Satellite imagery shows a large construction underway on the western side of North Korea’s Nampho Dam, with work beginning around the middle of last year though which still appears to be ongoing.

Images from Google Earth and Planet Labs show a large 200-meter long structure built outside the West Sea Barrage, which cuts the North’s Taedong River off from the Yellow Sea.

The construction currently consists of a rectangular area measuring around 110 meters by 205 meters, with three spars currently separating out four areas of water.

The new construction began in mid-2018. Image: Google Earth

Google Earth imagery taken in February this year shows the framework in place, though more recent imagery from Planet Labs shows additional refinements added in July.

Historical imagery shows construction beginning around August 2018 and progressing steadily over the course of 13 months, though it remains unclear what the area’s final purpose will be.

The new facility was built from the southward end, with the dividing spars added gradually once the outer framework was complete.

Most recently, a smaller area of land was filled in just to the north of the new construction, with work beginning on the reclamation in July this year.

Other finishing touches also appear to have been added, with the most recent image from September 3 indicating the construction has been squared off and tidied.

The latest image of the area from September 3. Image: Planet Labs

No vessels are currently visiting the newly-constructed area, though if the sections currently containing water were filled in, it could potentially act as a new dock or cargo storage area.

Older satellite imagery indicates that some vessels often wait nearby when waters are calm, though the area faces the ocean, so conditions might not always be favorable to dropping anchor near the facility.

The West Sea Barrage – or Nampho Dam – was built in the 1980s by 30,000 North Korea soldiers, but changes in the vicinity have been relatively minimal in the years covered by satellite imagery available on Google Earth.

But imagery taken over the course of 2016 shows how the nearby building was re-roofed in 2016, briefly showing circular structures underneath, before a newer, more modern-looking roof was placed over the top.

The building nearby the new construction was reroofed in 2016. Briefly revealing circular structures beneath.

An additional piece of land just to the south was also reclaimed starting in 2015, which now appears to be a small dock, though other changes in the area appear minimal.

The new construction is just one of many new infrastructure projects in the area, with North Korea upgrading oil handling facilities, adding fuel storage, and upgrading the apparent capacity of the local container terminal.

But all the other upgrades have been within the West Sea Barrage, usually further toward the Nampho port area or at the port itself.

Edited by Oliver Hotham