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What Happened in North Korea in the Year 2007

2007-12-31 10:40
[imText1]International attention in 2007 was mostly focused on the North Korean nuclear issue. Some observers suggested that Kim Jong Il was ill, and thus there was a lot of talk about succession issues. Even tiny pieces of information on Kim Jong Ils privacy was a big issue.

The North Korean peoples die-hard fight for survival continued this year. However, international interest in the North Korean people was comparatively low.

On one hand, some experts predicted positively that North Korea was carrying out its promises to disable its nuclear facilities; on the other hand, some worried that control of and pressure on the people was becoming serious.

The South Korean government made a big fuss about the Inter-Korea Summit held for the first time in 7 years, while North Korean civilians found themselves evicted from the jangmadang (markets), a means of living, by the Jangmadang Regulation Policy.

We are reminded of the lives of the North Korean people in 2007 through photographs.

[imText2]North Korean people greeted the New Year by worshiping of the late Kim Il Sung, the Supreme Leader. A family in Pyongyang offers flowers to the statue of Kim Il Sung at the Mansudae Hill.

North Korean authorities strengthened the their control over the border in order to prevent defections to China. Because illegal border crossing had been increasing since late 2006, the authorities performed an inspection of the border guards and replaced most of them. This years guards are apparently the replacement guards.

[imText3]The border guards of Shinuiju are in charge of checkpoint work, patrol work and even have control over residents. Here you can see the guards finishing their work at checkpoint and following the leader, the one wearing a red armband.

[imText4]Arirang, the mass-propaganda performance for the Norths system, was held for the 3rd time, following 2002 and 2005.

This years Arirang, which started on the 15th of April in Leungrado May 1st Stadium to commemorate the 95th birthday of the late Kim Il Sung, was suspended in August due to the flood.

International and domestic NGOs pointed out that Arirang was a form of child abuse because, according to the testimonies of defectors who have taken part in Arirang, it was revealed that North Korean children were forced to the practice for the performance instead of going to school.

[imText5] On the 17th of May, trains of the South and the North crossed the demilitarized zone via the East Sea Line for the first time. North Korean youths who came to greet the South Korean delegates looked a bit nervous.

[imText6]To celebrate the Dano Festival (May 5, a Korean traditional holiday similar to the Chinese Double Fifth), passengers take a ferry ride along the Yalu River. Although not a national holiday, a good many people seemed to enjoy the outing.

In North Korea, there are only small-size power vessels. This ferry is run just once a year due to a lack of fuel.

[imText7]In August, citizens of Shinuiju did laundry in the Yalu River. It is impressive that a man would wash his motorcycle.

[imText8]The flood victims lived all together in tents. They had to repair everything facility mostly by their own hands instead of by machines, due to a shortage of restoration facilities.

[imText9]Torrential rain hit most of North Korea in this summer. From August 7th until the 18th, around a torrential downpour struck 150 cities, including Pyongyang.

The Central Statistics Bureau totaled around 600 casualties or missing persons and several thousand wounded. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs revealed that at least 454 persons died, 156 missing, and 4,351 wounded.

[imText10]On July 29, the representative elections for Local People's Assembly were held. 27,390 representatives from the cities, counties, and provinces were elected to the Peoples Assembly for four-year terms.

According to the Chosun (North Korea) Central News Agency, 99.82% of all registered eligible voters participated in the elections and 100% of them voted for the nominated representatives.

[imText11]On the September 9th, the National Foundation Day, a man is seen wearing the official T-shirt of the Red Devils, the supporters of the South Korean national soccer team.

In North Korea, clothes with English words are forbidden, but since the famine in late 90s, when private trade with China flourished, such clothing has been tacitly allowed. Yet, it is still impressive to see someone wearing the South Korean national soccer teams official T-shirt.

[imText12]The Inter-Korean Summit was held for the first time in 7 years, from the 2nd to the 4th of October. A crowd gathered at the April 25 Cultural Square to welcome President Roh Moo Hyun.

[imText13]Pyongyang women wore Hanboks, splendid Korean traditional clothes, and brought red Kim Jong Il flowers and pink azaleas.

Thousands of people all waved the flowers in the same way simultaneously, shouting manseh! (Long live!), stopped together at the same moment, and then repeated it again.

Pyongyang street scene, with female students passing by. North Korean female students must wear white shirts with a Kim Jong Il badge and black skirts.

North Korean authorities regulated the jangmadang (markets), enacting age limits and controlling the items that can be sold, around the time of the Inter-Korean Summit. Silent complaint among citizens who live by trading is expanding.

[imText14]Here is an open market adjacent to the 20-story apartment complex in the Raknang district in Pyongyang. A few hundred traders gather there to do business even though they are not prohibited from doing so by the authorities.
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