The North Korean authorities are reportedly pressuring residents to pay for food and safety equipment for construction workers in Samjiyon County, Ryanggang Province, prompting complaints among residents across the country.
Although the contributions are supposedly voluntary, in reality, everyone is compelled to provide donations.
“The development of Samjiyon began in earnest in November last year following the Marshal’s (Kim Jong Un) instructions to rebuild the site. The authorities are basically forcing residents to pay for food and construction materials, as they have been unable to procure enough supplies despite the large number of workers that have been mobilized for the project,” a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on March 29.
“In recent days, kimchi, soybean sauce, gloves, and other provisions are being collected from residents nationwide to send to Samjiyon. Complaints are rising because the country is in the middle of the agricultural lean season.”
State propaganda purports that Samjiyon, located near Mount Paektu, is Kim Jong Il’s birthplace and extols the broader Paektu region as the sacred grounds of Kim Il Sung’s revolutionary activities.
Kim Jong Un’s ardent interest in revamping the areas is part of an overall strategy to consolidate power and build up his own cult of idolization as the rightful successor within the so-called “Paektu bloodline.”
For this reason, Samjiyon County is being provided with electricity produced at the Paektu Songun Youth Power Station built in 2015. In addition, solar panels are reportedly being installed across the region in order to illuminate the idolization murals and statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
Kim Jong Un has reportedly ordered the mobilization of all government and civilian resources to restore Samjiyon following a local inspection of the region. The efforts are aimed at shoring up ideological support by emphasizing “revolutionary traditions.”
“Kim Jong Un has been forcing residents to make contributions to the places he visits, including Ryomyong Street in Pyongyang, and Samjiyon County, prompting remarks among residents that they wish he would just stay put,” said a separate source in Ryanggang Province.
“People are getting tired of cadres laboring on the point that everyone must contribute until their death. Especially for those struggling to get by, there isn’t much to survive on after they contribute their winter stores, especially after their crops have been pillaged.”
Meanwhile, North Korea’s Workers’ Party-run publication Rodong Sinmun reported on March 27 that the state has supplied the Samjiyon region with dozens of modern farming machines including tractors and trucks “so as to build an ideal communist village, a paradise for people, on the Paektu plateau before others.”