(Photo) A woman washing clothes in the Yalu River. The water from the river is also used for drinking. Sanitary conditions in North Korea are poor. Photographed from the Chinese side in July 2017 by ASIAPRESS.


The power supply for civilian use, known as the "residents' line," has been improving in the northern region of North Korea since mid-November.

Our reporting partners, living in various parts of the country, surveyed the daily electricity supply at the end of November and found that Sinuiju City in North Pyongan Province and Hyesan City in Ryanggang Province had about 10 hours of electricity supply at night. In addition, Musan County in North Hamkyung Province had about five hours of electricity supply at night.

In North Korea, electricity for production facilities and the party, government agencies, and cooperative farms is referred to as the "industrial line." At present, the industrial line supplying electricity to North Korea’s largest iron mine, in Musan, “is operating for more than 18 hours [daily]," said a reporting partner.

Concentrate electricity towards farms

This year, the power situation was worse than usual. This was due to the extreme trade restrictions brought on by closing the border with China to prevent the influx of coronavirus. As a result, when power generation and transmission facilities failed, machinery and parts could not be imported from China, causing power plant operating rates fell.

In August, even in the central cities of the provinces, the "residents' line" was only supplied electricity for one to three hours a day. This was because power was being turned over to the "industrial line" as a priority.

Well, what is the reason for the sudden turnaround in the electricity situation from mid-November? Our reporting partner in North Hamkyung Province says, "It is because electricity was channelled towards harvesting and threshing work at the cooperative farms since the beginning of September, but now that work is over." Meanwhile, it is unclear whether the machinery and parts for power generation and transmission equipment have been imported from China.

In late December, rivers will begin to freeze, and hydroelectric power plants will stop operating. From now until the latter half of March, the power situation in North Korea will be at its worst (Kang Ji-won).

※ ASIAPRESS contacts its reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.