DPRK restricts some state employees from selling in markets

Daily NK

The North Korean authorities started to prohibit national companies employees’ sales activities while being absent from their workplaces.

According to a telephone interview with the Daily NK on Wednesday, an inside source said “From December 1, those who receive daily ration of 700g are strictly banned from participating in sales activities in private markets,” and “office employees are ordered to come back to their original company.”

The policy is aimed at those who receive 700g of daily ration, including laborers, office workers and public officials.

However, few of them actually are actually receiving rationing; even though their names are put on local party committee’s ration list, only senior party officials, security officers and workers of a few main national companies. In other words, North Korean workers are being forced to show up at work and prevented from sales activities although they will not receive salary.

Given the situation that most of factory workers depend on sales, smuggling, private farming and brokerage, the measure by the North Korean authorities would definitely threat livelihood of many people.

“Subject to 700g ration” is a common term to designate adult male citizen who are older than 17 and liable to be stationed in a workplace.

And family members dependent on the adults are subject to receive 300g of rationing; housewives, children, the elderly and handicapped citizens are classified as not eligible to work and, therefore, receiving 300g ration.

Recipients of 300g of ration were allowed to sell in private markets

Since the economic slowdown, actual amount of rationing is reduced from 700g to 534g. Other sources told the Daily NK that only recipients of 300g of ration were allowed to sell in private markets.

Thus, since mid-November ‘Central Party anti-socialist activity inspection team’ has been deployed to north Hamkyong province’s border region and local party organs and market management offices have started to regulate sales activities.

From now on, every vendor must provide documents to prove that they are not eligible to work and subject to receive 300g of ration to local governments’ labor departments and market management offices.

In the mid 90s during the March of Tribulation, rationing system collapsed and factories stopped operating. And since then, laborers have sought living on their own.

A 39-year old former defector from Hoiryeong, north Hamkyong province expected “single mothers responsible for their families’ living” would be hit most severely by the policy. The defector added “the women who lost their husbands are categorized as 700g ration recipients but do not receive any salary from their companies,” and “if they are prohibited from business, more women would cross the border from next year.”

Mr. Park, an NGO activist helping North Korean refugees in northeast China, said ‘the policy will only end up in an empty phrase’ as resumption of nation-wide rationing did so a year ago.

“I think Kim Jong Il miscomprehends the situation,” Park said with uneasy voice. “He might be under an illusion that recommencement of rationing system is working well and, therefore, it is time to make a national mobilization of labor forces to industrial production.”


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