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Do You Know about the "Fake Provisions" in North Korea?

Lee Kwang Baek, Editorial Writer  |  2007-06-25 00:29
Recently, a portion of laborers in Hoiryeong, North Hamkyung province received six months of food provisions. The provisions were for laborers, railroad laborers, the aged, and farming laborers. However, if one sees into the situation, one can see the complex and uncertain reality of North Korea.

North Korea, from several years ago, tried to resolve the food shortage issue by allocating collective farm land to a factory enterprise in a region of North Hamkyung province, so that laborers could farm themselves.

Laborers earning farming rights submit 10~30% to the enterprise factory and after giving 10% to the country, can use the rest themselves.

In Hoiryeong recently, an event took place where laborers gave an allotment of their production materials to enterprises and to the nation, but the government made up "provision documents" regarding the remainder of the production, which was for private use, as "national provision."

These were fake provisions, not actual food provisions to the laborers. If true, this is no different than the North Korean government embezzling the undeniable private property of laborers who are paying national taxes and have paid farming fees.

What is even more surprising is that the government collects additional money from the laborers, saying "You have received provisions from the country, so pay the provision fee." North Korean laborers have been receiving provision tickets through the enterprise "accounting division" and secure food at the provision office twice a month (on the 1st and on the 16th) according to official provision rules.

Presently, a kilogram of rice is 44 North Korean won and corn 26 won according to the official national provision rules. If laborers farm for one year and can see 300 kg of corn in their hands after giving up farming costs and offerings to the nation, they are essentially paying 7,200 additional won to the North Korean government with the standard of 26 won, the national provision cost for corn.

The reality is that laborers practically end up with nothing after taking away the farming rights fee, national taxes, national provision fee, cost of insecticide, fertilizer cost, and cost of seed.

This year, farmers in Kyungheung, North Hamkyung province tried to farm the enterprise-use land, but barely any farmers came forward to farm the land, so the allotment of land has been ceased.

After the mid-1990s, North Korea entered a barely subsistence economy. The situation worsened to the point that it was difficult to sustain not only the nation and society, but the regime of dictatorship. The Kim Jong Il regime, not having any other recourse, received outside aid, but is straining to make sure that the regime is not seen as being weakened by this.

The occurrence of "fake provisions" through document forgeries in Hoiryeong plainly shows how control and exploitation of North Korean civilians are unfolding inside the North and how hard the Kim Jong Il regime is straining to preserve the regime of dictatorship.
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