Kim Cheak Iron and Steel Complex Operations Suspended

[imText1]It has been discovered that the most of the Kim Cheak Iron and Steel Complex Operations in Chongjin, North Korea have been suspended.

In a recent newsletter from Good Friends, a support organization for North Korea, it was explained that “Equipment had severely deteriorated and natural resources such as coal and other magnesite-based fuels are no longer supplied.”

As a result of the rationing, workers were laid off and living conditions worsened.

Kim Cheak Iron and Steel Complex Operations employs approximately 50,000 workers, and is a special complex where people are stationed for 3 months at a time for discipline and reform. However, as factory operations decline, a situation is occurring where most of the workers steal equipment from the factory to sell for a living.

Men who work at the complex steal equipment which they then give to their wives to sell. In order to obtain the stolen goods from their husbands, a river in front of the complex 100m in width, must be crossed during the night.

The newsletter reported that equipment goes for 200~240won per 1kg. On a good day, a load of about 80kg will net an income of about 16,000~20,000 won (about $5.30~$6.70).

If protection or inspection officers are bribed, more equipment can be acquired by transporting it by bicycle. Although, simply crossing the dangerous river at high tide does not guarantee protection, as other inspection officers still lurk.

The newsletter reported that someone caught only one or two times is forced to pay a fine, but being caught more than 2 or 3 times results in a more forceful punishment in addition to a fine. However, it is unlikely that these acts will stop anytime soon, as people have no other way of making money and supporting their families.