Various new tractors and lorries on display in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on
December 7. Image: Rodong Sinmun
A tractor being delivered as a gift from Kim Jong Un was recently involved in a deadly accident in Ryanggang Province, resulting in the deaths of the driver and all passengers.
“In early December last year, Kim Jong Un allocated tractors to residents of the Samsu and Gapsan regions of Ryanggang, but there was an accident as one was in the process of being delivered to the area. The tractor apparently fell off a cliff, killing the driver and all others on board,” a source in the region told Daily NK on January 3.
Explaining the reasons for the accident, the source said that it occurred at night and that season-appropriate tire chains “did not come pre-installed as part of the gift.”
Local cadres have reportedly been asking themselves who is to blame for the incident, with some worried that it may turn into a ‘political incident’ if it is perceived that Kim Jong Un failed to deliver the tractor in a proper manner.
The source said that “officials first organized the funeral for the dead before looking into who was to blame. Funeral responsibilities were taken on by local cooperative farm management and county party offices.”
In general, officials are hoping to avoid accusations of negligence or lax regulations in the fallout of the event. News of safety accidents have been spreading like wildfire throughout Ryanggang recently, but officials have not yet responded with a plan or policy.
The source relayed one such story of a wreck occurring just days before the tractor accident, where “16 people died when a lorry carrying traders hustling to complete their end-of-year business crashed due to slippery road conditions.” He added that “the authorities still did not hint at any new safety regulations.”
Sources across the country report that road accidents occur at a dizzying pace in winter months in the mountainous regions, especially on the narrow roads of Ryanggang Province. The frequency is so high that such accidents are a common topic of conversation among residents.
“The scenes of the accidents are merely repaired each time, but year after year, people continue to die in traffic accidents on these narrow roads, steep slopes, and sharp curves. Drivers are allowed to go on using just a single headlight, for instance, reducing visibility and leading to crashes,” a separate source in Ryanggang Province said.
The North Korean authorities held a massive event in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on December 7 promoting their success in developing various tractor and lorry models, lining them up for propaganda display. Around 300 vehicles were on display, including the “Chollima-804” and “Chungsong-122” tractors and the “Seungni” flatbed lorry.
The ‘Chollima-804’ model tractor appears on a poster for the 2017 National Industry
and Art Exhibition. Image: Daily NK