[imText1]Kim Joon Shik (pseudonym, 45) lives in Chongjin, North Hamkyung. He went to visit his relatives in Longjing, China to acquire some goods to sell. He said, “Even if authorities hold lectures proclaiming, ‘Do not worry, from now on we will live well’ no one really believes them.”
According to Kim, North Korean authorities have been holding lectures and the People’s Units meetings, declaring that, ‘The nuclear experiment has made Chosun into a strong militaristic nation. Now, the world reveres us and are lavishing us with money and goods.’ With the nuclear experiment complete, authorities claim that priorities will be made in improving social welfare, Kim said.
However, the people’s response has been no more than sardonic, Kim said, “People don’t care about the nuclear experiment. It does not help their living at all.”
He said, “A secretary even said, ‘This time it’s not a lie. You can really trust us’… People like me who make an independent living only wish that authorities will leave us alone.”
Even the officials are recognizing the people’s distrust, which just goes to show how much the alignment between authorities and people has dissipated.
“How many lies have they made in the past for them to say such things. Even during the July 1st measures, they said that living would get easier, yet there was only inflation. They said distributions would restart but it ended with a few potatoes. It’s all lies!” he criticized.
He added, “At least during the march of suffering, they would say ‘Let’s smile even though our paths are tough.’ But now, they say we have come to live happy lives without even distributing some rations! Who could trust their words?”
Regarding the cost of rice in the East, Kim said, “Prices are actually decreasing despite it being March~April (expected times of arduous labor due to the spring harvest), as there are many rumors claiming that foreigners will give us aid in the near future” and “Merchants who stocked up on the goods last winter, would have made some losses.”
“How can we be oblivious of the world when information pours out from China. Merchants acquire news from China and spread the news everywhere. Their mere words can influence market prices throughout the whole nation. They said that South Chosun will aid us with rice. By the way, when will rice be given by South Chosun? Also, how much will they send?” he said, questioning the reporter for answers, showing little discretion towards outsiders.
Contrastingly, another person of North Hamkyung, Park Choon Bin (pseudonym) who came to visit relatives in Helong, China was rather reserved and cautious against foreigners knowing the big difference between workers in the cities and the country.
Park had spent many years as a laborer and his coarse hands and wrinkled face showed this. Though there had not been any dramatic changes, it was an undeniable fact that his life had improved.
Park had already been in China a month, visiting his relatives yet was still wary when he met the reporter. Though he agreed to show his ‘national border pass,’ he requested that his identity be disguised and refused to take part in any recordings.
He said, “That is out of the question” and added, “There are many South Korean spies in China. If the National Security Agency finds out that I showed you my national pass, I will be in a lot of trouble.”
Park said that it had been a couple of years since a year’s worth of rations had been distributed to the farmers. “I will be taking back with me 2 second hand color televisions provided by my relatives in Chosun, 1 refrigerator, 600yuan and some second hand clothing” he said, even refusing the change offered for transportation.