Electricity quota violators face punishment in North Korea

The country's industrial sector finds difficulty coping with insufficient allotments of power

Hungnam Fertilizer Complex
The inside of the Hungnam Fertilizer Complex in South Hamgyong Province. / Image: Naenara

North Korean authorities are publicly denouncing and punishing people who use more electricity than they’re allotted, Daily NK has learned. This was confirmed by sources from South Pyongan Province on Thursday: “Individuals and energy managers of enterprises have recently been punished for their profligacy of electricity,” one of them said. 

Despite increased efforts to save electricity, North Korea is currently suffering a severe power shortage. The government has established strict limits on electricity consumption as a countermeasure, to which all North Koreans have to adhere – otherwise, they’ll face severe consequences, according to the sources. 

“Regulations on electricity consumption have become even stricter,” one of the sources explained. Apparently, “several managers were demoted or laid off, or sent to labor camps.”

Such harsh punishments like job terminations and labor camp sentences illustrate how seriously the North Korean authorities are about enforcing their power regulations.


According to the sources, the South Pyongan Province’s Party Committee is openly denouncing both individuals and enterprises for violating the regulations. Among them: the Sunchon Pharmaceutical Factory, the Moranbong Clock Factory, the Pyongsong Synthetic Leather Factory, and the Ponghak Food Factory. “They were publicly named and criticized,” the source reported.

The campaign also reportedly stressed the importance of adhering to the electricity restriction at all times. “It made it clear that saving electricity is not just some practical matter,” one source told Daily NK. Rather, “it demanded we stick to the austerity measures because they’re a party policy.”

Furthermore, an article in the North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Sept. 29 claimed that “10% of saved electricity has a greater economic effect and costs much less than producing the same amount.” Hence, it concluded, saving as much power as possible was the way to go in order to resolve the current shortage.

According to the paper, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un encouraged his people to “exert themselves” in their efforts to save electricity. He allegedly stated: “Every watt counts in fighting the electricity crisis.”


North Korea’s industrial sector, however, can hardly cope with the below standard allowance of power. As generalized allotments of power will naturally lead to production failures, North Korea will have to figure out a way to keep its restrictions on electricity without jeopardizing all of its domestic industry.

The Sunchon Pharmaceutical Factory and the Moranbong Clock Factory, for example, were already unable to operate normally due to the electricity shortages and thus experienced major production losses.

And not only the industry struggles to adapt to the regime’s new power regulations – North Korean citizens, too, feel the state needs to take a different approach in order to save energy.

“It’s hard enough for us to survive and telling us to reduce our electricity consumption only puts more pressure on us,” a source reported on the current situation.

“Wealthier citizens have at least the option to install solar panels and produce their own electricity. But that’s difficult for those who can’t have enough money.”

*Translated by Violet Kim and edited by Laura Geigenberger

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