“Divided Hearts of the People in the North”

[imText1]We heard from Ahn Young Bae, a North Korea defector residing in Busan that while she talked on the cellular phone with her family in North Korea, she heard “People in North Korea say south is south and north is north.”

They are not talking about North Korea and South Korea. They are talking about how divided people are in North and South regions of North Korea in terms of sentiment.

According to Ahn, “people in Pyongan province including Pyongyang and Hwanghe province are worried about the war like it is eminent to erupt and that the Supreme Commander is about to start a war. On the other hand in the regions close to the Sino-Korean border in Hamkyong provinces and Yangang province say, ” We are sick of the war stories, we are only worried about our businesses to make our living.”

In summary, the northern people do not believe in the rumors about the war, since they have been threatened to be attacked by Americans for so long, and even if the war erupted, they are decided to just cross the border over to China.

Ahn says, “Even if a war erupted it is highly doubtful that the Northern people will fight for Kim Jong Il. Most of the people in Northern area are businessmen and many have relatives in South Korea, so their sentiment is different from the people in the southern part.”

We will die with a war and even without a war

The next is Ahn’s conversation with her sister.

– How’s life these days?

“We are ok. We have a stall on the street selling munitions on the streets with the money you sent.”

-What do people think these days?

“People who do business always say Chosun (North Korea) is about to come to an end. They are not interested how the country is doing. We don’t understand whether the nation is telling us to live or to die.”

-We heard that North Korea is worried about the US will start a nuclear war.

“Few days ago we saw on the TV “We have nuclear weapons.” People say they don’t care whether it is nuclear weapons or a war. They always make a fuss about it, so they don’t make a big deal about it. They doubt that a war will really erupt. Everybody is busy earning money, and they don’t have time to worry about a war.”

Accumulated Frustration of the Northern People

Why did people’s sentiment divide so clear between North and South? There is a reason for that.

The northern people have accumulated frustration toward the people in Pyongyang. People in Hamkyong province did not receive food from the government since the end of the 1980s. However, people in Pyongyang received food even during the food crisis in the mid-1990s. Also in Hamkyong provinces, there are many people who have bad family background, expelled from major cities, including families of political prisoners. When the food shortage started, Hamkyong provinces are the first part to not receive the food. People’s frustration in Hamkyong provinces accumulated since then.

For this reason, the northern people say, “since they (people in Pyongyang) lived well, eating well, they should fight when a war is erupted, but people in north don’t have to. Have we ever received right treatment?”

During the food crisis of the 1990s, many of the main people who loyally followed Kim Jong Il died. They waited for the food to be provided by the government, but they were never given. They never knew money, but when they realized they had to learn, it was too late by then. Now people say, “Money is all. You will die believing in Kim Jong Il.”

Traditional Regional Division

The southern region (Pyongan province and Hwanghe province) centering Pyongyang and the northern region (including Hamkyong province, and Yangang province) have historical division. Southern people did not like the northern people because they follow interests, while the northern people ignored northern people believing they lack productivity.

This kind of regional division became more prominent as the dictatorship by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il carried on and the class division became more prominent. This was especially because a lot of family members of the people purged for opposing to Kim family were expelled to live in the remote places of the northern parts of the country. These provinces were so far away from the capital so the central power did not reach them.

The Party cadres were almost always from Pyongyang. The government prevented regional people entering into Pyongyang to make Pyongyang an international city. For this reason the regional people are jealous about the people from Pyongyang.

As more and more information flow into the northern parts of North Korea, the more the regional division becomes prominent.

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