Dilapidated Roads to Kaesong a Major Safety Concern


The northern portion of the Kaesong road as photographed in April 2014.
Image: Office of Assemblyman Ha Tae Keung

A bridge and northern parts of a road and connecting South
and North Korea built by Pyongyang, for which Seoul provided 25.3 billion KRW [23.6
million USD] worth construction materials and equipment, are in decrepit
conditions, according to documents obtained by a South Korean lawmaker.

“A strip [5km] of the northern side of the road connecting
to the Kaesong Industrial Complex and parts of Tongil Bridge [220m] are
extremely run-down, with cracks and severe forms of distortion,” representative
Ha Tae Keung from the ruling Saenuri Party said, citing data submitted by Korea
Land and Housing Corporation and Korea Expressway Corporation on Thursday.
“However, the southern part of the project [5.1km], which cost us 68 billion
KRW [63 million USD] is in good condition,” he stated.

“According to safety tests, the bridge and road are expected
to progressively deteriorate, raising concerns of a major accident,” Ha said.
“We may face another disaster such as the Seongsu Bridge collapse [in South
Korea in 1994].”

“It is the global standard to implement strict management
and supervision on planning, construction, and inspection when providing
support for a developing country, but it was an exception for South and North
Korea,” the lawmaker said. “It’s a big problem that there is no way to verify whether or not the money we contributed was spent properly.”

He went on to assert, “Especially the area of Haeju, where
the material and equipment was sent, was the location of the military headquarters for the Yeonpyeong Island attack. So there is the possibility that it was
directed there instead.” The lawmaker also said that he “acknowledges the need
for exchange between the two Koreas” but emphasized, “there needs to be a
strict system of oversight to know how South Korean funds or supplies are being
used.”

The connecting road from South Korea to the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial
Park in the North began in September 2002 and was completed in 14 months. Seoul
put 68 billion KRW [63 million USD] behind the project for its side and provided
25.3 billion KRW [23.6 million USD] worth of construction materials and
equipment for Pyongyang to build its section.

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