Citizens Exploited As the Nation Cannot Produce Its Own Income

Daliy NK
Yang Jung A
1/24/2007

North Korean authorities are requesting “implied” voluntary offerings to be made to the army, placing a greater burden on the North Korean citizens who are battling a tough winter due to the bitter cold and dire food crisis.

The first journalist to report about North Korea Lee Joon said that at a people’s unit meeting held in the rural district of Dancheon, North Hamkyung from January 7th to the 13th, orders were made from the central committee indicating a “severe food crisis amidst the people’s army,” reported Japan’s Asia Press on the 22nd.

Lee Joon is the first underground journalist to work in North Korea and has exposed the daily lives of North Korean citizens through video footages, collections of still life photos and voice recordings both nationally and worldwide.

At the people’s unit, an order was made “The food shortage in the people’s army is severe. With a devoted heart to the nation, every family must voluntarily offer food to the army.” Though the orders imply donations as a voluntary act, it is in fact forced upon the citizens or as it implies otherwise, suffer the consequences.

Lee informed “The exact amount of donations were not specified, though citizens are being pressured to increase their offerings as one person was said to have offered 600kg and another even up to 1tn.”

Lee said “Though the army declares a shortage in food, the cost of rice and corn at the markets has not risen in comparison to late November and early December” and commented “There does not seem to be a great shortage in supply as merchants at the markets sell rice imported from China.”

Contrastingly, Lee explained “From a national perspective, it seems that the supply of food had been considered low as international aid was terminated and crop output minimal.”

In addition to this “As the nation does not have any funds, an order was made for each family to invest their money into banks” and again “Though the exact amount was not specified, this order was indisputably forced” upon the citizens, Lee said.

Lee continued “Even 3 years ago, as a 10 years redemption national loan, the people had to support the nation with their funds” and “As there were many complaints from the people, the idea was changed to a look like a savings account. I believe that forcibly collecting money is no different to the national loan.”

At present, as there are many cases where North Korean banks cannot pay interest or capital from investments, any person that does invest in banks is called as a fool. Even though the government enforces a directive, it is unlikely that the people will invest their money in banks.

Lee said “Each person must gather 2.5tn’s of provisions and offer it to the local farms because a task was assigned to increase the output of fertilizer.” and remarked “It’s something that happens often, but it did come earlier than expected.”

“The poor collect excrement from their homes or public places whereas the rich slip through the cracks by either buying goods from the markets or offering bribes” Lee explained.

Complaints are rising against the government’s frequent tasks of offering goods, though “with feelings of discontent (resulting from international sanctions) the government exploits the people as they cannot make any money” Lee said.

In particular, “There is a general consensus amongst the people who now believe that the government is not trying to change the economy (through openness and reform) but only making their lives more difficult” revealed Lee.

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