Kim Jong-Un visiting the construction site of Samjiyon in the snow. Photo originally published in the Rodong Sinmun.


More and more issues are plaguing Kim Jong-un’s priority project in Ryanggang Province, the Samjiyon Special Tourist Zone. According to our reporting partner, who spoke with us in mid-April, the walls of newly-built buildings across the site are even peeling off and collapsing.

Samjiyon is located at the foot of Mt. Paektu, North Korea’s premier tourist attraction which straddles the border with China. Kim Jong-un, who was enthusiastic for the site’s development, hastened the construction with repeated site visits until it was completed in December 2019. Kim’s vision was attracting tourists from China to earn foreign currency income, however, the COVID-19 pandemic led the country to completely stop accepting tourists from China. Despite this, construction at the site continued, as it was still a top priority project of Kim Jong-un.


Map of the Chinese-North Korean border region (ASIAPRESS)

◆ Cement freezing without drying

According to our reporting partner, “This winter the cold waves were so severe that water in the cement mixture froze before the cement could dry. Now, in spring, the water that froze in the cement mixture is beginning to melt and many buildings have cracking cement, with the exteriors of walls peeling off one after another. Even indoors, it seems that the tiles of washroom floors seem to be floating. The government agency ordered these buildings to be restored no matter what, with personnel in charge of urban construction sent in for repair work so that tourists in the future won’t see any traces of damage."

Despite these efforts, there were too many construction issues and a lack of manpower. So it was decided to recruit personnel from various local workplaces to deal with the problems. (Kang Ji-won)

※ASIAPRESS contacts its reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese