The Dreams of North Korea’s Youth Is to Succeed as Merchants

Daily NK
Park Hyun Min
12/28/2007

The future dream of North Korea’s teenagers is no longer to become party leaders or soldiers, or even join the Party, but to become “merchants.”

Good Friends,” an aid organization for North Korea, said through “Today’s News on North Korea” No. 104 on the 27th, “Most of the elementary and senior middle school students nowadays, upon being asked what they would like to do post-graduation, say they would like to be merchants.”

The source relayed, “Many of their peers have stopped going to school and have started doing business. It is too burdensome for some students to attend school, so they sell noodles or vegetables by sticking around the jangmadang (markets) and contribute to their families’ livelihoods.”

With the poorer getting poorer and the richer getting richer, the children of high officials aim for universities or commercial colleges and can practice typing in special private sessions even though they fall behind the children of laborers.

Also, the investigation results of long-distance buses in a portion of regions, conducted by the Supreme People’s Committee’s Standing Committee, revealed that a majority of illegal operations by individuals under company names has been disclosed.

Accordingly, the Standing Committee issued the order of investigating long-distance bus operations nationwide and in certain regions, individually-invested buses were prevented from running, the source said.

The source also stated, “In Chongjin, North Hamkyung Province, as a result of preventing individually-operated buses, only the 116 moving bus is operating. This bus used to run once a day, but with the disappearance of private buses, is now operating 2~3 times a day.”

Further, the source commented, “With the decrease in the choices for buses, the sight of people scrambling to get on buses is a common occurrence. There are 40 staff, but close to 100 people can be pushed into a bus at one time, so massive accidents involving the 116 moving bus in the Musanryeong site alone is quite frequent.”

Concurrently, with the worsening water pollution in the Shinuiju region, the number of people who are buying and selling water in cities has been known to be increasing.

The source said, “Merchants who draw and sell fresh spring water from the Sukha-ri which is about 9 km away from Shinuiju and citizens who buy them for 500 won per 10 kg are also common. Mostly males sell water by trade, so they ferry 100 liters of water by bike each time and go around to houses that have requested water.”

The reason for the worsening water quality in the Shinuiju region, along with the shortage in electricity, is due to the damage to the water supply facilities, which were built during the Japanese colonial period.

Subsequently, wealthy households have started purchasing the Sukha-ri spring water, the Uiju Hwangchiryeong spring water, or spring water from China starting two years ago. Sources have previously remarked that in the morning, the procession of bicycles carrying and selling water almost forms a bicycle squad.

The source also relayed that tightly organized People’s Security Agency’s inspection groups are vehemently regulating the vehicles of merchants at each checkpoints between Chongjin and Onsung. The checkpoints are located in Gomu Mountains, Jungeori, Punsan, Hoiryeong Baemgol, and Sambong, and Gangahn. 

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