Good Friends Reports Strike in N. Hamgyeong Province

Interesting if true:

One day one of supervisors got drunk and cursed at some laborers taking a break. It caused an explosion of suppressed anger on the part of the laborers. A laborer named Cho Dong-Soo (alias) challenged the supervisor, “How come you people fill your stomachs with alcoholic beverage and pork while idling away time and yet shout at us? We feel so hungry and weak in this hot weather. Don’t we deserve some rest?” The supervisor’s response was, “Who do you think you are talking back to?” and he slapped the face of the laborer. It triggered a big fight between two supervisors and laborers. The supervisors were beaten badly by numerous laborers. The local headquarters found out about the fight, held a meeting and made a decision to punish the laborers. The laborers involved in the fight were criticized in public and placed in isolation for a week. The laborers felt that they were wronged because the supervisors caused the incident. The angry laborers protested for two days with work stoppage. [Good Friends, Sept. 25, 2009]

The same dispatch reports two other episodes of defiance against the authorities — one by a group of vendors at a market in the miserable corner called Onsung, and the other by a group of orphans press ganged into a labor unit.

I suspect there are a lot more incidents like this one that happen in North Korea that we never hear about, and I’ve certainly noted plenty more like it here and here. The problem with incidents like this is that North Korea’s internal isolation makes it like an ice cube tray — news can’t travel from region to region, or at least not before the authorities have already suppressed whatever has broken out. I have made and would make again the argument for arming and training the North Korean people to resist and ultimately replace the existing state, but at least initially, we’d likely get far better results by finding a way to saturate North Korea with cell phones than with AK’s.

5 Comments

  1. Wow interesting news. Unfortunately I believe small scale incidents like these will only toughen the state’s restrictions against its people. I would really love to imagine that a large scale riot plan is underway to coincide with Kim Jong Il’s death. Possibly even by an orchestration by the South. You are dead on about the cell phones, but do the North get reception? I’ve seen some documentaries about people who smuggle phones into the North but I was always curious how they would charge their phones and how they get reception in the black hole of information that is North Korea.




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  2. Yes, they do get reception – if flooded with cell phones, the NK authorities would be hard pressed to confiscate every cell phone…




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  3. They get reception near the Chinese border areas by piggybacking on Chinese cell phone towers, but I’d understood that North Koreans in the interior got little or no signal. Also, the North Koreans have stepped up their efforts to triangulate and trace radio signals and catch people using illegal cell phones.

    Maybe the reason North Korea made its deal with Orascom is so that they can distinguish “legal” cell phone signals from the unauthorized ones.




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  4. Apropos of cell phone communication, Good Friends report had something on this issue in a recent report:

    Illegal Chinese Mobile Phones Will be Monitored in Sinuiju Throughout the Year
    As of July 1st, officials in Sinuiju North Pyongan Province have been enforcing laws on users of illegal Chinese mobile phones and will continue to do so at least until the end of the year. New technology has been purchased in order to conduct the investigation. The wire tapping equipment is capable of intercepting both conversations and text messages. In addition to monitoring Chinese mobile phones, North Korean authorities have decided to supplant them by permitting the use of North Korean mobile phones, beginning October 10th.

    But given that they need Chinese businessmen to be able to function in the northern provinces, it’s unlikely that the Workers’ Party is going to go as far as jamming signals into China, meaning that there may still be some loopholes in what otherwise is going to put the screws on one of the best sources of information we currently have. Can you imagine the Daily NK, for instance, without anonymous sources within the DPRK relaying the information via mobile phone?

    Since Lee Myung-bak spent a couple of days in Finland recently (scoring a victory for the Finns in the subtle struggle for influence on the Korean peninsula after the Swedes threw their weight around in representing Ling-Lee in Pyongyang), it’s also likely that Nokia or Samsung could outsmart any system the NKs set up…

    Along the same lines, does anyone know if Norbert Vollertson been kicked out irrevocably from South Korea, or is he still trying to send cell phones and radio balloons over the DMZ?

    And where the hell is Spelunker? Just maybe, having caught that fire truck which Joshua mentioned so long ago, he is having a tete-a-tete right now with Mitch Koss in a little speakeasy on Wilshire Blvd.




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  5. Since the ROKs won’t let us do it, we should have the USN sail in the Yellow Sea to the west of Pyongyang in international waters and send off leaflet balloons by the millions.




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