North Korea usually projects itself to the world as a fully functioning worker’s paradise. Yet severe flooding in the country’s northeast has resulted in a rare admission that all is not so well.
According to a report published Sunday by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) — North Korea’s official state media — the country’s northeast has been affected by the “heaviest downpour” since 1945, with “tens of thousands” of buildings destroyed and people left homeless and “suffering from great hardship.”
Figures released by the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs confirmed the natural disaster. So far, 133 people have been killed, 395 people are missing and 140,000 people are in “urgent need of assistance.”
The KCNA report stated how the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) had sent a public appeal to party members and service personnel of the Korean People’s Army to pool their efforts toward recovery operations to help those in the worst-hit regions. According to the report, the WPK even redirected a nationwide 200-day mass mobilization campaign aimed at boosting the economy toward helping flood victims.
Chris Staines, the head of a Red Cross delegation to North Korea, said he witnessed how the floods had “destroyed everything in their path” during a government-led trip to North Hamgyong province between September 6-9. Shelter will be a major concern in the coming months, Staines said in a statement. “Thousands of homes will need to be rebuilt before winter sets in and by the end of October overnight temperatures can plummet to sub-zero,” he added.