By the end of November, the harvest in North Korea is over and for a brief period, as in every other recent year, attention turns to the country’s grain production. More concrete figures will eventually emerge, but based on recent comment from sources inside North Korea, things appear to have improved a little this year.
However, it is impossible for North Korea to reach its stated 2012 production goal of 7 million tons, given that WFP and other international agencies estimated production last year at just 4.5 million. It is hopeless to imagine that somewhat increased amounts of fertilizer and less inclement weather might result in a rapid increase in production of that magnitude, Indeed, at the start of this month, Kim Jong Il, in his role as supreme commander of the armed forces, handed down an order stipulating the prioritization of military supply appropriation and stern punishment of thievery. There is still no administrative will to care about the lives of ordinary farmers and workers.
So, with only one month remains before North Korea was meant to seize the day and thrust forth into the strong and prosperous state, it is clear that there will be little change for the impoverished people. The battle for a great upsurge in the their lives has ended in failure.
Knowing this, the North Korean authorities have practically stopped using the phrase “strong and prosperous state” in the official media. Kim Jong Il has reportedly already put a stop to it. Instead they use less confident words, and even these are employed extremely sparingly. Kim and the North Korean authorities feel burdened by the words “strong country.”
But the name doesn’t matter; the real worry is how to keep in some form the promises made to the North Korean people.
Because while the people already knew the strong and prosperous state was impossible, they do still hope for something, even if it is just a little additional distribution. Aware of this, the North Korean media has begun to report news of targets reached and plans met. However, since the failed currency redenomination, almost nobody believes this type of report any more.
In the end, the only thing the strong and prosperous state seems likely to give a people already mistrustful of a state which imposed the currency redenomination on them is further evidence of the regime’s incompetence. It can only have a negative effect on the Kim Jong Eun succession, and is likely to bring the discontent of the people one step closer to boiling over.