Aug. 4 (UPI) — Young North Koreans seeking to escape the cycle of poverty in rural regions are migrating to cities, where there are more opportunities to make money in the markets.
A source in the country’s North Pyongan Province told South Korean news service Daily NK migration began “a few years ago,” but the trend is accelerating.
“Residents living in the rural areas began to leave for the cities from a few years ago, and this trend has been rapidly increasing. In Jongju County, more than half of the young men have left their hometowns to find work elsewhere to feed their families,” the source recently said.
“Young women are also leaving for the cities to make money, and the local authorities appear unable to stem the tide,” the source added.
Middle-aged North Koreans are joining their younger peers in the cities, including a “Mr. Lee” in his 50s, according to the report.
Lee once worked at a state-operated farm in North Pyongan Province, but left because he saw no future in his hometown.
Rural residents sometimes consider leaving after hearing stories of “other people” who made money in the cities and earned an opportunity to live in “newly built cement houses.”
“In North Korea, you can earn more working on construction sites for a month in the city than what can be earned on a farm for a year. This is causing an increasing number of farmers to migrate in search of work,” Daily NK’s source said.
Farmers in North Pyongan Province make little income from harvested rice because “most of it is sent to the army.”
Corrupt officials who extort funds from locals were also motivating people to leave, according to the report.