A partial roof collapse occurred recently at the Chongjin Bag Factory in North Hamgyong Province while repairs were being made on the structure, leading to a number of deaths.
“The Chongjin Bag Factory’s roof fell in during repairs in mid-September,” said a source in the area on November 21. “Four female laborers were killed and many others were injured. At least 10 people were severely injured.”
Kim Jong Un toured the factory on July 17 for “on-the-spot field guidance” and repairs were being undertaken due to his criticism of the operations. The source said that the speed in which the repairs took place led to the accident and the deaths.
A Rodong Sinmun article reported on Kim’s visit to the factory, stating, “The Dear Respected Supreme Leader and Comrade [Kim Jong Un] was extremely concerned after visiting the area, which was aimed at better understanding the state of the area’s bag production. His concern stemmed from the fact that the North Hamgyong Province Party Committee had failed to properly follow the Party’s instructions to construct the factory and sloppily placed the bag production facility in poorly-constructed rooms of the Chongjin Recycled Textile Factory building.”
The Central Party ordered the Chongjin Bag Factory to be placed in a newly constructed building, but the North Hamgyong Province Party Committee opted to use an existing building instead.
According to the article in the Rodong Sinmun, Kim Jong Un said that “even though the factory has been operating for more than one and a half years, the design room has still not been created and the product display room is still in poor condition. This clearly means there is a problem with the Party Committee’s project […] When the factory was being constructed, the officials in charge of the project failed to do it properly. The project needs to be completely reexamined and those in charge punished.”
The factory upgrade began in earnest after Kim’s concerns were raised, but the reconstruction progressed too rapidly, ultimately leading to the tragedy.
“The person responsible for the project did not complete it as planned,” a separate source in North Hamgyong Province reported, adding that those responsible will likely face serious punishment for allowing female laborers from the factory to work on the repairs, resulting in their deaths.
Despite the gravity of the tragedy, the North Korean authorities appear to be ignoring the fact that lives were lost, he continued, noting, “The focus is on the reconstruction of the collapsed area of the factory, and there has been no offer of compensation for those who died.”