North Korea has suffered the worst natural disaster in its history but it is blowing its trumpet of revolutionary socialism and trying to turn catastrophe into triumph.
Everywhere you look across dozens of miles of the country’s remote northeast, red flags flutter in the stiff breeze and work gangs toil to fix broken river banks, digging away mud that was piled deep by raging waters in recent floods.
Soldiers and citizens have been given three weeks by their leader Kim Jong Un to rebuild the town of Yonsa and house the 27,000 people who lost their dwellings, before the winter sets in at the end of the month.
It’s no easy task. Where 700 homes once stood, only five remain. To the rousing accompaniment of a military band, they are racing against time to build three-story apartment blocks to house the families.
Helping them are two children — a 13-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy — whose parents died in floods. They said their “Dear Leader” would be their father now and, while they had lost their parents, they hadn’t lost hope in a better future.
Kim Yong Sil, a mother in her late 30s, described how flood waters had hit their riverside home at two in the morning and swept away her husband who, she claimed, was trying to rescue “portraits of their great leaders” from the collapsing house. If her story sounded scripted, her tears were not. Read more