North Korea bound for disaster
The planting of the rice was finished on the 10th June, which is the date stipulated by the party in order that the harvesting can take place before winter comes on. In order to keep the time-limit the army,counting one million soldiers, was organized to help with the planting. Also the office workers from the big cities and the middle school pupils were sent out to the collective farms to lend them a hand in the rice fields.
Although everybody hopes for a reasonable crop this year it will not, according to all qualified estimates, exceed 5 million tons of rice. In other words, only 2/3 of the crop needed to give all of the 23 millions of North Koreans a daily survival ration of 450 grams rice a day.
In the attempt to reclaim more farm land the collective farms have in many places cleared the land and cut down the trees on the mountain slopes. Together with the heavy rainfalls during the past two years this has caused food stocks, fields, dikes and even entire villages to be washed away in 1995 as well as in 1996. Close on two thirds of the farm land was flooded.
Besides food and medicine, the country seriously lacks fuel. In the capital of Pyongyang it is possible - if you have a permission - to buy petrol or diesel oil. The golden drops can be obtained nowhere else in the country.
In the coutryside the few trucks you see are running on coal which is converted into gas. However, the functioning is very poor and the cars only drive short distances before they get overheated.
In spite of the lack of food the population praises the great army which is constantly in a state of total preparedness, should the political enemy from South Korea turn up together with the 35,000 American soldiers stationed south of the frontier between the two countries. Rumour has it that North Korea will be ready when the enemy comes.
In the world of reality the situation is quite different. The South Koreans want peace and co-operation and not war with their brothers from the north. And the major part of the South Korean population does not want to lower their standard of living drastically just to take over the paralyzed society in the north.
North Korea is in fact already at war with South Korea. The fact is that the Korean War (1950-53), which started after North Korea made an attack on South Korea, has never been brought to a close officially.
Text and photos: Tommy Nøddebo Mortensgaard