Official holiday gifts for sale in marketplace

For the last few years, stories have appeared in the media about people selling their official 2.16 and 4.15 holiday gifts from the leaders.

The Daily NK gets the first story this time around:

“Is it true that Day of the Sun gifts are being sold in the jangmadang?”

Most defectors answer to that question is something like, “Isn’t it obvious; selling them can give us enough money for one kilogram of rice?” In the past, gifts from Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on national holidays used to be quite precious and an honor for the people, but now they have become a way to lessen difficulties.

According to defectors, special stalls selling “Day of the Sun gifts” have even appeared.

Even the annual crackdown on selling such gifts is a mere formality. Ham In Suk, who came to the South in 2009, said, “The crackdown is carried out temporarily, but it is not effective and not particularly problematic.”

On the biggest national holidays, the Day of Sun and Kim Jong Il’s birthday, the authorities present gifts to children in day nurseries (four to five years of age), kindergartens (six year old) and elementary students (seven to eleven years old).

In one pack, there are usually around 400g of cookies, 400g of candy, 50g of jellies, 100g of rice crackers and five pieces of gum, although the quality and quantity of gifts differs by province.

A ceremony for giving the gifts to children is held a few days before the birthday in kindergartens, and elementary schools, meaning roughly February 14th and April 13th.

Then, on the afternoon of the day when the ceremony finishes you can easily find gifts in the jangmadang. People sell them to traders for a comparatively cheap price decided by weight.

A one-kilogram pack is sold for 1500 won, and the traders sell them on for 2000 won. Therefore, people can earn enough for one kilogram of rice by selling one pack of the gifts and thus have a hot dinner with family to commemorate the national holiday.

According to defectors, the General’s gifts have been on sale in the jangmadang since the March of Tribulation. This is because even though food distribution was suspended during that tough period, gifts from Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il continued.

Before that, it was apparently hard to find the gifts in the markets at all, no matter how hard lives were. At that time on the morning of the holiday, parents even made their children bow to portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il before they ate the gifts.

One defector who came to South Korea in 2009 said, “Selling gifts was beyond our imagination before the March of Tribulation, and we even stopped our children from opening the pack of cookies before saying a pledge of loyalty.”

In the 2000s, when people began to purchase Chinese products and food and several kinds of cookies in the jangmadang, the situation for snacks also changed; people in more affluent households sold their gifts from the authorities to the jangamdang to purchase more delicious cookies for their children.

In poor houses, however, parents take the gifts from their children and sell them to get a kilogram of rice. Instead of the General’s gifts, they give their children corn cookies costing around 150 won.

Here are previous posts on this topics.

Read the full story here:
General’s Gifts on Sale in the Jangmadang
Daily NK
Kang Mi Jin


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