North Korea celebrated the big holiday on Thursday by supplying more corn to some groups of veterans, but residents complained that the government is trying to coerce their loyalty through tight control. Food sources, domestic sources told RFA.
The April 15 anniversary of founding father of Kim Nhat Thanh (1912-1994), the grandfather of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is called Day of the Sun., and this is the most important holiday in the country.
The day is marked with festivals and celebrations honoring the architect of North Korean society. The government gave out sweets to the nation’s children to show the love of the “eternal President” to its people.
The central government ordered the local government to provide food rewards to veterans who were injured while on duty or who fought in the 1950-53 Korean War, of which about 406,000 Korean soldiers. and 600,000 Korean civilians were killed.
In the impoverished country, where the life expectancy for men is around 68 years old, very few veterans of that conflict are still alive, meaning most of the people who get a food bonus this year are called “Honored veterans” – soldiers of any age with disabilities in the ranks of the mission.
Since North Korea respects Korean War veterans, the authorities have asked them to be provided with slightly more food than injured veterans, a point of controversy for the secondary group. two.
Even so, the local government this year cannot afford to give people what they are due, and the food donated is of poor quality.
A source from China’s northwestern border city told RFA’s Korean Service on Tuesday: “On the occasion of Sun Day, one month of food was provided to Korean War veterans in Sinuiju. .
“Food is provided with Kim Jong Un’s special consideration. It is 15 kg [33 pounds] of corn, but corncobs are included, ”said the source, who requested anonymity for confidentiality reasons.
The source said that the central government did not directly provide food for veterans. Instead, they delegated duties and expenses to the local government, who distributed gifts through a grocery office. The central authorities demanded honored veterans receive half of the corn as Korean War veterans.
The food office was only able to hand out two weeks worth of corn to honored soldiers, possibly because they didn’t have enough stock for both honored veterans and veterans, the source said. name.
“Although the corn is supplied by the local offices, the Central Committee is [of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party] is promoting the gift as if they were their own and affirming that veterans must not forget the Party, ”the source said.
Another source, a resident of South Pyongan province, north of Pyongyang, confirmed that the authorities there were also distributing food to veterans.
“For the Day of the Sun, they distributed 10 kg [22 pounds] corn for all veterans, but among the honored soldiers, only those who are married and married are given food, ”said the second source.
“Honored soldiers excluded from the food distribution are complaining that they cannot do business because they were disabled while serving in the military to protect the country, and now they are being discriminated against. treat even small things like corn rations. They blamed the authorities, saying propaganda telling them they should trust the party made no sense because the party discriminated against them, ”said the second source.
According to the second source, residents condemned the government for setting aside concerns of wounded veterans.
“They think the authorities’ behavior is pathetic. They are forcing loyalty by just eating little by little. The meat-saving authorities, like rabbit meat, are only available to Korean War veterans on special holidays. Residents criticized the government for disregarding the food distribution for the holiday, when these honored soldiers could not make a living.
The amount of food gifts varies from region to region because the central government only requires the local government to provide food, but the actual quantity they decide for themselves, according to the second source, who also said that entering in 2020, two week values are considered the standard for each vacation.
Regular food shortages in North Korea suffered a famine in the mid-1990s due to its poor economic management and the sudden collapse of its Korean patron, the Soviet Union. According to some estimates, about 10% of the North Korean population lost their lives, according to some estimates, millions of children were stunted and hundreds of thousands of people fled to China.
Hyemin Son’s Report to RFA’s Korea Service. Translation by Leejin Jun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.