Flood in DPRK.
North Korea appeals for flood aid
03:44 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

A severe flood has exposed cracks in N. Korea's worker's paradise narrative

N. Korean state media reported on the Workers' Party's public appeal

So far, 133 people have been killed and 395 people are missing

CNN  — 

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.

Citing North Korean government data, the report described how heavy rains resulting from Typhoon Lionrock had triggered flooding in areas such as Musan and Yonsa counties and Hoeryong City in North Hamgyong province. So far, 133 people have been killed, 395 people are missing and 140,000 people are in “urgent need of assistance.”

Keeping wider social discontent at bay

The sheer scale of the disaster has led the North Korean government to ask for help.

“It’s not unheard of, but it’s rare for the North Korean government to make an open and public call for assistance,” Bradley Williams, a international relations professor at City University in Hong Kong, told CNN.

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.