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Pyongyang Post-Party Anniversary: Shifts in Construction Priorities

Recent commercial satellite imagery of Pyongyang indicates a significant slowdown in efforts to complete the the multi-towered Pyongyang General Hospital complex and its peripheral construction projects.

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38 North

This article was originally published in 38 North.

Despite an impressive 200-day campaign to build the multi-towered Pyongyang General Hospital in advance of the 75th anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), recent commercial satellite imagery of Pyongyang indicates a significant slowdown in efforts to complete the complex and its peripheral construction projects. While the deadline to open the hospital has passed without any evidence of doing so, the urgency once shown to this project appears to have been diffused by Kim Jong Un’s announcement of a new 80-day campaign, an intensive effort to rehabilitate towns affected by flooding and increase production in mines, factories and agriculture. This has likely diverted the bulk of construction workers away from the hospital for the foreseeable future. Whether efforts will shift back to finishing the hospital after the 80-day campaign concludes is largely unclear.

75th Anniversary of the WPK Celebrations

Since January, Kim Jong Un has been promoting the construction of a major new hospital to present as a gift to the people on this milestone party anniversary. Construction moved at a remarkable pace over the past seven months, to transform a city park into a multi-towered complex taking up approximately a little over 61,000 square meters. Despite significant progress, it seemed doubtful to outside observers that the stated goal of opening by October 10 would be possible. North Korean state media reports in the weeks leading up to the anniversary celebrated the speed of construction, and preparations to recruit hospital staff and workers but none featured pictures of the hospital’s interior progress. Nonetheless, the hospital was featured in the anniversary events in a variety of ways, like on celebratory postage stamps, in an animated light show, and as a float during the parade featuring a miniature flying helicopter.

Figure 1. The Pyongyang General Hospital float during North Korea’s Public Procession, along with the Yangdok Hot Springs Resort, October 10, 2020.

It should be noted, however, despite all the fanfare about the hospital during anniversary events, Kim Jong Un did not conduct a site visit either on or around the anniversary deadline to comment on its status.

Read the full analysis in 38 North.

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