According to some sources from Shin Eui ju, Hwae Ryung and Hyesan in North Korea, a lot of North Koreans are criticizing the government’s New Economic Measures. This new system will begin with the seizing of people’s individual private patches of land and end with the reversion of that land for use in collective farms.
The North Korean government first seized all the patches of land around collective farms. Then they seized patches of land on which individuals are farming. The sources said that the government is trying to ensure that people are unable to administer patches of land by seizing them.
As the government’s plan has been passed and the seizing of patches has already begun, the North Korean citizens are starting to resist. In the past, when North Koreans had complaints about the government, they could only criticize it secretly and just talked to people whom they could fully trust. However, this time, people showed their true thoughts at the Agricultural Control Committee meeting.
According to the source, at the Rural Management Committee in Musan, the chairpersons of Farm Management and some farmers were saying things like, “Does the New Economic Measure give us food? I am okay if we are given food by distribution or otherwise. I just want them to leave me as I am.”
Their strong criticism about the North Korean government at the meeting shows that the citizens are really mad about the government’s seizure of land. They think that there is no difference between dying from hunger or from the government’s punishment.
Also the source said in an interview with a South Korean journalist, “the government ruined collective farms and didn’t even give food to citizens because they didn’t manage agriculture well, so how are they going to get on with the patches that they seized from us? Just reform and opening up is a better way, but they are doing useless work to continue to oppress us.” The source showed resentment to the government throughout the interview.
Even the executive members of the Rural Management Committee and Control Committee are not pleased with the seizing of patches of land measure. The sources said that it reminds the executive members of the Seo Kwan Hee Incident, which happened in 1997, and they worry that the same thing might happen to them too.
1) Seo Kwan Hee Incident: From the late 1980s to the early 1990s, the North Korean government seized all patches of land and reverted them to collective farms. After that measure, the government tried a potato revolution in which people grew potatoes largely according to Kim Jong Il’s order. However, the potatoes did not grow. The potatoes ended up rotting. This all was on the run up to the March of Tribulation in the mid 1990s. Later, to appease this situation, the North Korean government accused Seo Kwan Hee, who was the Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture at that time, as a spy and charged him for introducing the wrong species of crops and failing agriculture, and they executed him. After Seo Kwan Hee’s execution, the North Korean government took on board the opinions of citizens and executive members that patches of land can protect native seeds, and they once again stopped the seizure of patches.