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A tractor on a farm in North Korea. (Image: Todd Mecklem, Creative Commons, Flickr)

North Korean authorities have taken issue with the consumption of alcohol on the job by volunteers helping on farms, Daily NK has learned. 

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Daily NK source in South Hwanghae Province said Wednesday that some people who help on farms during the busy planting season “are unable to work at their best because they bring a bottle of liquor in their boxed meals and drink during lunch,” and the provincial rural village financial management committee is now cracking down on the practice.

According to the source, the provincial rural village financial management committee has ordered the agricultural volunteers to give their all, even telling them to work intensively without a day off and to hold in-field reviews of the day’s tasks during the full mobilization period of this year’s planting season. However, the committee has been losing sleep because the volunteers are drinking during the day.

Some people have to walk several hours from the city center to the farms, leaving home early in the morning and working all day in the fields until the afternoon. They bring alcohol with them to overcome their growing fatigue.

In addition, some agencies and companies provide alcohol for people staying on the farms while they help in the fields. However, the volunteers often get drunk on the alcohol in the evening, which interferes with their work the next day, or they drink it during lunch and skip their afternoon tasks.

In response, some farm managers expressed their frustration to the provincial rural village financial management committee. The committee, in turn, took a dim view of the problem, severely criticizing workers who drink on the farms and the agencies and enterprises that provide them with alcohol, demanding that they change their ways.

“The provincial rural village financial management committee has begun to crack down on the atmosphere of drinking during the farm support period, ordering workers to eat their lunch and return to work immediately in a manner befitting a struggle,” the source said.

The committee said it would intensify oversight to root out these unproductive and inefficient practices. In particular, it plans to keep a close eye on the behavior of farm support workers during their lunch breaks and to severely punish those who engage in problematic behavior.

The provincial agricultural financial management committee has repeatedly emphasized the importance of using this opportunity to create an atmosphere in which people can contemplate the goal of supporting agricultural communities and devote themselves to farm support with a more sincere and militant attitude.

In particular, the committee urged agencies and enterprises to provide rice or other side dishes instead of alcohol for farm volunteers, and to intensify ideological indoctrination to improve the efficiency of farm work by teaching workers to give their all when helping in the fields.

“The provincial agricultural financial management committee is constantly urging farm volunteers to do their farm work with a sincere attitude, while warning that it will thoroughly control and monitor the workers so that these problems do not occur in the future,” the source said.

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.

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