According to Han, a woman in her 50s and a Pyongyang resident visiting relatives in Dandong, China, there has been an explosion of ‘Gentleman Beggars’ in Pyongyang, as the lowest caste of the population survive on leftovers from Pyongyang restaurants. This is due to tighter market and civilian regulations.
Monthly rations are distributed only to employed residents and families cannot survive on the provision for a planned month. Given such circumstances, residents are then forced to subsist on stews and food-short generations are appearing everywhere around the capital.
Monthly rations are distributed only to employed residents, and families cannot survive on this provision alone. Given such circumstances, residents are forced to make due on meager stews and hungry people are appearing everywhere around the capital.
These hungry beggars are appearing in the Seopo Area in downtown Pyongyang as well as the Daedonggang, Daesung, Sadong, and Seongyo areas.
Hordes of men as well as women and children roam around Pyongyang station and nearby parks looking for food, and large restaurants such as Okyrukwan, Morankwan, Chungryukwan are often surrounded by hungry citizens scavenging for leftovers.
Pyongyang residents refer to these hungry mobs as “Gentleman Beggars” and they have become an everyday scene to the city’s residents. Identifying the Gentleman Beggars from ordinary citizens takes extra effort as many of them have their own homes and wear nice clothing. They speak fluently and wear nice clothes to avoid being kicked out of the restaurants. In a park near Pyongyang Station and the Koryo Hotel, National Security Agents drove off the youngsters in shaggy clothes who were begging for food from travelers, but busting the Gentleman is nearly impossible because they are not so easy to spot.
These beggars were partly created by the authorities having pushed back the opening time of the market to 5 P.M. At the same time, they have been sending people to work in the rural areas to help increase crop production. Consequently, Pyongyang residents without any form of transportation cannot reach the market places either before or after work and are unable to earn additional cash, thus complicating the problems and helping to create more Gentleman beggars.
To make matters worse, the regime has been mobilizing municipal residents to construct apartment buildings in Pyongyang and have been siphoning off cash and foodstuffs from the population for reasons varying from the promotion of the military to the construction of generations in the Mansudae area. With such heavy burdens upon the backs of the citizens, there is hardly any doubt as to why the number of ‘Gentleman Beggars’ has skyrocketed.