North Korea recently reduced supplies of electricity to Chagang Province and other parts of the country, in a development that may lead to significant difficulties for factories, Daily NK has learned. 

Underground military-related factories in Heechon, Songgan and Kanggye – all cities in Chagang Province – began to receive less than eight hours of electricity per day starting on Apr. 1, according to a source in the country on Apr. 17. 

This marks a change from the past: such underground factories had previously been receiving up to eight hours a day because they manufacture weapons. Above-ground factories in the province, on the other hand, typically receive just five hours of electricity per day. 

North Korea has long focused on supplying electricity to military-related factories, despite suffering from severe electricity shortages. Outside of some parts of Pyongyang, Chagang Province receives the largest supplies of electricity in the country given that it is home to many military-related factories. 

A SURPRISE MOVE

The cut in electricity supplies to Chagang Province has taken many in the province by surprise. 

“There was no prior warning about the cut in electricity, so military factories in the province were unable to prepare for it,” the source told Daily NK. 

Another source told Daily NK that the regime has cut electricity to other parts of the country as well. For example, the city of Kusong in North Pyongan Province – which is home to the Kusong Machine Tool Factory – has faced cuts in how much power it receives per day. 

Speculation has arisen in North Korea that power is being diverted to the Pyongyang General Hospital construction site. Reports from Daily NK sources suggest that the only factories getting the full allotment of power each day are those producing cement and other construction-related materials. 

FUEL SUPPLIES ALSO CUT

North Korea’s fuel supplies have also been diverted to factories focused on construction-related materials, Daily NK sources reported.  

“Military-related factories in Chagang Province don’t have enough fuel to keep their operations going,” one of the sources said. “The authorities have ordered that they must reduce their use of state-supplied fuel by 30%.” 

The reduction in electricity and fuel supplied by the state means that factories are having to take on a greater burden to continue production. In fact, Daily NK sources reported that military-related factories in Chagang, for example, are “revising” their production quotas for this year out of concern the reduced supplies of electricity and fuel will do to their production plans. 

Chagang Province officials, moreover, are reportedly “adapting” to the new normal: the province’s electricity department is considering ways to divert electricity away from civilians so more can be used by factories. 

As Daily NK reported on Apr. 10, North Korea recently moved to expand a ski resort in Chagang Province as part of efforts to ostensibly reduce “discontent” in the area.

One source speculated that, ultimately, the reduced supplies of electricity in the province may mean that electricity planned for use in such projects will be diverted to more important businesses and factories.

*Translated by Violet Kim

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Seulkee Jang is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.