In a bid to mitigate significant shortfalls resulting from last year’s poor harvest, the North Korean authorities have ordered residents to donate rice to the military.
“The party is doing everything it can to secure rice provisions for the military, calling the contributions ‘patriotic rice donations’ and making people attend lectures to drive home their point,” a source in Ryanggang Province reported.
The rice donation movement dates back to 1946, when the North Korean authorities launched a campaign encouraging farmers to donate rice to the state. North Korean propaganda claims that one farmer from Chaeyong County, South Hwanghae Province was so imbued with patriotism that he contributed so much rice that it spurred a broader campaign known as the “Kim Jae Won Patriotic Rice Donation Movement.”
References to the “patriotic rice donation” system have appeared in the state-run Rodong Sinmun a number of times since Kim Jong Un came into power in 2011.
“At lectures for Party members, cadres dwell on the reality of the poor harvest and the depleted No. 2 war-time rice reserves. They tell us that even if life is hard for us now, we have to think about what will happen to our children and their future if the military starves,” a separate source in Ryanggang Province said.
No.2 war-time rice reserves are, as the name suggests, for the military in the event that war breaks out and the country can no longer engage in agriculture.
Alleged cases of voluntary contributions by party members of 1-2 tons of rice last year have been shared during the lectures. It was also alleged that a resident in Kim Jong Suk County sold his motorcycle to buy 500 kg of rice and handed it over to the state.
“Anyone who contributes 100 kg or more of rice receives certification for their ‘patriotic contribution’ and ‘love and loyalty for the military’,” the source said.
According to sources in North Hamgyong Province, similar developments have been underway in that region, with even the most destitute of households compelled to donate at least 1 kg of rice.