I had ever taken a high-speed train (KTX) for an emergency business to the local area.
Although it was 300km at speed, the inside of the train was quiet and comfortable. I sat down on a counter-sit to save some money, yet it was not uncomfortable at all.
The train journey reminded me of the train to Heasan, in which I struggled to get in N. Korea in the mid of 1990.
In 1996, it took at least 5 or 7 days to go to Heasan from Danchun, South Hamkyung province. I cannot forget the days when I had done cooper business and gotten on the train to Haesan to avoid the watch and violence of the police.
In 1996 when all people died of starvation, I did cooper business for living. Besides me, so many people got on the train to do cooper business.
During that time, the price of cooper was 60 won that was sold at 250 in Haesan, Yangkangdo. I brought 15-20kg of cooper to Haesan with my mother and my brother at once. To easily carry cooper, we cut cooper into several pieces and wrap them with clothes like magazine and wore them.
At that time, cooper sale was illegal. Since it was to dig out and sell cooper to China, the N. Korean government cracked down cooper business. If being detected, they are confiscated by the police or train staffs as well as suffering a bitter insult.
However, my family stuck to the cooper business for our living. No cooper business was no living. In one freezing winter, we went up on the ceiling of the train to Chungjin from Baekam to avoid the crack-down of the police and stayed up on it all night. Chungjin from Baekam was the strictest crack-down area.
On the ceiling were around 20 people like me. We did not even stretch out our back because of many tunnels and risked being frozen to death. We writhed for living on the ceiling.
Digging Cooper Is more Important than the US Missiles
One day a man who lied down on a side stood up to warm his body, yet he knocked his head against a high-tension wire and was bounced out. His company cried out “he died”, yet the train kept running.
The night train ran and ran regardless his life. The life of people was like that of flies.
At the same time so many people joined the cooper digging in 1995~1998, many factories except some military factories were not operated. Small and middle factories became mere carcasses. Some factory workers even said that, “Even US missile attack and war could not make the factories like this”.
Good electromotors were disjointed and complete machines were dismantled to pieces and all kinds of metals were picked out and sold to China.
In 1996, a whole big chimney of Heungnam Fertilizer Complex was picked out in a few months because of its zinc surface. The chimney was exchanged into wheat flour made by China and finally disappeared as whole. Electronic wires were not exceptions.
This winter would be more freezing to the North Korean people, because of the international sanctions caused by the nuclear test. Most of metals were taken off during the great famine period 10 years ago, so that they could not survive this time.