Homage Paid through Construction

Construction has been going on since late April in Namyang Workers’ District, part of Onsung County in North Hamkyung Province. It is reportedly being led by the daughter of Zhou Baozhong, a former commander in the anti-Japanese guerilla struggle.

A North Hamkyung Province source told Daily NK on the 9th, “Last week, Zhou Baozhong‘s daughter came personally to the construction site to oversee road paving work and inn construction. Right now they are in the middle of surveying the road before its reconstruction.”

According to the source, Zhou’s daughter recently had a bad experience with the local authorities, and subsequently decided that she would do the work herself in memoriam of her father, implicitly calling for the North Korean authorities not to interfere.

“Zhou commissioned this work four years ago and paid an enormous amount of money to the Party Committee of Onsung County,” the source explained. However, “The Party Committee wasted all of it on stuff to idolize Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il like the Wangjaesan historical site, Revolutionary Idea Research Institute and construction of a Tower of Eternal Life. So, figuring it would be impossible to get the construction done by the North Korean authorities, she rolled her sleeves up and started doing it on her own.”

It is her father’s relations with Kim Il Sung that make such things possible. Zhou Baozhang was the commander of No.88 Brigade of the combined Korean-Chinese guerilla forces in the 1940s, and is mentioned often and favorably in Kim Il Sung’s meandering memoirs, ‘With the Century’.

Realtions between the two remained good throughout the warring decade, and in 1949 Zhou asked Kim Il Sung to give him ten thousand guns to try and end the civil war in China. This was when he visited Namyang, waiting for Kim to come through with the guns for ten days at the inn there before returning to China by train. He was reportedly accompanied throughout by his youngest daughter.

Now it is this same woman who is pursuing the reconstruction project to honor the achievements of her father and simultaneously promote historical tourism in the region. Sites around the inn in which her father rested for more than a week are to become Chinese tourist targets, she allegedly hopes.

On the 28th of last month, Jilin Shinmun, a provincial newspaper in nearby China, reported news of a tour by train from Tumen in China to Mt. Chilbo in North Korea, adding in Namyang “where Kim Il Sung and Zhou Baozhang held talks,” suggesting that she might at last be making progress.