North Korean Farmers Fear Government 'Betrayal' Over Distribution Plan

2013-10-03
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Kim Jong Un (L) inspects vegetable greenhouses on a farm in South Pyongan province, June 21, 2013.
Kim Jong Un (L) inspects vegetable greenhouses on a farm in South Pyongan province, June 21, 2013.
AFP PHOTO/KCNA via KNS

The North Korean government has failed to clearly articulate an allocation plan for this year’s harvest, leaving farmers angry and afraid they may not receive their promised share of food, North Korean sources say.

And despite an improved harvest this year, many are concerned that they will suffer a repeat of last year’s debacle in which, though promised a 30 percent share of their harvested crops, they saw 90 percent of grain yield taken by the government for military use.

“Farming was great this year,” a source in Jagang province situated in the northern mountain areas of the country told RFA’s Korean Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“But the farmers are completely demoralized. They can’t conceal their doubts that they may be fooled again like last year.”

In a confusing and overlapping series of proposed allocation schemes, North Korea’s government had first promised farmers that they would receive all surplus farm production after meeting reduced obligations to the government under a new plan called “6.28,” known more formally as the “June 28 New Economic Management Measures,” introduced last year, RFA’s source said.

An experimental system was then proposed in which farmers would receive a promised 30 percent of grain yield regardless of the requirements of other plans, he said.

“But actually the government took more than 90 percent for military use, making the farmers feel betrayed.”

Guidelines
delayed

Now, the government has promised 50 percent of farm production to the farmers under a plan announced before this year’s farming began, said a source in Yanggang province.

But with harvest time quickly approaching, clear guidelines for allocation have still not been released, the source said.

“And if the North Korean government implements the [50 percent] distribution policy that it has already announced, it will be unable to provide food rationing for the country’s general workers,” the source said.

Separately, an agriculture official in North Hamgyong province said that officials have already angered farmers by charging more for farm equipment and material than they would have had to pay in the public marketplace.

“These inflated costs will reduce the promised grain allocation for farmers even if the [50 percent] plan is put into effect,” he said.

And because the government has still not presented a clear allocation plan for this year’s harvest, rumors are already flying that distribution will not go well again this year, causing further anger, he said.

Reported by Sung Hui Moon for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Doeun Han. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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CH. 2: VIETNAMESE | BURMESE | KOREAN

CH. 3: KHMER | LAO | UYGHUR

CH. 4: TIBETAN

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