The North Korean authorities are attempting to bring privately farmed land in and around existing cooperative farms back under the control of the state, Daily NK has learned. The move appears to be one of a number of farm management measures being implemented in the weeks prior to the launching of the country’s new economic management system later this year.
The news was received on the 17th from a resident of North Hamkyung Province currently in China on business. According to the individual, “Homes scattered in twos and threes within the boundaries of cooperative farms are all being razed and everyone is being gathered in zones of what they are calling ‘modern residences’.”
“The management committee told us that this is necessary because homes are currently too spread out so the land cannot be used effectively,” the source explained. “They also said that in the end farmers will benefit because they will get 30% of production once small plots and the land that houses currently sits on all reverts to the state.”
However, the source said most farmers are not inclined to agree with the official version of the future. He went on, “They say that they are adjusting the basic norms of cooperative farming under the new agricultural reforms, but you’d struggle to find a farmer who thinks production will rise. People are rightly worrying that it is really just a means of taking away people’s private plots.”
The farmland management project also reportedly involves redrawing the boundaries of farms, improving water supply management systems and more; however, local farmers, accustomed to mistreatment at the hands of the state, seem to see it as a means of enhancing control of the populace and nationalizing privately farmed land.
“The authorities are coming up with all these reasons, like ‘This is designed to reduce the farmers’ inconvenience’, ‘It improves the supply system’ or ‘We are building modern socialist dwellings to suit the times’,” the source said, before adding dryly, “But who is going to believe that?”
The source said that he was present at a meeting where a village cooperative farm management committee official described the current project as ‘Party-level farmland rearrangement’, but noted that he has not personally seen any documents to the same effect.
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