The elderly of the Union of Socialist Women mobilized to participate in agricultural work
As the North Korean authorities mobilize all age groups and all means to weed agricultural fields this year, even 59-year-old members of the Korea Socialist Women’s Union are being forced to participate in agricultural work.
A source from North Hamgyong province told Daily NK on Thursday that members of the Socialist Women’s Union had been “half-forced” to pull weeds in the province’s fields. “Even grannies around 60 who should be home watching their grandchildren are forced to weed the fields,” he said.
The source said that in previous years, members of the Socialist Women’s Union up to the age of 55 were mobilized for agricultural work such as sowing and weeding fields. This year, however, women up to the age of 59 are commissioned.
This indicates that the North Korean authorities intend to increase the country’s harvest by fully mobilizing all available labor. The move reflects a sense of crisis on the part of government officials, who believe they must overcome food shortages that even North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has acknowledged.
However, mobilizing these elderly members of society flies in the face of a letter Kim sent to the Seventh Congress of the Socialist Women’s Union which was held June 20-21. In the letter, the North Korean leader stressed that “[p]Arts organizations and government bodies should never entrust women’s trade union organizations in their relevant regions with social and other arduous tasks on the pretext that their members are available labor.
In the future, members of the Socialist Women’s Union will likely be mobilized for “patriotic efforts” across the country.
Since women are deeply involved in market activities, they will be asked to contribute the money they have earned to national projects. In turn, the authorities will widely promote it as proof of the fervent loyalty shown by women.
“When members of the Socialist Women’s Union go to the fields, they have to bring their own lunch,” the source said. “However, some grannies collapse from hunger because they share their packed lunches with other farm workers.”
At the last congress of the Socialist Women’s Union, the North Korean authorities placed the heavy burden on members of raising families, engaging in social activities and participating in national projects.