A woman in North Hamgyong Province who faced divorce for being infertile recently set the house of her in-laws on fire, killing everyone inside, Daily NK has learned. 

“A woman in her early 30s who was married to the son of the head of the Kumya County’s Ministry of State Security (MSS)’s political department was found to be infertile,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Aug. 28. “When her in-laws demanded a divorce, she set their house on fire in revenge, murdering the entire family.” 

According to the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons, the woman was taken to the provincial maternity hospital by her in-laws after she had failed to become pregnant during her five years of marriage. The hospital tests showed that she was infertile. Upon receiving this news, her in-laws – including her father-in-law, the head of the political department of the Kumya County MSS – told the woman to leave their house.

The woman, whose family lives in Sinpo, was angered by the decision and decided to report the incident to the provincial party committee instead of returning home. The provincial party committee’s processing department, however, responded that it could not process her petition on a Saturday. In response, the woman decided to file a complaint with the communist party in Pyongyang and went to the train station to buy a ticket to the capital city. 

North Korean farmers working in North Hamgyong Province in early September, 2019. / Image: Daily NK

On her way to Pyongyang, she was caught without a travel pass by a railway security officer at Galli Station, which is on the outskirts of the city. Although the woman informed the officer that she was the daughter-in-law of the Kumya County MSS’s political department director, she was ultimately sent back to Kumya County.

“After returning to the home of her in-laws, she decided that life was no longer worth living and set the house ablaze with gasoline one evening when the whole family was at home,” the source said. “The woman, her parents-in-law and husband were unable to escape from the flames and all perished, with the house and everything inside it burned to the ground.”

According to the source, agents from the Ministry of Social Security and Ministry of State Security rushed to the scene upon receiving a report of the incident and attempted to put out the fire with local residents using buckets of water. Locals who witnessed the blaze said the fire was so strong that the flames engulfed everything in an instant, leaving onlookers unable to do anything.

Local residents are reportedly more critical of the family for kicking the woman out due to her infertility. People pointed out that many other couples remained together even if one partner was infertile, and that the woman had most likely suffered abuse from her powerful father-in-law during the five years of marriage. 

“Kumya County is attempting to keep the incident as quiet as possible by reporting it as an ordinary house fire,” the source added.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.