Potato farming
North Korean farmers harvesting potatoes in Ryanggang Province. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

An official from the Workers’ Party of Korea’s Central Committee dispatched to a farm in Ryanggang Province has apparently been dismissed from his position after recently engaging in an illicit affair with a female farmer, Daily NK sources reported on Sunday.

The woman the official reportedly had an affair is a farmer in her 20s working at a collective farm in Paekam County, Ryanggang Province.  

Daily NK sources in the province said that the wife of the official had reportedly filed a complaint to the central party after hearing rumors of an illicit relationship involving her husband. 

“The official did not return to his house in Pyongyang nor call his wife at all over the past number of months,” one of the Daily NK sources said. “The wife somehow found out what had happened and submitted a letter of complaint to the central committee. She was determined to get a divorce.” 

When the central party received the complaint, officials began an inquiry and soon ordered the official to write up a self-criticism of the illicit affair, the source added. 

In North Korea, the writing of a self-criticism is generally the first-step of being dismissed from an official position. Daily NK sources suspect that the official has likely already been dismissed from his position as this article was published in English.  

The official was one of many who have been dispatched to potato growing regions in Ryanggang Province recently following frequent visits by members of the Kim family to Paekam and Taehongdan counties, two of the largest potato-producing areas in the country. Officially, the officials appear to have been sent to the farms to learn about difficulties farmers face and help spur on productivity. Ryanggang Province has also seen a rash of potato seed thefts, which has drawn the attention of North Korean authorities. 

Despite these high-minded aims, Daily NK sources report that officials dispatched to the farms tend to focus on ensuring their own creature comforts.

“The officials who oversee potato production on Paekam County farms want nothing more than to be treated like royalty,” one source told Daily NK.

North Korean authorities do not require farms to provide food and other extra provisions to the officials. In reality, officials are provided with alcohol, pork, eggs and fish with every meal. They even have housekeepers who clean and do their laundry daily. 

Daily NK sources also reported that farm managers are unhappy the officials are treated this way because they do not lend a hand to help clean up damaged crops or transport potatoes.

Farm workers also have to be taken off their normal duties to help maintain the lifestyles of these officials, one of the sources added. As the apparent dismissal of one of the officials shows, the central government nonetheless appears to be placing them under scrutiny. This may be related to the Kim Jong Un regime’s broader drive to eliminate corruption among government officials. 

*Translated by Violet Kim

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@gmail.com.

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