February 13, 2017 11:56
Ryomyong Street in Pyongyang is a showcase boulevard for the regime's ambitions, the subject of feverish building activity and home to the privileged scientists who work on the nuclear and missile programs.
But construction is often rushed and materials are substandard. The official Rodong Sinmun daily carried a photograph early this month of Workers Party Secretary Choe Ryong-hae visiting a building site there.
But Radio Free Asia reported Friday that the reason was that a building had collapsed, killing or injuring around 30 people.
The boulevard is also home to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the embalmed corpses of nation founder Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il lie in state. One apartment block shoots 70 stories into the sky.
The boulevard was supposed to be completed in late 2016, but massive floods that hit North Hamgyong Province in September held the project up.
The Daily NK website reported that North Koreans are being ordered by authorities to hand over pots and pans and other metal utensils to supply raw materials for the boulevard.
Leader Kim Jong-un himself visited Ryomyong Street early this year and ordered completion by Kim Il-sung's birthday on April 15. A source said the building probably collapsed because corners were being cut to meet the deadline.
Choi Kyung-hee at Hanyang University said, "Kim Jong-un is forcing completion to give the impression that international sanctions are not having any effect. But really the project is a Potemkin Village that caters only to the elite and has nothing to do with the welfare of the general North Korean public."
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