North Korea is building 10 new hydroelectric dams on the Chongchon River to spur rapid development, the Choson Sinbo reported. The Choson Sinbo is published by the General Association of Korean Residents, aka Chongryon, a pro-North organization of Koreans in Japan.
The Chongchon River is in the country’s northwest, beginning in Chagang Province and then running southwest between North and South Phyongan provinces. Among the locations near the river are Kaechon County and Yongbyon County, home to North Korea’s primary nuclear site.
The Choson Sinbo described the project, for which the country mobilized 14,000 workers, as “the last spur in the work to carry out the task proposed by Kim Jong Un in this year’s New Year’s address.” The quality of North Korean construction has been increasingly questioned this year, especially after the collapse of a 23-story apartment tower under construction in Pyongyang in May.
The 10 dams being built will augment the existing Huichon No. 1 and No. 2 power plants on the same river, which were completed in April 2012. It is expected that the 10 new dams, part of the same project, will be designated Huichon No. 3 through No. 12.
The original Huichon power plants, which have an estimated output of 300,000 kilowatts, reportedly brought more consistent availability of electricity in Pyongyang, at least initially. But by the winter, problems with the dams and the water supply had reduced the availability of electricity to pre-dam levels.
The 10 new dams being added on the river are anticipated to have a combined power output of 120,000 kilowatts. North Korea is well-known for its electricity shortages. Even in the capital, most people can only expect a few hours of electricity per day. Only the living areas of the most privileged elites and important facilities receive a constant supply of electricity.
North Korea has relatively little energy resources, but it does have rivers and mountainous terrain, making it a very suitable location for building hydroelectric dams. Historically, hydroelectric dams have been important in the North. The Japanese built numerous dams there during their 1910-1945 occupation of the Korean Peninsula, including the Supung Dam now featured on the official emblem of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). The division of Korea left most of the power plants in the North, creating power shortages in the South. However, many of these dams were destroyed by aerial bombardment during the Korean War.
Photo: Huichon No. 2 dam, KCTV
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