North Korea is pressuring factories that manufacture supplies for major construction sites to quickly meet their year-end production quotas, Daily NK has learned. 

“The government has handed down a constant stream of orders to iron, wood and glass production factories demanding an increase of supply to major construction sites,” a North Pyongan Province-based source told Daily NK on Nov. 4. “These factories have even resorted to working nights to increase their production.” 

North Korea has concentrated its resources this year mainly onto the construction of the Wonsan Kalma Coastal Tourist Zone and the Yangdok Hot Springs Tourist Zone (South Pyongan Province). The country has also put a priority on building a Korean-style coastal city in Myongsasipri and constructing the Tanchon and Orangchon power plants. 

Factories that have an outstanding record of productivity, including the Chollima Steel Complex, Sangwon Cement Factory, Taean Electricity Factory and Taean Friendship Glass Factory, among others, have been tapped to distribute materials and supplies to these construction sites. 

FACTORIES ENGAGED IN PRODUCTION “BATTLE”

Daily NK sources reported that these factories are now finishing up the production and distribution of these supplies and materials to the sites as the year-end production quota review period is approaching. All of the factories are in the midst of a “battle” to increase their production to meet demand at the construction sites. 

“The workers in these factories are working day and night in three shifts to meet the year-end quotas,” one of the sources said. “The factories are working around the clock after being urged on by the government to supply the materials and supplies.” 

“Factories producing cement, steel, marble and granite, and even electric equipment manufacturers, are all in the midst of a ‘battle’ to meet their year-end production quotas,” he added.  

Major construction sites require construction materials but also food and clothes for the construction workers, another source said. 

He added that “the factory workers are full of anxiety and fearful of punishment that they will experience if they fail to fulfill their year-end production quotas.”

SAMJIYON MODERNIZATION PROJECT TRUMPS ALL

Construction projects in Samjiyon County, Ryanggang Province, have the most intense demand for materials and supplies, according to Daily NK sources. 

Set for completion in 2020, construction projects in Samjiyon are part of a massive state-led modernization initiative to make the area resemble a “revolutionary shrine” for the ruling Kim family. Kim Jong Un himself has shown a great deal of interest in the area and pledged to make it a “model of a cultural city in the mountains.”

The intense demand for materials is “because all major government buildings along with around 1,200 homes will be razed to make way for more modern buildings,” one of the sources explained.  

Daily NK reported on Kim Jong Un’s first visit to Samjiyon in six months on Oct. 16. During his visit to the area, the North Korean leader extolled progress on construction work. Daily NK sources in the area said that Kim stayed in the area for at least three days before returning by train to Pyongyang.

Daily NK sources have also reported on the difficult conditions construction workers face in Samjiyon and that local residents have even been forcibly mobilized to work on construction projects.

*Translated by Violet Kim

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

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Kang Mi Jin
Kang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.