North Korea Today No. 241 - Oct 2008

News and Press Release
Originally published


Merchants, Confused With Failing Prediction of Red Pepper Prices for Next Year

It is red pepper season. Peppers are everywhere in the market and on street stalls. Pepper farmers are enthusiastic over harvesting but merchants are hesitating to buy them. Hwang Man-bok (age 48) of Shingye County, North Hwanghae Province said, "I cannot know how much pepper I should buy to store away? I am in trouble due to too many peppers I bought last year. I could have made money from selling expensive red pepper powder that was made from cheap peppers that I had bought the year before. However, many Chinese red pepper powder were imported last in a very low price and I could not get my invested funds back." Hwang said he had not decided how many peppers to buy worrying about a repetition of the same situation. Last year's experience stops merchants including Mr. Hwang from buying hot pepper.

Saebyul County, Bad Harvest of Red Pepper Farming

The crop of red pepper in Saebyul County, North Hamgyong Province is worse than expected, even though people anticipated it would be better than the harvest of grain. People in other regions are relieved with better grain crop compare to last year. On the other hand, people of Saebyul County, who put more efforts on pepper farming, are sad because they have worse pepper yield than last year. To make matters more miserable, the market price of pepper is decreasing and there will be not much of profit left.

Security Officials Collect Hot Pepper from Ex-convicts

Some of the Security Agents and Police Officers joined in to harvest hot pepper for the season. Not to mention, the official purpose is not the pepper harvest. This time every year, they go to ex-convicts and extort hot pepper in secret. Jeong Young-rae (age 31) of Goksan County, North Hwanghae Province, who had served time for fighting with his neighbor, said, "They come to former convicts like me and ask for 30 kg of pepper to make Gimchi. Since I do not know what will happen to be if I refuse, I find and give some kgs of hot pepper even though I cannot fall short of their requested 30 kg. However, it is not only one officer who comes to me. Other officers also come one after another, it gives me a headache." He sighed saying that I did not know that having served the sentence would have been bothering me for all my life.

More Soldiers Pretend To Be Sick

Many young people of rich family tried to avoid a hard military life by pretending to be sick. The number of fake patients increased this year. They give money to military surgeons and try to go into hospital for a long term by making up disease or exaggerating their disease. On the other hand, many soldiers who suffer from malnutrition, tubercle or disease in the liver have difficulty to fulfill their military service and they cannot be hospitalized either. Soldiers who were discharged from military service in September of this year also have bad health condition. Due to the food shortage problem, soldiers could not eat enough and many suffer from malnutrition. Military surgeons say that more soldiers were demobilized in the middle of their service term with medical judgment than fulfilling the military service.

Residents of a New Apartment, Complain on Toilet Not Flushing the Water Down

People of Hoeryong City, North Hamgyong Province started to move into a new apartment. However, residents who found water pool in the toilet complained saying that sewerage must be blocked. Some people asserted that there must be problem in the construction so everything should be newly installed. A household who has water pool problem even after repair went to a construction team and inquired into construction reliability. A worker of the team explained, "Water pool is normal. It helps eliminating smell. After you use a toilet, the water will flush things down and new water will pool again to prevent smell. Listening to this, residents laughed and said, "We did not know because this is our first time to use this type of toilet."

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