North Korea’s forced rural relocation schemes sometimes lead to heartbreak

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Young people in North Korea continue to suffer heartbreak and other losses as the authorities encourage them to “volunteer” to live in rural agricultural and mining communities.

According to a Daily NK source in North Korea on Sunday, officials in the city of Pyongsong recently selected about 150 “volunteers” for relocation to rural areas.

The authorities carried out the selection until July 15, in accordance with orders from the Central Committee.

One man in his 20s, surnamed Choe and from Ori-dong, Pyongsong, reportedly had to call off his engagement when his name was added to the “volunteer” list.

The criteria for the latest selection was as follows. First, “volunteers” had to have a bad family background. That is, they were the descendent of a landlord or capitalist, or somebody in their family collaborated with anti-communist forces during the Korean War or fled to South Korea.

Second, one of their parents was from a rural region. That is to say, if their mother or father lived in a rural community, they too must head off to a rural community.

Third, they had not done their military service. That included people who did not serve in the military because they are only sons or have physical problems that disqualify them from military service.

Last, they needed a malcontent in their family. This included people who have done time in a disciplinary labor or reeducation camp for workplace negligence or creating “social issues.”

However, under the guise of “consideration by the Workers’ Party,” the authorities selected many young people to whom none of these criteria applied.

One such case was Choe. He had worked as an engineer in an irrigation machinery factory in Pyongsong for 12 years. He was reportedly good at his job and praised for his loyalty.

Nevertheless, cadres at the factory put Choe’s name on the list to satisfy their quota of volunteers.

“Upon hearing the news that Choe was to be sent to the countryside to live, his fiancé ultimately decided to call off their engagement just a month before they were to marry, explaining that no matter how good Choe was, she could not live in the countryside,” said the source. “In conclusion, the authorities basically broke up a young couple.

“Even now, the authorities are driving young people into rural communities and mines to satisfy policies set by the Supreme Leader [Kim Jong Un],” the source continued, adding, “Many young people are quietly furious because despite this all, the authorities continue to advocate putting the people and masses first.”

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