While the North Korean media praises Kim Jong Il’s greatness on his 68th birthday, the common citizens are having a quiet time, suffering under a growing food crisis.
This year’s Lunar New Year holiday fell around Kim Jong Il’s birthday, so sources report that the authorities gave the people time off from the 14th for three days. However, special distribution for the holiday was patchy this year, differing in quantity from province to province.
One source from Musan, North Hamkyung Province reported, “Even though we are facing the General (Kim Jong Il)’s birthday, there is no liquor being distributed. Just for cadres and soldiers, a 500ml bottle of liquor and a kilogram of pork are being supplied.”
The source added that general food prices are fluctuating. “Rice prices in the jangmadang are different all the time. On the 15th, over 450 won, but in the afternoon it went down to 400 won. And, now it is up to almost 500 won.”
“There are a number of people who are starving. Even though the jangmadang is open, these people cannot purchase rice due to its high price. However, liquor sellers are seemingly able to earn money because people need it for memorial ceremonies for their ancestors.”
A source from Yangkang Province reported the situation there, “The authorities have provided us with four days of mixed rice and corn. There has been no other special distribution, except cookies for children from their schools. However, even though people have received food distribution, the price of rice is up around 500 won.”
Only in Hoiryeong have residents received as much as Pyongyang citizens. They got one bottle of liquor and one day’s rice, according to a source in the city.