April 08, 2019 12:48
North Korea has delayed massive construction project in the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist zone as international sanctions turn off the spigot.
According to the official [North] Korean Central News Agency on Saturday, leader Kim Jong-un visited the coastal tourist zone for the first time in six months and pushed back the deadline so the project can be completed by nation founder Kim Il-sung's birthday in April 2020.
His pet project was scheduled to be completed by Oct. 10 this year, which is the founding day of the Workers Party. But lachrymose earlier reports in the state media said workers have to use their "bare hands" because of the shortage of equipment and fuel caused by international sanctions.
When he visited Wonsan last August, Kim referred to U.S.-led sanctions to "robbery" and an attempt to "suffocate" North Korea and called on workers to complete the construction of the tourist zone by Oct. 10 this year.
Meanwhile, the regime has executed five people in a wide-ranging purge of senior officials purporting to be a crackdown on corruption but widely seen as an extortion racket.
The Tokyo Shimbun on Saturday said a probe of Kim's own bodyguards last October led to the discovery of officials hiding millions of U.S. dollars, and five people were executed by firing squad.
The North's foreign-currency reserves and Kim's own slush funds are dwindling, and he is desperate to get his hands on any money top officials may be hiding. A source told the daily the main purpose of the crackdown is to get unusually rich officials to "cough up" money if they want to survive it.
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