In this photo published by state media on Mar. 14, 2023, North Korean Premier Kim Tok-hun can be seen inspecting a farm field in South Hwanghae Province. (Rodong Sinmun-News1)

As soon as North Korea’s mobilization order for rice planting ended, another mobilization order was issued to send help to farms harvesting wheat and barley, the earliest crops of the year. Farm managers are annoyed because central government officials have been sent to local areas to inspect how well the mobilization is going.

“After the rice transplanting campaign ended on June 7, officials from the central government came to the farms with orders to start a campaign to harvest the early crops of wheat and barley. These officials were instructed to cooperate with local farm managers and workers to learn the situation on the farms,” a source in South Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

North Korea has ordered central government officials to spend two weeks on the farms, eating and sleeping there while helping with the work. The initiative is aimed at reducing the gas and time needed to commute to the farms each day.

While staying on the farms and working alongside farm managers and workers, the central government officials were instructed to communicate closely with local staff, maximize the efficiency of the wheat and barley harvest, and resolve various problems that arise on the ground through immediate instructions and coordination.

But in reality, the source said, the central government officials follow the farm managers around, peeking into every nook and cranny of the farms and micromanaging affairs of all kinds, to the great annoyance of the managers.

“The central government officials who are visiting now are interfering in the work and giving all kinds of orders, many of them impractical, without knowing the details of the farm work. The managers are unable to explain every little thing to the central government officials and are also afraid to tell them [to stop], which has created an unbearable situation,” the source said.

It is stressful for managers to have officials from the central government (and not even from their own province) snooping around and asking all kinds of questions. The managers complain that they feel under surveillance.

“The managers complain that having the central government officials around only interferes with the campaign to harvest the early crops,” the source said.

The central government officials take a keen interest in the crops, which makes the farm managers even more uncomfortable. The managers are concerned that the officials’ presence will interfere with efforts to use the crops to pay off private debts incurred during the spring planting season.

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