Wind-powered turbines
Wind-powered turbines located at a chicken farm in Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

North Korean workers are being mobilized to expand wind energy in the country, Daily NK sources reported on Tuesday.

“Workers are being forced to participate in an electricity production project focused on wind-powered energy by a people’s committee in South Pyongan Province,” a South Pyongan Province-based source told Daily NK. “The project has not been successful due to issues involving the installation of wind-powered generators. Workers and engineers involved in the project are suffering a lot.” 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un emphasized the need to resolve the country’s electricity problems through wind energy during his New Year’s Address in January. State officials have since emphasized the development of diverse sources of energy that are compatible with the characteristics of each region of the country. 

The Rodong Sinmun, among other state-run media outlets, has also placed a focus on wind power as an “energy source with the greatest development potential,” further noting that it is “an energy source with huge potential that does not run out nor destroy the natural environment.” 

In parallel with the praise heaped upon wind power and other sources of “natural energy” to resolve the country’s electricity problems, the Rodong Sinmun has also placed emphasis on “self-sufficiency” to achieve the country’s electricity-related goals. In short, the North Korean state is telling its people to come up with their own plans to create wind power energy sources with a view to resolve electricity shortages.

The Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) has explicitly ordered officials to “create wind power generators modeled on alternate current (AC) generators.” The lack of copper wire and other basic materials required to create the generators, along with a shortage of expertise, however, has rendered it virtually impossible for engineers and other workers to meet the party’s demands. 

“A large number of wind-powered generators need to be built to bring electricity to the people, but there’s a lack of money [to build them],” another Daily NK source said. “There are also no materials and a host of engineering problems, so the party’s order is not really being carried out.” 

North Korean officials have also ordered workers in the country to guarantee that each wind-powered generator creates an average of 30,000 kilowatts of energy per year. Workers have complained that the state’s demands are ridiculous.

Some are also pointing out that the costs for producing wind power is more expensive than hydroelectric or thermal energy, and also that North Korea does not have infrastructure that can handle the distribution of energy produced by wind. 

North Korean officials, however, continue to emphasize “self-sufficiency” to the population. A commentary in the September 17 issue of the Rodong Sinmun entitled “Self-sufficiency is the Lifeline of Our Style of Socialism” announced that “[We] can achieve political and ideological unification and solidarity only through our own strength, and can build our economic and national defensive power only through our own efforts.” 

“Self-sufficiency is the absolute core of national development,” the article continued, adding that it is “our strongest sword to ensure we can firmly guarantee our style of socialism and the autonomous development of our country and people.” The article goes on to further emphasize self-sufficiency claiming that it is the “best way to quickly build a socialist and strong country” and is “a forever-lasting lifeline that can firmly guarantee the happiness of later generations.” The article further adds that self-sufficiency is the “best guarantee for development and prosperity of the Republic.” 

The article concludes by saying that “All state and party officials, along with the workers, must understand that self-sufficiency is the only way for us to survive, and do their best in today’s revolutionary great march forward with the deepest understanding that it is the only path to progress.”

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@gmail.com.

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