[imText1]As the U.N. North Korea Resolution 1718 was announced, rising concerns suggest that North Korea will experience its “Second Tribulation March (Mass starvation period in the 1990s).”
Recently, North Korean government channels have been increasing resilience emphasizing a “spirit of affliction” and “spirit of autonomy.”
On the 14th, the Rodong Shinmun, a N. Korean state newspaper, urged, “We must take a strong conviction in regards to socialism and go out to fight with faith and optimism.” On the 13th, the Minju Chosun (Democratic Korea), the government organ, claimed, “Even if we have to face the second and third ‘Tribulation March,’ you need not worry. Rather we must fight with overt confidence and audacity.”
Ever since the nuke experiments government channels have been using this propaganda This suggests that North Korean authorities were already prepared for sanctions by the international community.
People’s mentality “If you trust the nation, you will die of starvation”
During the first “Tribulation March” in the mid-90’s, about 300,000 people died over a period of 3 years from starvation. What would happen if the second tribulation march was to occur as a result of the U.N. North Korea resolution? How would it differ from the first?
Unlike the present, the “Tribulation March” of the 90’s did not involve international sanctions. Although the first nuclear threat did nearly cause the U.S. to prepare explosion of the Youngbyon nuclear facility, as the Geneva Agreement was radically formed North Korea was able to evade sanctions from the international community.
The reason that 300,000 people died from starvation lies in the fundamental man-made disaster, where Kim Jong Il’s political ideology of “government teachings” and development of reform were abandoned after his father’s death to “revive one’s own strength.”
Beginning with munitions workers, about 50,000 people who trusted and were loyal to the government, including many intellectuals such as scientists and technicians died of starvation.
When comparing the past to the present, the people of the 90’s trusted only in their government as they did not have any other knowledge. Thus they were hit with a sudden blow, however this time it is different, as the North Korean people are already filled with “immunity.”
Above all, North Korean people are now aware of their own existence and are saying “If you trust the nation, you will die from starvation.” At the time, people tacitly in trade knew that they would not die of hunger. Today, high officials have changed their mentality and have abandoned the ideology of being the “People’s emissary” to ‘I must devise a plan to live, while I have the power.’
Since 2000, irrespective of whether or not the nation distributed rations in the fall, people have begun to devise their own ways to live. While city dwellers are living off their trade, villagers are providing their own rations through cultivation and farming off mountains.
After the 7.1 economic measures, capitalism was steadily introduced and the people’s spontaneity increased. Hence, this time it seems that the mass starvation of the mid-90’s may be escaped.
However, as a result of long term malnutrition, it is possible that many deaths will occur from disease and infectious epidemics.
A complete breakdown in industry and infrastructure
According to data from the World Food Program (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), North Korea’s output of grain in 95~96 was 4,070,000 tons and 2,874,000 tons in 96~97. This is a significantly low figure compared to the necessary amount of 6,400,000 tons.
Even today, little has changed. Last year, the typhoon caused an output of 4,800,000 tons of crop. Hence, the insufficient rations of the 90’s ‘Tribulation March’ period, is similar to this time.
During the first tribulation march, there was no electricity so factories ceased operations and workers began to sell equipment taken from their workplace in trade of rations. What happened was a collapse in the main infrastructure of factories.
The worker’s riot in 1996 that arose from suppression of operations at the Yellow Sea Iron Works, also originated from workers taking factory materials to trade for food. A defector from ‘September Iron Works’ in Pyongang said, “During the tribulation march, everyone took materials from work to trade. If it occurs again, people will most probably dig up the main support.”
The infrastructure collapse of the 90’s was near to impossible to rebuild by North Korea alone. Since 1998, the economy has somewhat stabilized, however full reconstruction has never been acheived and rather only parts of the country has recovered.
The key point will be when China participates in the North Korea sanctions
If the second tribulation march was to occur, the main point will be commerce with China. Last March, Professor Xuwenji of Northeast Asia Research and Development Institute, Jilian University visited North Korea. He said, “About 70% of North Korean markets are made up of Chinese products, 20% of products are made in North Korea and the remaining 10% is either Japanese or Russian products.”
Currently, daily necessities such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap, welding rods and even tires at North Korean markets are all made in China. In the case that the trade of daily necessities is disconnected, this will undoubtedly affect North Korea dramatically. In the end, the key point is to what extent China will compliantly follow the North Korea resolution.
The number of Chinese enterprises trying to evade North Korean investments is also variable. After North Korea’s nuclear experiment, rumors spread that Chinese banks beginning from Dandong had ceased remitting funds to North Korea and that many Chinese businesses had begun to suspend or terminate North Korean investments.
If commerce is suspended between North Korea and China, North Korea will not be able to satisfy all of its necessary daily products by relying on illicit trade.
There are also rumors that barbed wire will be placed bordering the region of the Yalu River, which will further affect smuggling of goods. As official trade between the two countries becomes illegal and daily necessities cannot be supplied from China through smuggling, the North Korean people will experience yet another fatal blow to their lives.
Furthermore, if North Korea does proclaim its second tribulation march and returns to the times of the mid-90’s, the Kim Jong Il regime could be greatly affected.
Above all, as the mentality of the people has changed, no longer will they listen submissively to the government. Rather, they will be more inclined to find ways to sustain their own life existence and make all attempts to defect to China. Amongst these circumstances, there may even be bloodshed between soldiers and the people.
Also, if high ranking military officials and soldiers decide that they cannot possibly live amongst these circumstances, it is possible that they will abandon their barracks. One thing is certain they will not simply sit around and wait to die from starvation. If high ranking military officials and soldiers did withdraw from their barracks on the mass, it is possible that the Kim Jong Il regime will face a threat to destruction.