100,000 residents deployed to North Hamgyong Province for flood recovery efforts

The North Korean regime is set to deploy 100,000 people to
the northeast region of North Hamgyong Province, which has been devastated by
recent floods. A full order for the mobilization has been announced in each
province for the purpose of assisting recovery. 

The scale of the mobilization is being seen as an attempt by
the regime to assuage potential anger from the public that may erupt, in light
of the astronomical funding that has been diverted toward nuclear weapons
development.

“Provincial governments have been ordered to select 5,000
residents to assist in flood recovery efforts,” a source from North Hamgyong
Province told Daily NK in a telephone conversation. “Each provincial party has
passed these numbers on to state factories, and the factories are now selecting
workers to be mobilized.”

Multiple sources in North Hamgyong Province verified this
news.

The mobilization order includes shock troops and local
military units in each region, which were previously working on the
construction of Ryomyong Street in Pyongyang as part of the “200-Day Battle.” The total number to be deployed has reached 100,000 – the largest mobilization
order for flood recovery to date, reported the source.

Due to the scale of the flooding, Pyongyang has put the brakes
on its “200-Day Battle” and is reassigning its citizens to recovery work. In a
statement released on September 10, the Party Central Committee called for
support from members of the Party, the Korean People’s Army, and the public,
saying the Party is “carrying out a measure of grave importance to shift the
focus of all major efforts in the “200-Day Battle” to recovery work in the
northeast.”


A photo taken on August 31 by a Daily NK source reveal the catastrophic flood
damage in Namyang, North Hamgyong Province.

It is also focusing state propaganda on flood recovery rather than its fifth
nuclear test carried out on September 9, seemingly cognizant of strong
undercurrents of anger from residents. When asked whether most people in North
Korea were aware of the recent test, the source replied, “Don’t get me started.
People are lost for words.”

The test came on the heels of heavy rain and severe flooding
from typhoon Lionrock late last month. The United Nations’ Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA] noted in a report
that tens of thousands have been displaced amid the mass destruction of homes,
buildings, and critical infrastructure. It cited the North Korean government as
reporting that over 130 people have been killed and approximately 400 are
missing. Pyongyang issued a call for international help in recovery efforts on
Sunday.

“The damage is so bad that the neighborhood of Manghyang in
the city of Hoeryong almost looks completely barren, and a number of border
patrol guards were killed after their guard post was swept away by the rapid
rise in water levels in North Hamgyong,” the source said. “The areas have been
so devastated that the residents don’t even know where to begin with recovery
efforts. Who in their right mind would be consoled with the knowledge that
their government was busy with nuclear tests at a time like this?”

Residents in Musan, Hoeryong, and Onsong have been hit with
unexpected disaster for the first time in recent years. Word on the street is
that this year’s flooding is some thousands of times worse than damage seen in
the Rason area last year. In the face of growing signs of public discontent,
the source says, it would be hard for the government to turn a blind eye to the
devastation.

The state has ordered all recovery work to be completed by
the Party Foundation Day on October 10. An identical order was issued following
last year’s flooding. However, there are already significant concerns that
recovery will be far from over in a single month’s time. 


Rising water levels swallowed up entire homes in Namyang, North Hamgyong Province
 as depicted in this photo taken on August 31.

Although it has ordered a total of 100,000 people to take
part in restoration efforts, with 45,000 residents (5,000 each from the nine
provinces) accounting for nearly half of the workforce, many believe recovery
work will not nearly be as effective as a professional workforce with training
and expertise.

Another major problem is the fact that those mobilized will
be required to secure their own shelter and meals during the reconstruction.
“They’re saying shelters from the recovery workers will need to be built first,
but with the obvious lack of building materials, how do they expect proper
reconstruction work to take place?” the source pointed out. “Local residents
are already expecting not to have homes as they enter the cold winter in a few months.”

Further complicating the matter is that rumors of
sub-standard reconstruction efforts carried out by soldiers following the Rason
flooding last year have already spread widely. The source noted that overall,
residents remain unconvinced by the mass mobilization of workers to the region,
despite the leadership’s attempt to win over their support.

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