According to the Times of India:
Economic sanctions by the United States and other western countries is actually strengthening the Kim Jong-il’s regime, a German social worker involved with a non-government organization told reporters here this morning. Sanctions are also affecting life in other ways like the new-found emphasis on sustainable agriculture, she said.
“The leaders are using the sanctions as a justification. People believe the country is in a bad condition because of outside forces,” Karin Janz, country director in North Korea for the German NGO Welthungerhilfe, said while speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Beijing. The official media justified its actions as efforts to fortify the nation against the onslaught of foreign forces, and the people fully believed it, she said.
The sanctions have hit the North Korean agriculture and caused fears of a worsening of the food situation, Karin said. “The North Korean agriculture is highly industrialized,” she said while explaining the country’s agriculture is heavily dependent on imported farm machines and chemical fertilizers. Most of these materials came from South Korea, which has now slammed the doors.
The government has suddenly realized the value of sustainable development and is asking agricultural cooperatives to change their focus. They are being asked to go for organic farming, grow composts and reduce their dependence on chemicals. It is a new policy on sustainable development by default, she said.
“It could be a good start in the direction of sustainable development. But it is a long way to rehabilitate the soil, which is badly damaged” she said.
The Internet is banned to ensure that local citizens do not communicate with the outside world. There is a limited form of Intranet for university students to chat among themselves. But if the ban on Internet were to be lifted, most North Koreans will use it to absorb new knowledge and grow the country with new technological inputs.
“I cannot imagine some kind of opposition rising because it is simply not possible,” she said while discussing the highly militarized nature of the society. The government controls every aspect of life in North Korea and ordinary people seem to be comfortable living in some kind of a “safety shell”, she said.
Patriotism runs high among the people and most have full faith in their leaders. The only sign of dissatisfaction Karin saw was in January when currency reforms hit a large number of people very badly. People who held old currency notes suddenly found they could not exchange them for the new Won notes the government introduced early this year.
Welthungerhilfe is one of the few foreign NGOs that are still operating in North Korea when most of the others have left either because of the challenges posed by government rules and the drying of financing from western sources. There are many Chinese NGOs but the local government does not allow they to communication with those from western countries.
In her five years travelling across nine provinces of North Korea, Karin has not come across a single case of starvation. The food situation is bad, but it is not as grave as the western media tended to show, she said. The government has also done a fairly good job of developing infrastructure and provide school education although the conditions are still a far cry from what prevails in the developed world, she said.
I cannot prove it, but I am willing to bet that Welthungerhilfe built these greenhouses near Kujang (via Kernbeisser). These greenhouses are too new to be visible on Google Earth.
Read the full story here:
Economic sanctions strengthen North Korea’s dictatorship, says German NGO
The Times of India