Daily NK has confirmed that Pyongyang has organized “capital party member divisions” to be deployed to typhoon-damaged areas in North and South Hamgyong provinces. The divisions are expected to rebuild houses in areas ravaged by flooding with a view to complete construction activities by Party Foundation Day on Oct. 10.

“The leadership ordered the creation of the divisions amid the ongoing ‘battle’ to rebuild areas damaged by flooding and typhoons nationwide,” a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK yesterday, adding, “[The divisions] have been allocated regions that suffered damage [from the typhoons] and are currently being deployed.”

The reason the authorities have deployed the divisions to areas affected by the typhoons – on top of the military, dolgyokdae (labor brigades), and provincial police already there – is to “stabilize people’s lives by Oct. 10,” according to the source, who spoke to Daily NK under condition of anonymity.

The source’s report, along with recent stories run by North Korea’s state-run media, suggest that plans to form the divisions were put together during an “urgent consultation meeting” held right after Kim Jong Un sent a letter to party members in Pyongyang. The divisions were reportedly organized during the morning hours of Sunday.

The divisions are reportedly made up of volunteers, those recommended by various agencies and organizations, discharged soldiers, and military officers. There are a total of 15 regiments (a division is typically made up of three to four regiments) created by different districts in the city, along with two “Technical Force Battalions.”

“As part of efforts to achieve results by Oct. 10, each district [of Pyongyang] organized their regiments with as many young party members as possible while avoiding older party members who are less capable of engaging in construction work,” the source said. “It seemed like there was a general effort to choose young party members rather than older party members over the age of 50.”

The capital party member divisions are expected to demolish existing single-story houses in typhoon-ravaged areas and ready the ground for the building of two- to three-story apartments, according to the source.

“The leadership has ordered the divisions to build many low-story houses – not just single-story houses – as quickly as possible so that people in the damaged areas can celebrate the founding of the communist party in their own homes,” the source said.

The reason North Korean leader Kim Jong Un decided to deploy party members from Pyongyang was because “there were no other organizations or groups who could be mobilized” given that so many party, military and civilian organizations are already engaged in rebuilding efforts,” said the source.

“There’s the belief [on the part of the leadership] that Pyongyangites will unconditionally heed the call of the Party because [regular] rations and those provided on holidays have never ceased, even though it’s true that the quantity [of rations] has decreased,” he added.

Party members in Pyongyang intuitively understood that they must join the divisions without expressing any discontent, the source further reported. “Party members in Pyongyang are very fearful that they could be expelled or face other disadvantages if they fail to respond to calls from the Party,” he noted, adding, “Party members volunteered because they saw no other choice, regardless of whether they stepped up themselves or were recommended.”

Each of Pyongyang’s districts also ordered members of the regiments to prepare one months worth of unglutinous rice and corn. Pyongyangites not being mobilized have been instructed to contribute KPW 20,000 to 50,000 per person for “food costs.”

North Korean authorities also reportedly called on the regiments to adhere to “anti-epidemic rules” during their time in the typhoon-ravaged areas. In fact, each regiment was ordered to include party members affiliated with the country’s public health and medical systems, the source said.

The source did point out that North Korean authorities are concerned that deploying such a large number of Pyongyangites outside the city could “cause issues” for disease control in the city. Nonetheless, the leadership chose to deploy the division due to concern that the significant difficulties caused by recent typhoons and monsoon rains could lead party members and ordinary people to “break away” from the regime – something considered more dangerous than the spread of COVID-19, the source said.

“People are sitting out in the streets [in flood-ravaged areas], so it’s unlikely they’ll really pay attention to military parades, political events, arts performances, commemoration rallies, and commemoration reporting rallies,” he said. “The leadership knows that [deploying the divisions] makes disease control impossible, but have nonetheless chosen a path that won’t bring disruption to the solidarity between the people and the Party, which is the weapon used to ensure solidarity with the system.”

Kim Jong Un presides over an expanded meeting of the Executive Policy Bureau in South Hamgyong Province. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

Currently, only party members in Pyongyang who were the recipients of Kim Jong Un’s letter are heading down to areas affected by the typhoons. There are, however, some party members in the provinces who want to create their own dolgyokdae and divisions after hearing about Kim’s letter, the source said.

“There’s a high likelihood that [the authorities] will use this to promote the Party as the ‘Party of the people.’ They’ll do this on Party Foundation Day [Oct. 10] by showing people in typhoon-ravaged areas moving into their new homes and enjoying greatly improved roads – in short, highlighting those who are truly happy about the favors and consideration of the Party,” the source said.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and other state-run media outlets reported on Sunday that Kim had presided over an expanded meeting of the Executive Policy Bureau in South Hamgyong Province.

During the meeting, Kim reportedly said that for “party members, especially those in the capital to take the lead in aiding the provinces when the country undergoes difficulties and hardships would make a great contribution to the strengthening of the single-minded unity of our society.” He further noted that the “Party Central Committee will appeal to the core party members in Pyongyang City to turn out after organizing capital party member divisions.”

Yesterday, KCNA reported that “around 300,000 party members appealed [to be sent] to the site of the damage recovery [efforts] in North and South Hamgyong provinces on Sept. 6,” further adding that “Even laborers have proactively joined the party members, and the number of petitioners [wanting to be sent to the typhoon-ravaged areas] continues to increase.”

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