North Korea drive-by-shootings

DSC03356When I was in North Korea a month ago, it was not so easy to make pictures at all times. The national members of the delegations I used to travel around with were rather reluctant, when I asked them to stop for a cow grazing, an ox pulling or a tractor standing around. Thats why I did a lot of drive-by shooting with my cam, with some effects on the quality of the pics, but they still give an impression. 
Let’s start with a paddy rice field in the area of Kubin Ri, a village where Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation (SDC) is entertaining projects, some 80 kilometers northeast of Pyongyang. 
Nordkorea 003Rice is the fuel of North Korean food system. It is strictly cultivated and traded under state control, while there’s a little more liberty for other agricultural products, that are allowed to be sold on farmers markets, taking place usually and at least every 1st, 11th and 21th of the months in a lot of places countrywide. The rice is planted, harvested, bound to sheaves and threshed in practically 100 percent manual work. Transport to the farm is sometimes provided for by the typical seventies Chollima-tractor, a domestic 28 horsepower engine, 2 wheel drive only, but never minding the low quality diesel prevalent in the country.
Street-sceneMost of the transport though, is done with oxen, be it on the countryside…
Oxen seen from the train…or be it in bigger places, like this one that I passed on the train-ride from Pyongyang to Beijing. In the capital though, there is hardly any oxen-pulled-mobility…
The car advertisement…but a growing number of cars, and quite unusual and much discussed among expats and North Koreans alike: an advertisement for the domestic brand.
Kimchi at the doorA very typical sight in all the places I was, even the less rural ones: Chinese cabbage everywhere. In those early november days, the country was brownish dry, except for the widespread green patches in coop-farms and private kitchen gardens. The cabbage togheter with the white raddish are the basics for the treasured national speciality Kimchi, that is fermented and conserved in large clay vases, that the North Koreans keep dug in their garden or on their balconys. Kimchi is the only source of vegs and vitamins during winter time for a big part of the population. That’s why it’s so crucial to plant any tiny or bigger spot available.
Road side shopBesides the above mentioned farmer markets, quite a lot of North Koreans now sell some of their privately produced or traded-in products (often with barter) in the quite widely spread road-side make-shift-shops. You find them on the countryside as well as in downtown Pyongyang, where one night I saw women selling all kind of homemade stuff, eg. tofu or Kimchi, and fruit at night, crouching on the sidewalks with their pocketlamps lighting up the scene. On the Tongil-Market in Pyongyang and at all the other selling points, it was exclusively women selling.
Grain seen from the train
On my way back to Beijing, there was a lot of unloading going on along the tracks. 1000s of bags, containing grains, probably rice and corn were piled up at the train stations. I don’t have it confirmed, but I guess, this is the stately Public Distribution Systems stocks for the winter built up in each place and covered with rice-straw-mats in the end. Obviously there is a big lack of storing capacity in North Korea. One of the factors contributing to the big after-harvest losses. Other problems of the food and agricultural sector, just to name a few: Lack of mechanization, fuel, seeds, fertilizer (N is sometimes available, but there’s a big lack of P and K -> sour soils) and management capacities in the coop-farms, that are the backbone of the agricultural system.
Train scene

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Eine Antwort to “North Korea drive-by-shootings”

  1. power washers Says:

    I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the
    structure of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with
    it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or
    two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

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