North Koreans, even children, forced to give money, rice to flood relief

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (UPI) — Floods that North Korea described as “catastrophic” and the worst since the end of World War II are taking a toll on ordinary North Koreans.

The relatively impoverished population is being required to volunteer labor and donate rice or money, Radio Free Asia reported Thursday.

Segments of the population with no source of income, including students, are also being required to make donations, according to the report.

A source on North Korea told RFA participation in flood relief is being used as a yardstick to measure fealty to the Kim Jong Un regime.

“The Workers’ Party of Hoeryong has called the flood recovery effort ‘loyalty’s recovery battle,’ and are demanding donations from residents.”

There is no designated amount of money for donations, the source said, only that the donations are made with a “sincere heart.”

North Korean middle school students with no source of income have each been ordered to provide about 2 pounds of rice to flood relief.

The authorities, worried of opposition from families who have been forced out of their homes, are resorting to asking their children instead, the source said.

Students unable to provide rice donations have been required to make a cash contribution of 5,000 North Korean won, or less than 1 U.S. dollar.

Kim Dong-nam, who heads the Free North Korea Global Network, said North Korean customs officials have also requested Chinese nationals in North Korea to donate about $150 toward flood relief.

News of the disaster transmitted word-of-mouth is also being restricted.

A source in the Chinese province of Jilin told RFA North Korea appears to be jamming smartphone signals again after relaxing restrictions.

The jamming of signals began on Sept. 1 after the floods, shutting down the last means of telecommunications for North Korean households that have lost access to their landlines after the disaster.

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