North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently ordered the expansion of the General Artillery Shooting Range in Daewon (Sadong District, Pyongyang), a major artillery testing site, Daily NK has learned.
“The Supreme Commander [Kim Jong Un] issued an order to the General Artillery Shooting Range on July 6,” a source in the country told Daily NK on July 17. “The order instructed military construction brigades to join forces and expand the shooting range to give it a technical and geographical upgrade.”
The source further said that “In line with the Supreme Commander’s goal of having the Korean People’s Army destroy the strongholds of the enemy with a range of artillery and firepower, [this project] is aimed at producing a greater amount of new artillery weapons and testing them.”
The order shows Kim’s unique obsession with artillery, and appears to be an attempt to elevate the country’s commitment to strengthening its military power based on a hypothetical attack against South Korea.
The military’s General Construction Bureau, two battalions, the leadership and other staff of the shooting range – even their families – began work on the expansion project from July 10. Military authorities have also made it clear that the deadline for the project is the 75th anniversary of the communist party’s establishment, Oct. 10.
Farmers living nearby, however, have raised an issue with the construction project, according to the source.
“The sudden order to expand the shooting range led to an announcement that private homes and strawberry fields within a designated area will be razed,” the source explained.
The majority of people living in Daewon are poor farmers who harvest strawberries in the spring (from late April to early May) and sell their crops in downtown Pyongyang.
Construction managers have promised to resolve all the housing and farmland issues in the area by Oct. 10, while arguing that the construction is a more pressing issue right now, according to the source.
“Demolition teams are currently knocking down houses with bulldozers,” the source said. “Locals have been forced to store their belongings in warehouses provided by the military and state and have moved in with nearby relatives.”
The source told Daily NK that the Sadong District People’s Committee announced that new houses will be built in Daewon for those displaced by the construction. The local Rural Management Committee, however, reportedly believes that those displaced will be unable to receive the same amount of farmland they previously possessed.
Please direct any comments or questions about this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.