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North Korea requiring factories to supply food, source says

Plant managers are under the threat of dismissal if they do not comply.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea requiring factories to supply food, source says
Bronze statues of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung and son Kim Jong Il. North Korea is gearing up for its Seventh Party Congress on Friday, but the burden of preparations is being placed on ordinary North Koreans. Photo courtesy of Yonhap

SEOUL, May 4 (UPI) -- As North Korea prepares for its Seventh Party Congress on Friday, North Koreans are struggling with the state's mishandling of the food distribution system.

Rice and other staple supplies reach the population through the country's public distribution system. But a recent ordinance is outsourcing the responsibility to factories and state enterprises, South Korean news service Daily NK reported Wednesday.

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A source in North Hamgyong Province who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the policy is being implemented to "ensure the performance" of the party congress.

"Enterprises must provide two weeks of food to their constituents," the source said.

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The managers at production plants are under the threat of dismissal if they do not comply with orders.

The rationing criteria vary per plant. Some factories are being asked to supply food just for workers, while other entities must provide for their entire family.

Factory managers are not happy, the source said, because the plants don't have the resources to provide food.

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More North Koreans are feeling party congress "fatigue," as the state has ordered people to mobilize for construction projects without compensation.

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Jiro Ishimaru, founder of Japanese news outlet Asia Press in Osaka, told Radio Free Asia there's evidence ordinary North Koreans are tired of the propaganda on the state's weapons.

"They seem to be unanimous in their feeling that they wish the party congress would be over soon," Ishimaru said.

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According to Ishimaru, one North Korean woman in the northern area of the country said because she lives without electricity she wasn't aware that Pyongyang had announced a "successful" launch of a submarine-launched ballistic missile on April 24.

"[The government] keeps putting money in national defense, lies about how well off we are, and people don't even care whether or not the country conducts tests," she was quoted as saying.

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