Rason hit with devastating flood

Heavy rain pummeled North Korea’s Rason
area in North Hamgyong Province for three consecutive days starting Friday,
leaving the city flooded and with residents taking refuge on higher grounds,
Daily NK’s sources reported. 

“It was as if there was a hole in the sky.
From Friday to Sunday, it rained so much we couldn’t make out what was in front
of us,” the source in the province told Daily NK. “The water level on the
streets is so bad that the traffic controller’s platform is submerged under
water,” she reported. “The Wonjeong Customs Office’s Bridge has been severed
and the building itself is also under water,” the source explained.

An additional source in North Hamgyong
Province corroborated this news.

The currents were strong enough to sweep up
a man of good build who jumped into the water to rescue a pig, she said, adding
that the number of fatalities and injuries from the natural disaster is expected to continue to rise.

“Last week when the flooding happened,
there was an international expo taking place, so the damage was significant,”
the source said. “It’s a mess over here, and it’s hard to confirm just how many
casualties there are.” Foreigners who had entered the area due to the expo have
likely not managed to leave yet due to the flood, she reported.

Within the Rason Special Economic Zone,
roughly 40 people are believed to have died, while 1,000 homes were likely
damaged, according to a separate report from Radio Free Asia.

City roads have been completely flooded and
some buildings submerged in water are on the brink of collapse. Already some
houses have caved in, having been hit by logs and household goods that were
swept up in the currents. District Ministry of People’s Security [MPS]  units have mobilized inminban
[people’s unit] leaders to track members down, but most residents are scattered
throughout the area making it hard to pinpoint their whereabouts, according to
the source.

Residents who have lost their homes have
expressed their frustration with the current infrastructure that leads to
recurring damages during floods. “Instead of putting up fences around the
border (to prevent people from escaping), I wish they would put countermeasures
in place against floods,” some of them have said, she added.

Adding insult to injury, the flood has also
wiped out crops ready for autumn harvest. Having had their corn and other goods
swallowed up by the water, some residents are now left with no home and nothing
to live on. “Some people are struggling as they try to fish out their TVs,
sewing machines, and other home appliances, while others are running around
desperately trying to find their lost children. It’s been like a battlefield,”
the source said.

“Rason is a special economic zone, so they
built the roads better with better drainage systems, but the heavy rain
immediately just flooded the area,” she asserted. The unexpected incident has
instilled a sense of fear among residents, with some looking back on July 1994,
when a massive flood broke out and was later followed by the death of the
country’s founder, Kim Il Sung.

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.