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With the country’s landmark 7th Party Congress in May fast approaching, North Koreans are being pushed to the brink for "revolutionary achievements," leading to overheated "loyalty competition" in some regions and in some cases, even fatalities, Daily NK has learned.   

North Korean officials have been encouraging all Party members to carry out a “70-day battle” ahead of the Party Congress, which is in essence a fight against the clock. State media have also stepped up propaganda encouraging people to “gear up in this battle to open a golden era of building a strong nation this year during which the Party Congress will be held.” 

“People have recently been so busy trying to keep up with attendance at events celebrating the success of the [purported] hydrogen bomb test and satellite launch, all the while carrying out tasks delegated to them for the Party Congress,” a source from Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on Wednesday. “Officials have been pushing people to their limits, saying it’s important to prove their loyalty, and this even led to an accident in which the person involved died.” 

“At the end of last month, a worker at Hyesan Mine, which is located near the Masan area of Hyesan City, fell down a 500m shaft to his death” the source continued, explaining that this incident resulted from a Party cadre pushing residents to their limits in light of the race to prove their loyalty to the leadership. 

The victim had asked for a day off saying he was not feeling well, but instead of granting permission, his supervisor only admonished him for “trying to get rest when everyone else is working hard to deliver results for the Party Congress,” according to the source. 

“Cadres are relentlessly pushing people to their limits like this, emphasizing results for the Party Congress,” the source said, right before launching into another among a host of examples. 

“At a forestry office around Paekam County, they’ve been making people work even though it’s 30 degrees Celsius below freezing, so residents are coming back from working in the snow with their feet ravaged by frostbite.” 

Conditions in Pochon County are much the same, reported a different source living in the area. “It’s easy to spot farmers with mouth sores because they’re forced to collect humus [decayed organic matter soil's top layer] and manure every day [to turn over to the state to use for fertilizer] while also attending celebrations for the nuclear bomb and February 16 events [Kim Jong Il’s birthday),” he said, lamenting the continual sacrifices beleaguered residents are compelled to make under nonstop Party mandates. 

“The country [Kim Jong Un] wants people to just follow Party orders blindly without complaint, but I’ve heard plenty of people airing their grievances, and employing that old adage they often do when utterly exasperated here: ‘even a worm will turn.’”