Day laborers paid to replace regular workforce at construction sites

Construction on Future Scientists Street in Pyongyang. Image: DPRK Today

There has been a rise in the number of North Koreans paying others to take their place in mandatory state-led construction projects, sources in the country report.

“Some North Koreans don’t want to work in state-led construction projects, so they find a way to send others as their replacement,” said a South Pyongan Province-based source on December 5. “It’s common for people to pay day laborers in Yokjong District, Pyongsong City, to work at construction projects.”

Generally speaking, enterprises, the Korean Socialist Women’s Alliance and Kim Il Sung-Kim Jong Ilism Youth Alliance send workers to participate in state-led construction projects. Recently, however, there have been more cases where others are sent to the construction sites instead of the designated workers, the source reported.

“The construction of the ‘Chongchongang Power Station in Tiers’ at the basin of the Chongchon River in South Pyongan Province is almost finished, but there are too many ‘replacement’ construction workers there,” he said.

The Women’s Alliance Special Labor Brigades in Pyongsong’s Yangji District sent a total of 15-20 people to the construction site, but many of these workers are in fact replacements for others who were mobilized for the project.

This suggests that North Koreans are paying more attention to their own personal lives than the fulfillment of their national duties.

During his 2016 New Year’s Address, Kim said, “The Paektusan Hero Youth Power Station, Chongchongang Power Station in Tiers, Sci-Tech Complex, Mirae Scientists Street, Jangchon Vegetable Cooperative Farm and many other structures of lasting significance and beautiful socialist villages that embody the Party’s ideas and policies sprang up, showing the mettle of the country which is advancing by leaps and bounds reducing ten years to one.”

North Korean state media reported in November 2015 that a ceremony celebrating the start of construction on Chongchongang power plant was held at the Huiceon No. 9 Power Plant, but the project has dragged on for three years due to construction problems, a separate source in South Pyongan Province.

“Some have voiced concern about issues with the construction plans for the power plant, ” he said, adding that the majority of the “replacement” construction workers who are paid to work on the construction sites are said to perform unsatisfactorily.

The organizations that traditionally send workers to construction sites are not fulfilling their responsibilities properly, either. The Women’s Alliance, Youth Alliance and enterprises don’t bother to check whether the right people are going to the construction sites, the source said.

“When a replacement is sent to a construction site, they are guaranteed three days of food, along with three days of wages equaling 60 yuan, along with another 20 yuan to pay for their transportation. So in total, they receive 80 yuan,” he said.

Replacement day laborers are also prevalent in North Korea’s agricultural sector, and receive three meals a day along with 20 yuan for eight hours of work.

SHARE