Mosaic Collapses as North "Self-Harms" Reputation

Choi Song Min  |  2013-04-17 22:02
A mosaic wall erected in the North Hamkyung Province town of Musan to idolize Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il collapsed shortly before the April 15th “Day of the Sun” festivities for the birth of Kim Il Sung, sources from the region have reported to Daily NK. They claim that corruption led to poor construction, and this left the mosaic unable to withstand recent high winds.

This is the first known occasion whereupon a piece of state construction for the idolization of the North Korean leaders has collapsed in this way. Given the rarity of the event and the seriousness with which the North Korean leadership takes the idolization project in general, serious censure is thought likely for those deemed to have been responsible.

A source from Musan in North Hamkyung Province told Daily NK, “On the 14th, the very day before the Day of the Sun, this Kim Il Sung-Kim Jong Il mosaic wall that had stood in the center of Musan County just collapsed. The provincial Party, Central Party and provincial National Security Agency have all been mobilized to investigate the incident.”

The mural, which was 5mx8m, stood on a 4-way intersection outside Musan Station. According to the source, “A lot of people witnessed the collapse because it was built in the town center, so this news will spread rapidly and could easily become political.” In North Korea, such “political” issues usually result in serious punishment, since infringing the reputation of the nation’s leaders is extremely problematic.

“Rumor has it that it was done by the family of a defector, but it seems unlikely that any would risk their lives to do such a thing,” the source said. “Rather, the mosaic was probably poorly constructed and fell in high winds.”

According to sources, the nationwide construction of many new Kim Il Sung mosaics began in 2010, funded by “loyalty funds” obtained from the people and additional state provision. In December 2011, when Kim Jong Il died, his image started to be added to the mosaics next to that of Kim Il Sung.

The source claimed that the workers charged with building the Musan mosaic wall stole some of the cement earmarked for the project and sold it on for private gain. This led ultimately to the collapse.

This fact, the source said, is likely to inspire a backlash from the authorities. “Because it is a work of idolization it is meant to be built better than anything else; yet, it wasn’t, and the collapse revealed the fact that the people who built it stole the materials,” he explained.

In 2005, a similar event occurred. At that time, a100m-long likeness of Kim Jong Suk on a bridge over Sucheong Stream in Chongjin fell in strong winds. The manager of the construction project was imprisoned and the vice-provincial head of propaganda was removed from his office, the inside source explained.

“However,” the source went on, “because it is Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on the mural this time the punishment will likely be greater.”

According to South Korean government estimates, since Kim Jong Eun came to power six statues of Kim Il Sung and/or Kim Jong Il have been built at a total of six places for a cost of around $9.5 million, along with 400 mosaics worth approximately $32 million.
 
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2014.11.20
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