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North Korea's Inspection of Home-Brewed Wine by the Party
Jung Kwon Ho | 2008-04-09 15:53 Read in Korean
A Shinuiju source relayed in a phone conversation with the Daily NK on the 6th, “Since March 10th, an Inspection Unit from the Party in Pyongyang came to Shinuiju and the Yalu River border region to inspect people making and selling liquor at the jangmadang.”
The source also explained, “In cities of South Pyongan Province such as Nampo and Pyongsung at the end of February, the price of flour rose to 2,000 won (approx. USD0.6) per kilogram and at one point at the jangmadang in the Yalu River border region, the price of rice rose to 1,850 won per kilogram. This inspection is measure to prevent the waste of food due to the illegal production of home-brewed wine.”
A source in North Hamkyung Province also confirmed, “In the North Hamkyung Province border region since last February, lecture meetings with the theme, ‘Let us completely uproot the situation of food waste which obstructs an improvement in the lives of civilians’ have been held. At the meetings, the criticism of the Party has been relayed that ‘over 600 tons of food is being wasted daily nationwide due to various types of food waste and a negligence in food maintenance.’”
The source explained, “The inspection unit consists of leaders temporarily transferred from each provincial People’s Committees and persons-in-charge dispatched from the Party in Pyongyang. Leaders associated with the Jagang Province have been inspecting the North Pyongan Province and those associated with the North Pyongan Province have been inspecting the Jagang region.”
The source also relayed, “The Party Inspection Unit has to firmly inspect the situation of food waste via all kinds of empty formalities (marriage, sixtieth-birthday anniversaries, sacrificial rites, and dinners among leaders) and sales of liquor. We are completely retrieving tools and vats for making and containing liquor by inspecting kitchens and warehouses in each household of the People’s Units.”
Liquor inspections have also been taking place in state-operated stores and each level of markets. Accordingly, merchants selling food in markets have been secretly selling Chinese liquor smuggled from China or “pouch liquor” produced in Rajin.
Those prosecuted in the inspections have been levied fines and all of their liquor and materials confiscated. The source added that in the cases of significant production and sales of liquor, the there have been frequent occurrences of people sent to Labor Training Corps to set an example to people.
North Korean citizens have started making home-brewed wine and selling them in 1987 after the prohibition of the production and sales of liquor in North Korea.
Before 1987, liquor was produced in each municipal and county “Food-Production Factories” and provided to state-operated shops, but since then, the production and provision of liquor has ceased. The reason was that an excessive amount of food was being used in the production of liquor and that drinking was extremely damaging to the cultural character of a socialist society.”
Liquor made in the home of an average North Korean citizen consists of ingredients such as corn or rice and malt. The yeast cultivated from rice powder is combined with porridge prepared from the powder and fermented in a vat. After 12~14 days, the rice porridge and the yeast will produce a chemical reaction and will turn into a thick porridge, which is called “liquor porridge” in North Korea.
Refrigerating the steam from the cultivated liquor porridge and turning it into fluid produces liquor. North Korean citizens enjoy over 40% of alcohol content-liquor and approximately 800ml of liquor is produced from a kilogram of corn. A bottle of liquor (500 ml) is close to the price of a kilogram of corn, so selling liquor made from this produce can bring in a small profit.
The source explained regarding the recent food situation, “Anxiety over the anticipated worsening of the food situation has been spreading among citizens, but nowadays, they are preparing for the worst, so the mass-scale deaths from the ‘lack of provisions’ period will not take place again.”