NK Execs at State-run Businesses also Cold, Hungry


On Dec. 24th, LFNKR’s Tokyo office received a fifth flash report from one of our local staff members in Rason Special Economic Zone in North Hamgyong. According to the report, at noon on the 24th, the only vehicles lined up to go through China’s Quanhe customs gate into North Korea were about 20 coal trucks bound for Rajin Port in North Korea from Heilongjiang, China.

Even in the Rason Special Economic Zone in North Hamgyong, where business is usually quite active, the whole town is at a standstill since the death of Kim Jong-il was announced. Surprisingly few people and cars are seen.

The only crowd appeared at the people’s theater where condolence services were held. About 3,000 mourners were seen in and around the site. Inside the theater, about 2,000 mourners, dispatched from their workplaces, gathered carrying bouquets in front of a sanctuary bearing a portrait of Kim Jong-il. The place was filled with an extraordinary atmosphere of weeping.

At 9:00am on the 19th, executives at state-run businesses were reportedly given prior notice that an urgent announcement was imminent. They were specifically ordered to gather all workers and prepare for the announcement.

Since then, the executives have been required to sit in their offices beside their telephones, maintaining the emergency order, and are not allowed to go home. There, they must endure freezing conditions without heat, while the temperature outdoors has fallen to 20 below zero Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit). In addition, there is very little to eat, since there are no food stocks.

Virtually all shops and markets throughout the city are closed, except for a few restaurants and hotels run by ethnic Chinese. Usually, ethnic Chinese managers can secure food, but even they are having difficulties now. Hence, they give preference to customers who show up with rice. All these restaurants and hotels are struggling to stay in business and have turned to dispatching Chinese employees, who are allowed free passage between North Korea and China, to bring back one 50-kg bag of rice per person per day.