Kim Jong-un visiting Samjiyeon. His visit was a huge burden for local residents. From the Rodong Sinmun, dated October 30.

Since late October, the power supply to residents in the northern regions has been cut off. This is said to be due to electricity being diverted to Samjiyeon for the construction of a tourist zone, a project in which Kim Jong-un has taken great interest. Locals residents are becoming increasingly upset with the situation as they are being mobilized to work on the project and yet have no power in their homes. (Kang Ji-won / ISHIMARU Jiro)

"I thought that I would finally be able to live a decent life, but I was disappointed,"

said a reporting partner residing in Hyesan City, a city close to Samjiyeon. The reporting partner has been living without a stable power supply since the end of October and reported that, at the moment, there is no power whatsoever being supplied to Hyesan City.

The sudden and complete blackouts began when Kim Jong-un visited Samjiyeon County at the end of October. According to the reporting partner, the authorities explained the reason for the power outages thusly:

"Kim Jong-un gave orders to concentrate all efforts on the construction work at Samjiyeon, so the electricity originally intended for residents in the northern provinces of Yanggang, Chagang and North Hamkyung have been directed to Samjiyeon as a top priority.”

Residents mobilized for construction and forced to provide supplies and electricity

Samjiyeon County is located at the foot of Mt. Baekdu, the famous mountain visited by President Moon Jae-in in September.

Back in November 2016, following Kim Jong-un’s orders, a large number of residents were mobilized in order to quickly complete construction of a special tourism zone in Samjiyeon.

From late 2017, the power supply to residential areas, except for Pyongyang, worsened nationwide. To compensate, the government created an increasing number of 'power saving' districts where electricity was only partially supplied. In June of this year, however, the power supply situation suddenly improved, with rumors going around that Kim Jong-un had negotiated with President Xi for China to supply power to North Korea.

This improvement greatly pleased average North Koreans. As electricity was being provided for about 10 hours a day across the country, locals began to think that they would be able to "live like human beings". However, the improvement was not to last as power was abruptly cut off at the end of October. In Yanggang Province, the supply of electricity suddenly decreased from18-24 hours of service per day to just 10 hours a day.

Electric heaters used to dry cement...