As an unprecedented heat wave has continued to hit the Korean Peninsula, the number of victims of heat stroke and heat exhaustion is on the rise in the North.
“North Korea is suffering from intense drought and heat this summer,” said a Ryanggang Province-based source on July 31. “North Koreans are expressing a great deal of concern because people are suffering from life-threatening heat and crops that are drying out.”
The source further reported that “North Koreans with weak immune systems are collapsing due to the heat […] An elderly person living in a city collapsed suddenly while walking in the heat on July 27. People ran to help but he died on the spot […] A middle-aged man collapsed the same day on his way home from work because of the heat.”
North Korea generally has little in the way of cooling equipment in buildings, which has exacerbated the effects of the heat. “Families without any cooling equipment cannot even turn on a fan at night, so they end up sleeping very little,” said a separate source in Ryanggang Province.
“People are fatigued because of the lack of sleep, and their immune systems are taking a hit because they aren’t eating much and the drought is making it a living hell for them.”
“There are no trees in North Korea, so people have nowhere to sit under the shade. They just walk in the open sun,” he continued, adding that “there are no places for the fatigued to stop and rest and everyone is waiting anxiously for the heat to pass.”
Moreover, he said, “The corn fields are drying out due to the drought and intense heat. Farms are following the Party’s orders to water the corn fields and are attempting to water the crops by hauling out water pails in the early morning hours. But it’s impossible to water the fields with such a small quantity of water and so farmers are worried about this year’s harvest.”
North Korea has been hit with a continued intense heatwave since the beginning of July. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on July 22 that Kangwon Province’s Wonsan City and South Hamgyong Province’s Kumya County recorded a temperature of 39 degrees Celsius, the highest recorded temperature in those regions since temperature records began.