North Korean authorities suddenly restricted traffic over two bridges in Pyongyang early this morning over concerns about the Daedong River possibly flooding nearby areas, a source told Daily NK today.

Vehicles, including buses, trolleybuses and motorcycles, and even pedestrians were suddenly restricted from passing over the Daedong and Okryu bridges in the city’s Jung District early this morning, according to the source.

Korea Central TV (KCTV) reported yesterday that Pyongyang was expected to receive 150 to 300 milimeters of rain from Aug. 5 to Aug. 6, and that water level of the Daedong River would surpass a “warning level” by this evening. North Korean authorities appear to have taken preemptive steps in case the river overflows and floods surrounding areas.

“There has been a gradual rise in the water level of the Daedong River flowing beneath the Daedong and Okryu bridges, and the river’s current is growing more intense,” the source said.

“People are saying that [the river’s current is so fast that] the aging Daedong Bridge is rocking back and forth,” he added.

City authorities failed to inform local residents about the restrictions on movement over the bridges beforehand, according to the source, who also told Daily NK that the Transportation Command Team in the city’s Ministry of Social Security (MSS) office along with traffic-related officers in the MSS office in Jung District were mobilized to block traffic on both sides of the bridges.

The bridges circled in red (Daedong and Okryu bridges) were shutdown from early this morning due to concerns over possible flooding from the Daedong River. The Rungra Bridge, circled in green, is reportedly still open. / Image: Daily NK

Pyongyangites heading to work in Jung District, Daedonggang District and Dongdaewon District reportedly faced a disruption to their morning commutes because of the bridge closures.

“The morning and evening commuter buses and trolleybuses are the main form of transportation people use [to cross the bridges] all day,” the source said, adding, “The sudden measure [to shut down the bridges] was a surprise to everyone and people were calling their places of work in a panic.”

The source pointed out that the authorities should have warned people beforehand and openly wondered what the authorities had in mind when they suddenly shut down the bridges.

“They stop [things] whenever they want and the people have no choice but to follow along unless they are warned first,” he said, basing his comments on the atmosphere he witnessed among commuters.

“I understand that officials working for the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces and the General Political Bureau, among other agencies, were allowed to get to work using the Rungra Bridge,” he said, referring to a bridge north of the Okryu Bridge.

“Now everyone will be using the Rungra Bridge, so the commute [to and from work] will be a mess,” he added.

Based on reports by the Korean Central News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seems to have avoided discussing issues surrounding the monsoon rains during an executive policy council meeting of the party’s Central Committee yesterday. Pyongyangites, however, are concerned about possible flooding of the Botong River, according to the source.

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Mun Dong Hui is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to