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"The Third Area" in Russian Territory (2)
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2016-01-20 14:07:49
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"The Third Area" in Russian Territory (2)

LEE Young Il

My Boyhood and Youth 

My childhood life in Nampo Revolutionary Academy was just like that of military army, and then I lived with my parents for 4 years, and again enlisted in the army. More than that, my first life as a private soldier was in reconnoitering company where I found it hard to live. 
The next systematical life in the military academy, surrounded by high wall with wire entanglements, for 5 years was a nightmare for me, which I can't forget until now. The harder we are pressed and coerced by our surroundings, the more we desire for freedom; which, I think, lies in the human nature. For this reason, it was beyond my description how delight I was when I was finally discharged from military service. I became excited as if I got eternal liberty and felt something that I can do whatever I want at will ebullient within my mind. 

It may be easier for us to imagine how the life of a youth, after longing and starving for freedom, in not the controlled society, North Korea, but the outside world, Russia, would be. 

Frankly speaking, it is not too much to say that I could obtain a good language ability in a short time only because I could undergo adventure acquired from liberalism which was not permitted completely. 

Obviously I was also monitored like the others and was driven to the fixed direction in the dense net of restriction followed by a 24-hour watch dog just as a fastened puppy. 

In North Korea all people are treated equally as if they were nothing but solid objects ostensibly named 'human' that are confined to severely "forbidden human". This situation is more severe especially in foreign countries than inside NK. Overseas working place wholly belongs to "the third area" of the territory. 

Why is it regarded as 'the third area'? 

That is because we cannot find any parallel other than those places where people are still suffering from human rights abuses and their lives are trampled. 

There exists threat to life of those who long for liberty but are ridiculously deprived of their liberty. 

The people in the "the third area" do not possess any kind of elementary human dignity and right. Those who are forced to work just like animals from dawn till midnight and have no right to raise their voice even when they are not payed what they should get. They are the very goodies in "the third area world" nowadays. 

"The Third Area" People 

At the Blagoveshchensk in Amur Province, the East area of Russia, the Reungra General Trade Representative is situated. The North Korean history in "the third area" began after the representative settled. 

At first, the joint working farm that remained under the jurisdiction of General Construction & Building Material Bureau was the 2nd joint operation farm of Ruengra General Bureau at Taziya village of Tambovskaya region in Amur Province. 

Before my entering this region, there were at most 50 farmers who resided and worked. Since 1990, lots of NK farmers and construct labors fled to this region after lots of contracts were made in various fields, such as construction, livestock, and pottery, other than the joint farm with the Russians. 

Since 1990, 6 years later, in this wave eventually developed to the all out Russian business workers were scattered to every parts of Russia from Hassan, border areas facing Duman River, to Vladivostok, Nakhodka, Ussuriysk, Khabarovsk, Blagoveshchensk, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, etc. 

The fundamental works were the joint operation of farming, a day nursery of the farm, a hospital, a school, and a construction of hall, and even reached joint operation of dining room, factory of pottery, cattle, and trade. 

Since I was good at Russian, I went around and lived at many other regions of Russia under the pretext of interpretation, employed by the Reception Section of the Representative Department in Amur Province for one and a half year in 1990. 

Why I roamed around and joined as a junior clerk was not only because there was great demand for Russian interpreters but also because I was to be punished for the damn 'free behavior'. 

I was in various works and visited so many parts that there was no place in Russia I had not gone about; I worked at Blagoveshchensk of Amur Province in Russia for a reception section of Representative Department for one year, an interpreter at a supply office of Representative Department, a sectional chief and interpreter of Reungra-do joint restaurant at Blagoveshchensk, an interpreter of the Khabarovsk construction corps, the Reungra General Bureau the 2nd construction business office at the region of Konstantinovoska in Amur Province, the 3rd joint operation farm at Ermakov village of Ekaterinoslavskaya in Amur Province where no one could survive, Krasnoyarsk Reungra Representative Department, and Novorossiisk construction corps. 

I knew quite well about how the North Korean people managed to live and work in "the 3rd area" because I had lived at the various joint operation farms and construction corps affiliated to the Reungra Genearl Bureau for 6 years and I also witnessed the life of the executives. 

Nowadays the human rights issues and the plight of North Koreans are well known to the global society and becomes a top issue around the world. Although many people know the history of the famous NK woodcutters in Russia, they hardly know the life of farmers and labors in "the 3rd area" of Amur Province, the new dead zone. 

Although my previous life in Russia that I had undergone till I entered South Korea cannot fully represent the every life of the North Korean labors, farmers, and woodcutters in Russia, I think that it can be the representative thing of the North Korean's real life in some "the 3rd area." 

From this reason, transferring into a writing the various things I had experience at the certain small "the 3rd area" last days in Russian territory, I hope that it could be a little help to those who have at least an interest in the North Koreans working overseas. I intend to introduce only a real story that the lower class people, including labors and farmers, had experienced.