A mother who saved her children from a house fire in Onsong County, North Hamgyong Province, is currently under investigation by the Ministry of State Security (MSS) for failing to save Kim family portraits from the fire. 

Sources in the area told Daily NK on Dec. 30 that the fire broke out in a house where two families lived. The children were at home and their parents were out when the fire started. The mothers of the children ran back to the house to try and save their children when they heard about the fire. 

In the midst of all the chaos in trying to save her children from the flames, one of the mothers was unable to save the portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Daily NK sources said that she is currently under investigation by the MSS for failing to save the portraits. 


North Koreans who save the portraits of the Kim family from fires are treated as heroes, while those who fail to do so many times face legal consequences. 

After the mothers had managed to save their children, one young farm worker managed to save the Kim portraits belonging to one of the families living in the house. 

The young farmer had just recently been released from prison for a violent offense, but he has now become a hero overnight simply because he managed to save the portraits from the flames, Daily NK sources said.  

The family whose portraits were saved have not faced an MSS investigation, the sources added. 


Daily NK sources said that the mother under investigation by the MSS has been unable to care for her children at the hospital. Both of her children need antibiotics to treat their burns but she has been unable to obtain them because of the investigation. 

Although neighbors of the family want to help the mother by covering the cost of her children’s medicine, they are wary to do so because they don’t know if she will be charged with a political offense. 

“The mother will be able to focus on caring for her children once the authorities end their investigation,” one of the sources told Daily NK.

In the meantime, neighbors are trying to gather at least five kilograms of corn to help the family, but even this has been difficult to do, he added.

*Translated by Gabriela Bernal

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