North Korea Authorities, “Take Care of Kim Il Sung Birthday Presents to Citizens on Your Own.”

Daily NK
Kim Young Jin

The North Korean authorities ordered that the holiday gifts given to North Korean citizens for 4.15 Kim Il Sung’s birthday, Sun Day, be distributed by each provincial body.

The leader of a people’s unit Mr. Choi of a district in Hyesan, Yanggang said in a phone conversation with Daily NK on the 13th, “The order came from the center to supply liquor and sweets through the body.”

He said, “A ‘4.15 subdivision committee’ has been organized in each province and has been going down to the commercial offices and food factories to directly inspect production.” The committee is a team that exists for the people who were temporarily transferred from party and political organizations for the seasonal production of sweets for distributing to children on Kim Il Sung’s birthday

This order’s intention can be interpreted as North Korean authorities trying to raise the holiday atmosphere by sparking competition among the provinces to celebrate Day of the Sun as “the year of victory in Military First Ideology.”

”The manager who cannot even provide one bottle of alcohol is not entitled”

However, the central party provided the order without a realistic plan of action, leaving it in the hands of factory and enterprise offices.

Another well-informed source stated that, “The central party has sparked a competition amongst the provinces to see which municipality provides more.”

On the 80th birthday anniversary of Kim Il Sung in 1992, when the “Supply Diversification” competition was kindled, the news spread that Junchun Commercial Office in Jakang, to where Jung Chun Sil (a member of Supreme People’s Committee) belongs, supplied 13 kinds of socks, candles, matches, and alcohol, but most of the provinces stopped after passing out one bottle of drink.

The well-informed source also stated that more than one bottle of drink could not be distributed this time. Soju is an item which cannot be left out from the holiday provision. Each provincial organization was known to bluff. “Factory managers who cannot provide at least one bottle of drink should forfeit their positions.”

At a food factory producing drinks, 10 hours of electricity was provided and the factory entered production round the clock, but it still had difficulty due to the lack of electricity and raw materials.

Demand-driven supply is also insufficient. After supplying drinks produced at this factory to organizations of influence, coal and mine workers, and laborers who work in dangerous jobs, there is not enough for all citizens.

As a result, authorities are asking factory and enterprises offices themselves to provide the laborers. Most factories are ordering from individual home-brew traders.

Failure in “gift” production for children

In the midst of this, it has been known that units which have taken charge of production of gift-use sweets are in a state of panic.

A part of the provinces used corn taffy and substituted corn instead of flour because of the lack of candy powder (sugar). Also, provisions had to be completed by April 13 to 14th, but the production line could not operate due to the lack of electricity, so goods could not ensure within the planned time.

Until the early 1990s, the central party promised flour, sugar, and other materials, but due to the worsening of financial difficulties, it decreed that provinces themselves take care of these goods. After the 65th birthday anniversary of Kim Il Sung in 1977, North Korea provided sweets to pre-school students who are at least five-years old to 11-year old elementary school students as a way of boosting their devotions but under the pretext of “gifts.”

Defector Mr. Kim reflected, “I can remember, after going up one by one to receive gifts, approaching the portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jung Il and bowing. In 1970-1980, the snacks and sweets were at least 10 different kinds, but now, there is only corn snack and one package of candy.”


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