo-myoung and Soo-jin could not stop crying because of the shock of losing someone they trusted and depended on.

What crimes did the children commit? Being born in a poor country and starving could be a crime? These children dying out of hunger need food now. I want to ask you: Should we help these children? Or should we not help them? The children committed no crime. Why should we sacrifice these children for the fight among adults and for the sake of unjustifiable ideological battle between the South and the North Korean governments?

Some say our information is exaggerated. Others say that there is no famine because their ability to survive has improved. We truly wish that is the case. We sincerely wish that what they say is right and our information is wrong. If what they are saying is true we won’t have to make a plea which nobody is paying attention to. However, we just cannot give up because we cannot ignore the heart-breaking images of Sang-hak, who died holding potatoes in both hands and Soo-myoung and Soo-jin, who will have to live with the memory of the chicken soup the old lady next door gave them. We will not stop our cry for help on behalf of these children until we can no long speak and shout even though our plea for help cannot be heard to the closed mind of the South and North Korean authorities.

Please save these innocent children. Even saving only one child would be worthwhile. Time is running out. These children cannot wait until food can be delivered from China and the United States of America. Please join our relief effort. The starving children need to be fed. The South and North Korean authorities should work together and save the children first. Please do not let the children pay for the crimes adults have committed. The starving children committed no crime.

Friday, October 16, 2009

North Korea Today No. 299 October 2009

[“Good Friends” aims to help the North Korean people from a humanistic point of view and publishes “North Korea Today” describing the way the North Korean people live as accurately as possible. We at Good Friends also hope to be a bridge between the North Korean people and the world.]
[Hot Topics]
30% Reduction in This Year’s Harvest of Corn Anticipated in North Hamgyong Province Due to Drought
Guarding against Grain Thieves at Soonchun Farms

Residents of Mountainous Kangwon Province Anticipate Worst Food Crisis since Arduous March
70% People around Wonsan City Barely Manage to Live with Corn-grass Porridge

Road Expansion for Miitary Purposes between Hoeryong and Chungjin Cities
33% Absenteeism in Chungjin City Construction Office

Border Patrols in Ryanggang Province Track Down and Impose Strict Punishment on Enemy Benefiting Transactions
Pyongsung Finds Handbills Libeling the Government

Released Person from Re-Education Center Cannot Gain Employment without Bribery
Residents of Hamheung Ordered to Move Rocks
“Does It Make Sense to Take Away Our Land When We Don’t Have Eenough to Farm?”

Gaining Power of the Heads of the Neighborhood Units Incites the Question, “Opening the Door of Strong and Powerful Nation is the Sole Responsibility of Housewives?”

Fight between Farm Guards and Soldiers Attempting to Steal Corn
[Hot Topics]
30% Reduction in This Year’s Harvest of Corn Anticipated in North Hamgyong Province Due to Drought

On Septmeber 14, the National Committee on Provincial Farm Management dispatched surveyors to the cities and counties to assess this year’s grain. North Hamgyong Province also sent departmental specialists to its farms. The Ministry of Agriculture will collect and analyze all the data collected on the crop output of corn throughout the nation. It is anticipated that corn production this year will be reduced by 30% due to drought. Rice production was similar to previous years, but corn production has showed a significant drop. The overall production in North Hamgyong Province is considered to be better than North Hwanghae Province or South Pyongan Province. According to the farm workers in Hwanghae Province, corn production in the area farms is merely 2 to 3 tons per jungbo (2.45 acres). There are many remote mountainous farms that produce not even a ton per jungbo.

Guarding Against Grain Thieves at Soonchun Farms
Many residents of the City of Soonchun, South Pyongan Province are worried about the food shortage. A poor crop this year will make it more difficult to survive next year. Those residents with money and merchants tend to buy all the grain that they can find. As the height of the harvest season approaches, farms are increasing security measures in an effort to ward against a predicted rise in grain thefts. Farms are more than doubling the number of security personnel, such as the Civilian Defense Force and patrols.

Residents of Mountainous Kangwon Province Anticipate Worst Food Crisis since Arduous March
As food shortages grow more severe by the day in Kangwon province, there has been an outcry from residents. Many residents are already scared of the food crisis that has been predicted for next year, the worst since the Arduous March. The situation in remote mountainous areas, such as Kumgang, Chulwon, Kimhwa, Yichun, Changdo, Pangyo and Bubdong, is more serious. Residents in the coastal towns, such as Tongchun and Kosung, can get something to eat from the sea. However, mountainous areas provide no supplementary resources, only insufficient harvests. Those who cannot depend on small plot farming suffer the most. Complaints have reached such a point that “Daily survival is worse than dying.”

After reviewing this year’s crop situation, workers in Kangwon Province estimate that the number of families that will run out of food will reach high numbers around next February or March. They are scared that “In the days of scarce food supply during the 1990s, starvation started in the north. But now it is starting in southern plain areas.” Many residents have negative reactions to the 150-day battle. They say, “The 150-day battle was an unparalleled obstacle to making a living.” They complain that the 150-day battle stopped businesses and small plot farming. No business activity then means no money available now. No small plot farming means no grain. Residents complain in unison, “We are being led to our deaths. We need survival measures set up by the government.”

70% People around Wonsan City Barely Manage to Live with Corn-grass Porridge
People in Wonsan City in the Kangwon province are experiencing severe food shortages. Villages such as Ryongha, Galma, Bokmak and Wonnam are experiencing the most severe food shortage. More than 70% of residents in these villages barely survive on grass porridge made out of handful of corn and vegetable slices. In villages such as Ryongha, Pyonghwa and Yangji, people are barely making a living by making and selling briquettes. Residents make these briquettes at home using coal. Residents in other villages make a living through the farmer’s market. Conditions are slightly better for central villages such as Bongchoon, Bongsoo and Haebang where many families are engaged in used-goods businesses. Nowadays, it is hard to make ends meet without women earning a living through businesses. If the women in the family are sick, the family cannot even afford grass porridge. People are saying, “We are returning to the era of maternal clan society.”

Road Expansion for Miitary Purposes between Hoeryong and Chungjin Cities
Road construction work has increased between the cities of Rajin, Chungjin, Hoeryong and Chungin in North Hamgyoung province. The purpose of the No. 125 road is to prepare for military maneuvers. The road expansion construction lasted from January of this year until March. The width of the road expanded from 4 meters to 6 meters between Changtaeri, Hoeryong and the Chungam district in Chungjin. However, it failed the standard army inspection on March 29th due to its narrow width. Starting on September 19th, road expansion construction will start again, beginning at the area which contains factories and public enterprises in Hoeryong City. The current construction is overseen and directed by the chief of the local reserve army who is also the chairman for the city party’s civilian defense.

33% Absenteeism in Chungjin City Construction Office
Currently, the Chungjin City Construction office has 550 employees but only 350 employees attend work with any regularity. Since there has been no food provision for more than sixteen months and the food crisis has only intensified, absenteeism is on the rise. Employees expressed discontent, “Even we come to work every day all we hear is ideological propaganda and all we do is work without pay, are we criminals who must do forced labor? In early September, only 24 construction workers reported to work out of a total of 162 employees. In the construction material branch of the office, only 11 workers came to work out of 110. The absence of employed workers has become such an issue that it was even reported to the provincial party. Since the provincial secretary and managers couldn’t come up with a solution, the city party’s Organization and Guidance Department immediately came up with a plan called the “Labor Exertion Drive.” After the plan was implemented, ten policemen are mobilized to enforce attendance.

Border Patrols in Ryanggang Province Track Down and Impose Strict Punishment on Enemy Benefiting Transactions
On September 5th, two soldiers from the 25th brigade and four residents were arrested in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, for having transactions benefiting the enemy. As a result, eight security guards from the Jagang Province Defense Security Commands were dispatched in Hyesan City as a Special Investigation Patrol. They have started the investigation of the Defense Security Commands since September 11th, and they are planning to investigate until May of 2010. It is known that they will track down enemy benefiting transactions by military officers and private soldiers of the Border Patrols and the residents who are involved in them. One military officer said, “I know that the security guards from the Jagang Province are keeping their eyes open to purge the scum of the society before opening the gate of the strong and prosperous nation.”

Pyongsung Finds Handbills Libeling Government
At a time when the 150-day battle solidifies the nation, approximately 20 handbills were discovered in the unit 50 of Jurye-dong in Pyongsung City, South Pyongan Province, which libeled against the government. The original copy of the handbill was a printed copy from a computer. In order to arrest the criminal, the counter intelligence agents and the security agents in Pyongsung City and South Pyongan Province are conducting an investigation by thoroughly searching the organizations in the city and the residential homes where a computer is used.

Released Person from Re-Education Center Cannot Gain Employment without Bribery
Shim Gum-chul (alias), who lives in Onsung, North Hamgyong Province, was released from jail in June of this year. After his release, he had to go through several places such as Neighborhood Unit, district offices, and the National Security Agency in order to obtain employment and receive a resident card. This process was never easy. When Shim went to visit the primary party secretary where he was stationed to work, the secretary and the administration chief of the primary party saw the prison release document, and they asked detailed questions about “where he worked and why he was imprisoned.” Shim told the secretary that he “was sentenced for three years of re-education for possession of ice (drug) while working in the border area, and was assigned at Juwon Mine.” The secretary replied brusquely, “Juwon Mine is receiving another troubled person.” Then he rejected Shim, saying, “A person who is known for crossing the river to conduct a substantial trade should know better. How can he visit a person empty handed? He should bring at least one or two bottles of wine and a pack of cigarettes.”

“I lived in obscurity in the re-education center for a few years, and after I was released, I was wandering from one place to another without a home. So, how would such a person have money to prepare those things?” asked Shim and went to them a few more times despite his sense of dignity, but they had several excuses and kept postponing the date. The party instructs the officers to “ensure the living condition of released persons from the re-education center so they would be well established and taste the pleasures of life,” but even obtaining an employment is not possible without bribing the low-ranking officers. The residents are resentful, saying this is the “wiles” of the low-ranking officers.

Kim, who used to be a co-worker with Shim in his previous employment, expressed his frustration: “Because of these people, people who once committed a wrong in the past cannot hold up one’s head forever. The low-ranking officers oppress the people by using their position, and make ill use of the revolutionary ideology of the party in order to make a profit for themselves.” As a result, Shim was not assigned any employment and was considered as a person with no affiliation, so he had to be summoned almost every day to meet authorities. He had been continuously supervised every day and the life had been too weary, so he obstinately tried to cross the river but was caught in the end. He was reported for “not accepting the reconstruction of the ideology by the party and the repentance of the crime but attempting to defect the country” and is currently awaiting trial. Since it happened soon after the release, the sentence is expected to be more severe.

Residents of Hamheung Orded to Move Rocks
Hoesang District of Hamheung City, South Hamgyong Province, gave orders to all neighborhood units to move 10-rocks for fish farm construction. Because the transportation of heavy rocks using machinery requires large amounts of fuel which they do not have, the district handed off the responsibility to the people. Residents are complaining saying, “How do they expect us to do this when the government doesn’t even have enough energy to do it. They asked us to give up our socks, spoons and now they’re asking us to move these rocks!”

People also added, “We wouldn’t complain if they compensated us, but they are only taking things from us with nothing in return. They’re saying they will reduce the extra duty orders, but keep on imposing a lot of material submission.” All police officers, including police associates, are also required to make contributions, but there are no rules specifying that they must complete their duties themselves or give up their own possessions. Police officers frequently hold security inspections at the marketplace where they make collections from the residents.

People are protesting: “This is too much! Everyone comes to the market to make ends meet but these police officers are taking our money because they don’t want to pay with their own money.”

“Does It Make Sense to Take Away Our Land When We Don’t Have Enough to Farm?”
In North Hwanghae Province, Chang Jeong-ae (ailas) from Sariwon is full of tears. She was expecting a successful harvest because she managed to keep some manure from the previous year. However, officials told her not to farm the small piece of land she had during the 150-day battle. This made it very difficult for her to farm in secret, and the weather did not cooperate as well, causing several corn ears to fail. It rained when the crops needed sun, and there was a drought when crops needed rain. The loss was too great for Chang to trade her corn for tofu beans, so she tried to save the remaining seeds. However, her troubles grew in the fall and she blames her failed harvest to the party policy:

“It wouldn’t be this bad if the country didn’t take away my small piece of land. Residents worked hard and pulled out old tree roots, plant roots and other weeds to make the land arable, but the land management office took it away. It’s difficult to prepare a new field and to find manure. Combined with the helpless weather conditions, people’s grudge is growing sky high. Are all officials stupid? They are claiming that they will take away all the land by 2012. They can tell by looking at our corn, even with a small bit of land, we have no manure and the weather is not helping. We don’t know what we’re going to eat next year. It is hard enough with such little land for farming…does it make any sense to take it away? I am losing my mind because the country is taking everything away without anything in return.”

Gaining Power of the Heads of the Neighborhood Units Incites the Question, “Opening the Door of Strong and Powerful Nation is the Sole Responsibility of Housewives?”

Women are complaining about the burden of non-tax contributions. Some women are saying it would be better to die than to make the non-tax contributions which continue to increasing. Gu Jeong-ok, who lives in Pyongsung in the South Pyongan Province, grumbled, “They force me to contribute gloves to the construction fields of Uhrang Dam, Mt. Baekdu and Heecheon Power Plant, send meat to People’s Army, pay fund for loyalty, and collect lots of scrap items. I’m afraid of what I will have to pay the next morning.” Gu also does not like heads of the Neighborhood Units. They are exempted from making non-tax contributions in exchange for collecting non-tax contributions from others. The authority told these heads to be strict about collecting the contributions from every household. Gu said, “Some of the heads are very mean and cruel because they have the backing of the authority” and did not want to talk about them anymore.

Lee Hye-young (alias), who lives in Soobukdong in Chungjin City in the North Hamgyong Province, said, “There are lots of stuff to contribute. They force every household in the Neighborhood Unit to make non-tax contributions without exception. The government propagandizes that our country will become a powerful nation in 2012, but I am sick of this announcement. They make us to contribute gloves, iron scraps and other things based on this propaganda. I wonder why these contributions are necessary to become powerful nation. Should housewives like us alone make the powerful nation?” Lee said she heard that the authority secretly gave agricultural fields to the heads of the Neighborhood Units and officials of the district office. She complained, “They give more to the rich and collect more from the ordinary people, so we will die before we see the powerful nation.”

Fight between Farm Guards and Soldiers Attempting to Steal Corn
In Onchun Eup, Onchun Country, South Pyongan Province, there was a fight between farm guards and three soldiers at a corn farm. The fight began when farm guards confronted soldiers who were attempting to steal corn, and escalated to a guard stabbing a soldier with a sickle. A police officer on patrol shot a blank cartridge to disperse the fighting. However, the soldiers responded by attacking the officer. The officer then shot and seriously injured one of the soldiers with a blank bullet. The two injured soldiers were transported to the hospital. After the case closed, the three soldiers were arrested and dismissed from the army by the North Korean People's Army Party.

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