Soldiers steal crops to endure power plant construction

first_img SHARE News By Kang Mi Jin – 2015.08.04 4:18pm US dollar and Chinese reminbi plummet against North Korean won once again News With construction for the ‘Mt. BaekduSongun Youth Power Plant’ fully underway, desperate attempts to satiate theirunrelenting hunger have seen mobilized soldiers and shock troops looting collective and personal barley fields in the areadespite the fact that the crop has not yet reached full harvest.“The shock troops and soldiers who aremobilized for construction efforts related to the power plant do not have enough to eat.Unlike other residents, who are free to engage in business like selling at the jangmadang [markets], the soldiers haveno way of making ends meet. The provisions and food that they receive from thegovernment are quite meager,” a source in Yanggang Province reported to DailyNK on August 2nd. Two additional sources in the same province verified thisnews. This grim reality, she added, drives manyto steal crops from the residents, many of whom struggle to get by themselves. In fact, the situation is so severe that themajority of the barley fields within a 6km radius of the power plant have beenpicked clean with nothing left to harvest. In the past, the shock troops alone made a significant dent in the crop yield, but the additional soldiers this year have further compounded an already dire situation, she said, noting, “Residentsguard their fields around the clock, the unrelenting worry preventing them fromsleeping through the night.” The barley crop planted in the earlierperiod is typically harvested around August 5th; the later round collected closer to the 15th. Hungry, overworked shock troops and soldiers are too weak towait for the crop to mature, plucking barley that is far from ripe. The damage wrought by this desperation is such that “the fields are pillaged late at night, andend up looking as though they’ve have bombs dropped on them,” the sourceasserted. “The citizens of Cheonsu-ri collective farmwork units 3 and 5 and residents in Hwangto-ri have all but given up on farmingefforts since the construction of the power plant broke ground in 2001. Some inthe area are trying to sell goods to the shock troops but many are just movingto Deoklip District and Yoopyeong District,” the source explained.“Residents in Ori and Shibri —villages in proximity of the power plant — have moved to farm in Jeungsan,about 11.8 km away,” she said, adding that in Cheonsu-ri wherethe power plants is, few inhabited homes remain and the adjacent fieldsabandoned and now teeming with wormwood stalks. Meanwhile, the authorities have failed toameliorate the underlying cause of these issues. Some residents left behindhave attempted to set makeshift traps in the fields but such efforts have metwith little success. Moreover, compounding an already difficultsituation are grave concerns that if barley, the crop typically planted to tideresidents over until the potato harvest, is disappearing at this rate, potatolooting may be prove even worse. To attempt to get a leg up and stave offdisaster, worried residents are already patrolling the potato fields, accordingto the source. She said that those left in Cheonsu-ri are close to the end of their rope, lamenting,“Will spring even come to stolen fields?” This phrase is from a poem of the same title by Lee Sang Hwa [1901-1943] from the period of Japan’s annexation of Korea. In Lee’s work, “stolen fields” refers to the loss of national sovereignty, while spring alludes to independence. For the residents appropriating the work to illustrate their current situation, “the excerpt provides an apt parallel for their grievances regarding the apathy and lack of accountability from the current leadership,” she concluded.*The content of this article was broadcast to the North Korean people via Unification Media Group. Facebook Twitter RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHORcenter_img NewsEconomy North Korea Market Price Update: June 8, 2021 (Rice and USD Exchange Rate Only) News Soldiers steal crops to endure power plant construction Kang Mi JinKang Mi JinKang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Questions about her articles can be directed to [email protected] Proposal to shift “general markets” to “specialized markets” finds little support among N. Korean leaderslast_img read more