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New greenhouses in rural North Korea grow tons of vegetables, but not for locals

A North Korean greenhouse project promised to provide citizens of a rural province with more vegetables than they could ever eat. But two years later, the food is bypassing their mouths and being shipped to the capital Pyongyang to be served to the country’s elites, sources told RFA.

Authorities started the greenhouse farm project, the first of its kind in North Korea, in Jungphyong village, which is part of Kyongsong county in the northeastern province of North Hamgyong. The farm sits on 490 acres of land and includes about 300 greenhouses. “The authorities loudly propagated that the residents of North Hamgyong and Kyongsong county would greatly benefit from the greenhouse construction project, but the vegetables ended up not being for people like us,” a resident of the county told RFA’s Korean Service.

“Last week, the Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported that the Jungphyong Vegetable Greenhouse Farm had produced about 10,000 tons of fresh produce, including cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, and crown daisy,” said the source. Crown daisy is a popular leafy vegetable. The newspaper report said that the vegetables were delivered to the people of the province last year, according to the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons.

The dismay is all the greater because authorities relied on residents of the county to build the project. “They worked for over a year. Not many people complained because they had the hope that they would be able to eat their fill of vegetables in the very near future,” the source said. “None of the vegetables went to the province. I heard from a friend who works at the greenhouse farm that most of the vegetables were loaded onto the train to Pyongyang,” he said.

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