North Korea’s government has ordered the country’s provinces to build nursing homes for senior citizens as part of a New Year’s push to complete showcase projects, but is passing the cost of labor and construction on to local citizens who are already strapped for cash, North Korean sources say.
One center is now scheduled to be built in the Puyun district of North Hamgyong province’s Chongjin city, a source in the northern province bordering China told RFA’s Korean Service.
“But all the funding for construction, including materials and labor, is being demanded from area residents,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Since the Central Committee ordered us to build the nursing facility, the amount of tax assessment we have to pay has been doubled,” the source said. “We now have to contribute 10 kg. of corn per family member to support the construction work.”
Other projects ordered by the government at the New Year now have citizens “busy collecting scrap iron, scrap copper, and scrap paper, and producing manure for compost,” the source said.
“Now the residents have the additional burden of building nursing homes, and they are complaining strongly that the country is demanding more and more from them without providing them with anything in return,” he said.
Facilities hidden away
Orphanages for pre-school and older children are also being built in Chongjin’s Ranam district, far from the city center, and the nursing home being built in Puyun will be even farther away, the source said, adding, “Many people are wondering if these facilities are being built in such remote areas to avoid spoiling the beauty of the city.”
Also speaking to RFA, another source in North Hamgyong said that construction on the nursing home is already under way.
“It is being built to fulfill one of the tasks ordered by the Central Committee in the New Year’s message, but the requirement forcing residents to supply the construction funds and materials has become a burden,” he said.
“State authorities will say that this project is Kim Jong Un’s achievement, though, so it is getting harder for the residents to remain calm.”
“These requirements from the New Year’s message are just shackling the people and making their lives even worse,” he said.
Reported by Jieun Kim for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Leejin Jun. Written in English by Richard Finney.