[imText1]Outcries of the residents around the newly constructing highway between Pyongyang and Hyangsan resonate but never reach far enough. They are from the people who suddenly lost their homes with the forced demolition order due to the highway construction that started this spring.
Mr. Ryu who lives in the area close to the Pyongyang–Hyangsan highway whom the DailyNK met in Dandung said, “this spring, there came an order to demolish all the houses around the highway within all the areas of 1km of the road.”
The reasons for the order were “safety of the Commander” and “Doesn’t look good to the foreign visitors.”
Once the order comes down, the residents have to empty their houses without any delay.
Ryu said, “The Party cadres said the Commander’s goal was to develop tourism, but the real reason for forced demolition is to secure safety of the Commander.” His explanation is that tour to Myohyang Mountain is only a secondary reason.
“The party cadres from the administrative office (of Kim Jong Il) of the Central came with party cadres of the city and city planning officers and they themselves decided on the houses to be demolished,” said Ryu.
According to Ryu, the subject of demolition included all the buildings including resident houses, apartments and schools within 1km from the highway, except the “Kim Il Sung-Kim Jong Il Laboratories.”
“Their Workplaces should Take Care of the Forced out Residents”
The first demolition has already been done, which includes the areas of Sukchon, Munduk, Anju city, and the second demolition is to be started in fall. Those whose houses are on the list to be demolished have to move to the factories and live in the renovated storages or live into their acquaintances.
According to Ryu, the government of North Korea ordered each workplace to take care of the forced out residents. For this reason there are even cases of conflicts about lodgings between workers whose houses were demolished and factory managers. The managers have no way to support the workers. They tell them, “How could we support you when the factory is not even running?”
Also there are many people who visit the People’s Council demanding to “provide housing”, but the cadres too do not have any solution for them. When the people visit the city planning department, they are told to go to the managers and when they go to the managers, they are told to go to the city planning department.
In Order to Isolate Foreign Tourists from the Residents
When I was in Pyongyang, the highways of Pyongyang-Hyangsan and Pyongyang-Kaesung had all the houses demolished within 100m around the highway and they made the road straight. After they built the road, they expelled all the residents with “bad background (family line)” to out of Pyongyang for “the safety of Kim Jong Il.” Now they are saying “it does not good look to the foreign tourists,” and are demolishing all the houses within 1km around the highways.
The recent order of demolishment aims to eradicate all the elements that could harm safety of Kim Jong Il and prevent civilian contact between the residents and the foreign tourists.
A South Korean tourist who recently visited Keumkang Mountain says, “there is only bleak mountains around the roads, and there is no way to meet any North Koreans.” Behind those bleak mountains is where the expelled people are living.
“Inoki Incident” Caused Many People to Freeze to Death”
The recent demolishment order due to the construction of the highways between Pyongyang and Hyangsan is the second one after the first one, “Inoki Incident” in 1995.
The “Inoki Incident” was an incident where the North Korean government gave a sudden order for removal of all the residents around the Pyongyang-Hyangsan highway in April 1995, when Antonio Inoki, a famous Japanese pro-wrestler was (insisted) to hold his retirement match in Pyongyang.
At the time, the government of North Korea planned to earn foreign currency from foreign tourists to the Inoki’s retirement match. As part of the preparation, the government demolished all the old houses around the highway and drove residents into the mountainous regions starting at the end of 1994.
During the process, a violent confusion was created between the people who tried not to lose their homes and the government workers trying to drive people out. The Party secretaries and managers threatened people by saying, “Those ordered to leave their homes must leave immediately. If they do not wish to leave, they must provide a permission issued by the Party.” They justified their actions with the Party. In North Korea, one cannot survive if one refuses to follow orders from the Party.
There are many people who froze to death and hunger after they were forced to leave their homes in the cold winter by having tried to survive in the factory storages or self made tents. The government of North Korea believed holding Antonio Inoki’s match will bring in foreign currency and will be a help to the nation, but the result was death of thousands of North Korean people and residents’ evermore increasing grudge against the government.
Who will the people forced to leave this time blame for having forced to leave their homes?