Report: North Korea cracks down on Pyongyang population growth

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  Aug. 16, 2017 at 10:17 AM
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Aug. 16 (UPI) -- North Korean authorities want to decrease the number of residents living in Pyongyang, the country's showcase capital city, according to sources in the country.

A source in the Chung-guyok district of Pyongyang told Radio Free Asia the "central policy of reducing the population of Pyongyang was relayed from the central committee of the Korean Workers' Party to the Pyongyang city council committee."

The crackdown against a burgeoning urban population, however, may have begun since the earliest days of Kim Jong Un's rule, according to the report.

As recently as 2010, Pyongyang's population was estimated to be about 3 million, but since then, the number of city inhabitants has shrunk to 2.6 million, RFA reported.

Further steps are being taken to reduce the population to 2 million, sources in the country say.

"Through meetings, details on reducing the populations were delivered to city residents," RFA's Pyongyang source said.

Another source in the country said the latest policy announcement is drawing mixed reactions.

"City residents are showing conflicted responses to the announcement from the central [Workers'] party," the source said. "While some said the policy is good because it means they can be exempt from the various regulations and burdens placed on Pyongyang citizens, some are feeling inconvenienced because they will be stripped of [city life] privileges."

A third North Korea-based source said the move was promoted as a means to "continue food rationing to the citizens of Pyongyang" at a time when the system is facing constraints.

But the source also said there may be a hidden motive in the ordinance, to "filter out" less loyal members of the city's relatively well-off population.

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