North Korea orders supplies to be sent to flood-stricken province

North Korean residents repair railway after 2016 flooding in Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province. Image: Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)

Massive floods following torrential rain that occurred from July 28 to early August in North Korea’s southern provinces led to 76 deaths, reports the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC). The North Korean authorities are now making moves to support those affected by the flood damage in the provinces of North and South Hwanghae. 

“From mid-August, the extent of the damage in both Hwanghae provinces was reported to all of the provincial Party and People’s Committees, and an order to collect donations and provide support to the people in seven of the most severely affected regions of the province was handed down by the authorities,” a source in South Hwanghae Province told Daily NK.

The authorities spread the news that Typhoon Soulik and its subsequent downpours led to the complete flooding of fields and roads in North and South Hwanghae provinces key farming region, and that local residents were suffering because flood waters had reached up to the third story of some apartments in the area. The authorities requested help from other provinces but did not provide any specifics on how many victims had died.

The provincial Party organs and People’s Committees gave the task of collecting supplies to help flood victims to the local committees at the municipal and county level.

The IFRC’s North Korea office reported that thousands of people had lost their homes due to the flooding and some victims were suffering a great deal because of the lack of food, medical supplies and clean water.

“The local committees are handing down quotas of supplies that need to be distributed to the families in each inminban (people’s unit, or neighborhood watch),” said a North Hwanghae Province-based source. “Each family is tasked with supplying a set amount of rice, corn, blankets and other items for the flood victims.”  

He added that each family has been ordered by the authorities to provide one kilogram of corn to the flood victims. Those families without corn to donate have been ordered to provide around 2,000 North Korean won, which will purchase roughly the equivalent amount of corn at the market. Those tasked with fulfilling the quotas have complained that the burden on them to support the flood victims is “too much considering that they are already burdened by the need to supply other materials to the state,” according to the source.

In the farming areas, Primary Party Secretaries, management committee heads, and unit managers have been ordered to provide 10 kilograms of corn and regular farmers must provide one kilogram.

“Officials have gathered inminban heads by district and informed them about the need to help flood victims, and workers are dividing up among themselves the monetary requests for the area, to my understanding,” said a source in North Hamgyong Province.

“The inminban heads are continuously checking up on whether food intended for the flood-stricken area is really being sent because the process has been so slow.”

The North Hamgyong-based source also noted, “People didn’t even receive one bottle of alcohol [from the government] to commemorate the founding of North Korea on September 9, so many North Koreans are complaining that sending supplies to the flood victims along with everything they have to provide for national construction projects is a ‘burden.’”

The IFRC reported that 76 people died and 75 people are missing following the downpour that occurred after Typhoon Soulik in early August. Of those missing, many are children. Low-lying areas of the province were particularly badly hit by the typhoon and some 800 houses, schools and other buildings were reportedly destroyed.