July 21, 2020 13:19
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has flown into a rage over the shoddy construction of a hospital that is one of his pet projects and fired all those responsible.
Kim was visiting the construction site of a general hospital in Pyongyang that the regime aims to complete for the 75th anniversary of the Workers Party on Oct. 10.
The project is seen as vital for shoring up Kim's support at a time of dire food shortages and a collapsing economy amid international sanctions and the coronavirus epidemic.
Thousands have been pressed into construction work amid rumors of blatant extortion to aid the project.
The North's official Korean Central News Agency on Monday quoted Kim as saying, "The construction coordination commission is organizing economy in a careless manner with no budget for the construction properly set up yet."
KCNA said that Kim "severely rebuked it for burdening the people by encouraging all kinds of 'assistance,' noting that it is making a serious digression from the party's policy in supplying equipment and materials."
The commission "failed to solve all the problems in conformity with the party's policy… if such situation is left to go on, the noble plan and intention of the party which initiated the glorious and worthwhile construction for the good of the people could be distorted and the image of the party be tarnished," KCNA cited.
Kim then ordered party leaders to "replace all the officials responsible and make strict referral of them."
The construction of the hospital is a matter of vital concern for the supreme leader. He broke ground himself on March 17. He also ordered his Cabinet to supply all necessary materials and equipment as early as possible.
The project was also a top agenda item during a meeting of the Politburo chaired by Kim himself on July 2, taking pride of place alongside the fight against coronavirus.
But the project has reportedly hit a snag despite Kim's keen attention. "No medical equipment or supplies have been procured yet, although the building itself is up," a source said. "North Korean trade officials are working hard in China and elsewhere to procure them, but to little avail."
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