No Electricity, No Water, No Patience

Many of the residents of luxury apartments in Pyongyang are leaving their homes for the heated homes of relatives or other warmer locations.

An inside source who visited Pyongyang at the end of last month said in a phone interview with the Daily NK today, “People previously had no supplies of water so didn’t have drinking water and could not go to the bathroom without difficulty, but now that there are heating problems too the people are inevitably leaving their homes. This year, many people are locking their homes and leaving for warmer places.”

The source said, “When I went to Pyongyang just three years ago, the people still stayed in their apartments even without heat, but now half of them are gone, they went to East Pyongyang where the pre-1980s homes are heated with charcoal briquettes.”

The source added, “Even until last year, the residents in these apartments spent the whole winter season there with cotton blankets on the floor all day long, filling pint bottles with hot water to warm their blankets when they slept; however, as the situation has gotten worse this year whole families cannot take any more and have chosen to leave their homes behind.”

The 20-40 storey apartments on Gwangbok and Tongil Streets, which are boasted of by the North Korean authorities for their modernity, are among those falling into dilapidation.

The source explained, “If the rooms had just enough lukewarm water that they wouldn’t freeze we could live, but now they are not even able to do that. Nobody knows when heat will come.”

Among many North Korean people, the situation is such that the letter ‘ㄹ’ has come to be ridiculed, with people saying that they suffer from a particular lack of words that have the letter ‘ㄹ’ in them, for example, water (‘물’), fire/electric (‘불’), and rice (‘쌀’).