Another Pyongyang High-Riser in Danger of Collapse

Another apartment building in Pyongyang is reportedly in danger of collapse as fear spreads after a 23-story apartment building collapsed in the North Korean capital early this month, killing hundreds of people.

Both high-risers were built as upmarket homes for the elite.

A government source here on Tuesday cited rumors that an apartment building in Mansudae in downtown Pyongyang has subsided around 10 cm and dozens of cracks have appeared in the walls. "Fearing a collapse, residents are racing to sell their apartments and move out," the source added.

Located in the heart of Pyongyang, the building is just 620 m from parliament and 1.1 km from the giant bronze statues of nation founder Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il.

If the apartment that collapsed recently housed mid-level officials, the one in Mansudae is home to high-ranking party and military officials, according to a source in Pyongyang.

One unit is valued at more than US$100,000. The apartment block was completed in September 2012.

Construction was rushed to be ready for the 100th anniversary of Kim Il-sung's birth in April 2012. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited the site several times ordering workers to hurry.

The state-run Rodong Shinmun daily proudly reported that the frame for the 45-story building was constructed in just 87 days.

The Pyongyang source said that it showed signs of shoddy construction even when it was being built. It started tilting at one point, so workers put up screens while they tried to fix the problem.

Another building nearby reportedly suffers from clogged drains and chipping tiles and is being inspected by officials. And at the posh Haedangwha restaurant favored by the elite, the steel frame is exposed in places, another source in Pyongyang said.

The source said, "There are rumors among workers who built the restaurant that the cement used to build it did not set properly since it was built in winter, and that makes it vulnerable to collapse."

Early this year, Kim Jong-un declared the start of a major construction renaissance, and even during a recent visit to a building site after the apartment collapse he promised to continue the initiative.

One expert at a state-run research institute here said, "Kim Jong-un has been focusing on speedy construction in an attempt to get visible short-term results, but most of his projects have turned out to be shoddily built."

englishnews@chosun.com / May 28, 2014 11:28 KST