On the heels of the Party Congress and the “70-Day Battle” preceding it, North Korea has issued a
one-month farm mobilization period for rice-planting season. The directive,
effective nationwide, places significant restrictions on market activities and
The mobilization, which commenced on May 15, will remain in
effect until June 15, a source from South Pyongan Province told Daily NK. Of
most concern to residents is the fact that for the duration of the mass
mobilization, official general markets will operate only three hours daily–
from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.–and business-related travel be strictly limited.
This news was corroborated by sources in North and South
Hwanghae Provinces, North Pyongan Province, and North and South Hamgyong
In addition, alcohol sales in restaurants will be banned for
the ordinance’s duration; service establishments including barbers, hair
salons, and public bathhouses are permitted to operate, but only after 5 p.m.
All central agencies, state-run factories, social
organizations, universities, and high schools are busy gearing
up for the mass mobilization. To ensure their compliance, streets are plastered with “farm
assistance-battle” posters, and vehicles outfitted with loudspeakers move through neighborhoods from early morning hours, blaring propaganda songs to keep
up the pressure; local officials wielding megaphones follow suit on foot, calling on everyone from “homemakers, the elderly, and middle school students to commute to
farms nearby and work,” the source said.
“The streets are lined with Ministry of People’s Security
personnel [MPS], carrying out orders to step up surveillance and crackdowns to
maximize support [for the mobilization]. In parallel, prosecutors and other
agents from the judicial system patrol state-run companies and residential
areas to check up on the mobilization numbers. If firms fall short of the
quotas, company managers face punitive measures, which can include, among
other things, imprisonment for up to ten days.”
The heightened control and fear tactics, he added, are
to hedge against possible public outrage from a populace forced to participate in successive
mobilizations, which hamper market business and thereby severely undermine their livelihood.
Meanwhile, regions in the Hwanghae Provinces and those below South Pyongan Province, which have experienced higher-than-average temperatures this year, have already begun transplanting seedlings to rice paddies.