An opening ceremony was held Sunday for a new science and technology library in the North Korean city of Hamhung, according to state media – over two years after the project first appeared to be nearing completion.
The South Hamgyong Sci-Tech Library, located in the east-coast city’s center, is understood to be the first such large-scale facility outside of Pyongyang, which is home to the country’s biggest Sci-Tech center.
Monday’s reports in state newspaper Rodong Sinmun and other outlets show off the facade of the building nearly identical to a version aired previously on state television, though now refinished in blue.
The new reports also feature the first interior shots of the library, which resembles the multi-colored, theme-heavy design of other state-led projects across the country.
Melvin pointed out at the time that the structure’s exterior, complete with rounded accents along the edges and ringed-planet spires at the corners, appeared in satellite imagery to resemble the images previously broadcast on Korean Central Television (KCTV) by as early as December 2016.
The new features, along with new annexes in the rear of the building, appear to have been built sometime between late February and late November that year.
Aside from those additions, however, most of the structure was built previously as the South Hamgyong Cultural Exhibition House, completed between 2007 and 2009, according to Melvin’s research and a review of Google Earth imagery.
Melvin also spotted an image of the South Hamgyong Sci-Tech Library in a KCTV news segment from January 21 this year, shown in its present, finished state on the front of a library card.
But a report in state outlet Uriminzokkiri in August 2018 stated work was still underway, with “workers wholeheartedly preparing” its completion “under the Party’s ideology of prioritizing sci-tech.”
State media coverage of this past weekend’s reported opening ceremony said employees were now ready to manage the library as a “hub for distributing the latest materials in science and technology.”
The report also claimed the facilities would be open to “not only scientists and engineers, but anyone [seeking to] learn modern science and technology.”
Following the late 2015 opening of the Sci-Tech Complex in Pyongyang, the new library in Hamhung is slated to be just the first in a series of similar facilities across the country, at least according to plans printed elsewhere in state media.
A report in the Rodong from early September this year stated that in addition to the South Hamgyong Sci-Tech Library, “the government is actively pursuing projects to help build regional science and technology distribution hubs.”
Science and technology play a central role in North Korean state propaganda and indeed national strategy, with constant mentions in the media and many of the country’s biggest construction projects of the past few years – such as the Mirae Scientists Street and Ryomyong Street – revolving around scientific development and rewarding individuals helping in the cause.
This week’s reveal of the latest major sci-tech-centered project comes just before Kim Jong Un’s much-anticipated 2019 New Year Address, where the North Korean leader is expected to continue to emphasize science and technology as key pillars in the country’s development strategy.
Featured image: KCNA
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