As the “150-Day Battle” draws to a close, there are a couple of groups who are smiling thanks to the side effects of the campaign.
A source from North Hamkyung Province told Daily NK on Friday, “Only railways staff and military officer’s families have gotten lucky; officer’s families are now vying with each other to move onto military bases!”
The North Korean authorities offer privileges to those who live on military bases because of their service duties; raising livestock for the military, constructing additional facilities and such like. Therefore, they are generally exempt from mobilization and social assignments.
However, despite these long-held privileges, officers’ families used not to want to stay on-base, because they could not do businesses in the jangmadang from such locations and had to belong to farming and livestock units within the corps.
Military families living off-base have to take part in social assignments and are open to mobilization as members of People’s Units, but this was still seen as preferable to on-base life.
But, since the start of the harsh “150-Day Battle,” officer families have been trying hard to move on-base in order to avoid the big mobilization campaign.
fficers’ Families 150-Day Battle Jangmadang Activities
In early May when the “150-Day Battle” started, the authorities changed the trading hours in the jangmadang, opening later so that during the daytime workers and housewives could be mobilized for Battle activities.
Additionally, and more importantly, the authorities restricted population migration by issuing fewer, and shorter, domestic travel permits.
The source explained, “Since the start of the Battle, they have been issuing only the ten-day travel permit. In the past, the term was 15 days. In addition, citizens can no longer get permits for family events like funerals or weddings.”
The restrictions have hit wholesalers who carry products between the provinces and big cities, causing distribution and supply problems for the jangmadang. Officers and their families have filled this niche.
According to the source, the only people who can travel easily nowadays are the staff on trains and officers’ families. The former use their position to transport goods, while the latter use military trucks to carry products to remote provinces. The advantage is that nobody can hinder a military truck; not even the People’s Safety Agency is able to regulate them, whether they possess the correct documentation or not.
So, while almost everyone else is waiting for the 150-Day Battle to end, railways staff and officers’ families are doing nicely.