[imText1]Although North Korea tried to create a festive atmosphere in celebration of Kim Jong Il’s 65th birthday, the voices of Pyongyang citizens express hardship and exhaustion.
Recently, Lee Myung Sup (pseudonym, 69) who lives in Pyongyang went to Namyang-district, Onsung, North Hamkyung province, in search of his brother who resides in China to get help.
In a telephone conversation with the DailyNK on the 21st, he said “Nowadays, it is even hard for people in Pyongyang to live. Although rations are given, it is not enough to live on.”
Lee informed “Compared to the country, rules and regulations are even stricter in Pyongyang to the point all men must go to work. Alternatively, the majority of housewives utilize the markets and trains to travel to the rural districts selling goods.”
“Even the people in Pyongyang must engage in trade, otherwise they have nothing to eat but rice porridge. While the elite are living lives more privileged than the times of the ‘march of suffering,’ the common worker in Pyongyang is indifferent to the citizens in the country” he said.
According to Lee, a month’s worth of rations given to the citizens in Pyongyang always fall short of a week’s amount of food. This is because a week’s worth of rations in North Korea is removed and redirected as distributions for the military.
Coal and stones used to solve the heating problem
The average monthly wage for a worker in Pyongyang is 4,000~5,000 (approx. US$1.2~1.6) won. At the markets, 1kg of rice is 1,100 won and hence this wage is equivalent to 4kg of rice. While all necessities including food, vegetables, daily needs and medicine can be purchased at the market, Lee says that at least 10,000 won (approx. US$3.2) is needed per month.
He said “It has already been 10 years since heating rations for were suspended” and added “Large stones placed under the floor are heated up to warm the home and coal is also used to cook rice and further heat the room, even in apartments.” He said that during the winter, each household required at least 2,000kg of coal
Already, many average North Korean citizens find it hard to live if they do not trade, however the situation has now arisen where the “revolutionary city” of Pyongyang and its citizens are experiencing the same conditions.
Even during the food crisis in the `90’s, many people in Pyongyang found pride in the fact that they lived in the revolutionary city. However, 10 years on, the privileges of a Pyongyang citizen has but merely disappeared and the adversities of the people increasing as they find their own way to survive.
The people of Pyongyang who once faced the period of their honorable father, Kim Jong Il have now become common citizens.