A source in North Korea told Daily NK on Thursday that the authorities recently instructed Socialist Women’s Union of Korea members throughout the country to perform “non-tax burdens,” ostensibly to support the construction of terraced apartment buildings in Pyongyang’s Potonggang District.

The “fund-raising campaign” ordered by the Central Committee of the Socialist Women’s Union of Korea demonstrates that this sort of extortion continues at ground level, despite an order from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to eradicate it.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK that in issuing the order, the league said “support activities are necessary as a manifestation of loyalty.” 

According to the source, the league told members that they should present a “model” by contributing funds to encourage the labor brigades and construction workers building the apartments.

Mirae Scientists’ Street in Pyongyang. / Image: Ryugyong

In particular, the league is coercing “non-tax burdens” from members by telling them the construction project is proceeding “amid comments and interest” from Kim Jong Un himself.

Accordingly, league members in Saebyol County have been ordered to cough up KPW 5,000 to KPW 10,000 per person, while members in Onsong County should pay KPW 4,000 to KPW 8,000 per person. They were also told they could pay in rice, corn, soybeans or potatoes if they had no money.

The league also ordered the selection of a delegation — largely composed of the members who contributed the most money — to directly hand the contributions over to the construction headquarters.

Despite this inducement, league members are not happy about the demands. “We’ve got to prepare for the winter now, but it seems we’re going to have to contribute continuous non-tax burdens,” they say.

The source said members are also openly saying that while it “might be somewhat OK if all the money went to the construction workers and labor brigades,” it hurts them to think cadres will syphon off some of the money themselves.

Meanwhile, Daily NK reported on Aug. 23 that league members mobilized for the construction effort are suffering labor exploitation, receiving not even a single penny despite 11 hours of hard work a day.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.