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But it is hard to see how it can achieve its pledge to become “a great, powerful and prosperous nation” by then – even given the Stakhanovite industrial efforts lauded in its newspapers. Pyongyang is lucky: no one is plump, but nor is there noticeable emaciation.Dr Andrei Lankov, associate professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, says the official income in Pyongyang is around 3,000 won a month, but many have ways of making money on the side and – unlike other North Koreans – its residents receive subsistence food rations.We do not even have good data on prostitution arrests, which would certainly understate the actual size of the industry.
“In the past, our husbands would bring home rations, and we’d live off that,” says Mrs. “Now there are no rations, and the women support the families.
“North Koreans don’t take warnings from the regime seriously because they believe that there is no need to report marriage or divorce to the government,” Park said.
“Recently an increasing number of people don’t bother to register their partnership and just go their separate ways after a few months or years if they want.” A recent story in the Donga-Ilbo asserts that prostitution and other forms of “adult business” are on the rise in the DPRK.
They make the payments in order to be classified in what are known as “August the third units,” who can trade privately. “I get paid 1,200 won a month,” complains another interviewee, Mr. Kim and who has an office job in a state-run company. North Korea’s government has become dependent on free labor from its citizens. Men have become mute.” That muteness has become a matter of survival. Kim describes what happens to friends whose wives have left them or died: “Men without wives become beggars. In recent years there has been official criticism of the fact that engagement ceremonies, wedding gift exchanges between families and even the table for ancestral rites have become occasions full of over-spending, empty formalities and vanity.
It’s not clear whether this practice is legal, although it is widespread. Each young man spends a decade in the army on compulsory military service, for which he may earn a nominal salary and dwindling food supplies. Recently, Daily NK obtained a copy of the October issue of monthly magazine ‘Socialist Cultural Life’, to which social studies scholar Jang Seong Nam submitted a piece, ‘Let’s Perform Kwanhonsangje the Socialist Way’, in which he declared, “kwanhonsangje should be performed according to the demands of the Party and social development.” The article emphasized, “We are taking the lead, seeing kwanhonsangje performed in the socialist way as a valid and unavoidable problem in the establishment of the new military-first socialist life.” “Because old, feudalist, superstitious, empty formalities and bizarre foreign customs are not disappearing, we are strongly demanding action on this problem,” it went on, adding, “Rejecting bizarre foreign customs crushes the Imperialists’ policy of ethnic extermination under the banner of ‘globalization’.” The article also looked in more detail at problem issues surrounding kwanhonsangjae.