"Pitiful" Changjeon Street the Top Priority

Lee Seok Young  |  2011-08-25 15:08
The construction of 100,000 homes on Changjeon Street in central Pyongyang, the location of a famous statue of Kim Il Sung, is being sped up, sources from the city report. The project is the regime’s number one construction priority, allowing it to somewhat defy material shortages plaguing other projects and receive a concentrated supply of soldiers and students mobilized for the task.

One Pyongyang source explained, “Recently, a new objective, ‘Let’s build Changjeon Street,’ has been raised,” adding, “Materials and labor mobilization are being focused on this area.”

According to the source, Kim Jong Il, upon his return from China in May, declared the main streets of the capital to be ‘pitiful’, and ordered their improvement. Immediately thereafter, mobilized laborers, military personnel and students were re-focused on the Changjeon Street project.

The source’s information matches that of a source in South Korea who, on June 20th, said, “Construction on the 100,000 homes project began about a month ago on Changjeon Street, the street with the Kim Il Sung statue. Soldiers have been deployed to this construction. Some people previously working in the Hyongjaesan area have also been diverted to Changjeon Street.”

“After the May agricultural mobilization finished, all Pyongyang universities were mobilized in June. You see them going to and from the construction site in teams of 3 or 4, carrying their lunch and shovels, pickaxes, hammers, stretcher,” the source explained.

“Because all of the universities in Pyongyang have been mobilized until next year, they are saying all of the students who would have been graduating this year will not be able to. Actually, the test that should have happened in early July was not held, and rumor has it that new students won’t be taken next year.”

Meanwhile, according to another source, “Despite the large-scale mobilization of university students to Changjeon Street, setbacks caused by the lack of building resources are leading cadres to offer one-month work exemptions in exchange for $100 payoffs, which are then used to buy materials.”

Inevitably with such upheaval, discontent is reportedly growing, too. One of the sources explained, “Parents of university students are worried about their children’s education, and there is a lot of unhappiness with the fact that students facing exams and those in graduating classes have effectively lost a whole year.”

Sources also report that there have been “tens” of deaths on Changjeon Street, in particular between March and May this year while an area between Adong Department Store and Daedongmun Theater was being destroyed. As one source lamented, the authorities “refused to allow the use of heavy machinery or blasting, so, determined to solve the problem using manpower alone, civilian casualties were the result.”
 
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