Speed matters, Kim Jong-un tells his builders

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Speed matters, Kim Jong-un tells his builders

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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, center, visited an ongoing construction site for two 46-story apartment buildings for faculty of the Kim Chaek University of Technology on the scenic riverside of Taedong River on Tuesday in Pyongyang. [Rodong Sinmun]

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is still insisting on the speedy construction of a new residential apartment complex despite the deadly collapse of another high-rise building in Pyongyang, official outlets reported.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported yesterday Kim visited an ongoing construction site for two 46-story apartment buildings for faculty of the Kim Chaek University of Technology on the scenic riverside of Taedong River in Pyongyang.

Kim’s visit came just a week after a 23-story building under construction collapsed on May 13 in Pyongchon District, in southern Pyongyang.

Although North Korean media did not disclose the number of casualties, South Korea’s Unification Ministry quoted sources saying there were 92 families allegedly living in the yet-to-be completed building.

At the time, sources speculated that the collapse could have been the result of Kim’s policy speeding up construction on projects, dubbed “Masikryong Speed,” a reference to the swift completion of the Masikryong Ski Resort in North Korea, which was allegedly hurried along with shoddy materials and workmanship.

But Kim urged workers to complete the construction of the faculty housing on the Taedong River by Oct. 10, the anniversary of the foundation of the ruling Workers’ Party.

“He dispatched troops from Korean People’s Army unit no. 267, who also participated in the construction of the residences for faculty of Kim Il Sung University,” the KCNA said. “He encouraged the creation of a miracle to complete the construction of the high-rise buildings within a few months, just like a windstorm.”

KCNA said Kim decided to build residences for Kim Chaek University teachers when he paid a so-called field guidance visit in August 2013 to the construction site of residential apartments for Kim Il Sung University faculty.

Army unit no. 267 troops took part in the construction of those buildings, which were completed by Oct. 10, 2013 as encouraged by Kim, according to the KCNA. On Oct. 9, 2013, KCNA reported, Kim attended the completion ceremony with his wife Ri Sol-ju.

Apparently cognizant of last week’s collapse of the apartment building in Pyongyang, Kim encouraged soldiers to “firmly guarantee the safety of the building.”

Kim also exhorted workers to build apartment buildings to accommodate 500 more families of Kim Chaek University teachers, KCNA said, by next April 15, the anniversary of the birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, his grandfather.

The new residential complex for the Kim Chaek University teachers will be called the Street for Future Scientists, Kim said, according to KCNA.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]



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