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N. Koreans complain about regime’s discriminatory electricity supply policies

Accidents at North Korea’s coal mines are on the rise due to power shortages, but restaurants and nightclubs frequented by the country’s elite can count on electricity even late at night, Daily NK has learned. 

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in South Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Thursday that there have been at least six accidents since winter in which miners died of suffocation in coal mines near Tokchon, a city in the province.

When the power supply is interrupted, the mine’s ventilation fans shut down, cutting off the oxygen supply and suffocating the workers in the mine shafts. The coal mines have no natural ventilation, so fans are needed to keep the air circulating and ensure that miners have air to breathe.

Finally, inadequate power in coal mines leads to potentially fatal accidents for miners. As such, coal mines are a facility that has a critical need for reliable power.

But in reality, coal mines do not receive the power they need, resulting in frequent fatalities.

While every miner is supposed to have a headlamp, there is not even enough electricity to charge the batteries. As a result, it is reportedly common for teams of two or three miners to share a single headlamp.

“A” is a miner who has been working in a coal mine in Tokchon for years. “I believed the government’s propaganda and thought we had to share our headlamps because the country has a serious power shortage. But since people are suffocating because the ventilation system isn’t working, I feel so scared that it’s hard to do my job,” he said. 

Another worker at the same mine, “B,” expressed similar dissatisfaction. “Electricity is like our oxygen mask. Maybe other places can do without it, but coal mines at least need a power supply,” he said. 

Establishments frequented by party officials have nonstop electricity

But in the downtown nightlife establishments, including bars and restaurants that entertain party officials in South Pyongan Province, the electricity is never cut off, even at night. These establishments even have air conditioning.

“The gourmet restaurants and karaoke bars frequented by party officials and wealthy individuals always have enough electricity to keep the lights on and run their refrigerators, sound systems, and karaoke machines even at night. If this power alone were supplied to the coal mines, the number of accidents would be greatly reduced,” the source claimed.

As the facilities frequented by the elite never run out of electricity despite the country’s severe power shortage, ordinary North Koreans are increasingly complaining that they are discriminated against in access to electricity.

“The Workers’ Party always stresses that it’s improving people’s quality of life, but how can it do that without a steady supply of basic electricity? The power supply should be prioritized where it’s needed most,” the source said.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

June 25, 2024 at 12:30PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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