Central authorities offer pork and rice for new year, but uneven distribution angers residents

Kang Mi Jin  |  2018-01-03 12:54
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The North Korean authorities have reportedly distributed pork and rice to law enforcement agencies and some ordinary residents in celebration of the new year.

"Police and other law enforcement officers in the city were given 1.5 kg of pork and 3 kg of rice a couple of days ago (December 30). Last year, there was only some distribution to government agencies that were able to come up with the supplies on their own, but this year its coming from the central authorities," said a source in Pyongyang who spoke with Daily NK on January 1.

"I called relatives living in the provinces to wish them a happy new year, and they apparently received pork and rice, saying that it will help offset the cost of preparing for the upcoming Seollal holiday (lunar new year). So it appears some people outside of Pyongyang are also receiving these items."

A source in Ryanggang Province added that "the authorities gave law enforcement individuals pork and rice, and even ordinary citizens received 1 kg of rice."

In the past, the authorities typically handed out alcohol and doenjang (fermented soybean paste) for the solar new year holiday, but this year's offering of pork and rice appears to be an attempt to win back public support after a drop due to the effects of sanctions. 

In order to acquire the necessary supplies, however, they have had to ease up on their crackdown on smugglers.

The Ryanggang-based source added that one goods smuggler told him that "the provincial authorities enlisted our help in obtaining rice for their holiday distribution plans. Several smugglers were able to make money on the backs of government plans like this."

The strategy appears to be working, he added, reporting that many residents are praising the authorities for the offering. "Unlike last year," he said, "this year residents have a certain glow about their faces after receiving rice from the government. Even 1 kg of rice goes a long way these days where most people are experiencing financial difficulties, so they cannot help but be thankful."

However, Kim Jong Un's failure to distribute these items to all households in the country highlights the leader's limited resources and has resulted in negative reactions as well.

"Ordinary residents are complaining about how they are worked nearly to death but still aren't given pork, which they believe is only given to the privileged. I also heard someone say that the fair thing to do would be to make the police and other authorities participate in mobilizations as well," he concluded.

*Translated by Colin Zwirko

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