SEOUL – Plans to build a $200m international airport on North Korea’s East coast are on hold due to “political instability issues”, an architecture firm responsible for the design and realization of the project told NK News.
A Hong Kong investment company invested the $200m in the construction of a major “international airport” on North Korea’s East coast, a spokesperson from PLT, the architecture firm behind the designs revealed by NK News last month said.
“The conceptual architectural stage has been approved by the North Korean Korean Special Economic Zone,” the spokesperson said, “[But] the project is on hold due to political instability issues, We are [awaiting] further notice.”
The Hong Kong investment company financing the airport was “authorized” by the North Korean Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to seek designs on its behalf, but PLT was “unable to disclose the name of its client at this stage”.
DRUMMING UP IDEAS
Current plans suggest North Korea intends to convert an old Korean People’s Air Force (KPAF) airstrip into a civilian airport to serve as a transportation hub for ongoing economic development in the Kangwon-do region.
The new airport designs show two terminal hubs––possibly one for domestic flights and another for international flights––that are designed to resemble traditional Korean drums, according to a PLT press release.
Each terminal will be two stories tall with a total floor space of 12,000 sq m. According to the blueprints, each building can accommodate six planes at once. Arrivals will take place on the ground floor, departures on the elevated floor. One terminal features an ‘indoor garden’.
It is not a shortage of regional airports or poor infrastructure, however, that has hindered foreign direct investment in North Korea –– a lack of policies and organizations that credibly protect property rights and enforce contract terms are still the primary problems facing Pyongyang’s economic “adjusters” who seek to attract more foreign direct investment.
Following wide international coverage of the Xiyang mining company and the ill-fated Kaesong Industrial Zone, it will likely be some time before most large foreign investors will feel secure in a big bet in the DPRK.
Additional reporting by Curtis Melvin in Washington D.C. Headline image: PLT, used with permission.