Chongjin residents recently asked to fulfill “non-tax burdens” to help bolster national defense

Daily NK has learned that residents of the city of Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province were recently tasked with “non-tax burdens,” ostensibly to bolster national defense.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Tuesday that a meeting of neighborhood office heads was held at the people’s committee of Ranam District in Chongjin on Oct. 15. The meeting neighborhood heads were ordered to produce scrap metal and oilseed crops by Oct. 28 “without fail.”

This reportedly led to quite the commotion within the neighborhood offices of Ranam District, with the offices convening inminban (people’s unit) meetings to discuss how to carry out the “social task.”

In particular, the neighborhood heads and heads of the inminban are reportedly stressing that people have a duty to participate in the effort out of “civic awareness” as the task aims to strengthen national defense.

The public has been receiving fewer “non-tax burdens” since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for a stop to the practice during the Eighth Party Congress earlier this year. However, locals have recently been receiving “non-tax burdens” once again in a variety of forms, said the source.

According to the source, residents of Ranam District were tasked with concrete quotas, namely, seven kilograms of scrap metal and two kilograms of oilseed crops per household.

Meanwhile, North Korea is sparking public discontent by forcing residents who cannot fulfill the task to cough up KPW 30,000 in cash of the actual goods, unlike in years past.

In fact, the source said that in Ranam District’s Rahung 1-dong neighborhood, the authorities are forcing residents who cannot produce the demanded scrap metal or oilseed crops to pay KPW 30,000 in cash. “Households that are already having a tough time making ends meet are protesting, ‘We have no money even to buy food for the day, so how are we supposed to pay this?,’” he said. “So there are frequent arguments with the heads of the neighborhood office or inminban.” 

People mired in economic troubles due to the protracted closure of the border are reportedly criticizing authorities, accusing them of cleverly using party policy to bolster national defense as a means to extort money.

The source said the Central Committee might be calling for an end to “non-tax burdens,” but they are also endlessly ordering “social tasks.” Cadres at the bottom then use the orders from the Central Committee to justify tasking residents with continuous “non-tax burdens,” as is apparent in the Chongjin case.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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