An elderly man picking up ears of corn in a harvested field. Photographed in a farm village in North Hwanghae Province in October, 2008 by Shim Uicheon (ASIAPRESS)

◆Stuck on a farm for a lifetime

In North Korea, there is the word ‘nongpo’. It is a word spoken with disdain and pity to describe the cooperative farmers in the lowest level of North Korean society.

When urban people are expelled for political reasons, most are sent to the remote countryside to become cooperative farm workers.

"If you are placed on a farm, you can never return to the city in your life. Like a cow, you will only work.”

For just one family member’s political problems, an entire extended family will face banishment to the countryside, a women tells us.

Having judged that “My daughter and son’s lives are over,” the woman decided to escape and now lives in the Kansai region of Japan.


Rural women carrying (fire woods)fir trees to Chongjin City from distant farmland. They say they are pulling them 20 kilometers by cart for cash. Taken in April, 2005 by Ri Jun (ASIAPRESS)

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