Go to contents

Chinese media: ‘Pyongyang is exclusively for the privileged’

Chinese media: ‘Pyongyang is exclusively for the privileged’

Posted December. 09, 2014 01:29,   


“China’s state-run monthly criticized North Korean society that is exclusively serving interests of the privileged class. "People’s Digest," a monthly published by the People’s Daily shed light on the reality of welfare in North Korea, which cannot be accessed by ordinary people, and introduced "Pyongyang Sanwon (Maternity Hospital)," the top maternity hospital in the North, as the best example.

According to the magazine, the corridors at Pyongyang Sanwon in Pyongyang’s Taedong-gang District is all covered with marble, with the floor of its lobby decorated with natural gemstones and stones in different colors amounting to over 100 tons.

The North introduces Pyongyang Sanwon as a medical institution for Pyongyang citizens. However, the Chinese monthly said, "For a pregnant woman to use the facility, she needs special ‘background’ or personal connection with an employee of the hospital."

Pyongyang Sanwon opened in 1980 with a 13-story building at land measuring 60,000 sq. meters. Marking the 30th anniversary in 2010, the hospital building had its interior and exterior renovated. This is the hospital where Hwang Seon, former vice spokesperson of the Democratic Labor Party in South Korea who is accused of being pro-North Korean, gave birth to a daughter by visiting the North in 2005.

The magazine also said upscale housing facilities in Pyongyang are also monopolized by a certain privileged group. Two high-rise luxury apartment buildings in cylinder shape in central Pyongyang is a housing complex exclusively for “people’s artists” who appeared in the operas "A Virgin Selling Flowers," and "Honglumong." All vehicles on the street are owned by senior officials of the Workers’ Party and the government, people’s artists, and senior officials of state-run companies, while ordinary people are not allowed to buy cars even if they can economically afford to.

In North Korea, people are clearly discriminated depending on whether they are Pyongyang citizens or not. Most top universities in the North are concentrated in Pyongyang, and most of the students who enter the universities are born in Pyongyang and have family registers based in the capital. Graduates of a university in Pyongyang are preferentially given positions at companies within Pyongyang.

After power supply to North Korea was completely halted after the dismantlement of the former Soviet Union, electricity is supplied to various North Korean cities on a restricted basis. However, people can use electricity 24 hours a day in a location within 30 minutes on foot from downtown Pyongyang. The number of people who starved to death was smaller in Pyongyang during severe famine in the 1990s due in large part to distribution of resources heavily focused on Pyongyang.

The magazine said, “For a resident in a provincial region to live in Pyongyang without family register in the capital city is a fantasy that is impossible to realize,” and labeled it "Dream of Pyongyang that is impossible to achieve."