Kim Jong Un holding up a signed version of his “special order” as reported by North Korean state media on June 18, 2021.

Kim Jong Un holding up a signed version of his “special order” as reported by North Korean state media on June 18, 2021.

Few signs in North Korea that the government is releasing military rice stores to the public

In Yanggang Province, a local source told Daily NK that rumors are circulating that the military stores of rice were “stolen”

Kim Jong Un holding up a signed version of his “special order” as reported by North Korean state media on June 18, 2021.
Kim Jong Un holding up a signed version of his “special order” as reported by North Korean state media on June 18, 2021.

In several places in North Korea, there are few signs the authorities are moving to release military stores of rice to local people despite an order by the leadership to do so.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Monday that despite an order to “normalize” food distribution to residents of the city of Chongjin from July 1, “nothing has been done so far.”

Since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un unveiled his “special order” at the Third Plenary Meeting of the Eighth Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea in the middle of last month, the authorities have ordered localities to provide food by releasing military stores “based on the warm love and concern of the Supreme Leader and the Workers’ Party.”

The move appears aimed at pacifying people tired of economic troubles brought on by the protracted closure of the Sino-North Korean border, which was closed in January of last year to prevent the spread of COVID-19. According to the source in North Hamgyong Province, however, the authorities have yet to actually implement the order.

What is more, each region of the country is handling the distribution of rice differently. In North Korea-China border regions such as North Hamgyong Province, the local authorities are simply repeating that they will provide the rice “soon.”

In Yanggang Province, a local source told Daily NK that rumors are circulating that the military stores of rice were “stolen.” The local branch of the ruling party may have intentionally spread those rumors.

In sum, it appears highly likely that the North Korean authorities have yet to properly formulate plans to “normalize” the distribution of food rations.

It is possible that the North Korean authorities could suddenly distribute the rations given the leadership’s emphasis on Kim Jong Un’s “love for the people.” However, unless the authorities are able to move forward with the distribution of rice, they may just end up shifting blame for the distribution failure to local cadres.

Many North Koreans reportedly believe that the criticism leveled at the “negligence” of government officials during the enlarged meeting of the ruling party’s politburo on June 29 – and the replacement of high-ranking cadres – are preparations for a massive purge.

“Every time they’ve faced difficulties, [the authorities] have avoided a crisis by killing or dismissing cadres,” said the source. “That’s why people no longer expect any distribution of food.”

 

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