North Korea’s end-of-the-year “annual evaluation meetings” are being held with less fanfare this year, Daily NK has learned.
“In some counties [of Yangang Province], the annual events began on Nov. 10 among branches of the Socialist Women’s Union of Korea,” a Yanggang Province-based source told Daily NK on Nov. 16, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Although the events are proceeding as usual, after-party meals are not being held and the overall atmosphere of the celebrations has changed.”
According to her, there has been an increase in other local organizations finishing their events with meals where only a few people gather together. “We haven’t seen such a [downsizing] in these events since before 2010,” she noted.
One of the reasons why these annual events have been scaled down is because the country has intensified its COVID-19 control measures – yet another sign that North Koreans are actively practicing “social distancing.”
The North Korean government has continued to emphasize that people “conserve” what they have as much as possible, particularly since the country’s breadbasket in North and South Hwanghae provinces were hit hard by typhoons and floods earlier this year.
“It used to be common to eat in groups but things have changed this year,” the source said, adding, “Compared to last year, the economic situation of households is not that good, so there are members of the Socialist Women’s Union of Korea who support [the downsizing of the annual events].”
There are also those, however, who have expressed disappointment at the downsizing of the events. Many people enjoyed sharing conversations with each other and looking back at the hard work they did that year, the source said.
“Last year’s events generally cost KRW 15,000 per person, but people paid just about KRW 8,000 this year,” she said, adding, “People are likely to eat less food, and drink less beverages, including beer, this year.”
*Translated by Gabriela Bernal