A target completion date of April 15, 2019 – the birthday of Kim Il Sung – has been set for North Korea’s Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area, ruling party organ the Rodong Sinmun revealed over the weekend.
In an article covering a Friday on-the-spot guidance by Kim Jong Un, it was reported the North Korean leader gave an “instruction to complete the construction till the Day of the Sun, the birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung, next year.”
This marks the first time North Korean authorities have publicly set a date for the project’s completion.
Various dates have been suggested by observers in the months since Kim Jong Un first announced the plans in January, in a speech in which he called for the project to be completed “in the shortest period of time” – a phrase that has been used repeatedly in state-run outlets since.
Following two official visits to the construction site in February and April, DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju said that the project “should be finished within [the] specified date,” though that date was not provided.
Multiple sources told NK News in May that they were hearing North Korea hoped to finish construction by July 27 – the 65th anniversary of the end of the Korean War – while another speculated it would be completed by “late August or early September.”
Such a fast pace of construction of what appears to be over 170 buildings could be being accelerated by stadium-style lighting erected in perimeter corners, April-dated state TV images showed, which would offer the potential for round-the-clock work, a common trait in major North Korean projects.
The Rodong on Saturday, too, stressed that soldiers and construction workers were “struggling with unified heart day and night” to complete the project.
The May 26 article covering the leader’s visit also alludes to North Koreans as the target audience for the beach resort.
Kim was quoted as saying the tourist area would be built for DPRK citizens, describing it as “a Korean-style coast city without an equal in the world to make our people enjoy the highest civilization at the highest level.”
Absent was any mention of attracting an international audience, despite earlier reports on the project in North Korean media suggesting the project would “satisfy the demand of domestic and foreign tourists.”
Multiple articles also included explicit reference to the resort being an “ideal place for a stopover between different tourist destinations and Wonsan-Mt Kumgang International Tourist Zone.”
Individuals working in the North Korea tourism industry previously told NK News that they believe the project will target foreign tourists, including South Koreans.
Meanwhile, North Korean state-owned airline Air Koryo is set to begin operating weekly flights next Monday to the (Wonsan) Kalma Airport directly adjacent to the tourist resort construction area.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: KCNA
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