Hungry couple beaten savagely for stealing food

Kim Chae Hwan  |  2016-09-26 18:29
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A violent crime was committed on a collective farm in North Koreas North Hwanghae Province when a food robbery turned into a bloody encounter. Deprived of a food allotment from the authorities, a couple was driven by hunger to commit the crime in early September, Daily NK has learned.

A source in North Hwanghae Province told Daily NK that when a husband and wife entered a field to take food, soldiers guarding the crops saw the act and responded in force. The soldiers initially focused their violent outburst on the husband. The wife pleaded with the soldiers to forgive them, but her appeal fell on deaf ears. The soldiers then turned their attention to the wife as well and proceeded to viciously beat them both, she said.

Although the two suffered serious injuries, including broken ribs, they were not taken to the hospital. Instead, they were taken into Ministry of Peoples Security (police) custody and charged with theft of military provisions and sentenced to three months at a labor-training camp. The soldiers responsible for the attack did not receive any punishment. 

The couple in question previously worked on the collective farm. Due to their affiliation with the farm, their ability to sell in the marketplace and make a living was tightly restricted. According to original legal stipulations, distributions that have not yet been handed out are supposed to be disbursed at the end of the year. But that did not happen, thus becoming one of the factors contributing to the couples desperate decision to steal food. 

Under reform packages known as the June 28th Measures and May 30th Measures, some factories, farms, and enterprises have been granted additional autonomy to operate more independently on a trial basis. But implementation has not been carried into the breadbasket regions, which produce the countrys crops. In particular, the authorities are taking large portions of crops away in the name of providing the capital or providing the troops. This demonstrates the regimes emphasis on gift politics: rewarding the well-connected first and foremost.   

When Kim Jong Un first rose to power, the malnourished masses were provided with emergency relief aid, consisting of one or two kilograms of corn. But that program no longer exists. Food shortages remain chronic in the agricultural regions. Local residents are hoping and pleading for relief rations, but [the authorities] do not seem concerned, said an additional source in North Hwanghae Province. 

The residents toil all year to work the land, only to have it occupied by armed guards when it is time to reap the harvest. The residents portion of the yield is gradually shrinking. Because they are not provided with the distributions they are owed, people are forced to engage in dangerous activities to secure food. This type of incident is likely to reoccur.
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