|▲ Horse riding and hunting are Kim Jong Il's pastimes|
Kim Jong Il's favorite pastimes are shooting rifles, hunting, and horseback riding. According to those who lived in Kim Jong Il's private hunting zones, his hunting usually starts at the first snow of early winter.
It is well known that a number of Kim Jong Il's private resort villas exist, but it is rarely known that there are also many of Kim Jong Il's private hunting zones. This is because ordinary people must not know where Kim Jong Il hunts due to safety concerns. Hunting is a daily event in the winter for Kim Jong Il.
Recently, a defector who worked as a member of the Escort Bureau, and several other defectors who had witnessed Kim Jong Il's private hunting zones, testified that those hunting zones lie throughout North Korea.
Heo Chil Soo (55, pseudonym for his protection), the former member of the Escort Bureau, testified that the most outstanding hunting zones were the ones near Yonghwa village in Parkcheon, and the one near Obong village in Yongbyun, both of which are in North Pyongan Province, and also near Kim Jong Il's villa in Anju, South Pyongan Province. He said, "I do not know exactly from when these places started to be Kim Jong Il's private hunting zones, but I am guessing the 70s when hostile class people were expelled to other places. This was the time that they started to be used for Kim Jong Il's hunting."
Oongok ranch in Oongok district is also one of Kim Jong Il's hunting zones. According to Heo Chil Soo, Oongok ranch is said to be a pasture for cows, but that is not true: it is a farm run by the Central Committee where pheasants and deer are raised. Oongok district is a wide area neighboring Munduck county of Swuncheon, and cities of Sookcheon, Kaechon, and Anju of South Pyongan Province. It was given Kim Jong Il's open visit in December 20th, 2002.
Full Year Farming to Feed Game Animals
Residents in Yonghwa village of Parkcheon and Obong village of Yongbyun are mostly ex-G.I.'s who served for the Escort Bureau, and are core Partisans. They are loyal enough to hold a "Number One Event" (title given to events for Kim Jong Il) no matter when Kim Jong Il comes.
The hunting zones are tagged with 'Escort Bureau Farm' signs. Residents are engaged in farming, road maintenance, and keeping of game. When winter comes, they sweep snow off roads, and build cornstalk dens around mountainsides to protect wild animals from the cold weather, and scatter grains on the snow to feed them.
The hunting zones are categorized as Collective Farms, but residents are not rationed by the farm but by the Party. Their harvest is for game animals. When there is little food in the fields in winter, deer and pheasants come down to the villages. If passersby see residents feed the game animals, they may think these villages are a totally different world from where they live.
The animals do not run away from people because they are used to being fed. It is not unusual to witness pheasants fly into kitchens. At times, the number of animals suddenly increases because neighboring animals join local animals for the feast.
Guards working in the hunting zones are always very cautious of guarding the animals because they do not know when Kim Jong Il will come. But it is usually once or twice a year that Kim Jong Il visits. Sometimes he never comes because he has other hunting zones to enjoy.
Hunting From 11 At Night To 1 In the Morning
Hunting usually takes place from 11 at night to 1 in the morning. When noises of cars are heard from usually quiet roads, residents look out on the roads to see if Kim Jong Il has come to enjoy hunting. When a field becomes bright as if it were daytime, sounds of rifle shots are heard. Tall and sturdy guards are seen following hound dogs for the game.
Kim Jong Il usually stays about thirty minutes in a hunting spot. He moves from one spot to another. When sounds of rifle shots are heard from the bright sky, about ten pheasants are seen falling down.
A group for Kim Jong Il hunting event needs about 3 to 4 SAFARIs which are made in Japan. These vehicles can run on plowed rows in a field and even in shallow streams. Ordinary people usually do not have a chance to see them because they are very rare and only supplied to the commanders of the army corps to conduct military operations during wartime.
A Resident Was Expelled Because of Eating a Roe
Guards usually patrol around the zone before the hunting starts. When residents see SAFARI's with dark tinting roaming around, they guess Kim Jong Il will come tonight.
In fact guards patrol around Kim Jong Il's hunting zone everyday. Guards and security officers kill such animals as hawks, eagles, coyotes, and wild boars with AK rifles because these animals kill game animals like pheasants and roe deer. The increase in the number of these animals threaten the existence of the game animals. The hunted animals are supposed to be sent to feed army dogs or children in nurseries and kindergartens. But they are usually taken care of by the guards and officers themselves.
Residents cannot throw stones or threaten the roaming pheasants and roe deer with sticks. If they find crippled roe deer or dead pheasants, they should give them to the Committee of the Party. It will endanger their class to eat them. Heo said, "A resident ate a roe deer after killing it by throwing a sickle because he was angry that it tore his papered window. He was then expelled from the village."
The residents are not supposed to keep dogs. In addition to this, they are not allowed to spray agricultural chemicals, which may kill the pheasants. They make every effort to protect and multiply game animals.