North Korea began the construction of the large-scale Tanchon Power Station in South Hamgyong province on Thursday, according to a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report published on Friday.
The power station has been a focal point of North Korea’s planned construction and energy projects over the last two years and, according to the KCNA article, a project that the two previous North Korean leaders had eyed for completion.
“To build the power station, lifelong intention and behest of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il, is a grand nature-remaking project that requires the construction of hundreds of kms of waterway tunnel and main dykes and power stations for making effective use of water in several rivers,” the article reads.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on the day and attended by North Korean Premier, Pak Pong Ju, as well as other key party officials and military representatives, according to KCNA.
“The construction of large-scale Tanchon Power Station will help settle the nation’s acute shortage of electricity and speed up the building of a socialist economic power,” Pak said, according to KCNA.
In a signal of its importance, the Tanchon Power Station was specifically mentioned by North Korea’s current leader – Kim Jong Un – in both of his last two New Year’s speeches in 2016 and 2017.
In Kim’s 2017 speech, the project was raised in a section of the speech that pertained to major construction projects and was listed second only to the newly completed marquee development of Ryomyong Street.
From a review of state media reports on the subject, it appears that the commencement of construction may have originally been planned for 2016 and preparations were already under way in the latter stages of the year.
According to the Rodong Sinmun in December, construction workers had begun widening roads in the area. In 2016, surveyors had also completed levelling work in order to speed up the facility’s completion, according to a KCNA report in March of this year.
The project was also subsequently made a key tenant of the country’s five-year economic plan announced at the 7th Party Congress in May of 2016.
Prior to the announcement of the five-year plan – set to run until the end of 2020 – much onus had already been placed on the project’s ability to strengthen what is already a tentative power supply in North Korea, along with other energy based endeavours.
“We will lay solid foundations for power generation by waging a vigorous struggle to reinforce generating capacity including the construction project of the Tanchon Power Station and tap natural energies,” a Director in the Ministry of Electric Power Industry was quoted as saying in early 2016.
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