North Korea’s ruling party daily the Rodong Sinmun on Friday carried multiple bylined articles by officials vowing to wage “all-night battles” to guarantee the preparation and production means needed for the construction of the new Pyongyang General Hospital.
“Whether or not the construction will be completed within the given deadline relies entirely on the… effort and will of us, who are in charge of guaranteeing the production of steel materials,” wrote vice-minister of Metallurgical Industry Yang Ho in the Rodong on Friday, referring to the October 10 deadline given by the North Korean leader earlier in the week.
“The goal of the construction is immensely expansive, and the deadline for it is pressing,” Yang said. “We will wage the incessant charge of loyalty, intense all-night battles, and a bold lightning war to unconditionally produce and guarantee in time the good-quality steel material.”
“We will consider producing steel material… as the utmost priority of the Pyongyang General Hospital construction [project],” he vowed.
The “determination” of the industry’s working class, such as those working at the Chollima Steel Complex, is “very high,” Yang said.
“We, the officials and working class of the metallurgical industry… have shoulders heavy with the honorable responsibility of standing to guard the lifeline of the Pyongyang General Hospital construction,” the “most important and worthy” project in the head-on breakthrough battle, the vice-minister wrote.
Lauding the North Korean leader’s prioritization of the people’s health and “socialist public health system,” the minister expressed her “soaring passion” about the project, listing what the party’s “public health warriors” should do.
The ministry will “prepare medical officials and nurses to become the knights of human life… equipped with high medical ability,” she wrote.
“Along with this, [we] will responsibly organize projects to prepare medicine and medical supplies, consumables, and various kinds of equipment needed for managing and operating the hospital, searching for logistical measures to intellectualize and digitalize medical services.”
Kim Jong Un’s speech on Tuesday underscored the difficulties the project is likely to face in meeting the construction project’s tight 200-day deadline, set to coincide with the 75th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).
“Construction conditions are not favorable to us,” Kim reportedly admitted, describing “numerous obstacles” but warning against poor construction quality despite the hurry.
He emphasized the responsibilities of “the Cabinet, State Planning Commission, Ministry of Metallurgical Industry, Ministry of Construction and Building Materials, and Ministry of Forestry” to guarantee the accelerated production of materials and equipment for the construction.
The North Korean leader also reportedly underlined the importance for the workers of Sangwon and Sunchon, where the country’s major cement complexes are located, to produce high-quality cement.
Responding to this, the party daily on Friday also featured a bylined article titled “More Cement to Pyongyang!” written by Ri Sang Chon, the manager of the Sunchon Cement Complex.
“We couldn’t sleep the night after the day he [Kim Jong Un] made the speech,” Ri wrote.
“He firmly trusts us, the working class of Sunchon… whether or not the construction will be completed by the 75th founding anniversary of the party also relies on our effort,” the manager said, adding that the cement complex is “blazing up” with the spirit of the battle to economize and increase production.
Along with the two high-level officials and the manager of the Sunchon Cement Complex, also carried was an article written by the chairman of the WPK’s Pyongyang City Committee.
Kim Yong Hwan, the committee’s new chairman, praised Kim Jong Un’s decision to start an expansive construction project “at a difficult time like today… when the whole world is suffering from fear and pain due to a malicious infectious disease,” likely a reference to the global spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Kim Yong Hwan, the chairman of the Pyongyang City Committee of the WPK, was appointed to the post succeeding Kim Nung O during the enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau in late February.
Reiterating how the North Korean leader said the country will build “the hospital for our people… proudly, making the world envious, and magnificently,” Kim said that the successful construction of the new general hospital in Pyongyang will “bash on the dirty isolation and pressure scheme of the hostile forces with laughter.”
He added that officials and citizens of the country “already” passionately desire to make a contribution to the construction project, introducing how “Comrade Pak Song Gwan, a teacher at the Kangnam County Yongjin Higher Middle School… provided a lot of funds” on the day the North Korean leader made his speech at the groundbreaking ceremony.
An article by Chairman Pak Chol Min of the Central Committee of the Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League was also featured on the first page of the party daily on Friday, emphasizing the role of North Korean youths in the construction project.
“The time has come for us, the youths, to make a solid contribution with the spirit… that created the legend of heroic youths at the Paektu battle district,” Pak wrote.
Rachel Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst with NK News‘s sister site NK Pro, said that it was usual for the party daily to carry bylined articles by officials on such occasions.
“It is normal for high- to mid-level officials across various sectors to issue their reaction on a major event or a major Kim Jong Un speech,” she said.
“You will typically see these in the form of bylined articles on the front page of Rodong Sinmun and Minju Choson.”
The high-level officials and complex manager from the metallurgical, cement production, and public health sectors are likely “playing a leading role or are involved in” the project, she said.
North Korea's ruling party daily the Rodong Sinmun on Friday carried multiple bylined articles by officials vowing to wage "all-night battles" to guarantee the preparation and production means needed for the construction of the new Pyongyang General Hospital.
Jeongmin Kim is a Lead Correspondent at NK News, based in Seoul. Kim covers inter-Korean and DPRK-related foreign, defense and humanitarian affairs, and has covered the 2022 ROK Presidential election on the ground. Prior to joining NK News, she worked for the CSIS Korea Chair in Washington D.C. and Reuters news agency's Seoul bureau. Follow her on Twitter @jeongminnkim