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Author Topic: 23-Floor Apt Building Collapses in Downtown Pyongyang (DPRK) Out of the Blue  (Read 2054 times)
Chef Ramsay
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May 20, 2014, 07:33:17 PM

#Juche on display.

There's no official number of deaths but it has to be in the hundreds assuming many were working or many thousands if it was during the night. Kim the 3rd is taking no responsibility for it but it is being blamed on the low skilled construction workers (mostly military and people brought in from other state tasks) and the Interior dept guy. Usually, in situation like this of great embarrassment to the Supreme Leader, people are publicly executed but we shall see how this shakes out. It's early morning over there right now so this will likely develop in some fashion in the next day or two.

Here's the news
Collapse Highlights Poor Construction Record
Longstanding concerns over the condition of North Korean buildings have reemerged following the collapse of a 23-story apartment building in downtown Pyongyang on May 13th. The collapsed apartment was part of a residential complex initiated on the orders of Kim Jong Il and completed under Kim Jong Eun. 

According to defectors, the teams mobilized for the construction were made up of servicemen affiliated with the Ministry of People’s Security, and did not include experienced construction workers. Moreover. like the majority of other construction projects in the country, the site suffered from a chronic lack of good quality concrete and steel reinforcements. On those occasions where materials do become available on state projects of this nature, rampant corruption and the disincentives of socialist means of production mean that they are regularly siphoned off and sold.

The apartments formed part of Kim Jong Il era plans to modernize Pyongyang. With an intended completion date of December 2012, construction began in September 2009 in 13 different districts of Pyongyang. However, in 2011 and with the impossibility of completing all projects now clear, the construction of prominent apartments on Changjeon Street in the central Mansudae District was prioritized, and workers were moved there to meet the demand.

At the time, sources reported to Daily NK that the authorities had shifted factory workers to work on residential dwellings on the outskirts of Pyongyang, but as resources all went to the core project resentment grew amid accusations of incompetence.

After Kim Jong Eun came to power, there appeared to be little interest in the project to build "100,000 homes in Pyongyang." The Kim regime is now absorbed in construction projects that cater to specific professions, such as satellite and military scientists and engineers, along with academics from Kim Il Sung University.

Requesting anonymity, one senior defector explained to Daily NK, “Kim Jong Eun goes back and forth. On the one hand he focuses on building up Changjeon Street as part of ‘gift politics’ for high-ranking cadres. It's like he has nothing to do with this particular collapse. If anyone must pay for this collapse of this apartment, it’s Kim Jong Eun.”

Furthermore, the defector said, “The residences on Changjeon Street were completed within a year. It may be that the harmful effects of North Korea’s focus on ‘speed’ cannot be avoided. Only the homes of the top leadership are constructed with high-grade cement, and with the exception of these, it’s not considered at all strange that buildings in the North could crumble and fall at any time.”

NK Media Reports Pyongyang Apartment Collapse
Interesting as always
The North Korean state media has reported on the collapse of a multi-story apartment block in Pyongyang last week, noting that it led to loss of life.

“On the afternoon of the 13th a 23-floor apartment in Ansan 1-dong of Pyeongcheon district in Pyongyang collapsed,” a South Korean government official revealed earlier today. “It is normal in North Korea for people to move into apartment buildings before they are officially complete, and it is presumed that 92 households were living in this apartment, too.”

“A large number of people are going to have died in the collapse,” the official concluded.

In a highly unusual step, the North Korean state news agency, Chosun Central News Agency, and Rodong Sinmun, the Party publication, also reported the news today. Using the same article, the two outlets declared that it was “the irresponsibility of workers” who failed to supervise the construction appropriately that had caused the “serious accident” to occur.

Though the article acknowledged that the collapse “claimed casualties,” it did not report how many people died or under what circumstances. Rather, it focused on an apologetic visit to the site by the Minister of People's Security and other officials. Minister Choe Pu Il, it said, “Met the bereaved families, citizens in the district and other Pyongyangites to express deep consolation and apologies.”

Choe claimed public responsibility for the accident, saying that he had “failed to uphold well the [Chosun Workers’ Party’s] policy of love for the people.” Also, “He repented of himself, saying that he failed to find out factors that could put at risk the lives and properties of the people and to take thoroughgoing measures, thereby causing an unimaginable accident.”

Another official, Pyongyang Municipal People’s Committee Chief Secretary Kim Su Gil, distanced both the Party and Kim Jong Eun from the incident, stating that “Marshal Kim Jong Eun sat up all night in great pain upon receiving a report of the accident, and instructed leading officials of the Party, state and army to not only set aside all other affairs and rush to the scene to command the rescue battle, but also to recover the damage as early as possible.”


Experts: Building Collapse Won't Yield Reform
Following the collapse of an apartment block in central Pyongyang last week, the spotlight has turned to what measures, if any, the regime of Kim Jong Eun will enact in response to the tragedy.

There has been no news of punishment for those responsible, but the outside world would not expect to witness such things in any case. However, there are also no outward signs to date of change in terms of one key contributing factor; namely, the insistence that construction be carried out as quickly as possible, rather than as well as possible. Indeed, programs carried by state television in the last 24 hours have continued to laud the speed with which major construction projects are being completed in the Kim Jong Eun era.

This is because since Kim took power in late 2011, one key propaganda trope has been his oversight of the construction and architecture field. A multitude of construction projects, including a ski resort at Masik Pass, a water park in Pyongyang and sector-specific housing developments, have been reported as being done at the behest of Kim Jong Eun, and at high speed.

Those responsible for this most recent incident may need to be held accountable, some commentators believe, if only to ensure that Kim maintains the appearance of a responsible, caring leader. However, as the collapse was not highly political, extreme punishment may not be deemed necessary. The public apology delivered by Minister of People's Security Choe Pu Il may be sufficient; only time will tell.

Policy change to avoid future accidents are another matter entirely, however, and appear unlikely.

Professor Kim Yong Su of Sogang University explained to Daily NK, "It's likely that Kim Jong Eun will deal with the matter behind the scenes, doing it quietly within the Party instead of announcing measures publicly. There will be no effect on the ‘Chosun Speed’ that they have been emphasizing for construction tasks, since the apartment in question was built when they were talking about 'Masikryeong Speed'."

"Accidents like this have happened many times before in the North. Just the act of showing a Party cadre bowing to the people and apologizing has harmed their prestige, so everything else will probably be dealt with internally," he continued.

Requesting anonymity, a second North Korea expert pointed out, "This is far from the first time that an apartment building has collapsed in the North, but they've always continued on with their 'speed battles' regardless. If they were to abandon them now because of this incident, it would be akin to accepting blame for everything that's occurred up to this point, and that will absolutely never happen. Future acts will merely be to show that something is being done; they won't have any actual meaning."

“Saying that the Marshal [Kim Jong Eun] lost sleep due to his concern for the people after the accident was a ploy to raise his status following the execution of Jang Song Taek. It was also mentioned to try and etch into people’s minds an image of Kim as an ‘affectionate leader,’” the expert concluded.
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