Resource Scarcity Reaches Critical Level

Changchun, China — A range of government projects which are planned for completion by 2012 have recently stalled one after the other due to a lack of resources.

An inside Yangkang Province source relayed some information on the source of the problems to the Daily NK on the 9th, “Due to a shortage of cement, iron bars and gunpowder, the construction of the ‘Mt. Baekdu Railway Tourism Project’ had to cease,” he explained, “The shock brigade which were supposed to be constructing the railway were relocated to a fruit farm construction site in Kangwon Province in August.”

The North Korean authorities, as part of the “General’s (Kim Jong Il) Hometown Beautification Project,” completely dismantled the railway between Hyesan and Samjiyeon in 2005 and planned a new rail route.

Accordingly, they had mobilized the 30,000-strong Shock Brigade for the Propagation of Party Ideology (so called June 18 Shock Brigade) since August last year and held an official groundbreaking ceremony in commemoration of Kim Jong Il’s birthday on February 15th this year.

However, materials stopped arriving in April, halting construction.

The source explained, “Due to a shortage of explosives, cement and girders preventing blasting and delaying roadbed projects, the shock troops have been idle for a while. As a result, they were relocated to a new construction site in Gosan, Kangwon Province in August.”

During the “150-Day Battle,” North Korea had planned to complete the construction of a fruit farm in Gosan, but a shortage of equipment and oil delayed the project. So the shock brigade which had been dispatched to construct the Mt. Baekdu Railway was sent down. Apparently only guards remain at the railway construction site in Yangkang Province.”

Similarly, although the project to modernize a 10,000 hectare of a potato farm in Baegam, Yangkang Province got a lot of attention initially, it has also ceased. The construction of a broad-gauge railroad between Baegam and Daetaek in Yangkang Province is also suspended.

In North Hamkyung Province, the construction of Hoiryeong Food Street has had to be stopped as well due to a shortage of materials.

The city, the birthplace of Kim Jong Il’s mother Kim Jong Suk, submitted a proposal to the Central Committee of the Party stating “We will rebuild our mother’s birthplace as a tourist city” in January of this year. Approval was granted during Kim Jong Il’s onsite inspection to Hoiryeong in February and 800,000 dollars was diverted to fund the project. However, the project is also facing collapse due to girder and cement shortages.”

A source in the province gave one explanation, “Because the Central Committee is concentrating on building 100,000 residential homes in Pyongyang, it has ordered that provincial construction projects be taken care of independently. Also, the fact that the authorities are focusing on power plant construction projects such as the Eorang Stream Power Plant, Baekdu Military-first Youth Power Plant, and Heecheon Power Plant has worsened the resource shortage in the provinces.”

He added, “Many provincial officials are already concerned about project evaluation meetings planned for December. Since projects related to the General should be completed without debate, many officials are likely to lose their positions.”