Archive for the ‘Federation of Trade Unions’ Category

North Korea’s ‘organizational life’ in decline

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

A quick note related to the story below: I have located on Google Earth the Workers’ Party headquarters, headquarters of the Democratic Women’s Union of Korea, headquarters of the Kim Il-sung League of Socialist Working Youth, and the headquarters of the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea. The headquarters of the Union of Agricultural Workers of Korea, however, eludes me.  If you have any idea of its location please let me know…

Andrei Lankov writes about the purposes of these organizations in the Asia Times:

In the early 1980s, when the present author was a student at the Soviet University, my teacher often described North Korea as a “country where meetings never end”. Having grown up in Stalin’s Russia, he knew a thing or two about meetings and indoctrination, but the North Korean standards appeared excessive even to him.

The more I interact with North Koreans, the more skeptical I become about how outsiders understand the working of a repressive system.

For outsiders, regime repressiveness is usually associated with an omnipresent political police, but it appears that other, less sinister-looking, institutions have played a major role in shaping the consent of the North Korean populace.

Read more of the article below…

Since its foundation in the late 1940s, the North Korean state has followed a zero tolerance approach in its dealings with dissent. The authorities strive to discover and punish/correct even minor deviations from the prescribed way of thinking.

But the political police only get involved in rare and extreme cases. In most cases, the real and alleged offenders are disciplined by their own peers and immediate supervisors within their “organization”.

Indeed, so-called “organizational life” has been a peculiar and omnipresent feature of North Korean life since the 1960s, even though it has declined in the past two decades.

Every single North Korean must belong to a cell of one (and only one!) organization, and this cell, usually consisting of one or two dozen people, has multiple opportunities to control and correct his/her behavior. There are five such organizations in the North, with each having easily definable and mutually exclusive membership – the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP), the Youth Union, the Trade Union, the Farmers Union and the Women’s Union.

Once a North Korean turns 14, he or she is expected and, indeed, required to join the Kim Il-sung Youth Union and stay there until the age of 30 (unless he or she is lucky enough to be admitted into the KWP at young age).

After 30, the lucky and socially ambitious can still theoretically join the party (not an easy undertaking), while the rest become members of the Trade Union or Farmers Union, depending on whether they work in the fields or on a production line. Even housewives, without a job, are not left out, since they are required to be members of the Women’s Union.

The rules are simple and unambiguous. An industrial worker in his late 20s will attend meetings and other activities of the Youth Union in his work place. Once he turns 30, he is required to switch membership to the Trade Union. He might marry a woman from the same factory, but if she decides to become a housewife (a very common occurrence), she would switch membership to the Women’s Union.

Typically, every organization holds three meetings every week, each one lasting between one and two hours. Two of the three weekly meetings are indoctrination sessions. Their participants are lectured about the greatness of the Kim family, the glories of the socialist economy and the depraved nature of the pro-American South Korean puppet regime, as well as about other similarly lofty, ideologically useful topics.

The content of the lectures is supposed to be memorized and tests are occasionally held, but examiners are not excessively strict.

This system makes sure that propaganda messages are delivered to every Korean. It is possible that people do not read newspapers (because North Korean newspapers are seriously boring) or do not listen to official radio, so the major ideas of propaganda are delivered straight to their workplace.

But it is another weekly function that seems to constitute the true core of North Korea’s organizational life – the so-called “self- and mutual criticism sessions”. In most cases, such sessions are usually held on a weekly basis.

During a criticism session, every member of an organization – in other words, every adult North Korean – is supposed to deliver something akin to public penitence and confession. He or she must admit some improper acts that he or she committed in the previous week.

Serious deviations are seldom admitted and discussed; people usually limit themselves to relatively trivial matters like, say, being a few minutes late for a job or not taking proper care when cleaning the shop floor.

Every act of public confession should be accompanied by a proper quote from Kim Il-sung (leader from 1948 to 1994) or his son Kim Jong-ll (leader from 1994 until his death in 2011).

Then a repentant sinner must be criticized by another member of the same organization. Usually both confession and criticism are kept short, taking hardly more than a minute or two per person.

In most cases, these sessions are essentially performances where people admit the sins they know to be relatively minor and hence harmless.

It is also known that future participants of the Saturday performance (“self- and mutual criticism sessions” tend to be scheduled for Saturdays) sometimes make preliminary deals and agree on who should criticize whom and for what.

Nonetheless, there is always the small but real risk of a public denunciation, a situation getting out of control, and therefore the sessions do exercise significant pressure over organization members.

If something more improper has taken place, a more specialized session can be conducted within the organization (often called “the ideological struggle session”).

When this is to be done, the offender is subjected to one or two hours of a verbal harangue, often of a quite offensive and rude nature. Usually, this is the way in which an organization deals with offenses that are too trivial to be dealt with by the police, but are nonetheless seen as relatively serious – like, say, frequent absence from work without sufficient reason, or traveling to another part of the country without obtaining a proper permit (and being caught there).

Through organizational life, the state ensures that every single North Korean is exposed to the official ideology and also gets regular training in the politically correct ways of conduct.

The slow but unstoppable disintegration of Kim Il-sung’s “national Stalinism” in the past two decades seriously undermined the foundations of organizational life. Nowadays, a majority of North Koreans make a living outside the official state economy and they have now become much less dependent on their workplaces and supervisors.

Increasingly, they see organizational life as a troublesome and time-consuming formality. They can nowadays negotiate a deal with their supervisors, getting permission to be absent from the workplace, if they pay a contribution to the factory’s budget – this is known as an “August 3 contribution” (after the date of a government decree that allowed such practice).

Tellingly, this contribution frees the payer not only from attending his/her workplace but also from time-consuming indoctrination and mutual criticism sessions – after all, the average adult North Korean is supposed to spend three to five hours a week attending these functions.

When the functions are conducted, they are much easier than was the case in the 1970s and 1980s. The meetings are shorter nowadays, and absenteeism – once almost unthinkable – came to be ignored if it remained relatively infrequent (or if the “August 3 contribution” had been paid).

This relaxation seems to be especially pronounced in the Women’s Union, since most North Korean housewives are much involved with the black market economy and hence, if compared to workers of state factories, have less time for the boring activities of their local Women’s Union cells.

Like many institutions of the “old North Korea”, organizational life is seemingly on the decline. But this decline is by no means complete, and a majority of North Koreans are still taken care of by their organizational supervisors. And these people make sure that even minor deviations from what is considered to be correct are likely to be discovered and censured.

Read the full story here:
North Korea’s ‘organizational life’ in decline
Asia Times
Andrei Lankov


Army Founding Day a source of stress

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

According tot he Daily NK:

The North Korean authorities have called on the people to provide supplies for care packages to be given to military units on People’s Army Foundation Day, which falls today. It is not a new burden, but is relatively larger this year, according to a source.

The source from Chongjin in North Hamkyung Province told the Daily NK yesterday, “The people feel seriously burdened by the project going on nationwide to gather support supplies ahead of the military holiday. Each household is required to offer up towels, soap, toothpaste, socks and underwear.”

“Usually they collect around 1,000 won from each family, but this year they told us to give 10,000 won,” the source went on. “Since even providing food for the family is not easy, many people are playing a waiting game on this.”

The source explained that societal organizations (the Union of Democratic Women, General Federation of Korean Trade Unions etc) have also been gathering care packages for delivery to local military units by ‘People’s Delegations’ consisting of municipal and county Party cadres.

“Middle school classes are also suspended while students prepare and perform ‘People’s Army Comfort Concerts’ at art centers and in military camps, and the Union of Democratic Women are preparing art performances,” she added.

Problematically, the various April holidays also mean that markets are closed more often than normal, and this is driving down household incomes.

For the Day of the Sun, the markets were closed from the 14th through the 17th. The markets are also closed today for Army Foundation Day today. Moreover, they were also closed on the day Kim Jong Eun was elevated to 1st Secretary and the day of the mass rally organized to denounce the Lee Myung Bak administration, to name but two.

As such, the source concluded, “April is a hectic month. Aside from the fact that the people are exhausted because of the pressure from the authorities their income has dropped by around half so many will likely end up in debt.”

Read the full story here:
Army Founding Day a Source of Stress
Daily NK
Choi Song Min


ROK denies labor groups’ visit to DPRK

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

According to Yonhap:

South Korea has turned down a request by two umbrella labor unions to visit North Korea for talks with their counterparts, an official said Thursday, attesting to ongoing hostilities between the sides.

South Korea’s two main umbrella unions — the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions — applied for permission earlier this week to send four of their members to the North Korean border town of Kaesong for talks with their northern counterparts. They hoped to discuss possibilities for another general meeting among their members, the last of which was held in 2007 before inter-Korean relations grew tense.

South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, which handles inter-Korean affairs, rejected the visit planned for Thursday, citing a breach of regulations enforced after last year’s deadly sinking of a South Korean warship. Seoul blames Pyongyang for the March torpedo attack that killed 46 South Korean sailors, an allegation that the North vehemently denies.

“Not only is it required by law to apply for permission at least a week in advance, but our nationals are currently prohibited from visiting North Korea” under a set of post-attack measures that also ban cross-border trade, a ministry official said on customary condition of anonymity.

The two labor groups were informed of the decision on Wednesday, he added.

In protest, the KCTU held a rally outside the main government complex in Seoul earlier in the day, saying the ministry denied “the earnest request of workers from the South and North who long for peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

“We will achieve a South-North workers’ general meeting at all costs even if we can’t be together in one place,” the KCTU said in a statement, indicating it may issue a joint statement with its North Korean counterparts after holding separate meetings in Seoul and Pyongyang.

The South Koren government has been allowing some private aid to be delivered to th DPRK.

Read the full story here:
Gov’t rejects labor groups’ request to visit N. Korea


RoK flood aid to the DPRK (2010)

Friday, October 29th, 2010

UPDATE 18 (11/08/2010): South Korean aid will finally be delivered to the DPRK on 11/09.  Here is more from the PRC’s People’s Daily:

Some of South Korea’s first government-financed rice aid in almost three years will be delivered to the flood-hit Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ( DPRK) starting Tuesday, the unification ministry said Monday.

Some of the 5,000 tons of rice currently in the Chinese city of Dandong will be sent to the northwestern DPRK city of Sinuiju, a city reeling from heavy rains in August, and the delivery will be completed by the end of next week, according to the ministry.

Three million cups of instant noodles, also part of the flood aid, have already been sent to Sinuiju, while some of the pledged one million tons of cement will reach the city later in the day, the ministry said.

As he took office in 2008, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak cut a free flow of rice aid to Pyongyang, which once amounted to 300,000 to 400,000 tons each year. A hard-liner toward Pyongyang, he also ended a decade of rapprochement under his liberal predecessors by linking aid to dismantlement of the DPRK’s nuclear programs.

UPDATE 17 (1o/29/2010): Here and here are photos of the aid arriving in China. 

UPDATE 16: According to the Korea Times, the shipment was delayed due to weather.

UPDATE 15: First aid shipment to go today (10/25).  According to Yonhap:

A shipment of rice was to depart a South Korean port en route to North Korea Monday, which will mark Seoul’s first government-financed rice aid to the communist nation in more than two and a half years.

A cargo ship carrying 5,000 tons of rice was scheduled to depart the port city of Gunsan for the northeastern Chinese city of Dandong on the border with North Korea. Another ship was also set to head from the port of Incheon to the Chinese city, carrying 3 million packs of instant noodles.

The Red Cross aid, which is aimed at helping the North cope with the aftermath of floods, marks South Korea’s first government-funded provision of rice to the North since President Lee Myung-bak took office in early 2008 on a pledge to link aid to progress in efforts to end Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.

Seoul also plans to send a shipment of 10,000 tons of cement to the North later this week.

A total of 13.9 billion won (US$12.3 million) came from the government coffers to finance the flood aid.

Also Monday, three Red Cross officials prepared to fly to the Chinese city to receive the rice and instant noodles there and transport the relief supplies by truck to the flood-hit North Korean border city of Sinuiju, according to officials from the Red Cross and the Unification Ministry.

The cargo ships are expected to arrive in Dandong around Wednesday.

Rice will be delivered in five-kilogram packages, and each package is marked with “Donation from the Republic of Korea,” South Korea’s official name.

In August, South Korea first offered to provide relief aid to the North after devastating floods hit the communist nation. North Korea later asked for rice, heavy construction equipment and materials.

UPDATE 14: S. Korea to send rice aid to N. Korea next month.  Accrording to Yonhap:

South Korea’s Red Cross will begin the shipment of 5,000 tons of rice and other aid materials next month to North Korea, which has been battered by summer floods, officials here said Sunday.

It would mark South Korea’s first government-funded provision of rice to the hunger-stricken communist neighbor since the conservative president, Lee Myung-bak, took office in early 2008 on a pledge to link inter-Korean ties to Pyongyang’s denuclearization.

The South’s government plans to convene a committee on inter-Korean exchanges on Tuesday to approve the use of taxpayers’ money earmarked for projects to improve relations with the North, the officials said.

“(The government) will report to the National Assembly on Sept. 28 and the committee will approve the aid worth 8 billion won (US$6.9 million) from the South-North Cooperation Fund (on the same day),” a Unification Ministry official said.

The rice shipment will depart from the port of Incheon, west of Seoul, on Oct. 25 and it will be delivered to the North Korean city of Sinuiju bordering China via Dandong, an adjacent Chinese town, he added.

Other aid items to be sent to the North in stages include 10,000 tons of cement, three million packs of instant noodles and some medical goods.

South Korea has ruled out the shipment of construction equipment, which the North requested, taking into account the possibility of the equipment being used for military purposes.

Seoul’s rice aid, although officials here stressed it is purely a humanitarian move, has been seen as a possible sign of a thaw in chilled inter-Korean relations. Military tensions have risen sharply since the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, which the South attributed to a North Korean torpedo attack.

South Korea suspended an annual shipment of 300,000-400,000 tons of rice to the North in 2008, citing little progress in efforts to end the North’s nuclear program.

UPDATE 13: Incheon Gov’t, Civic Group Sign MOU on NK Aid.  According to KBS:

The Incheon city government has signed a memorandum of understanding with a civic group to send 700 tons of corn to North Korean flood victims in Sinuiju.

The aid is worth 300 million won.

The city government and the Korean Sharing Movement obtained permission to provide the food aid from the Unification Ministry on September 14th.

The first shipment of corn will arrive late this month via an overland route linking the city of Dandong in China to the North Korean city of Sinuiju.

The remaining food aid will be delivered to North Korea by year’s end.

Previously, the Incheon city government announced a plan to send six shipments of milk and infant formula by December. The aid is valued at 100 million won.

The first shipment left Incheon port for North Korea on Saturday.

UPDATE 12: First shipment of aid has headed north.  According to the New York Times:

The nine trucks in the convoy carried 203 tons of rice that civic groups and opposition political parties in South Korea had donated for the victims of recent flooding in North Korea. The flooding is expected to worsen food shortages in the North, which even in a year of good harvests, cannot produce enough to feed its estimated population of 23 million people properly.

The shipment, coming just before the Korean harvest festival of Chuseok next week, also seemed to symbolize a newfound South Korean good will toward the North. It followed 530 tons of flour that a South Korean provincial government and civic groups sent on Thursday.

After President Lee Myung-bak came to power in Seoul in early 2008, South Korea had been reluctant to provide rice or any other major aid shipments to the North until its government in Pyongyang took significant steps to give up its nuclear weapons. The sinking of the warship, the Cheonan, further soured relations.

But in the past week, the South approved the civic groups’ donations, as well as a separate Red Cross plan to send 5,000 tons of rice. The approval followed conciliatory gestures by North Korea, including a plan to resume a Red Cross program of arranging temporary unions of families split by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The nine trucks in the convoy carried 203 tons of rice that civic groups and opposition political parties in South Korea had donated for the victims of recent flooding in North Korea. The flooding is expected to worsen food shortages in the North, which even in a year of good harvests, cannot produce enough to feed its estimated population of 23 million people properly.

The shipment, coming just before the Korean harvest festival of Chuseok next week, also seemed to symbolize a newfound South Korean good will toward the North. It followed 530 tons of flour that a South Korean provincial government and civic groups sent on Thursday.

After President Lee Myung-bak came to power in Seoul in early 2008, South Korea had been reluctant to provide rice or any other major aid shipments to the North until its government in Pyongyang took significant steps to give up its nuclear weapons. The sinking of the warship, the Cheonan, further soured relations.

But in the past week, the South approved the civic groups’ donations, as well as a separate Red Cross plan to send 5,000 tons of rice. The approval followed conciliatory gestures by North Korea, including a plan to resume a Red Cross program of arranging temporary unions of families split by the 1950-53 Korean War.

UPDATE 11: North Korea complains that it did not receive enough aid from South Korea.  According to UPI:

North Korea complained Sunday that a planned shipment of flood-relief aid from South Korea is much smaller than expected.

The state-controlled weekly Tongil Sinbo said the rice shipment the South Korean Red Cross said would feed 200,000 people for 50 days was not nearly adequate.

“After the lid was removed from the box of aid, there was only 5,000 tons of rice in it,” Tongil Sinbo said in a posting on the North’s official Web site.

The statement, which was monitored by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, said the shipment would not last “even for a day.”

The Red Cross aid package, which includes rice and cement, was consigned to Sinuiju, a town near the Chinese border in a region hit hard by rain and flooding last month.

The shipment had been seen by diplomatic analysts as an easing of tensions between the two Koreas, Yonhap said. North Korea relies heavily on donations of rice and other supplies to prop up its economy.

Also, see this Yonhap story.

UPDATE 10: The Ministry of Unificaion is opposed to large scale food assistance—drawing a distinction between flood relief and large-scale food aid.  According to KBS:

Unification Minister Hyun In-taek says he is opposed to large-scale food aid to North Korea.

He said large-scale food aid is separate from humanitarian aid, and that all aspects of inter-Korean policy and the sinking of the “Cheonan” naval vessel should be considered.

Hyun made the remarks at a budget committee meeting on Friday when a main opposition Democratic Party member urged the government to send 500-thousand tons of rice to North Korea.

Hyun said that South Korea had sent large amounts of food aid on multiple previous occasions for what was called humanitarian assistance, but it is doubtful whether the rice had been distributed to people in need.

Adding to political pressure against further donations, the Choson Ilbo reports that the North Korean military is warehousing quite a bit of rice:

In a party caucus at the National Assembly on Thursday, Grand National Party floor leader Kim Moo-sung said calls for humanitarian food aid for the North are “inappropriate” at a time when the North “has as much as 1 million tons of rice in storage in preparation for war. We have to take this into consideration.”

The figure apparently comes from a report by the National Intelligence Service for the ruling-party leadership.

South Korea worries about a rice surplus when it stores only about 1.49 million tons this year. If it is true that the North is really holding back 1 million tons of rice for the military, it could have a profound effect on the ongoing debate over whether to increase aid for the North.

UPDATE 9: The first aid shipment has arrived.  According to Arirang News:

The first round of civilian emergency aid since recent flooding in North Korea was delivered to the border town of Gaeseong on Thursday.

The transport of 530 tons of flour on two dozen large trucks by Gyeonggi Province and non-governmental groups is also the first aid package from the South after it enforced punitive measures on Pyeonyang in May, in response to its sinking of the warship Cheonan.

And five South Korean personnel were permitted to cross the border to transfer the goods.

Kim Moon-soo, Governor Gyeonggi Province: “Many South Koreans have been wanting to provide assistance and there’s been a delay but we’re finally sending aid today. There are factors other than intent to consider.”

The group had been waiting since July for the government to give the green light to supply food aid worth about 240-thousand US dollars… enough to feed some 30-thousand children and other vulnerable groups for a month.

It is estimated that some 28 million square meters of agricultural land was swamped by rainfall of up to 324 milimeters in Gaeseong.

Kim Deog-ryong, Co-chair, Korean Council for Reconciliation & Cooperation: “Following the first round of aid, we plan to send additional second and third rounds in October. We hope nongovernmental efforts will eventually lead to continuous government-level assistance.”

The resumption of aid delivery to the North on humanitarian grounds will likely be succeeded by a series of foodstuffs, such as rice and corn, being transported through the Dorasan Customs, Immigration and Quarantine office, on top of the South Korean Red Cross’ pledged shipments of rice, cement and other supplies.

On Friday, more civilian aid consisting of 203 tons of rice is scheduled to be delivered to the flood-ravaged Shinuiju region.

Choi You-sun (reporter) “The South Korean government is maintaining a firm stance concerning its set of stringent measures against North Korea. But officials here say there are more applicants wishing to send provisions forecasting that there will be a significant increase in the amount of nongovernmental aid to the impoverished North.

UPDATE 8: The Ministry of Unification seems to have approved the private aid donations mentioned in UPDATE 7.  According to the AFP:

South Korea’s government said Wednesday it has approved a plan by local groups to send flood relief aid to North Korea, amid growing signs of a thaw after months of tension on the peninsula.

The Unification Ministry said it approved Tuesday requests to send emergency supplies worth a total of 2.24 billion won (1.2 million dollars) including 203 tons of rice.

The aid for flood victims in Sinuiju and Kaesong also includes flour, bread, blankets and instant noodles, said spokesman Chun Hae-Sung, adding the first shipment of 400 tons of flour would be sent Thursday.

It was the second time this week that Seoul groups have announced help following floods that hit the city of Sinuiju on the China border and the town of Kaesong, just north of the inter-Korean frontier.

UPDATE 7: In addition to the aid offernd by the South Korean government (in the posts below),  private organizations in South Korea are offering flood assistance.  According to Yonhap:

The Korea Sharing Movement and the Join Together Society (JTS) plan to ship 400 tons of flour to the North Korean border city of Kaesong via an overland route on Thursday, an official said. The Gyeonggi provincial government helped fund the assistance.

Separately, the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, a coalition of pro-unification civic and social groups, also plans to send 130 tons of flour to the North on Thursday.

And in another Yonhap story:

An umbrella trade union said Wednesday it seeks to send about 100 tons of rice, possibly by land, to North Korea to help the flood-hit nation.

The Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), which claims up to 900,000 members across the country, said it is in talks with its North Korean counterpart to determine the exact delivery route and size of the aid.

UPDATE 6: The South Korean government is trying to figure out how to prevent aid from being diverted to the military.  According to the Choson Ilbo:

“Rice can be stored for a long time and is easy to divert to the military,” the official said. “But rice flour or noodles are harder to store for longer and are more likely to be given to the victims instead of being transported to military warehouses.”

The government offered the North 10,000 tons of corn following the reunion of separated families on the occasion of Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving last year reportedly because this was less likely to be used for military rations. North Korean defectors say they were rarely given any rice supplied by the South, while rice bags with the lettering of the South Korean Red Cross stamped on were seen in military facilities close to the heavily armed border.

During the famine in the late 1990s, the North received corn flour aid from the U.S which the authorities then distributed through ration stations, a defector recalls.

But processing over 100,000 tons of rice into flour and other products may not be realistic as it would cost a lot of time and money, a Unification Ministry official said.

UPDATE 5: According to the Donga Ilbo:

Yoo Chong-ha, head of the (South) Korean National Red Cross, said in a news conference Monday that the Red Cross will send 10 billion won (8.6 million U.S. dollars) worth of aid comprising 5,000 tons of rice, 10,000 tons of cement, three million packages of instant noodles, and medicine.

He also suggested a working-level meeting of Red Cross organizations from both sides in Kaesong Friday on Pyongyang’s proposal for reunions of separate inter-Korean families.

On the volume of rice aid, Yoo said, “Around 80,000 to 90,000 people in (the North Korean city of) Shinuiju are known to be displaced, and 5,000 tons of rice can feed 100,000 people for 100 days,” translating into 500 grams a day per person.

The South’s Red Cross said it set the amount given that international aid organizations allocate 300 to 500 grams per person when they send rice assistance to the North.

The budget for buying the rice was 7.7 billion won (6.6 million dollars), or 1.54 million won (1,330 dollars) per ton based on the price of rice Seoul purchased in 2007.

Even if the South Korean government provides rice aid to the North, the combined amount will be around 10 billion won as the South’s Red Cross proposed to the North last month.

Excluded from the aid package was heavy equipment that the North requested. Most of the 10 billion won in aid will come from a South Korean government fund for inter-Korean cooperation.

UPDATE 4: And the picture becomes clearer.  According to the Guardian:

The $8.5m (£5.5m) package, to be funded by the government, is the south’s first aid shipment to its neighbour since the sinking of a warship in March reduced bilateral relations to their lowest point for years. Seoul says its vessel was sunk by a North Korean torpedo, a claim Pyongyang denies.

The countries may also resume reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean war, which ended in an uneasy armistice but no peace treaty. The reunions were suspended after a South Korean woman was shot dead by a guard during a visit to the North Korean tourist resort of Mount Kumgang, in 2008.

UPDATE 3: Some specifics come out.  According to Yonhap:

S. Korea’s Red Cross announces 5,000 tons of rice aid for N. Korea’s flood victims

UPDATE 2: South Korean farmers demand ROK government send aid to DPRK to keep rice prices high.  According to the AFP:

Thousands of South Korean farmers rallied Friday, demanding the government stop a fall in rice prices by shipping surplus stocks in state silos to North Korea.

The farmers urged President Lee Myung-Bak to resume an annual shipment of 400,000 tonnes of rice to the North, which suffers severe food shortages. The shipment was suspended in 2008 as relations soured.

About 3,000 farmers took part in morning rallies in a dozen cities and counties, said the Korea Peasants’ League, which represents farmers, adding more were under way or planned in the afternoon.

“Resuming rice aid to North Korea is a short cut to stabilising rice prices and also improving inter-Korean ties,” league spokesman Kang Suk-Chan told AFP.

The government makes an annual purchase of rice from farmers to stabilise prices amid falling national demand, but is predicting a bumper harvest this year.

Unless some stocks are sold off, the agriculture ministry says the South’s strategic rice reserve will soon reach an all-time high of 1.49 million tons, twice the 720,000 tonnes considered necessary for emergencies.

Last week minister Yoo Jeong-Bok said the government would sell about 500,000 tons of the reserve this year to companies that make alcoholic beverages and processed food ingredients.

Farmers claimed the ministry’s move would fail to stop the fall in prices. They want the government to lift the 2008 ban and to purchase this year’s harvest at higher prices.

Subsidised farmers grow more rice than South Koreans want to eat. The country’s consumption of the staple fell in 2007 to its lowest level for decades as people ate more meat and vegetables.

Cross-border tensions this summer have run high over the sinking of a South Korean warship with the loss of 46 sailors. The North vehemently denies involvement but the South has cut off most cross-border trade.

Read the full story here:
S.Korea farmers demand rice shipment to N.Korea

UPDATE 1: The DPRK accepts the ROK’s aid offer.  According to the BBC:

North Korea has responded to an offer from South Korea of emergency food and medical aid, saying it would prefer to receive rice and building materials.

The South Korean offer, worth more than $8m (£5m), was made last week after severe flooding in the North.

South Korea says it is considering the North’s request.

The aid would be the first large-scale shipment since South Korea blamed its impoverished northern neighbour for sinking one of its warships in March.

South Korea blames Pyongyang for sinking the Cheonan with a torpedo, killing 46 crew.

North Korea denies any role in the incident and has demanded its own investigation.

Food aid

North Korea’s Red Cross said it would prefer rice, cement and heavy construction equipment – items it said were necessary for flood recovery efforts, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry and Red Cross.

The South’s offer excluded rice – a staple which Seoul has stopped sending to Pyongyang amid strained relations.

North Korea has been hard hit by floods caused by heavy rains in July and August, especially in its northern areas bordering China.

This week a South Korean newspaper published pictures of people sleeping in tents and queuing for water in the city of Shinuiju.

They were taken by an undercover source who also reports rare public complaints that the North Korean leadership is not doing enough to help.

Read the full story here:
North Korea accepts flood aid offer from South

ORIGINAL POST: South Korea offers flood aid to the DPRK. According to the BBC:

South Korea has made its first offer of aid to North Korea since it accused Pyongyang of sinking one of its warships in March.

South Korea’s Red Cross has offered 10bn won ($8.3m, £5.3m) worth of flood aid to its impoverished neighbour.

The offer came hours after the United States imposed new sanctions on the North in response to the sinking.

South Korea blames North Korea for sinking the Cheonan on 26 March with a torpedo, killing 46 crew.

North Korea denies any role in the incident and has demanded its own investigation.

North Korea has relied on food aid from China, South Korea and aid agencies to feed millions of its people since a famine in the 1990s resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

But the communist country has been hard hit by floods caused by heavy rains in July and August, especially in its northern areas, bordering China.

“The aid includes medical kits, emergency food and supplies,” a Unification Ministry official said, quoting the Red Cross message sent to North Korea.

The offer has yet to be accepted by the North.

Under President Lee Myung-bak, the South has stepped back from its earlier “sunshine” policy of unconditional aid and has linked the provision of aid to progress from the North on ending its nuclear programme.

A South Korean offer of about 10,000 tonnes of corn to North Korea in October 2009 was the first official aid to its hungry neighbour for almost two years.

The year before, the South had offered 50,000 tons of corn but the North rejected the shipment amid high tensions.

The offer came after North Korea reportedly indicated it was ready to return to six-party talks over ending its nuclear ambitions.

Parts of North Korea have been badly affected by severe flooding Leader Kim Jong-il told the Chinese president that he wanted to see negotiations resumed during a visit to China last week, Chinese state media said.

The talks – which involve the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the US – have been stalled since December 2008 over Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests.

But South Korea is demanding an apology for the warship sinking before any return to the negotiations.

Japan also says the time is not right to resume talks.

On Tuesday its foreign minister, Katsuya Okada, told China’s visiting nuclear envoy, Wu Dawei, that it was still “too early” to think about a return to talks.

On Monday the US imposed additional sanctions on North Korea, targeting trade in arms, luxury goods and narcotics.

Read the full story here:
South Korea offers aid to flooded North


Organizational Loyalty on Display

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Daily NK
Jeong Jae Sung

North Korean youth and women’s organizations have been holding meetings to elicit a vow of loyalty to Kim Jong Il since mid-August, when he disappeared from public view.

Meanwhile, North Korean media report that Kim Jong Il mails letters and gifts frequently in order to prevent a potentially unstable social situation caused by rumors of his serious illness. These loyalty vow meetings are also a tool by which to emphasize solidarity with the current political system.

Chosun (North Korea) Central News Agency reported on Friday that the Primary Organization Chairmen’s meeting of the Union of Democratic Women was held on the 30th in the People’s Palace of Culture, Pyongyang, at which Party Secretary Kim Jung Rin was present and a further “oath statement” to Kim Jong Il was selected.

The News Agency described the meeting thus, “Chairwoman of the Union of Democratic Women Roh Sung Sil reported their activities, after which they evaluated sub-organizational achievements as led by the leadership of the Party and discussed the duties of the primary organizations’ chairwomen and ways to raise their results.”

The Union of Democratic Women consists of around 200,000 women between 31 and 55 years old who do not have jobs. Women who meet these registration conditions have to affiliate with the Union.

On the 28th, a North Korean representative youth organization, the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, held its 38th Assembly in order to discuss a way to enact Kim Jong Il’s instruction, “The youths should take the role of vanguard and storm troopers in the hardest fields, to establish a great and strong country,” according to the News Agency.

The Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League was founded on January 17, 1946 and today consists of around five million students, workers and soldiers between 14 and 30. Its role is to act as a rearguard for the Party.

Vice Chairman of the General Federation of Korean Trade Unions, the largest workers’ organization, Kim Sung Cheol said in late September through the Chosun Central News Agency (KCNA) that “The core of the spirit of the thousands of soldiers and people is to firmly support the Leader, so we should put pressure on members to strengthen their spirits.” 


Kim Jong Il’s Ten Principles: Restricting the People

Monday, October 13th, 2008

Daily NK
Namgung Min

The Chosun (North Korean) Workers’ Party controls and restricts all types of people: from party members to non-members, from the upper-class to the proletariat.

As the Party rules over the state, it coerces people to follow not the socialist constitution of the DPRK, but the party’s Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System (hereafter referred to as the Ten Principles).

The Ten Principles that the Party uses to restrict the people are something that everyone born in North Korea has to memorize and follow at home, work and school for their whole life.

The framework for the Ten Principles was laid by Kim Jong Il in his role as Party Secretary. Later he declared the principles throughout North Korea in February, 1974.

With the Ten Principles Kim Jong Il set standards for North Koreans’ daily lives and their daily activities.

Supervision and Restriction through Regular Party Evaluation Meetings

The Party’s regular evaluation meetings are the tools most typically utilized to monitor all affairs related to the work and personal lives of Party members.

According to Article 8, Section 5 of the Ten Principles, party members are required to “actively attend the Party’s regular evaluation meetings that are held every other day or every week in order to train oneself to become a revolutionary and to continuously rebuild oneself through criticism using the standards of the Leader’s teaching and the Party’s policies as a guide.”

During the regular evaluation meetings, first members within a certain period of time are to confess flaws and mistakes they or others made in their work or personal lives; what they said and did; and, one’s ways of thinking. Then they criticize themselves and one another.

These evaluation meetings are held weekly. There also are monthly and quarterly evaluation meetings, which vary in subject and scope.

If one tries to hide or minimize one’s mistakes during these evaluation meetings, then the level of criticism gets stronger.

“You can pass an evaluation meeting safely only when you seem to be repentant by showing tears and exaggerating even when the flaws are not that serious,” explained Mr. Kim, who defected in 2006.

The quarterly meetings sometimes last a half a day or a day.

Especially after reciprocal criticisms during the evaluation meetings, upper-level cadres of the Party submit the results to Kim Jong Il or the Guidance Department of the Central Committee of the Party for review. Later, the results of the evaluation are announced to the people involved.

The evaluations (similar to a South Korean court decision) can result in comparatively light sentences such as a warning, a severe warning or suspension of one’s qualifications. However, at times, severe punishments are given out such as mining work, farm labor without pay, suspension of one’s titles, banishment to remote regions, or referral to the National Security Agency. If charged and prosecuted, one may be sentenced to intensive labor or re-education camps.

Supervision through Various Forms of Guidance and Education

The Workers’ Party supervises and restricts the people by brainwashing them using various forms of instruction and lectures.

According to Article 4, Section 5 of the Ten Principles, everyone must “attend meetings, lectures and lessons without missing any to learn the Great Father Kim Il Sung’s revolutionary ideology and actively study the rules for more than two hours everyday.”

The mandatory Saturday meetings in particular are known to be the basic brainwashing tool; they are thoroughly prepared by the Propaganda and Agitation Department and involve lectures and documentary film lessons.

The brainwashing process that North Koreans have the hardest time with is the catechetical lessons.

The catechetical lessons take the form of a competition and include preliminary, semi-final and final rounds. During these lessons, all cadres, party members and residents have to memorize more than 100 pages of “catechetical lesson material” that have been prepared by the Propaganda and Agitation Department without getting one word wrong.

The catechetical lesson material includes Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s works, the Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System, Juche ideology and related philosophical issues, documents that praise the morals and majesty of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and various poems and songs praising the Kims.

The groups or individuals that win the competition get awards like a television and honor. But those who do not claim victory become the targets of criticism by the organizations to which they belong and the Party apparatus for slacking on studying ideology.

Restricting People Through Various Organizations

In North Korea, all people who are not part of the Workers’ Party must be mandatorily restricted by the Party’s quasi-governmental organizations.

Such organizations include the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, the General Federation of Trade Unions of North Korea, the Union of Agricultural Working People, the Union of Democratic Women the and Korean Children’s Union.

The Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League (the Youth League) is the biggest and most active political group, the only non-party member group for young people, and includes working youths, students, and military men.

The Youth League, by restricting the ideological culture and organized groups of all youths, monitors any changes in the society’s way of thinking that may happen with the change of generations. It also organizes all youths to be actively involved in production, construction and military service.

The Youth League plays the important role of restricting any form of opposition groups or actions among the youths of North Korea.

Youth League members who have reached the age of 30 but have not joined the Party must join the General Federation of Trade Unions, if one is a laborer or low-ranking manager, the Union of Agricultural Working People if one is a farmer, or the Union of Democratic Women if one is a housewife.

These workers’ organizations are managed by the work departments of the committees and the Central Committee of the Party.

Therefore, non-Party members in North Korea receive double supervision–from the organizations they belong to and from their workplace.

The Chosun Workers’ Party has been strictly restricting and supervising its people for 63 years, which is the period of disgrace of the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il dictatorships.


Know the Party before Getting to Know Kim Jong Il

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Daily NK
Namgung Min

As rumors regarding Kim Jong Il’s illness surfaced during North Korea’s 60th anniversary celebrations, opinion was divided on whether the military or the Party will rise in power post-Kim Jong Il.

It is true that the power of the military rose post-Kim Il Sung, according to the “military-first” political line. The National Defense Commission (NDC) began leading various agencies and councils, and came to hold greater power because Kim Jong Il was introduced as the National Defense Commission Chairman during North-South Summits.

Thus, the National Defense Commission under military-first politics began to appear to be North Korea’s sole power base, as news on general-level promotions was released publicly by the National Defense Commission.

However, despite military-first politics, it remains the Chosun (North Korea) Workers’ Party that fundamentally controls the North Korean regime. Therefore, in order to understand the North Korean regime, one must understand the Chosun Workers’ Party.

Upcoming October 10th is the founding anniversary of this most important of organizations. The eyes of the world are focused on whether Kim Jong Il will appear on this day or not.

Therefore, it is time to closely examine what the Chosun Workers’ Party does and how it controls the North Korean regime.

The Korean Workers’ Party claims to be the direct heir to the North Korean Branch of the Chosun Communist Party that was established during “The Chosun Communist Party Convention of Leaders and Devotees of the 5 Northwest Provincial Party Committees” held on October 10th, 1945. Hence the founding date is October 10th. In April, 1946 the name was changed to the North Chosun Communist Party, which then became the Chosun (North Korean) Workers’ Party after being merged with Chosun New People’s Party in August of the same year.

North Korea is operated under the leadership of the Chosun Workers’ Party, as previously seen in other socialist countries; the nation’s power is concentrated in the Party. This implies that as the Party controls the country, the country is evolving into a socialist society and from there into a communist society.

The Workers’ Party, venerable as it is, not only holds the highest position of authority in North Korea but thus stands above other national agencies, organizations or the military.

I. The positions and roles of the Chosun Workers’ Party

The positions and roles of the Workers’ Party are described in detail in the “Rules and Regulations of the KWP,” “Ten Principals for the Party’s Unique Ideological System” and the “Socialist Constitution of North Korea.”

It is written in Article 11 of the Socialist Constitution, amended in 1998, that “The DPRK shall conduct all activities under the leadership of the Workers’ Party.” Furthermore, the Workers’ Party is stated to be an organ that controls other agencies and organizations as the highest revolutionary organization leading all other working organs.

However, the socialist constitution and the rules of the Party are only for the purpose of propagating the notion of the rationality and legitimacy of North Korea abroad while concealing a dictatorship. The reality within North Korea is completely different from the actual contents of the constitution.

In actuality, the socialist constitution and the rules and regulations of the Party defines that all sectors such as government, military, administration, judiciary, and even public prosecutor’s office are led by the Party, while being utilized as the apparatus for Kim Jong Il’s Stalinist dictatorship. That is, the regulations recognize the Party’s leadership of the country and simultaneously state that the Party can only be operated and led by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

The Workers’ Party in legal terms is an organ that guides North Koreans, but in reality it is only an organ under the iron command of the supreme Leader. Therefore, the Leader stands in the highest position, above the Party, nation and sovereign organs.

II. The structure and functions of the Chosun Workers’ Party

The utmost decision-making organ of the Workers’ Party is the National Party Congress.

According to the rules and regulations of the Party, all decision making of the Party regarding policies, strategies, and tactics should be passed through the National Party Congress. However, in actuality the Party Congress only rubber stamps the decisions that were already made by the Central Committee of the Party.

It is theoretically a ground rule that the Party Congress meets once every 5 years. The first congressional meeting was held in August 1946, the Congress met for the 6th time in October 1980, but has failed to meet since; 28 years. The fact that the Congress is not meeting regularly signifies that the regime system is not operating according to accepted principles of socialist states in the past.

If the Congress fails to meet, the Central Committee of the Party functions as the highest decision-making organ. The Central Committee should meet and discuss issues once every 6 months.

During these meetings, the General Secretary, committee members and the Presidium of the Politburo and committee members of the Central Committee of the Party should be elected. The Central Committee also has the authority to organize the Secretariat and the Central Military Commission.

However, even these twice annual meetings have not been held since the 21st meeting of the 6th cohort in 1993. When the meetings are not held, then the Politburo needs to take authority. However, the Secretariat of the Central Committee, whose General Secretary is currently Kim Jong Il, currently does so.

The highest organ in a communist society is officially the Presidium of the Politburo. In North Korea, Kim Jong Il is the only left in the presidium after the deaths of Kim Il Sung and Oh Jin Woo. This is why North Korea is sometimes called a totalitarian state. In the Chinese government, the Politburo presidium is properly functioning and decisions are made here. From a “democratic” perspective, the Chinese Communist Party and the Chosun Workers’ Party are completely different.

In any case, within the Secretariat of the Central Committee there are specialty departments such as the Guidance Department, Propaganda and Agitation Departments, and the United Front Department, and it also includes departments that supply secret funding to Kim Jong Il such as the 38th and 39th Departments.

The provincial organs of the Party consist of party committees of provinces, cities and counties that even include the most basic low-level party committees such as elementary party committees and sector party committees.

The structure of the Workers’ Party can also be divided into permanent party organs and temporary collective leadership groups. The permanent party organs include all members who work in any specialty departments, from the Central Committee down to low-level provincial party organs. Temporary collective leadership groups signify councils of high-level or low-level leaders of the central and provincial organs, made to implant permanent authority within the society through various meetings.

There are approximately 4,000,000 members of the Workers’ Party, including Kim Jong Il, high-level officials to low-level members, and figures from the legislature, judiciary, and the administration.

III. Main Departments and Their Roles

The main government complex of the Central Committee of the Worker’s Party is located in Changkwang-dong, Joong-district of Pyongyang. There are many buildings in the complex which include Kim Jong Il’s personal office and most of the Central Committee departments.

The second government complex is located in Junseung-dong, Moranbong-district of Pyongyang. The Social Culture Department, United Front Department and Operations Department are included in this complex.

The Workers’ Party has placed all specialty departments under the authority of the Secretariat, to function as restriction and guidance on all areas of the party members, citizens and North Korea. There is a Guidance Department that observes party members then there are other departments that exercise political functions.

The Guidance Department actualizes party guidance and restraint within communities. The department functions as Kim Jong Il’s right hand and as the core department by restraining the lives of all officials, members and citizens within the party.

The Guidance Department sub-divides into the inspection department, official department, party-member registration department, administration department and a communication department that allows direct reports regarding any incident or accident. The Guidance Department also manages the judiciary and the public prosecutor’s office.

The inspection department is responsible for inspecting any anti-party, non-party, undisciplined or unreasonable activities that develop within the regime or leadership of the Party and report to Kim Jong Il. The Guidance Department inspection section is strictly separated from other departments and North Korean party members or officials are all fearful of it.

There are approximately 20 specialty departments such as the Propaganda and Agility Department, the 38th and 39th Departments to supply fund to Kim Jong Il, the United Front Department dealing with South Korea, the International Department, the Science Education Department, and the Operations Department that carry out political activities.

Currently the Korean Workers’ Party is in the middle of the process of replacing 1st or 2nd generation leaders with 3rd or 4th generation, often more practical, personnel.