A number of fatal accidents have recently occurred at logging companies under the Yanggang Province Bureau of Forestry Management, Daily NK has learned.

“Two workers recently died in a logging accident at the Pungseo Logging Company. The two exhausted workers were napping in the woods when a lumber pile toppled over and crushed them,” a source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Monday.

According to the source, the Pungseo Logging Company is working loggers around the clock to provide enough lumber to build 10,000 homes in the Hwasong District of Pyongyang.

Earlier, the North Korean authorities reportedly instructed forestry management bureaus around the country, including the one in Yanggang Province, to provide the lumber needed for the housing project in Hwasong District.

In response, the Yanggang Province Bureau of Forestry Management pushed the Pungseo Logging Company — which it has praised for creating innovations in lumber production while abiding by pandemic regulations — to increase its output by working both day and night.

After the Pungseo Logging Company put some of its workers on the night shift to meet the substantial lumber goal set by the authorities, two workers (including one in his 50s surnamed Choe) were taking a short nap at the worksite when they were killed by a collapsing stack of logs, the source explained.

On top of having to work all night to satisfy the government’s demand for lumber for building homes in Pyongyang, the source said, these unfortunate men ended up losing their lives on the job.

A similar accident occurred at the Gapsan Logging Company.

At the beginning of June, a company worker in his 30s, surnamed Park, was reportedly limbing trees for the housing project in Hwasong District when he was hit by a falling stack of logs. Park died on the spot.

The source said that when the accident occurred, a manager at the scene ordered loggers to stay on the job and keep cutting down trees, which elicited protests from the irate loggers.

“Nowadays, nobody is willing to take responsibility or even move a finger when someone dies. Although the worker killed in this incident had undeniably died on the job, his company wrapped up the incident by sending his family 10kg of corn,” the source said.

“Locals have been disgusted by government officials and on-site managers’ pathetic obsession with meeting lumber production goals while putting safety measures for workers on the back burner,” the source added.

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler.

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Kim Chae Hwan is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. He can be contacted at dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.