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S. Pyongan Province’s rural areas are facing extreme levels of hardship

People living in farming communities in South Pyongan Province are suffering extreme hardship, Daily NK has learned.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Daily NK source in the province said Wednesday that life is “indescribably hard” in rural parts of the province, including Kangdong and Songchon counties. “Local residents are doing everything they can to escape their hardships, but they are desperate as the situation is not improving at all,” he said.

People living in rural South Pyongan Province have struggled to maintain their livelihoods since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, more and more families are barely surviving on water, without even gruel to eat. They are doing everything they can to overcome this crisis, focusing on small-scale farming to feed their hungry stomachs. But the source said they are frustrated by the reality they face of mounting debt with no improvement in their lives.

“In farming villages today, most people survive on gruel made from grass from the hillside and a handful of corn powder, but many families can’t even afford that,” the source said. “When you see how people live in the farming communities, it’s hard to believe that people actually live like that.

“People live tenaciously by cultivating their small private fields just for a spoonful of rice, but it’s like pouring water into a sieve,” he continued, adding: “This is because they borrow everything they need to farm, from seeds to fertilizer, at high interest rates, so when fall comes, they have almost nothing left after paying off their debts.”

According to the source, a 40-year-old Kangdong County resident said he currently survives on “grass collected from the hillsides” while farming.” “Living without food or even a penny to my name is a living death. And I have no choice but to live on money borrowed at high interest rates. I’ve tasted bitterness and cried tears of blood because of the high interest, but people like me who have nothing are still grateful. Since we’re struggling, there’s not much else we can do.”

A resident of Songchon County in his 50s said that his entire family “would have starved to death if it weren’t for the grass in the mountains.” He said that all grasses are edible now “because grass isn’t poisonous before Dano. But he added, “Even that’s a struggle. Everyone’s busy preparing to gather grass.”

The man went on to say that some people “pick grass all day, from morning to evening” and that people who do not know this “would think that the animals have eaten all the grass.” He added: “People work hard on their farms, hoping there will be light at the end of the tunnel, holding on tenaciously, but the future looks bleak.”

“This year’s hardships have been more severe than in previous years, and the burden on people has increased as seed and fertilizer prices have risen,” the source said. “People who work the land have nothing to depend on but agriculture, but with farmers relying on high-interest loans that they repay with their crops, rural residents feel more hopeless about their future than hopeful.”

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

June 04, 2024 at 06:30AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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