Recently, the North Korean regime decided that its emaciated slaves hadn’t worked hard enough and declared a “150-day battle,” sending more of them to labor in the countryside and in the factories. The “battle,” however, appears to have taken a turn the authorities didn’t anticipate, according to an exile organization called North Korean Intellectuals Solidarity:
It reported, “In a provincial labor-training camp located in Dongheung-district, Hamheung, South Hamkyung Province, a camp inspector, who was also a manager in the Department of Justice of the People’s Committee, was killed by inmates.
Meanwhile, “In Hoiryeong, North Hamkyung Province, 18 prisoners in a labor-training camp, in the process of being mobilized for construction work, beat managers, tied and gagged them and then escaped.
In one other case in Chongjin Steel Complex, Chongjin, North Hamkyung Province, 40 workers and managers, including an engineering team manager, have had to concentrate on their private businesses and not their work at the Complex because they have not been given any food by the factory since June. [Daily NK]
The obvious caveats apply — there’s no way to verify any information that comes out of North Korea. If true, these stories would be evidence that the state’s grip is again weakening, as it did during the famine years. The result then was a wave of outbreaks of discontent, though an infusion of South Korean, Chinese, and international aid eventually helped the regime to reestablish control. (Most of the South Korean and international aid was ultimately funded by American taxpayers.)
Now, as then, the outbreaks are fragmentary and thus easily isolated and suppressed. To challenge the regime effectively, the outbreaks will have to happen across wide segments of the country, something that will only happen when good broadcasting and an effective underground make nationwide coordination possible. Knowing this, the regime is cracking down on cell phone possession, which is why Orascom is going to lose a great deal of money in North Korea.
(Hat tip to Irene.)