Authorities demand money from residents for Musan Mine operation
The North Korean authorities are attempting to collect money from locals to inject some life back into the Musan iron mine after it took a major hit from international sanctions recently. But residents are reportedly pushing back against the order, according to sources in the region.
"The party recently disseminated orders for residents to quickly support efforts for the Musan Mine," a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on February 21. "But the situation is dire in the Yonsa and Musan county areas, where a great number of households are only able to eat twice a day, leading to complaints about the food situation."
"The assignment orders were dispatched through the North Hamgyong Provincial Party Committee to people in Rason, but there are complaints because trade in general has taken a significant hit due to international sanctions,” she continued.
Many in the area are reportedly voicing their concern that they cannot contribute anything until trade resumes. "Life has become very difficult for people in this region, and it shows," the source said.
At least one third of the farmland in North Hamgyong Province was damaged in major flooding that occurred in 2016, and many residents lost their personal plots as well. A poor harvest in 2017 added to the problems for residents who are struggling to make a living under these conditions.
Another principle cause of increasing distrust in the government is the fact that locals have seen the monetary and material contributions toward such mobilization schemes in the past go mostly into the pockets of the authorities and not towards the intended projects or increased food provision.
"People continue to lose hope in receiving aid from the authorities as well. They are complaining that they don't know how to feed their families when they only receive enough for one person to live on," she added.
More and more North Koreans are seeking to rely on themselves and their families, rather than the government, to make a living.
"The central and local authorities are going on about the need to donate money to help restart the Musan Mine, but those who would supposedly receive that aid don't actually believe they will in the end," a separate source in North Hamgyong Province said, adding that people are already scrambling to collect iron filings from anywhere that water is flowing, and have for a long time now collected iron scraps from the Tumen River to present to the authorities as part of these assignments.