From Telephone Operator to Heroine

The Songchon County Post Office in South Phyongan Province is an ordinary building in the mountainous county.

“Our post office produced the first operator heroine in the country,” said Director Yun Song Ho.

She is Kim Song Hwa (pictured) who was awarded the title of Labour Hero at the age of 24.

According to Yun, Kim was assigned to the county post office as a telephone operator after finishing her technical school course in 1965.

In 1967, the DPRK was hit by an unprecedentedly devastating flood. Songchon County also suffered much damage as the Piryu River was in spate.

At that time, Kim Song Hwa was responsible for ensuring communication with Pyongyang, but it was cut off. To address the problem, she threw herself into the flooded river and succeeded in tracing the cable that had been cut apart. But as she failed to connect the cut lines, she grasped both ends.

Thanks to her self-sacrificing effort, the communication with Pyongyang was resumed, the situation of the afflicted county was informed to the capital and necessary rehabilitation measures were taken immediately, Yun added.

Kim was awarded the title of Labour Hero in 1972.

She is now working as the director of the Taedonggang District Post Office in Pyongyang despite her advanced age of 75.

“I came to understand what kind of person a hero is, while working with her,” said Kim Sun Yong, employee at her post office.

It happened in 2016 when Kim Song Hwa greeted her 70th birthday. Her children prepared a big feast to congratulate her on her birthday. “The country brought up this ordinary woman from a remote mountain village to be a heroine. I want to live as befits the title of hero,” she told her children and got them to send all the foods they had prepared to a major construction site.

The title of hero is not a ticket for a comfortable life, she often says.

“She always leads an honourable life becoming to a heroine,” said Kwon Sung Hyok, section chief of the Pyongyang Municipal Posts and Telecommunications Management Bureau.

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