North Korea Today No. 229 - Oct 2008

News and Press Release
Originally published
10 MT of Rice and 6 Lives Lost in Tragic Accident

On September 27th, an over-sized truck carrying 10 MT of rice rolled over in an accident in the hills of Raksan. The truck belonged to a foreign currency-earning business under the 8th Bureau of Chungjin City in North Hamgyong Province. In the accident, the driver and six other passengers were killed, and the rice was scattered everywhere. This accident was said to be the deadliest and costliest accident in the month of September.

Bus and Army Truck Caught in a Deadly Collision

On September 22nd, around 11AM, a collision between an army vehicle and a bus occurred at Musanryong Hill in Buryong County of North Hamgyong Province. The truck overturned and one passenger died at the scene. Many were injured and taken to the Buryong People's Army's hospital for medical care. One of the victims died shortly after arriving at the hospital from severe injuries. No passengers in the military vehicle suffered any injuries.

Female Soldier Commits Suicide after Sexual Assault

In the city of Hamheung located in North Hamgyong Province, primary soldier Kim Sihyun (20 years old) shot and killed her squad leader in his sleep before committing suicide herself. It has been revealed that Kim was sexually assaulted by the squad leader on several occasions. One friend said that after meetings with the squad leader, Kim would confide in her saying that she "wants to die". "I think that she remained silent because she was embarrassed and ashamed. There were other victims besides Kim, but she was especially affected by it and hated it the most. She couldn't even sleep at night and would always shake in fear. She was special and it makes me have so much resentment towards everyone due to her sad and unfortunate death," said the friend with a tear.

Rumor Arises, "Undercover agents for South Korea found murdered"

Choi Soon-geum (62) and her daughter Lee Ok-seon (43) were killed on September 10th in Seoheung County, North Hwanghae Province. On the day after the murder, police officers investigated the scene of the incident and their house, where they found many US dollars and South Korean currency. Since the victims did not have a well-paid job, it became the talk of the town that huge money had been found in the house. The investigators in Seoheong County concluded: "The murdered mother and daughter were undercover agents for South Korea and received big money from it. But South Korea agents had someone kill them because they were not succeeding in their mission." Afterward, a rumor spread that "they were secret agents for South Korea, which killed them eventually."

Farm Guards and Soldiers Conspire To Steal Rice

Ryongwoon-ri, Gaechun County, South Pyongan Province, two farm guards and soldiers were arrested by the police substation after they conspired to steal rice. The farm management committee collected 36 sacks of rice (about 700kg), which had been stolen. Although residents were busy with work during harvest time, authorities held a public trial due to the seriousness of the case. At the public trial, working unit supervisors stood up and raised their voice criticizing, "We can't work with those people." They were sent to the interrogation facility.

Five Euro/min. For One International Phone Call

When individuals want to make an international phone call to their relatives or for business purposes, the charge is Five Euro/min. (US $7.0/23,000 NK won). They have to have permission first from a police officer, security agent, secretary, and the head of the neighborhood. Then they can call at the post office under a watchman. All conversations are investigated. Many people secretly use a cell phone because they need to get through the complicated process and because of the expense. Although authorities conduct intense searches for cell phones, they are still used in the face of such an inconvenient and expensive alternative.