Power shortage in Pyongyang prompts residents to move to older housing

Two stories out with similar themes:

The first is from the Daily NK:

Many of the residents of luxury apartments in Pyongyang are leaving their homes for the heated homes of relatives or other warmer locations.

An inside source who visited Pyongyang at the end of last month said in a phone interview with the Daily NK today, “People previously had no supplies of water so didn’t have drinking water and could not go to the bathroom without difficulty, but now that there are heating problems too the people are inevitably leaving their homes. This year, many people are locking their homes and leaving for warmer places.”

The source said, “When I went to Pyongyang just three years ago, the people still stayed in their apartments even without heat, but now half of them are gone, they went to East Pyongyang where the pre-1980s homes are heated with charcoal briquettes.”

The source added, “Even until last year, the residents in these apartments spent the whole winter season there with cotton blankets on the floor all day long, filling pint bottles with hot water to warm their blankets when they slept; however, as the situation has gotten worse this year whole families cannot take any more and have chosen to leave their homes behind.”

The 20-40 storey apartments on Gwangbok and Tongil Streets, which are boasted of by the North Korean authorities for their modernity, are among those falling into dilapidation.

The source explained, “If the rooms had just enough lukewarm water that they wouldn’t freeze we could live, but now they are not even able to do that. Nobody knows when heat will come.”

Among many North Korean people, the situation is such that the letter ‘ㄹ’ has come to be ridiculed, with people saying that they suffer from a particular lack of words that have the letter ‘ㄹ’ in them, for example, water (‘물’), fire/electric (‘불’), and rice (‘쌀’).

The second story is from Reuters:

North Korea’s capital faces its worst electricity shortages in years just as a new leadership takes power in the impoverished state and pushes ahead with lavish building projects to celebrate the centenary of its founder’s birth.

The Pyongyang-based diplomat, who asked not to be named, said the city of 3 million and home to the leadership elite, has seen daily power supplies almost evaporate as freezing winter temperatures bite.

“Embassies and others with generators are using them most of the time to compensate both for poor quality and cuts, and I can tell you that power problems are a main issue of discussion,” said the diplomat, one of a small number of foreigners allowed to live in the country.

“We certainly assess that there is more darkness on the streets and in the residential blocks in the evening than before/during the mourning period (for Kim Jong-il).”

The young Kim Jong-un has been declared the country’s new “supreme leader” following the death of his father Kim Jong-il in December.

Fuel shortages have long been a chronic problem in North Korea which is heavily sanctioned by the outside world for a series of nuclear and missile tests.

Temperatures in the capital on Wednesday hit -19 Celsius (-2 Fahrenheit).

This winter’s outages have coincided with Pyongyang’s building spree to mark the 100th anniversary this year of the birth of founder Kim Il-sung — the current leader’s grandfather — including building 100,000 new homes in the capital.

The North is also struggling with chronic food shortages, with United Nations’ food agencies estimating nearly 3 million people will need food assistance this year.

Read the full stories here:
No Electricity, No Water, No Patience
Daily NK
Choi Song Min

North Korea Power Cut: Pyongyang Diplomat Says Capital Faces Worst Electricity Shortages In Years


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