The rice-planting season began at the beginning of May. Consequently, city and provincial safety agencies have adjusted market hours at Jangmadang (markets) affecting the lives of North Korean people greatly, a source informed on the 30th. Even street vendors have been completely prohibited from selling goods on the side alleys of Jangmadang.
Ever since the rice-planting season began, the markets open at 5 o’clock in the afternoon until sunset. Basically, sellers can only trade for 3 hours at the most.
Park(43) who lives in the border regions of North Hamkyung province said, “We live by selling at Jangmadang. I feel like cast a spiders’ web in my throat because the authority forced to close Jangmadang during the farm supporting activity. Leaders of the People’s Units force members to work on the farms and the Safety Agents scowl Jangmadang like an eagle scavenging for food.”
She should support her husband working at a factory which manufactures farming equipment and two sons. Surviving the march of suffering, she began to sell noodles at the markets.
Park said, “If I sell things, at the least, I can make a little money and buy some corn. If I cannot trade for a month, I will have lost all my goods to waste.”
Every year, North Korea endures the rice-planting season and closes Jangmadang partially. Although many people buy rice and corn in advance, it is nonetheless a tough month for the people and acquiring food is a big concern.
“They said they would redistribute rations from April. Lately, they haven’t said anything but to be patient” said Park and added, “Since we cannot afford to have rice, I only hope that the price of corn does not increase.”
Rice which sold at 850 won in early May has already risen more 50 won. Fortunately, corn has maintained its cost at 300 won.
In North Korea, spring poverty season from early March is called as “Yellow Spring,” because the sky is seen yellow for the malnutrition or hunger. The period between end-May to mid-June is the time of “farm hardship (‘barely hump’ in Korean)” Around June 15th, when barley begins to ripen, the “farm hardship” disappears.
Normally as March approaches, people begin to deplete their stored a year worth of food. By May, the 6 months worth of Kimchi that was made in last December has been consumed and people resort to herbs and plants to accompany their meals.
More recently, as trade became common, there have been less cases where people have died from starvation.
It is even uncommon for Park’s husband who works for an agricultural factory to acquire distributions from his work. He is offered lunch when he gets called to fix equipment on the farms but then again, this doesn’t happen every day.
Hyun who trades between Pyongan and Hwanghae said dissatisfied, “They (authorities) said they would distribute rations as of April 1st. The people are angry as they feel they have been deceived once again. It is common practice that rice is lacking during the springtime, but I don’t understand why they keep attracting the people’s discontent by telling lies.”
He said, “People living in Pyongan are in a worse position than people living in the border regions. Traffic control officers roam the district of Moonduk, South Pyongan and regulate merchants by forcing them to the farms.”
Hyun added, “In the past, even amidst starvation, people in Pyongan believed that they were living in such deity because the U.S. ruined the economy. When I went there this time, the atmosphere was certainly different. People are blatantly cursing that the ‘nation cannot even feed and save the people.'”