On November 16, Kim Jong-un visited Samjiyon in northern Ryanggang Province, but residents have complained about the inconvenience of being forbidden to go out for several days (Kang Ji-won).
Samjiyon is a highland city at the foot of Mt. Paektu that has been wrongfully advertised as the "holy land of the revolution" where Kim Jong-il was born (he was born in Russia's Primorsky Territory). In November 2016, Kim Jong-un ordered a world-class international tourism zone to be built, and the rush construction began. In December 2019, the second of three phases were completed.
The following is a question-and-answer session with an interviewee who lives in the neighbouring city of Hyesan.
◆ Prices rise due to traffic restrictions.
――When did the restrictions start?
From November 13, all vehicles travelling to and from Samjiyon were prohibited from passing through. Also, due to the traffic restrictions, the rice price went up by about 10% for a few days.
――Was it inconvenient for the residents?
Kim Jong-un flew in from Pyongyang, and from the 13th, Samjiyon residents were not permitted to go out. Instead, they were gathered in one room in each apartment and forced to stay in place wearing masks.
――While the Samjiyon construction has been advertised to be completed by October 2020, how is the progress?
This year, we haven't made much progress because we don't have enough construction materials due to the economic slump, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging to mobilize construction personnel. So we didn't make much progress this year, just tidying up and building a few houses.
――How is life in Samjiyon?
We have banned using coal and firewood in our apartments and have switched to electric heating. Now that we are in the cold season, electricity is available almost 24 hours a day. The electricity situation is much better than in Pyongyang, and people from other parts of the country envy us because they say it is a whole new world. Still, there is no rationing, and some residents don't like the inconvenience of living in the mountains and want to move elsewhere.
※ ASIAPRESS contacts its reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.
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