Archive for September, 2007

S.Koreans to Subsidize Kaesong Power Supply

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Chosun Ilbo (h/t Tim Beal)

The government is seeking to incorporate the cost of electricity supply for the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea into South Korea’s own electricity fee system. Combining the two would allow losses from the Kaesong complex worth several billions of won a year since 2005 to be absorbed by the overall scheme. But that would mean the South Korean public has to shoulder the cost.

Grand National Party lawmaker Eom Ho-sung on Tuesday released official documents exchanged between the Unification Ministry and power monopoly KEPCO. “According to a feasibility study by Deloitte HanaAnjin accounting firm commissioned by KEPCO, electricity transmission to Kaesong costs the South an annual W19.3 billion (US$1=W930) and an estimated total of W966.8 billion by 2054,” he said. It cost the South W5.8 billion in the 2005/2006 fiscal year.

Electricity used at Kaesong is rated as industrial-use costing W4,190-5,520 per kilowatt, cheaper than for South Korean homes, so a loss is inevitable. According to the documents released Tuesday, the ministry told related departments in June to review a way to compensate for the fee loss at Kaesong, by using the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund to fill in for the past loss and combining the Kaesong fees with the domestic electricity bills in the future.


South Korean News on Broadcast in Pyongyang

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Daily NK
Kim Min Se

It was reported that the North Korean high officials and Chinese emigrants have been using the satellite antennas in Pyongyang and major cities in North Korea to get access to South Korean TV.

Previously it has been reported that the high quality antenna (Yagi Antenna) smuggled from China was used to intercept the South Korean ground waves, which allowed them to listen and watch South Korean news and drama through Japanese televisions in secrecy in Kaesung and Pyongyang.

The “Yagi Antenna” is a VHF receiver which is intercepted for television. This type of antenna is utilized as a receiver for waves from South Korean soil which has high risk of being detected by outside and enforces its usage around nighttime.

However, recently the high officials in North Korea use satellite antennas in secrecy to watch South Korean news and drama. Due to the restriction, the number of people utilizing this satellite service is restricted.

Song Myung Hak (pseudonym), a Chinese trader who went to Pyongyang last month said, “I was surprised to get a request from a friend of mine who worked as a North Korean diplomat on his request to obtain the CD of ‘Ways to Meet a Perfect Neighbor’ (South Korean drama series broadcasted on SBS). He said that he is watching it via satellite but he wanted to recap the episodes he missed.”

Song stated that, “The former diplomat had the satellite dish in his veranda and his entire family was watching South Korean TV. With the expansion of the culture of viewing South Korean TV, Kim Jong Il issued a ban, which is making everyone a bit nervous.”

He said, “If they get caught watching South Korean TV, the family could suffer.” He also added, “Because he was a former diplomat, who was used to living overseas and the life abroad, it was difficult for him to resist the temptation of watching South Korean TV and foreign news. I’m sure it’s the same way for all people.”

Song stated that, “The satellite dish is imported through China to North Korea. The most recently produced satellite dish is quite small in size and China takes care of the maintenance so all they have to do in North Korea is connect it to the TV.”

Kang Myung Gil (pseudonym), a South Korean businessman selling regular satellite antenna and satellite broadcasting Skylife on commission in Dandong, China, explained over the phone that, “The normal satellite antenna (antenna and receiver) costs 600 Yuan (approx. USD86) in total, including the installation costs. We are also receiving the service of Koreasat Mugunghwa 2 which can be received from North Korea as well.”

Kang said that, “There is no technical difficulty in receiving South Korean TV if they are on an elevated apartment with spacious veranda heading the Southern direction. All of the 7-8 channels including KBS1, KBS2, SBS, MBC, EBS, China HAO TV and others can be directly received.”

Jin Hee Myung (pseudonym), an Chinese emigrant originally from Shinuiju, also installed satellite broadcasting service in her apartment. He said that even though overseas Chinese are also under surveillance, they do not receive as harsh of treatment by the North Korean authorities.

He added, “My wife loves to watch South Korean drama so much that I had to risk the consequences and install it. The satellite dish is so small that unless our house is searched thoroughly, there is no worry of being caught.”

In North Korea, if one is caught watching South Korean TV for a long time, they may be put into jail or receive harsh punishments. However, it is the experts’ general analysis that with the expansion of foreign cultures, it will be more difficult for North Korea to control this trend.


A Year in Waiting for Steel Plates

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Daily NK
Kim Chan Ku
Institute for Far Eastern Studies

(UPDATE: On Oct. 23, [2008] the State Department blacklisted two North Korean companies, Korea Mining Development Corp. and Korea Taesong Trading Co., for violating U.S. bans on the sale of equipment used in building missiles or other weapons of mass destruction to Iran and Syria. Citation: “North Korean Plane Was Grounded at U.S. Request “, Wall Street Journal, Jay Solomon, 11/1/2008 )

Kimchaek boasts one of the largest steel factories and fishing ports in North Korea especially that of Daesung General Company’s east coast headquarters.

However, at once-famous seaport everything including ship, freezer, packing factory was obsolete and rust. Most of the Soviet-built machines in factories were at least 20 to 30 years old. And there were neither enough spare parts to fix machinery nor job orders, so the factories had stood still for a long time.

I consulted with local North Korean officials in Kimchaek and reached an agreement: ship repair dock will be built in Kimchaek, steel products necessary for building floating dock would be Daesung General Company’s responsibility, and other issues concerning building land factory and management of joint-stock company would be decided in Pyongyang.

Also we finished negotiation over fish export and Pollack fishing by trawler. Thus basic problems were solved.

I came back to Pyongyang on September 30. And another businessperson, Mr. Kim Sung Chan of Pamco Trading, told me his will to invest fifty percent of the capital.

All of sudden, Daesung General Company notified us that among our previous agreements, only the site of repair dock was decided and asked us to wait, promising final decision would delivered in one month.

To start first phase of building factories, it was most critical to have steel products ordered from state. We believed the promise from the North (to take responsibility of providing iron plates) and returned to America.  However, after two month had passed, there was no news from Pyongyang. Curious, I called back and was told to visit North Korea as soon as possible.

On December 9, 1989 I arrived at Sun An International Airport. In Pyongyang, vice president of Daesung General Company (president was absent, traveling abroad) said “we asked the state for iron plates, but production plan was omitted in 1990 fiscal year so one more year of waiting is inevitable, or send us steel plates.”

In other words, our business plan was totally embarrassed and we had to make a new one.  Again, I conferred with Mr. Kim and found out a solution, which was to buy a used floating dock from an American port. There was a fifty-year old used floating dock in Miami, Florida that we were able to buy. If repaired, it seemed available for another twenty years.

Finally, two obstacles had our plan failed. Firstly, it was supposed take at least three month and five hundred thousands US dollars (twice the price of dock) to convey the floating dock by sea. Secondly, (and more fundamental problem) the US government would not permit to sell the dock to North Korea. We were not even possible to transport the dock to Hong Kong and then to North Korea.

Because acquisition of required steel plate for floating dock was failed ultimately, the daring business had gone nowhere. Wasted much money and more than a year of time, I was so depressed at that time[.]


North Korea Is Taken off U.S. Drug-Trafficking Countries List

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Bloomberg (h/t One Free Korea)
Bomi Lim

North Korea was dropped from the U.S. list of countries producing illicit drugs, a sign of further relief of tensions between the two countries.

“North Korea is not affecting the United States as much as the requirements on the list,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Christy McCampbell said on Sept. 17 in Washington, according to a transcript of her speech on the State Department Web site.

Ties are improving between the U.S. and North Korea after a February agreement on ending the government in Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. As North Korea moves to scale back the program, the U.S. has promised to review ways of improving ties with the communist country, including removing it from a list of states that sponsor terrorism.

North Korea agreed to a year-end deadline to disclose and disable its nuclear facilities after it shut down and sealed its sole operating reactor at Yongbyon in July.

North Korea was first mentioned in the annual presidential report on “major illegal drug transit and drug-producing countries” in 2003, when President George W. Bush said the U.S. would fight the country’s suspected drug trafficking.


Summit Negotiations for Co-Development of Kaema Plateau

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Daily NK
Jeong Jae Sung

North Korea has requested for negotiations to begin at the Inter-Korean Summit Talks on the co-development of the Kaema Plateau, also known as “the roof of Korea.” The request was taken into consideration by the Ministry of Unification.

In light of North Korea’s request, the Ministry has recently conducted a survey of North Korean defectors from South Hamkyung, Yangkang and Jagang, where the Kaema Plateau is located, regarding the significant geographical features, the status of current development at the plateau, and the intentions of the North Korean government.

Kim Hyung Seh (pseudonym), a North Korean defector from Yangkang, stated that “I was told by interested parties at the Ministry of Unification that right after the Summit Talks North Korea will deliberate the Kaema Plateau development issue and that they needed my cooperation for a sound investigation.”

According to Kim, the questions asked focused on the North Korean government’s purpose in developing the Kaema Plateau, the potential value of this site as a tourist resort, and wether or not there is enough possibility for tourism given the ever increasing number of visitors from Mongolia.

He asserted that “the Kaema Plateau is a huge forest which has no value as a tourist attraction at the moment. All the particular tourist attractions in North Korea retain villas owned by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, but there are none at Kaema Plateau, which speaks for itself.”

Kim also added that the affiliates of the Ministry of Unification did not know where the Kaema Plateau was.

“It is difficult for North Korea to develop the area around Kaema Plateau, which is why they followed the shoreline to develop their railways. In order to make this project possible, the basic transportation infrastructure such as airline facilities, roads and railroads must be established first” advised Kim.

The Ministry of Unification has denied every having conducted these surveys. Regarding the interviews with defectors, one affiliate of the Ministery said “We have not held such meetings,” and another said that “We have met [with the defectors], but we never asked about the Kaema Plateau issue.”

Kim Joong Tae, the Director of the Ministry of Unification’s Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Team, who interviewed Kim, told the DailyNK that “North Korea has never suggested the development of Kaema Plateau. The Ministry merely asked North Korean Defectors about tourism development at Mt. Baekdu.”

The Kaema Plateau is situated across the Middle and Southern region of Yangkang Province, South of Northwest Hamgkyung and East of Jagang. The total area is 14,300 km2 and the height is 1,340m. It is the highest and widest plateau in the entire peninsula, also known as “the roof of Korea.”

Kaema Plateau has abundant forest resources which provide avariety of material lumber. There is also a rich supply of mineral resources, including steel, magnesite, gold, apatite, and copper.

The only source of transportation infrastructure is the military airfields in Pungseo and Jangjin.

It is probable that North Korea’s reason for suggesting the development of Kaema Plateau is to make it tourist site, showcasing various amusment parks and ski resorts. As it is now, this area is completely restricted to civilian traffic. If transportation in the high region is developed, this could be applied for military purposes.

Lee Jin Young (pseudonym), a defector currently residing in South Korea’s Yangcheon district, explained that “the Kaema Plateau is so treacherous that it is only used as a military training field for Special Forces. This was the one area that allied forces could not get control of, even during the Korean War.”

She also added that, “rather than developing Kaema Plateau as a tourist attraction, they should develop the Baekmoo Plateau which includes Mt. Baekdu. The suggestion to develop the Kaema Plateau can only be seen as their intention to construct a better transportation infrastructure.”

Therefore, even if South Korea were to agree to the co-development of Kaema Plateau, there will be huge difficulties regarding the expansion of the social infrastructure and compromising with the military. In particular, the construction of Korean roads, railroads and airfields in the region is sure to cost a lot of money.


What about Supporting North Korean Schools and Students?

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Daily NK
Lee Kwang Baek

According to the newsletter of “Good Friends” published recently, the students living in the dormitories of technical colleges have not been able to eat anything due to the shortage of food for more than 10 days.

If this were to be true, there is a sentiment of utter despair and helplessness since there is both the South Korea and the international society’s food support going into North Korea at the moment. There has been a food supply of 400,000 ton being exerted to North Korea since July, and there is continually a grand supply of food to assist the flood victims. How is it possible that in spite of all these efforts, there are still starving North Korean youth?

According to the newsletter, the situation has worsened to the point where the teachers and principles in schools and kindergartens have to go out on a limb to retain some food supply. In Wonsan, children of the school age are unable to attend school. They are spending their time at the market selling ice cream, vegetables or carrying goods to earn money for living. There have been schools in Hamkyung province reported to have stopped running due to this reason.

It is difficult to determine whether this phenomenon is spread out nationwide, or simply applicable to some students or specific region. However, in spite of the difficulty in determining the extent of these effects, considering the non-transparent state of the distribution of food provision, it is highly likely that these effects are spread out nationwide.

The newsletter states that students are not only responsible for their own stationeries and backpacks, but they are also for the necessary cleaning tools, desks and chairs, and even the chalks used by the teachers.

North Korean government enforced the students to pay for the operation of schools since the mid 1990s. The government collects fees for school operation, oil, and even the fee for designing tank constructions. It is said that students face hard times in even attending schools if they don’t pay these fees.

The children who should be spending their youth running around and being free are spending their study time in the market earning money. The level of begging has expanded to group theft on the streets. According to the villagers in Donglim, North Pyongan, 1 out of the 3 children is unable to attend school due to the lack of money. This is sufficient evidence of “School Breakdown” phenomenon.

There is a proverb that even God cannot salvage poverty. However, perhaps North Korea may be an exception to this proverb. The fault of school breakdown and poverty lies not in the civilians, but solely in Kim Jong Il. All of these phenomenons after one another are tragic ramifications of the ignorance and inhumane dictatorial leadership of Kim Jong Il. It is difficult to hide our distress and sorrow on the issue.

However, in retrospect, this phenomenon of school breakdown can also be perceived as the breakdown of North Korean free education system. What is the “free education system” that Kim Jong Il has so much bragged about? The nature of North Korean education is nothing but a systematic tool to make children as bullets and bombs to protect Kim Jong Il.

Was it not a tool to crush the creativity of young, intelligent minds to force them into becoming the slaves of the system? It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if we were to say that it was this education system that has created the North Korean society of today.

School breakdown phenomenon can also be interpreted as the destruction of idolization education revolved around Kim Jong Il glorification. The ideology inculcation system that bound all children and students in North Korea is finally coming to collapse.
The reason for the collapse is simple. Kim Jong Il regime is losing the strength to control it. We must carefully analyze this trend. While we must strive to stop the phenomenon of children starving and/or dropping out of schools, we must actively be supportive of the current situation that the North Korean government is losing its reign of its people.

We must focus our attention to the independent economic activities taken by the North Koreans, rather than them being dependent on the government sponsored rations. We must put our focus on restoring the practical right to live for the North Korean civilians and allow them to feel more connected to the international society, rather than Kim Jong Il ‘s regime.

The international community must come up with discerning measures to support the students and the parents to experience their independent economic activities and understand the vanity of the glorification-based education system of North Korea. It is time to carefully discern the possible remedies for individual schools and students, rather than continuing the sponsorship through Kim Jong Il regime and South Korean government.


Paul French Discusses North Korea

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Frontline Club (h/t Kitten Wars)

frontline2.JPGPaul French, Director of Access Asia–a market research and business intelligence company specialising in China and North Asia’s economics and markets, spoke to the Economist’s Simon Long about what he has witnessed and learned about North Korea.

He focuses mainly on his perceptions of the US/DPRK relationship, but he also talks about the difficulties of bringing investment capital into the DPRK.

Click on “Frontline club” at the top of the picture above to see the video.


Narrowing Economic Gap Key to Reunification

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Korea Times
Jung Sung-ki

Former Unification Minister Park Jae-kyu said reducing economic inequality between the two Koreas is the foremost task to achieve reunification of the two Koreas.

In an exclusive interview with The Korea Times in Seoul on Sept. 6, the former point man on North Korean affairs reiterated the importance for closer cross-border economic ties, which he said would make the North open to the outside world and eventually help achieve reunification.

Park, however, said a “unilateral give-away”policy centered on huge inter-Korean business projects should be refrained from and any economic assistance for North Korea should contribute to opening up the communist neighbor, as well as proceed in tandem with progress in six-party talks over the North’s nuclear program.

He also said big-budget programs for the North, a so-called “Marshall Plan,” touted by some of President Roh Moo-hyun’s aides, is premature and not feasible.

“But a proposal for a second industrial complex on the Gaeseong model may be within the realm of feasibility,” he said. “Even though few people expect the Roh government to make any covert cash payments to the North either before or after the second inter-Korean summit, the possibility that a huge economic cooperation project may be unveiled cannot be ruled out.”

Lee Hae-chan, who served prime minister and as Roh’s political adviser, said last month that President Roh would propose several joint economic projects to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il at the Oct. 2-4 summit in Pyongyang.

He cited plans to build industrial parks in the North’s port city of Nampo and other cities, modeled after the Gaeseong industrial park, as well as invest in the North’s public infrastructure projects, including the renovation of the 170-kilometer Pyongyang-Gaeseong highway.

Launching South Korean-backed tourism projects in the North’s scenic mountains modeled on the Mount Geumgang program is also considered, said Lee, a presidential hopeful of the pro-government United New Democratic Party.

Roadmap for Korean Unification

Park referred to the German reunification process as a case in point from which South Korea should take a cue for the reunification of the peninsula.

“Since March 1970, East and West Germany had held a total of nine summit talks for about 20 years before they achieved the goal of reunification,” said Park, president of Kyungnam University.

“Through the summits spanning two decades, West Germany focused on exchanges and economic cooperation with East Germany,”he said. “In return, the West demanded of the East offsets like the opening of news media and exchanged visits by separated families. Such efforts bore fruit and paved the way for eventual reunification.”

West Germany provided East Germany with $2 billion-worth economic support annually before the reunification. Even after reunification, however, a disparity in economic strength between the sides has caused many social problems in Germany, he said.

“When the two sides were reunified, a gap in economic powers between West and East Germany was a three-to-one level. The West continued to offer $150 billion worth support to the East annually for 16 years after the reunification,” he said. “Still, Germany sees a jobless rate between 15 and 20 percent and has various social problems.”

The German reunification model should serve as an important lesson for South Korea to not try to achieve Korean reunification in a hasty manner without proper preparations, said Park, who served as unification minister between 1999 and 2001 under former President Kim Dae-jung.

“I expect inter-Korean reunification will be achieved 20 to 30 years from now under the condition that a gap in economic capabilities between the South and North is to be narrowed to a five-to-one level,” he said.

“But we should not forget we are still in theearly stage of inter-Korean cooperation. It, therefore, behooves us not to make haste, although envisioning and conducting in-depth research on various ways of attaining unification should not be discouraged,”he said. “If the two Koreas are to be reunified suddenly without preparation, the unified Korea will face severer social problems and conflicts than experienced by Germany.”

Park said the idea of establishing an inter-Korean federation or confederation on the heels of the Joint Declaration issued at the end of the historic 2000 summit is premature at the moment.

The former unification minister added setting the stage for institutionalizing the inter-Korean summit should be a small but most important goal for the upcoming Roh-Kim summit.

“In Germany’s case, the institutionalization of the summit had contributed significantly to exchanges and economic cooperation between East and West Germany, laying the groundwork for tearing down the Berlin Wall,” he said. “The same is the case with Korea. Institutionalizing the inter-Korean summit is a key step toward the reunification.”

POWs, Abduction Issues

Besides issues of the North’s nuclear program and peaceful reunification, PresidentRoh should put high priority on the issue of South Korean abductees and prisoners of war (POWs) in the planned talks with Kim Jong-il, Park said.

“I cautiously anticipated that Kim will make a bold decision on the topic in exchange for Roh’s possible offer for social overhead capital investment in North Korea,” Park said, referring to the meeting between Kim Jong-il and then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2002.

In the summit in September 2002, Kim apologized to Koizumi for the kidnapping of Japanese nationals in return for normalizing ties with Japan. After Koizumi’s second visit to Pyongyang in 2004, the North allowed five victims to return to Japan. Japan calls on the North to allow the other victims to return home.

“It is of utmost importance that Roh broach the topic in a conciliatory way, summoning all of his diplomatic skills, love for compatriots, and humanistic instincts,” Park said. “He should find a way of accentuating the benefits that would accrue to the North should it display a constructive attitude.”

“Chairman Kim may be the only person who can spring a surprise that may spawn unexpected consequences, both positive and negative,”he continued. “`Let us hope that the surprise that will emanate from the upcoming inter-Korean summit will be of a positive variety.”

The Seoul government has been reluctant to take up the kidnapping issue not to harm relations with North Korea, especially since the Kim Dae-jung administration that advocated engagement policies toward the North.

NLL Controversy

As for a controversy over a redrawing of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the West Sea, Park said it is not desirable for the issue to be included in the summit agenda.

“Given its controversial nature in politicaland military terms, especially in the context of presidential elections in the South, I believe that it will be prudent to leave the NLL issue for future discussion in inter-Korean military talks,”he said. “But the North is certain to raise it, hence the South should be well prepared to defend its long-standing position on the issue.”

Park said Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo’s planned visit to Pyongyang with Roh would be a good opportunity to help ease tensions between the two militaries.

“Whether it would be an open or closed meeting, if Kim is able to have talks with the North Korean defense chief, that will be meaningful,”he said. “And if the two defense chiefs set a schedule for the second defense ministerial talks, that would be great.”

Kim will be the first South Korean defense minister to visit the North in the 54 years since the armistice was signed at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The defense ministers from the two Koreas met in September 2000 following the first summit.

Drawn by the U.S.-led United Nations Command (UNC) at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, the NLL has served as the de facto maritime boundary between the two Koreas. But the North has refused to recognize the line and insisted it be nullified and redrawn.

Seoul maintains a firm stance that the NLL cannot be a matter of discussion, which it sees as a territorial concession.

The 1992 Basic Agreement stated inter-Korean inviolable borderlines and boundaries are recognized as in the armistice signedat the end of the Korean War. But the agreement added the two Koreas could discuss the matter later.

The NLL has emerged as a hot potato ahead of the summit as some government officials expressed support for discussing the matter at the summit, citing the 1992 agreement.

Presidential Chief of Staff Moon Jae-in told a National Assembly session last week if the North offers to discuss the issue, the South would accept it.

Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung said last month that he believes the NLL isnot a territorial concept open to future discussions. He also said the inter-Korean naval clash in 2002 was caused by Seoul’s refusal to negotiate the NLL.

Park expected that unless the North gives up its “military-first” policy, progress in military confidence building between the South and North would take time, and it is likely to follow the escalation of economic cooperation and the building of a peace structure on the peninsula.


Rationing in Chongjin, Increased Control of the Civilians

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Daily NK
Moon Sung Hwui

According to the inside source in North Korea, it was revealed on 13th that there has been partially a rationing in Chongjin, North Hamkyung since August.

This is the first time to have checked about nation rationing in Chongjin since the first Summit held on June 15, 2000.

This rationing has begun even before the flood occurred, which was prior to August. This is strong evidence that the North Korean food shortage was not in serious state. There has been acknowledgement that there has been food rationing even after the flood in the beginning of September.

There has been a case of rationing in Moosan, North Hamgyung and some other regions during the first Inter-Korea Summit in 2000. There is high probability that this rationing could have relation to the upcoming 2nd Summit in October.

The insiders spoke on the phone that, “All of a sudden the Chongjin distribution center opened and started supplying to the workers and their families, an old and feeble persons and wounded soldiers with a 15-days-worth of food since August.”

The special rationings that occurred on special occasions, like the birthdays of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung was only given through the factories or People’s Units. The distribution center were often closed or usually used as the place for selling Chinese merchandises. The reason why the rationing has restarted through the distribution center is that the authorities are thinking of long-term rationings.

According to the inside source, the distributed food include corn, wheat and rice. It is hard to tell whether the rice was produced in the South or North because the rice was immediately packaged after it’s been produced from rice-polishing machines.

The inside source said that “Civilians are not in belief that there will be a continuance of rationing even in October, because there was just a 15-days-worth of rationing being distributed in September.” The rationing was only given to people who worked at particular factories which made profits.

Kim, who resides in Chongjin, staying in Hwoiryeong for his export business, claims that, “We have to get our attendance ballot stamped every day in our factory. For people who skip work for no particular reason, they are being ferreted out by the factory manager, and even the secretary of the Party. In the morning, there are so many meetings and conferences being held that it is difficult for us to think straight.”

Also, factories that had stopped functioning due to the electricity and resource loss, made workers show up at work and emphasized the importance of production culture and lifestyle culture, reinforcing the projects of fixing the buildings and cleaning the buildings.

“Our attendance is being reported on daily basis, so if we don’t go to work for several days, we are automatically taken to People’s Safety Agency immediately.”

For people who have made their livings through business are becoming increasingly dissatisfied by having to work in an inefficient factory. Some claim that, “Are we going back to how we used to be,” raising more concerns.

Kim states, “It’s not like they’re giving us abundant supply of food. We were able to breathe a little bit by doing our own business, but now it’s suffocating us to death.”

He added “We are now so strictly controlled with only a 15-days of rationing; can you imagine how much worse it can get if the rationing continues to supply fully in the future?”

The background of rationing has not been clear as of yet.

Kim Jong Il visited North Hamkyung for the onsite inspection in the beginning of August. This could be a temporary remedy taken by Kim Jong Il, to increase the effect of his visit. Furthermore, it could be his ways of increasing control on Hamkyung area, where the commute and trade with foreign countries is active.

The North Korean defector who came to South Korea in 2005, Park Jeong Chul (pseudonym) said, “The rationing can be a temporary remedy to appease the public anxiety with the upcoming Inter-Summit in October. It’s because North Korea has enough provisions for the army and there is pressure from the international society for North Korea to become more transparent, North Korea is pretending to oblige.”


North Korean Teenagers’ Drinking & Dating during the Farm Supporting Activity

Monday, September 17th, 2007

Daily NK
Kim Min Se

The ethics of youth regarding sex has always been a noticeable issue in all societies. It is the same in North Korea. The fear of the youth misdemeanor is worried by both South and North Koreas.

The North Korean defectors claim that the most frequently asked question since they’ve been here was whether North Korean youth also dated.

North Korea is a place with people as well. Like all other societies, personal problems of love, hate, conflicts and atonement exist. However, due to the restriction of freedom, there is also limitation on human relationships that cannot be made single-handedly.

The North Korean youth also date. While it was forbidden to date back in the 1960s and 1970s, with the changing era, the restriction on dating has disappeared as well.

According to the North Korean defectors, the trend of dating by the youth has initiated in the main cities of North Korea from the late 1980s.

The normalization of the teenagers’ dating was from the 1990s. The coeducational school became the wildfire that incurred the trend of public dating for all middle school students in North Korea.

The differentiation of girls and boys school was changed by the single statement of Kim Il Sung.

“It is quite distressing that there is a barrier between North and South, why should we have a barrier between men and women,” encouraging all differentiation of gender to disappear in all schools nationwide. Hence then, the official names of differentiating gender on official school names have disappeared.

According to a North Korean defector Park Myung Gil (pseudonym), “In middle school, in the age of 16, it is very important for students to have a girlfriend and also participate in the gang fight.” Unless you were stupid, these two things were very important for all students.” 1990s was an era where gang fights between schools and villages were rampant.

Month-long Farm Supporting Activity Is another Factor

Park stated that, “When we go onto farm supporting activity, it is easier for us to date the female students. The fellow students would pay a visit to the dormitory of the girl until she said yes.”

Middle school students in the age range of 14 to 15 go out to the field to help farming. They go out for 40 days in spring and 15-20 days in the autumn to participate for the farm supporting activity. It is during this phase that they learn how to smoke and drink.

They gather around to drink and smoke after their fieldwork is over at night time. When you don’t participate in this night gathering, you become isolated and rejected from the crowd. Although this is supposedly done in secrecy, the teachers, even when they are aware of this, turn a blind eye to the students.

While there are many similarities between the North and the South Korean students, there are also many differences. The North Korean students drink with their teachers. They usually take a bottle of alcohol to their students and drink with them out of good will. While it is hard to imagine such things happening in South Korea, the students do not get in trouble for drinking in North Korea.

When these students participate in the long term farm supporting activity, there are accidents that follow. There are many cases of female students’ impregnation after their field-work term.

The current teenagers of North Korea are surely much more free and independent. As a result of China-North Korea trade, with the influx of cheap VCR disseminated nationwide, this would play a crucial role in liberalizing the minds of these youth. However, the sentiments felt by their parents, regardless of that be North or South, must be along the line of anxiety and worry.