People Hit with Metal Tax for Twin Kims

Daily NK has learned
that the newly erected statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in Sinuiju were
produced with metal collected from residents during June this year.

There was a campaign in June on the pretext of
generating loyalty funds. They collected copper from everyone in Sinuiju,
a source in the city revealed to Daily NK on August 12th. People
had no idea what it was all going to be for, but after the unveiling ceremony they realized what
had been going on.

She recalled, They had a campaign to gather copper- no exceptions were made; everyone
had to pay in kind within a fixed period.

However, the metal is in short supply in North Korea, and this meant that most
residents had to go out and buy their share on the open market. This caused the
price of the metal to spike, and traders to respond to the resulting demand by
bringing in supplies from China.

In North Korea, which
does not have a system of taxation due to having abolished it with much fanfare in the
1970s, residents are obliged to make offerings to the state from as early as
elementary school, and then throughout their adult lives. These de facto tax
payments may be made in goods such as gold, copper, rabbit pelts, or medicinal
herbs, and/or the equivalent value in cash (calculated at market rates, not
according to state prices).

According to the
source, the price of copper averages 9,000 KPW/100g, but this skyrocketed to
13,000 KPW during the statue campaign, which
 took
place in all enterprises and every inminban, or people
s unit, in the city of 350,000 people, the sixth largest in the country.
The resulting metal was then shipped to Mansudae Art Studio, which manufactured
the new twin statues.

Established in
November 1959, Mansudae Art Studio is famed worldwide for its high
quality, low budget public statuary. Operating under the direct
oversight of the Chosun Workers’ Party Central Committee, it employs
approximately 3,700 people, around one hundred of whom bear the esteemed
title, “Merited Artist” or
Peoples Artist.”

The source claimed
that the statues were formed from composite stone and then coated in a layer of
bronze, an alloy primarily made of copper. Customarily, cast metal sculptures
would be produced by setting liquid alloy in a mold, but this is more expensive
and would require a significantly larger quantity of metal. Although North
Korea has large copper reserves in its northerly mountainous regions, these are a valuable export resource.

The twin statues are
situated in the plaza in front of Sinuiju Station, surrounded by Sinuiju
Customs House [the main portal to and from  Dandong], hard currency stores
and the Amrokgang Hotel. Needless to say, the new statues brought the region an
even higher level of security than previously.
[Kim
Jong Eun
s] grandfather and father came along, but
things also got a lot more uncomfortable,’
as the
source put it.

Before the statues came there were many
photographers who could take pictures of people there to earn money, but now
only the ones with state approval can visit the site to take photos for
commemorative events such as weddings.

On July 24th, Chosun
Central News Agency reported on the unveiling ceremony of the new statues,
proclaiming,
On November 27, Juche 34 (1945) when he was
exploring the un-trodden path of nation-building, Kim Il Sung exchanged
greetings with people of the province at the Sinuiju City mass rally. Since
that historical day he visited hundreds of units in the province on more than
460 occasions, indicating the tasks facing the province and ways for fulfilling
them, and wisely leading the efforts to carry them out.”

It went on, “The
erection of the statues in the city represents another significant event in
eternally glorifying the revolutionary careers and exploits of the peerless great
men of Mt. Paektu and unfolding a new history of immortalizing the
leaders.”

The article also cited
the unveiling speech given by Kim Yong Nam, the head of the Standing Committee
of the Supreme People’s Assembly, who declared, “Thanks to the outstanding
leadership of Kim Il Sung who worked miracles by always believing in the people
and relying on their inexhaustible strength, power, machine-building and light
industrial bases appeared in different parts of the province, a previously
unknown island turned into a silk island and thousands of hectares of tideland
were converted into fertile fields.

He added that on his first onsite visit to the area, Kim Jong Il provided energetic field guidance to it, weathering ordeals during the
arduous march, the forced march unprecedented in history and ushering in the
new era of building a thriving socialist nation.
 

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