Land Reform Op-Ed in Rodong Sinmun

Given how we have been occasionally bitched at by North Korean elements for releasing information ahead of its time, this post will instead focus on copying and pasting something from the party newspaper Rodong Sinmun. But its an interesting allegory on land reform, something that foreshadows something that has been in the works for awhile, while stopping short of being an outright policy proclamation.

It Happened before Land Reform

One February day 1946, President Kim Il Sung visited a peasant house in the outskirts of Pyongyang.

Sitting with the peasants who happened to be there, he talked frankly, getting himself well acquainted with their living conditions. Not aware of who they were talking to, the villagers told him whatever they could think up then and there. Listening carefully to the villagers, the President asked whether they had heard anything about the three-to-seven system of tenancy. The host, somewhat bewildered, looked about his folk, and said, "I've heard of it, but I don't…" he equivocated.

"How much tenant fee did you pay the landlord last year?" asked the President. "You say you paid 50 percent of your harvest as a tenant fee. You know you had to pay 30 percent. Go and take back the amount exceeding the 30 percent."

The peasants looked a bit surprised because it would be more than they could have the courage to do, they thought it was the last thing they could ever do to bring back the remainder in their tenant fee from the landlord.

Smiling softly, the President said the three-to-seven system was what the state had enforced for the peasants and so there was no reason why they should hesitate to get the remainder back. What the President said seemed not to be understood to the peasants. They suggested that the state should take the excess back for them. The President asked whether a peasant association had been organized in the village or not. There was no reply as the peasants all kept mum. As a matter of fact, a peasant association was there, but it failed to do its bit and the peasants turned their back on it. Some peasants even withdrew from the association for fear that they should be deprived of their tenanted land. The President told them to rally the peasants in the association and fight bravely to get 70 percent of their harvest.

Thanks to the great care and leadership of the President the peasants gradually grew into true masters of land and the masters of the people's power.