Construction is continuing on Pyongyang’s Ryomyong Street, despite a state media announcement in September that workers there would be re-dispatched to focus on flood recovery efforts in the country’s northeast.
Photos taken of the Tower of Immortality in early October show a major refurbishment of the landmark taking place, with numerous soldier-workers clearly visible working on nearby apartment buildings.
The construction effort comes less than a month after state media announced a full-scale halt of work at the site due to major flooding in the northeast and the reported total redeployment of the workforce.
“The party has decided to halt the process at the nearly completed Ryomyong Street to shift all of its workforces, materials, and equipment to the northern frontline,” state-run Rodong Sinmun read in September, quoting the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee’s statement. “Building people’s houses is our top construction priority.”
Previously, photos obtained by NK News of the Ryomyong Street area in early September showed construction efforts appeared to have completely halted, with no workers visible at all. The absence was in significant contrast to previous pictures, which showed hundreds working on the site 24 hours a day.
The latest photos, however, show tens of soldiers working across the landmark Tower of Immortality and on one of the new tower blocks still going up, suggesting some workers – despite the flood damage – were reassigned to the Ryomyong Street project.
The timing of the latest photos is notable, coming as the Pyongyang Times noted on October 7 that “builders who were engaged in the project for Ryomyong Street already finished the framework construction of a three-storey apartment building in Musan County” in the DPRK’s northwest.
An October 17 article in the pro-North Korean media outlet Choson Sinbo reinforced claims that “a large part of the workers, who are in charge of…Pyongyang’s Ryomyong street… have been allocated (to the northeast).”
Male tour guides from North Korea’s primary state travel agency have also been sent to help with flood rehabilitation efforts in the country’s northeastern region, sources in the tourism industry told NK News in October.
“They will be gone for about two months, so now it’s all just female guides,” a tourism industry insider told NK News at the time.
Part of an effort to build or remodel “100 apartment houses and public buildings” before the end of the year, the 2.5km Ryomyong street construction will most notably include an apartment of 70 floors, the second highest in Pyongyang.
To facilitate the rapid construction, authorities have moved what one local visitor said were “thousands” of soldier-builders to work on the project, with temporary shelters even visible in satellite imagery dated May 2016.
North Korean authorities have placed major emphasis on the rapid completion of the Ryomyong Street complex, with precedent suggesting the breakneck pace could come at a cost to the health and safety of its workers.
Featured image: NK News
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