September 11, 2018 13:05
North Korean state media on Monday gave wide coverage to celebrations in Pyongyang marking the 70th anniversary of its founding the previous day. They reported on the parade, the mass games, and leader Kim Jong-un's meetings with foreign envoys, and messages from foreign leaders.
But people in the provinces missed out completely on the lavish celebrations and were not even supplied with the traditional special rations.
Kim Yong-nam, the titular head of state, said in a speech at the parade, "We're in an era of success and great prosperity, while making great changes in all fields of politics, military, economy, and culture." That will have come as a surprise to citizens in the provinces, who noticed no change from the grim reality of their daily lives.
A source in North Hamgyong Province said, "The atmosphere is chilly here as there were no special rations this year. No liquor was rationed out, despite three years of publicity about preparations for the 70th founding anniversary."
"Under normal circumstances, they would get rations of at least liquor, pork, soybean oil, soybean sauce, and tofu," a defector said.
This could partly be the effect of international sanctions, but the North is also having problems with its own produce. "The granary regions in the Hwanghae provinces are suffering from flood damage in addition to the aftermath of economic sanctions," another source said. "The regime is extorting 1 kg of corn from each household under the pretext of flood relief."
There are reports that many people starved to death in remote Onsong, North Hamgyong Province and in Baekam, Ryanggang Province last month.
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