A major renovation project focused on Pyongyang’s Ryomyong Street is nearing completion, state media photos published on Friday show, with authorities now focusing attention on a major turfing and tree-planting campaign.
The Rodong Sinmun photos, which show soldier-builders landscape gardening, polishing surfaces and smoothing asphalt, suggest authorities are on track to complete at least external aspects of the project by the April 15 deadline of founding president Kim Il Sung’s birth anniversary, now just five weeks away.
The street, which features a street landscaping area “three times wider” than the recently built Mirae street, provides ample space for turfing, tree planting, flowers, and other green vegetation, the Pyongyang Times said on Thursday.
Above street level, North Korean laborers are even planting “trees, lawns and bushes” on the roofs and walls of buildings of the high-rises themselves, the English-language outlet added, with the ostensible aim of covering the street with “flowers and lush green vegetation before the Day of the Sun (April 15)”.
No expense, it seems, is being spared in making that goal a reality.
20 species of 20,000 trees are being planted along the 580-meter street, including “several species of over 1,000 fruit trees and good flowering shrubs,” the Pyongyang Times reported earlier in March, with efforts being made to ensure plant growth is accelerated as quickly as possible.
Friday’s report by the same publication also said “well over a hundred thousand flowers including full-blown roses” would soon be planted on the street and grass to “cover 170 000 square meters”.
Foreign residents have also been invited to take part in tree planting along the street, state media said on March 03, something corroborated to NK News on Monday by a regular visitor to the capital city.
Ryomyong Street project is one of North Korea’s priority goals of 2016-2017 and was mentioned by Kim Jong Un in his January New Year’s address.
The project, which was originally intended to be completed by the end of December 2016, was delayed after the North Korean government in September 2016 announced it was redeploying workers to help out in flood recovery work in North Hamgyong Province.
“Around 30,000 out of 36,000 workers at Ryomyong Street volunteered to run to the flooded region in early September,” the pro-DPRK Minjok Tongshin outlet reported in December 2016, quoting Pak Sung Hun, head of the construction department of Ryomyong Street.
“Total construction expenses” were estimated at around 22.2 billion North Korean Won (KPW, US$ 205.55M) including around 20.7 billion KPW (US$ 191.66M), Minjok Tongshin said based on information provided by Pak to the U.S. based outlet.
The ambitious project includes a 70-floor skyscraper, which is the second highest building in Pyongyang after the unfinished Ryugyong hotel.
North Korean authorities have placed major emphasis on the rapid completion of the Ryomyong Street complex, with precedence, however, suggesting the breakneck pace could come at a cost to the health and safety of its workers.
A deadly building collapse in May 2014 killed “tens of families” according to defector Kim Jun Hyuk, who left Pyongyang in 2015 and was responsible for monitoring various construction projects in the city at the time.
“The reason for the collapse? In one word, it was poor construction…workers in Pyongyang do not follow construction regulations,” he told NK News last year.
North Korean media in May 2014 unexpectedly came clean about the “serious accident” by explaining it as having been caused by officials taking an “irresponsible” approach to supervision, and construction efforts that had not been “done properly.”
Main pictures: Rodong Sinmun
Join the influential community of members who rely on NK News original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 618 words of this article.