Around half of the fishermen working for the Sinpo Fishing Company are being transferred to a fishing company under the Ministry of Defense, Daily NK has learned.

“Since Apr. 2, North Korean authorities have been transferring half of the fishermen under the Sinpo Fishing Company to a fishery company under the Ministry of Defense and assigning military fishery numbers to their boats,” a source in South Hamgyong Province told Daily NK yesterday.

According to the source, North Korean authorities believe that the transfer of the fishermen and their boats could help increase food for the country’s military, which is suffering from severe shortages of things to eat.

“Half of the personnel at the Sinpo Fishing Company are being transferred, and the atmosphere is gloomy because many of them are private boat captains who built their own boats,” the source said. “The boat captains are selling their boats or boat parts outright because they feel like coming under military control would be akin to the loss of their private property.”

Wonsan sea
North Korean fishing boats on the water near Wonsan, Gangwon Province. / Image: Daily NK

While trying to sell off their boats and boat parts, some of captains are protesting openly about the order, complaining that it is “ridiculous” that the military would take away boats they need to make a living.

In response to the complaints, the Ministry of Defense’s logistics department has promised to compensate the boat captains. Captains with diesel powered boats will receive 20 kilograms of soybeans while unpowered fishing boat captains will receive 15 kilograms of corn.

Despite this promise of compensation, boat captains still continue to sell off boats and boat parts because they believe the compensation is “ridiculously low” and because they do not want to suffer financial distress at the hands of the military.

“The Sinpo Fishing Company is no more if it gets divided up into two parts due to government policy,” the source said, adding, “People are angry because they are unsure about how they are supposed to survive when the military takes over farming and fishing activities.”

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to