Begging Kotjebi in Pyongyang

[imText1]The Daily NK has been posting a series of inside scene of Pyongyang right after the missile launch in August.

On the video footage obtained through an anonymous source, recent daily lives of Pyongyang residents are shown; fist fight between security officers and residents, bribery for riding a bus, and a year-long painstaking practice by middle school girls for a minute and half contribution to Kim Jong-Il’s birthday ceremony.

In this last part of the series, young begging wanderers, so called “kotjebi,” are featured. There are still thousands of children roaming throughout the country without parental care. And the kotjebis are everywhere the cameraman visited, from Sariwon, North Hwanghae province to Pyongyang.

There seems no bright future waiting for a begging child, a crying boy too young to retort on the false charge of theft, and kotjebis envying other schoolchildren.


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The video footage takes place in suburban Sariwon, capital city of North Hwanghaw province.

A girl is selling cigarette. Even a young child has to earn money because of economic hardship.

An old lady loses her bag. After a moment of search, the lady finds a wandering kotjebi boy and catches him. The boy is actually trying to hide a piece of corncob. The old woman accuses him for stealing the bag. The boy, crying, says he did not.

Cigarette sellers in their late 10s say a black-suited man might be the thief. They defend the child.

Old lady- “Why are you hiding this, you bastard. So you stole my bag, didn’t you? Why did you hide that corncob? Tell me. Where is the bag?”

Cigarette salesgirl- “Wasn’t there a man here? Wearing a black hat?
Old lady- “Yeah, he was here. He was in front of us, wasn’t he? Not behind us.”
Cigarette salesgirl- “Adults do steal. Children can’t.”
Old lady- “But he (the boy) wandered around here.”
Cigarette salesgirl- “Filchers don’t wear poorly (like the boy)”
Old lady- “No, he was walking around right here…”

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An adult kotjebi is smoking cigarette. A few coins are in his cap.
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At Sariwon train station, express buses are awaiting passengers. There are kotjebies begging in the buses. One of them is taking care of another child.

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Next scene takes place at a park in front of the ‘Red Star’ subway station in Seosung district of Pyongyang. The name of park is Red Star Station Park. Inside the park, there are stores selling drinks, snacks, cigarettes and ice cream.

As the number of caterpillar increases in the summer, elementary school children are mobilized to catch the caterpillars, since there is not enough insecticide. In North Korean elementary schools, it is commonplace to force the students to work in public projects.
The students in the video are assigned to catch 1 kg of caterpillars per each.

About a hundred students spend four hours catching the insects.

In the park, there are also kotjebis lying on the ground. The difference in clothing between the students and kotjebis is so certain.

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In Pyongyang, each district allocates coupons for beer rationing to the residents. 500cc, or a cup of beer, is sold per 50 North Korean won with the coupon. Black market price is 400 won per 500 cc. The place here to get the coupon stamped is Seonkyo district’s Daeheung Avenue.

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A commercial van is getting ready to leave. If there is no space left, the car starts moving. Since there is no consideration for safety, huge accidents often occur.

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On the road near Sariwon, a truck is overturned. A South Korea-made cultivator is crossing. The truck hit a standing oxcart on the road.

A security officer shouts “Arrest the farm directors! Take them into custody! All of them!” The officer thinks the farm workers of the wagon are responsible.

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The place in the video is cement market in Soridong, Sariwon. Various types of cements are being sold per kg.

The carriages are for the porters. It is impressive that the wagons are carried by oxen.

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In a farm in Sariwon, KPA trucks are loading dropwort and veneer boards. The Seungri-58 trucks are charcoal-run.

It is shown a poster in a hospital in Rakrang district, Pyongyang.

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It reads “On punishment of cable cutters and drug traffickers.”

The poster warns those who cut and steal cables and illegally sell drugs would be punished. It was posted by the Ministry of People’s Security.

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