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New food factory in N. Pyongan Province spurs discontent

People in North Pyongan Province’s Gujang County are upset after hearing that a new food factory will be built in the area, Daily NK has learned.

According to a Daily NK source in the province on Friday, the factory is intended to revitalize the local economy, but local residents are said to be dissatisfied with the construction of the factory, saying that it is better to have no factory at all.

Coal mining used to be the main source of income for residents of the county. However, due to sanctions against North Korea and the COVID-19 pandemic, coal export markets have shrunk, and coal production is no longer booming.

As a result, the county’s residents who worked as coal miners lost their incomes and, facing difficulties in their livelihoods, sought other ways to make a living. One of those ways was to collect acorns from the mountains to make and sell acorn liquor.

The local party committee plans to build a separate production line for acorn liquor while building the food factory, as it it considered a healthy drink.

However, county residents are concerned that a separate acorn liquor production line in the food factory could add to the non-tax burdens they already suffer.

“During the acorn harvesting season, it is common for schools to assign students acorn-related tasks,” the source said, adding that schools in the region are closed for 30 to 45 days a year for so-called “acorn vacations.”

Not only schools, but also factories, enterprises, labor organizations, neighborhood watch units and other organizations in the county are overwhelmed with acorn-related tasks, the source said.

The skyrocketing price of acorns during the fall harvest season is also a major burden for locals. In normal times, the price of acorns is half the price of corn, but in the fall, when acorn quotas are distributed by the government, the price skyrockets. In fact, last fall the price of acorns rose to the same level as the price of corn, causing some to say that it was not an acorn problem, but a corn problem.

People say they do not want the new factory because they do not want to suffer from tasks related to acorns anymore. It is obvious to them that they will have more things to do after the factory is completed.

Meanwhile, local authorities have forcibly demolished the homes of more than 20 families to make way for the factory, causing resentment among local residents.

“They were only given USD 100 to move out, but they didn’t have houses to move to, which caused frustration,” the source said. “No matter how cheap the local house prices are, they still need at least USD 1,000. They were told to leave their homes with only a little money and informed that this was party policy and they had to follow it unconditionally. They couldn’t even protest.”

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

July 01, 2024 at 07:00AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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