A house in North Korea’s Hyesan City, just across the Yalu River, a stone’s throw from China. People in the border region prefer detached houses to apartments, because North Korean apartments often struggle with power shortages and intermittent running water. Taken by ASIAPRESS in May 2014.


ASIAPRESS reporting partners in Hyesan City, Yanggang Province reported that work to tear down houses and public buildings along the Yalu River that divides North Korea from China is in full swing.(Kang Ji-won)

In a telephone conversation on October 30, a reporting partner at Hyesan City reported, “Houses within 50m of the border were demolished and construction of apartments started in Hyesin-Dong and Hyegang-Dong [suburbs of the city]. People who used to live in the now demolished houses are either temporarily staying in other peoples’ houses, as directed by the local Inminban (Neighborhood Unit), or with relatives.”

*Hyesin-Dong and Hyegang-Dong are located in the center of Hyesan City.

On the same day, another reporting partner also said, “Yesterday I tried to meet my acquaintance at Kangan-Dong, but I struggled to find him as the houses along the river have all been pulled down.”

*Kangan-Dong is suburb of Hyesan City, 1 km away from the city to the north.

ASIAPRESS Reporting partner ‘A’ further explained in regards to the ongoing construction in the area: “The state supplied the materials. The would-be tenants should also work even though the 618 Dolgyokdae (Shock Troops) are supposed to be mobilized. The construction work goes in stages, from 1, to 2, and then completion in stage 3. The first stage is taking place in Hyesan-Dong, the second in Weeyon.

The North Korean government has initiated the construction plan to stem the flow of outside information from China and to clamp down on illegal border crossing and smuggling. The plan to tear down homes located along the border was decided on in 2014.

The local authorities declared that demolition would be carried out according to the directives of the Party and everyone must be prepared to follow these directives, disseminated through the Inminban meetings.

*Directives issued from the Party mean that they come directly from Kim Jong-un.

‘B’, a reporting partner who is well informed on the demolitions, explained, “The government decided to tear down our shacks and to build new buildings. Just across the river, it’s possible to see tidy and neat houses in China. Adding to the need to construct better buildings, the area is well known for smuggling and defections, so [the government decided that] a buffer zone must be established as a second 38 parallel (Demilitarized Zone; DMZ).”

Changbai County of Jilin Province in China faces Hyesan City. The Yalu River bisects the two areas. It is notorious for smuggling and defections. Taken from the Chinese side in June 2010. (ASIAPRESS)


In Hyesan, the power supply has improved, even though, throughout North Korea, people continue to suffer from chronic power shortages.

“The power supply is better these days. Sometimes, power is supplied for five hours in the Hyesan area, although I’m uncertain about how other areas are faring. In the suburbs, like Weeyon, people are struggling with the water supply, due to problems with the pump system. But in the central area this isn’t the case, because of the head drop system,” explained reporting partner A.


Rimjingang_banner001* Editor’s notes on North Korean reporters
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