insulators, economic
Insulators at the Gyongsong Insulator Factory in North Hamgyong Province. (Rodong Sinmun)

North Hamgyong Province recently distributed food to workers at major factories in the province, Daily NK has learned.

A reporting partner in the province told Daily NK on Friday that the party committee of North Hamgyong Province held an emergency meeting to discuss distributing food to workers at local factories on Feb. 23.

“The authorities scraped together food reserves in the province and began distributing food from Feb. 25,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity. 


According to the reporting partner, since workers at local factories are not receiving proper rations, they are barely showing up for work.

In some cases, workers cannot show up at all due to food shortages, causing problems in production.

The provincial party committee has worked hard to overcome this issue. However, the problem is more than the province can handle on its own, so the party committee reported the issue to Pyongyang, convened an emergency meeting and discussed the matter of distributing food to local workers.

Ultimately, the party committee singled out several major factories — including Chongjin Ironworks, Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex, Songjin Steel Complex and Kilju Pulp and Paper Factory — and began distributing food to their workers from Feb. 25.

The source said as an emergency measure to fully commit to national plans at the start of the year, the provincial party committee ordered the release of grain from Warehouse No. 5, a granary reserved for civilian disaster relief.

“It ordered the grain to go to designated grain shops, and that 20 kilograms of corn and five kilograms of rice be sold to worker families at low prices of KPW 1,200 for corn and KPW 2,300 for rice,” he said.

The factories selected for the food distribution handed out documents with the stamp of the factory production department to their workers.


When the food distribution began, people flooded to the grain shops, competing with one another to be first in line.

The reporting partner said it was a madhouse, with scuffles and even fights breaking out.

“In response, the grain shops ultimately closed their doors after just two days, providing just 20% of the grain they were supposed to,” he said.

When the food distribution stopped, the factories reported the situation to the provincial party committee, which in turn reported it to Pyongyang.

The Central Committee responded by ordering North Hamgyong Province to ensure 100% worker turnout and full production at major factories by the end of March, when first quarter production comes to a close, assuring the province that it would restart food distribution soon.

The reporting partner said the families of workers at major factories in the province are thrilled to receive food at prices much lower than market prices.

“However, the families of ordinary workers who were not selected as food recipients complained, asking why they can’t receive food even though they, too, do work ordered by the state,” he said.

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

Daily NK works with a network of reporting partners who live inside North Korea. Their identities remain anonymous due to security concerns. More information about Daily NK’s reporting partner network and information gathering activities can be found on our FAQ page here.  

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