Local residents supplying food for university students at Samjiyon site

Kim Jong Un visiting a construction site in Samjiyon
Kim Jong Un visiting a construction site in Samjiyon in October 2018. Image: Rodong Sinmun

University students are being mobilized to work on the Samjiyon modernization project in Ryanggang Province, and reports have surfaced that the food for these students is being supplied by local residents. These local residents are facing considerable difficulties as a result, Daily NK sources report.

“Lectures are encouraging people to support Samjiyon County both philosophically and with supplies. Party officials are ordering people to provide food to university students working on the construction projects,” a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK.

“Each family was asked to provide 200g of soybeans, 500g of corn, 1 kg of red pepper paste, 1 kg of kimchi, and five pairs of gloves. People in the area are complaining that the demand for supplies is causing them severe financial hardship.”

The state-run publication Rodong Sinmun reported on January 14 that students from across the country, including those attending Kim Il Sung University, Kim Chaek University and Wonsan Agricultural College, have been mobilized for projects in the area.

An additional source in Ryanggang Province added, “Students that should be on vacation have instead been sent to Samjiyon to work on construction projects. Authorities gathered the students together to tell them about the importance of the project and received confirmation from them that they will participate.”

“The atmosphere in which their ‘confirmation’ was received was coercive in nature, so the students had little choice but to go,” she said, lamenting the “back-breaking labor the students are currently performing on the construction sites.”

The Samjiyon modernization project is of particular interest to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whose New Year’s Address this year emphasized that “[t]he whole Party, the entire army and all the people should turn out to transform Samjiyon County into a model of modern mountainous city, an ideal socialist village, and complete on the highest possible level the construction projects that would represent the present era, including the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area and other new tourist areas.”

Late last month, North Korean authorities ran into difficulties in the construction process due to severe cold weather and had to halt construction and pull some construction workers out of the area. The construction work continued, however, once it was determined that construction needed to quickly resume. It was at this time that the decision was made to mobilize university students to work on the project.

The authorities are focusing their efforts on mobilizing all the human and material resources at their disposal to complete the project on time.

The Central Committee of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League held the 9th Expanded General Plenum of the 9th Central Committee on January 24 in Pyongyang and announced that young people must become leaders and participate in shock teams in construction projects ranging from the Samjiyon County modernization and Wonsan-Kalma Coastal Tourist Area to the Tanchon Power Plant.

Following this meeting, the Pyongyang City Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League Committee launched activities aimed at strengthening the ideological foundations of youth alliance organizations and encouraged active participation by youth in the Samjiyon project. Young people from Pyongyang began departing for Samjiyon construction sites on January 25.

The newspaper reported on February 4 that the students are “providing support at the Samjiyon construction sites with hearts full of love for the people.”

Samjiyon is located at the base of Mount Paektu and is one of the coldest areas on the Korean Peninsula, meaning that the university students have been working in frigid temperatures.

The Korea Meteorological Administration reported that the average temperature on February 1 was around minus 15 degrees celsius and the coldest temperature reported this year was minus 29.9 degrees celsius on January 1.