Progress on the construction of North Korea’s Tanchon Power Station project continues, according to state media this week, with some developments visible via publicly-available satellite imagery.
The power station is a major infrastructure project, and was previously identified by the DPRK as a long-term goal of both former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
An update published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Monday reported that major tunneling and concrete work has been conducted, including the completion of a ten-kilometer pilot tunnel destined as a main waterway tunnel for the project.
The final project will, according to state media, involve the tunneling of “a hundreds kilometers-long waterway through mountain ranges” as well as the construction of a number of power plants and dams to make “effective use” of multiple rivers and streams.
It described the scale of construction as “a grand nature-remaking project.”
In May 2017, North Korean Premier Pak Pong Ju presided over a groundbreaking ceremony for the power station, though state media indicated that peripheral and support construction had already taken place in 2016.
“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 was reported to have said at the ceremony.
A review of satellite imagery since last May, too, suggests significant construction has taken place at a site just north of the Honggun train station in South Hamgyong province.
The station and the construction site is around 55 kilometers from Tanchon city, lying close to the provincial border with Ryanggang.
Beginning in May 2017 and coinciding with the groundbreaking ceremony, previously sparse land immediately north of Honggun station became busy with construction activity and the establishment of what appears to be temporary housing and warehousing related to the project develops throughout the year.
Just north of Honggun station, Google Earth imagery dated July 17 clearly shows the construction of a large dam-like structure along the river consistent with other DPRK hydropower structures throughout the country.
Heavy equipment, dozens of trucks, and propaganda placards are abundant at the site, imagery also reveals.
A state media broadcast on the Tanchon Power Station project also reveals physical similarities with the construction site – referenced as being for Power Plant No. 5 – and the Google Earth imagery. A comparison suggests they are one and the same.
Aside from the historical context and the purported scale of the project, yet another indication of its importance is that current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has referenced the project in his last three New Year’s speeches.
During his 2018 address, Kim mentioned the power station alongside the Wonsan-Kalma tourist resort and the reconstruction of Samjiyon County, two major state-led infrastructure projects that have been visited multiple times personally by the leader this year.
Featured image: Google Earth
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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