Many N. Koreans cynical about outcomes of agriculture-focused plenary assembly
The policies adopted at a recent plenary session of the Eighth Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea have earned a cynical response from many people inside the country, Daily NK has learned.
“People haven’t been able to conceal their disappointment over the outcome of the meeting. In four days of discussion, officials didn’t manage to arrive at any meaningful measures,” a reporting partner in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
North Korean media reported on the results of the expanded plenary session, which was held from Feb. 26 to Mar. 1, and the authorities organized lectures to call on the public to carry out the initiatives adopted by the Central Committee. But according to Daily NK’s reporting partner, many North Koreans have responded cooly to government appeals to increase crop yield per field and to utilize more new machinery on farms, regarding those initiatives as unrealistic.
“One of the reasons that farm output has been falling over the past few years is because imports of fertilizer have been halted by the closure of the national border. Since the government is asking farmers to boost yields without even resolving the fertilizer issue, it’s no wonder that people aren’t enthusiastic about the government’s agenda,” the reporting partner told Daily NK.
“Watching this expanded plenary session, I got the impression that officials think that North Koreans are in poverty because they’re bad at farming. What I want to know is whether people have ever been allowed to eat their fill of corn after a good crop,” a resident of Hamhung was quoted as saying by the reporting partner.
“It seems pointless to ask people who are barely getting by amid the food shortage to produce more crops per field. In the end, the authorities are using farm preparations as an excuse to spread propaganda while ignoring the people’s complaints about the food shortage,” another Hamhung resident told the reporting partner.
“Sending us more farm machinery would be nice, but that should come after they’ve addressed the livelihood of the people supposed to run that machinery. People on the verge of starvation aren’t likely to do a great job,” yet another resident of Hamhung retorted.
“People are getting anxious about their livelihood because there’s been a sharp increase in families running low on food, with some even starving to death, although we haven’t even gotten to the ‘barley hump’ yet,” the reporting partner said, referring to the lean time of year before the spring harvest.
“People are enraged because the government spends all its energy on flashy events without bothering to find a fundamental solution to the food issue.”
Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler.
Daily NK works with a network of reporting partners who live inside North Korea. Their identities remain anonymous due to security concerns. More information about Daily NK’s reporting partner network and information gathering activities can be found on our FAQ page here.
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