fruit, apples, farm, farming
Farmers displaying apples picked at the Taedonggang Fruit General Farm. (Rodong Sinmun-News1)

After investigating the failure of a quality control office in Hwangju County to properly store apples reserved for senior party officials, the party committee of North Hwanghae Province has decided to punish the officials responsible.

“When a team from the Central Committee’s accounting department went to Hwangju County on Feb. 7 to collect Hwangju apples – “No. 8 products” – before Kim Jong Il’s birthday, they were unable to fill the committee’s quota because many of the apples were spoiled. The quality control office in Hwangju County was blamed for failing to maintain the quality of apples from last year’s harvest,” a source in North Korea told Daily NK on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“No. 8 products” refer to crops, livestock, and seafood of outstanding quality that are sent as gifts to Central Committee officials on major holidays and special occasions every year. Hwangju apples, a local delicacy in Hwangju County, are considered “No. 8 fruit.”

After the harvest in Hwangju County last year, the accounting department of the Central Committee selected the best apples, wrapped them in netting, and shipped three tons of them in crates. The accountants then returned to the county with plans to send another two tons of apples to serve as holiday gifts for senior cadres before Kim Jong Il’s birthday on Feb. 16, only to find that many of the apples in storage had gone bad.

“Fruit must be stored carefully if the accounting department is to collect the planned amount on major holidays. But the department was furious when it could collect less than half of the two-ton apple quota because of poor handling in Hwangju County. The incident was reported in detail to the Central Committee, which prompted the North Hwanghae Province Party Committee to take disciplinary action against the managers of the county’s quality control office,” the source said.

After the provincial party committee was severely reprimanded by the Central Committee, the committee concluded that the Hwangju apple spoilage was due to the irresponsible behavior of the senior and junior inspectors of the Hwangju County Quality Control Bureau. The committee then moved to discipline these officials.

The No. 8 apples in Hwangju County are stored in a natural cave that doubles as a warehouse, and according to regulations, inspectors from the quality control office are supposed to check twice a month to make sure the apples are stored properly. However, the provincial party committee concluded that this rule was not being followed, leading to the spoilage.

“The organization department of the provincial party committee conducted an on-site inspection of the poor handling of the No. 8 products by the quality control office and issued severe warnings and disciplinary measures against the people in charge, including one senior inspector and two junior inspectors. They also decided to remove the senior inspector from his position,” the source said.

Questions raised about loyalty

Significantly, the organization department of the committee said that the issue was not only the responsibility for the spoilage of the No. 8 apples but also the ideology of the quality control inspectors and their attitude toward the revolutionary leadership of North Korea.

The organization department threatened to treat this as a matter of party discipline at the quality inspection bureau and ordered the bureau’s party secretary to spend several days at the provincial party committee to write a statement of self-criticism, the source said.

In addition, the organization department described the spoilage as a serious violation of the Quality Control Law, which was revised last September, and asked the provincial police agency’s Economic Inspection Bureau to “prosecute anyone who deserves it to the fullest extent of the law.

But officials at the quality control office in Hwangju County were angry at the party’s actions, the source said.

“Workers at the Hwangju County quality control office complained that the Central Committee was treating these apples as inferior, even though apples of such quality are beyond the reach of ordinary people and are still edible because any minor blemishes can be easily cut out. The workers said that the government’s standards for quality control are too strict.”

Concluding that the Hwangju apples rejected by the Central Committee’s accounting department should not be kept in the No. 8 produce warehouse, the provincial party committee distributed some to kindergartens, secondary schools, and war veterans for Kim Jong Il’s birthday and gave the rest to the committee’s accounting department for disposal, the source said.

“Fruit vendors at marketplaces in the province were happy to hear that some of the Hwangju apples had been placed in the hands of the provincial party committee’s accounting department, as they expect that these valuable apples, usually reserved for senior cadres, will soon be put on the market.”

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to

Read in Korean