About the Author
View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korea has extended a previously-reported construction completion deadline for the Wonsan-Kalma tourism project, leader Kim Jong Un said in comments carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Friday.
In May North Korean leader was reported to have given “instructions to complete the construction by the Day of the Sun,” the birthday of the country’s founding President Kim Il Sung on April 15.
Friday, however, saw Kim urge to “present it to the people as a gift on the occasion of Oct. 10 next year” to mark the 74th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).
The construction of the new coastal tourism zone is part of the DPRK’s “acute standoff with hostile forces” attempting to stifle the country through “brigandish sanctions and blockade,” he said.
The DPRK leader’s inspection of the construction site at the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area comes less than three months after his last visit in late May, and saw him praise its builders for “having done a lot in just several months.”
During this visit, Kim notably said that the new tourism zone was a symbol of the country’s struggle against international sanctions.
“Such a huge and grand creation campaign as the construction of the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area is an acute standoff with hostile forces trying to stifle the Korean people through brigandish sanctions and blockade,” an English-language version reported quoting Kim as having said.
“[It] is a do-or-die struggle to defend the prestige of the Party and a worthwhile struggle for creating the happiness of the people,” he added.
KCNA reported Kim had also stressed that now is the “period when everything is difficult and destitute” during his inspection in the Korean language-version.
The North Korean leader said the establishment of the beach resort was “one of the projects that he has wanted to do the most and has been planned by the Party for a long time.”
“If such magnificent project of large scale is completed surpassing the world’s advanced level at such a difficult time as now, the strength of the single-minded unity of the Party, army and people will be displayed to the whole world once again,” Kim was quoted as having said in the English-language version.
During his inspection, Kim also reportedly provided detailed instructions on “necessary conditions including first-aid-stations at the sections of sea-bathing on the white sandy shore” as well as on water supply and drainage, pumping, heating, and power system.
The DPRK leader also “emphasized to strictly meet the requirement for the construction method,” adding that accidents should be avoided “by well-managing personnel and thoroughly planning measures for order maintenance, labor safety, and accident prevention.”
High-profile officials, including first vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Hwang Pyong So, department director of the State Affairs Commission (SAC) Kim Chang Son, and director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) Kim Su Gil accompanied the DPRK leader.
The Wonsan-Kalma coastal area has emerged this year as one of North Korea’s most prominent construction projects, with Kim in his new year’s speech calling for the people and service personnel to complete the work “in the shortest period of time.”
May saw Pyongyang’s national airline Air Koryo announce that it would begin operating a weekly flight between Sunan and Kalma International Airport every Monday from June 4.
In addition to plans for tourism on the east coast, North Korea has also recently expressed its hopes to re-start tourism at Mount Kumgang.
South Korea’s Hyundai Group CEO Hyun Jeong-eun in August visited the area, and say the company expected to resume tourism at the site in the course of this year.
An editorial in DPRK ruling party organ the Rodong Sinmun in July called for the resumption of tourism at Mount Kumgang, describing its suspension as a “heartbreaking reality of North-South relations.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)