Sakju County, North Pyongan Province smuggler executed
This file photo shows a scene from Sakju County, North Pyongan Province. (Daily NK)

Several residents of North Pyongan Province’s Sakju County were given heavy sentences during a recent public trial aimed at punishing those involved in stealing supplies meant for a house building project. 

According to a source in North Pyongan Province last Wednesday, Sakju County announced plans last year to build housing in line with the policies set out by the Eighth Party Congress and then moved forward with obtaining supplies to build the new homes. 

“Unfortunately, those in charge of the construction and supply personnel either misused the supplies for agriculture or pilfered them,” he said.

Sakju County received complete shipments of supplies needed to build the housing, including cement and steel, from the provincial government. However, locals complained that builders had only done the groundbreaking for the project, with no progress made on constructing the actual homes. 

North Pyongyang Province’s party committee responded by instructing the provincial police to investigate the matter. As provincial and county police looked into the state of the construction project, they discovered that supplies had been pilfered by farms tasked with building the homes. 

The police found that Sakju County had carried out only one-fourth of the project, with farms building only five or so of the roughly 20 homes each were tasked with building. Farm managers had sold most of the supplies and were using the proceeds for agricultural preparations.

Sakju County had also been ordered to build production-related facilities along with factory housing. No progress had been made with this, either. An investigation discovered that factory officials and supply personnel had pilfered the supplies for alternative uses or sold them to fund lavish lifestyles.

Ultimately, a public trial was held in front of the Sakju County library on May 2, with about 100 local residents in attendance. Five individuals, including officials in charge of construction and people involved in supply-related work at the farms, were given 15-year sentences.

The court’s judgment said that the Sakju County construction project was meant to build more homes to improve living conditions for local residents, and to do what the accused did in such tough times amounted to an “unforgivable betrayal of the nation.”

In particular, the judgment condemned farms and individuals who pilfered state property with little care for national construction projects for their “frighteningly toxic ideology” that “everything is alright as long as they themselves did well,” noting that such behavior would be even more harshly punished going forward. 

The families of the five people who were punished were exiled to a remote area in the mountains, the source added. 

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to