A revised version of North Korea’s Administrative Penalties Law recently obtained by Daily NK details violations surrounding the creation and usage of air raid shelters in residences and public buildings over three stories high. Punishments for these violations have also been strengthened, according to the revised law.

Specifically, Article 56 of the law, which focuses on “violations of the civilian air raid system,” discusses violations regarding the construction, maintenance, and use of air raid shelters while laying out specific criteria for punishments of these violations.

The law, which was amended last December by order of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly, went into effect from Mar. 1 of this year. The collection of North Korean laws currently available on the website of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service only includes the law’s 2016 version. Using a copy of the revised law, Daily NK was able to confirm what exactly Article 56 of the law says. 

The violations outlined in Article 56 of the law include those pertaining to the construction, maintenance, and use of air raid shelters; the failure to establish measures to prevent damage during air raids; behavior that violates the “blackout drills system”; and actions that violate the “order” of evacuation drills and wartime dispersion exercises.

Regarding violations in the construction, maintenance, and use of air raid shelters, the law cites various examples, including: failing to design basement air raid shelters when constructing homes or public buildings over three stories high; failing to build air raid shelters as designed; failing to build air raid shelters for government bodies, businesses, or organizations; failing to meet shelter occupancy standards; allowing shelters to fill up with waste or wastewater and become unusable due to improper maintenance; and using shelters for things other than their intended purpose.

North Korea solar panels
North Korean housing. / Image: KCNA

In short, the law mandates that residences and public buildings over three stories high are required to have air raid shelters, and they must be properly maintained. Moreover, the shelters should not be used as living spaces, storage spaces, or for any purpose other than to protect people during air raids.

Following North Korean armed incursions in the late 1960s (including the Blue House Raid in January 1968), the South Korean government mandated that single-family and multi-family residences must have basement spaces when the country’s Building Act was revised in 1970. The revision essentially banned people from constructing living spaces in basements. This mandate, however, was later removed amid increasing housing shortages as urbanization took hold during the country’s economic development. 

The revised Administrative Penalties Law has also strengthened punishments for violating air raid shelter requirements.

The article of the law that concerns these punishments stipulates the handing down of warnings, serious warnings, fines, or up to three months of unpaid or disciplinary labor for violations of the “civilian anti-air raid system.” In serious cases, the law specifies punishments of over three months of unpaid or disciplinary labor, demotions, dismissals, or firings. Through a comparison with the 2016 version of the law, Daily NK found that mentions of “disciplinary labor” were added in the latest revision. 

The law lists nine categories of administrative punishments: warnings and serious warnings; unpaid labor; correctional labor; demotions, dismissals and firings; fines; paying compensation; confiscations; suspensions of business; and the suspension, demotion, and stripping of credentials.

Of these, correctional labor involves sending a person to a correctional labor camp managed at the city or county level to perform hard labor for violations that do not involve “criminal liability.” The law sets the period of correctional labor from five days to up to six months.

While “unpaid labor” involves having a person perform hard physical labor in an area outside of their assigned work unit, “correctional labor” is considered a harsher punishment because it involves performing labor in a designated labor camp.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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Mun Dong Hui is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.