April 20 (UPI) -- North Korea's power supply situation is "not good," and the regime must strive for better results, Pyongyang's minister of electric power industry said Monday.
In a column that ran in Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, Minister Kim Man Su said the power supply situation is less than adequate, industrial production has been "hindered," and "people's lives remain uncomfortable."
North Korea's electricity has historically been in short supply. Before the coronavirus pandemic prompted Pyongyang to close its borders, analysts had said the majority of the population has only intermittent access to electricity.
On Monday, Kim said in his article the solution to the worsening power shortage situation is to bring thermal power stations online and develop new thermal power plants.
Thermal power is more effective than hydropower, Kim said, citing declining water levels in North Korean reservoirs. The senior North Korean also said Bukchang Thermal Power Plant and Pyongyang Thermal Power Plant are examples of high-performing sites.
"We are pushing forward with advanced repairs of boilers, the computerization of automated equipment to increase per unit output while reducing coal consumption in thermal power plants," Kim said.
The statement did not mention the novel coronavirus.
North Korea has claimed zero cases of COVID-19 since January. On Monday Pyongyang propaganda service Naenara said the regime is preparing to reopen schools.
"Emergency prevention" agencies and education institutions are taking measures to prepare for the reopening of schools for high school and university students, state media said.
North Korea has suggested it has defended the country against the coronavirus, but last month Kim Jong Un ordered the construction of a new hospital in Pyongyang.
The project is to be completed by October in time for the 75th anniversary of the Workers' Party.
The construction of the hospital could be an opportunity for inter-Korea cooperation, a former South Korean official said Monday.
Former Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok said at a conference of the National Unification Advisory Council the South could offer medical support for the hospital, Newsis reported.