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Commentary

Pyongyang Gears Up for Major Workers’ Party Anniversary Events

Recent commercial satellite imagery indicates the construction on the exterior of the Pyongyang General Hospital appears to be finished, meeting the ambitious target of completion within 200 days.

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38 North
By Samantha Pitz Co-author ·  Martyn Williams Co-author

While construction on the exterior of the Pyongyang General Hospital appears to be finished, the status of its interior work is unknown. With only days now until the 75th anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, it appears that Kim Il Sung Square has been secured for the weekend’s festivities while training for a military parade continues.

Pyongyang General Hospital

When construction for the hospital began on March 16 this year, Kim Jong Un set an ambitious 200-day target for completion. That deadline expired on October 2 and imagery from October 6 at 11:32 a.m. (local time), shows the exterior of the building is complete. Although the driveways leading to the main and rear entrances still require asphalt, cement trucks are present and will likely pave the area in the next few days.

The hospital will form one of the main propaganda pillars to this weekend’s events, along with a massive military parade through central Pyongyang. As such, Kim Jong Un will likely visit on Thursday or Friday, in time for newspaper and TV headlines on Friday and Saturday.

However, the status of the interior work is unknown. It is impossible to determine from satellite imagery what has taken place inside the hospital, but given the likely difficulties of getting finishing materials and medical equipment into the country due to both sanctions and border shutdowns for most of the year as well as the lack of interior photographs in official North Korean media coverage of the hospital, it is doubtful that the hospital’s interior is anywhere close to complete.

While the main hospital building construction appears to be finished, additional construction has started on the northern and southern edges of the hospital site. Several low-rise buildings in this area appear to have been demolished between August 8 and September 17, and the foundations for new buildings were laid sometime before October 6. Whether they will be related to the hospital is unclear.

Read the full analysis on 38North.org.

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