No Holiday Gifts in the "Strong and Prosperous" Year
A source from Hyesan, Yankang Province, reported on the 14th February that there has been no decree to distribute any special provisions to commemorate Kim Jong Il’s birthday on February 16th.
In general, when the authorities decide to provide the people with gifts for national holidays, the neighborhood office or the people’s unit deliver the decree a week in advance, along with a ration certificate to permit the holder to collect it from a grocery store.
However, as of yesterday, there have not been any comments issued on a special provision. The source said, “Even though people have complaints about not getting any provisions, even on the national holiday, they try to keep silent about it. They don’t seem to expect the provision that much anymore anyway.”
He added, “The authorities may attempt to focus on the upcoming Kim Il Sung’s 100th birthday, on April 15. Therefore, there might have been no decree on special provision now, because instead they are waiting to do it then.”
In the meantime, people have recently been mobilized for social projects, such as collecting manure and other materials. They have also received instructions to abstain from family events or trading until April 15. The authorities have also scaled down the time jangmadang (market) is run.
There have in fact been no nation-wide special provisions over the last a few years for Kim Jong Il’s birthday. Since both the birthdays of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung are the biggest national holidays in North Korea, the authorities tend to utilize the opportunity to emphasize the greatness and generosity of the regime by providing people with special gifts, such as a five to ten day amount of rice or corn, or some meat and alcohol for cadres.