North Koreans have condemned mandatory, regime-imposed donations of cash and goods to help with flood recovery efforts in the northeastern city of Rason, disparaging leader Kim Jong Un as a “vampire” who uses such guises to exploit the people, sources inside the country said.
North Koreans hurl curses of “vampires of the central government” against Kim Jong Un and Workers’ Party officials, who have been ordered to oversee such collections, every time they are forced to make the cash and in-kind contributions to support various “social tasks,” the sources said.
The regime has mandated that every household contribute various goods, including gloves and soybeans, as part of the recovery efforts for flood-stricken Rason, along with a directive that each adult over 17 years old pay 2,000 North Korean won (U.S. $0.25), a source in Yanggang province told RFA’s Korean Service.
“The affected North Koreans, whose harsh criticism of Kim Jong Un is growing, keep asking what the heck he knows about anything except reaping cash and in-kind goods?” he told RFA’s Korean Service.
“They’re just lamenting that there is no Im Kkeokjeong in this country,” he added, referring to a Korean Robin Hood-like figure during the mid-16th century, who led a group of peasant thieves in robbing the wealthy and redistributing the booty to the poor.
More than 40 people are believed to have lost their lives during the recent floods in the Rason Special Economic Zone, which the government set up in the early 1990s to promote economic growth through foreign investment, while 1,000 homes were damaged and numerous roads washed out.
In August alone, the cash and in-kind contributions that North Koreans were forced to fork over to authorities amounted to dozens of Chinese yuan (1 yuan = U.S. $0.16) per household, sources said.
The Kim regime had issued another directive last month for cash and in-kind contributions from the public for People’s Army soldiers who are training for a military parade and helping to build new construction projects to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party, the source in Yanggang province said.
Each household had to pay about 40 Chinese yuan (U.S. $6.26) for these efforts, he added.
The total value of cash and in-kind goods that each family has given to the regime so far this year has amounted to more than 300 Chinese yuan (U.S. $47.12), most of which they have provided in the form of soybeans, he said.
Authorities also have forced North Koreans to donate gold, dog skins and medicinal herbs, which the regime can sell for foreign currency, under the “Loyal Campaign for Foreign Exchange Earning” program that supports notable political events, such as the anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party, he said.
“The North Koreans would not have been exploited like this even during the Japanese occupation period,” a source in Jagang Province told RFA. “Kim Jong Il, who also was greatly criticized by the people for his many directives on social tasks, could pass for a decent guy compared to Kim Jung Un.”
The total amount of cash and in-kind contributions reaped by provincial authorities in the name of Kim Jong Un’s verbal directives are equivalent to what the central government has collected, resulting in double or triple exploitation of North Koreans, the source said.
The forced contributions are financially taxing on North Koreans in the impoverished country, where analysts estimate per capita income is U.S. $1,000-$2,000 compared to around U.S. $28,000 in South Korea.
North Koreans who build appliances and other products for South Korean companies at the Kaesong Industrial Complex have some of the best-paying jobs, earning at least about U.S. $74 per month, and about twice that amount for overtime work.
Foreign-invested companies with operations elsewhere in North Korea have reported to RFA that they pay their workers U.S. $47-$70 a month.
Reported by Sung-hui Moon of RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Changsop Pyon. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.