January 25, 2018 11:36
Pyongyang is suffering from acute shortages of food, electricity and oil in the wake of international sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs. Sources said the shortages are already being referred to as the third "arduous march," a term recalling the deadly famine of the 1990s.
Serious electricity shortages resulted from shutdowns of two main power plants in Pyongyang that lasted more than 10 days so far this year. Coal mines have not been able to produce enough supplies, and whatever coal has been mined cannot be transported due to the power shortage, according to a source.
Coke imports from China have stopped due to the sanctions, causing operations at the two power plants to grind to a halt.
Even the apartments of the party and military elite often go without power and heating. The only areas of Pyongyang that get regular power supplies are the elite Ryomyong and Changchon districts.
"There is no electricity, so people who are given rations of corn cannot go to the gristmills and have to do the grinding at home," the source added.
Food rations in Pyongyang have fallen by half, and there is barely any white rice. The state handed out rations of potatoes instead for the New Year.
Oil supplies have also dwindled, sending prices of heating and cooking oil through the roof. Diesel oil, which used to cost 13,000 North Korean won, or about W1,800, per liter in November last year has soared to 16,000 to 17,000 North Korean won.
Even people who are willing to pay 20,000 won per liter are having difficulties finding supplies. The oil shortage has halted heating, and hospitals are flooded with people with cold-related illnesses.
The latest UN Security Council sanctions slashed oil supplies by a third, and exports of North Korean minerals have also been banned, leading to a 23.8-percent decline in the North's shipments to China in the third quarter of last year.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com