The focus on speed at the Pyongyang General Hospital project has led to a spate of accidents at the construction site, Daily NK has learned. 

“The government’s reckless drive to speed up construction at the Pyongyang General Hospital site has led to frequent accidents,” a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on June 23. “One soldier who was soon to be discharged from the military recently fell to his death while working at night without any safety equipment.” 

According to the source, soldiers dispatched to the site have been working tirelessly, even foregoing proper sleep, to complete the hospital at all costs by Oct. 10, the anniversary of the North Korean communist party’s founding. 

This has led to a series of accidents where soldiers working at high altitudes without safety equipment have fallen to their death. There were 19 such accidents from mid-May to mid-June, with an average of three or more accidents occurring per day on top of that. 

“The lack of safety equipment is one reason [the accidents are occurring] but the bigger cause is a lack of sleep,” the source told Daily NK. “Many of the accidents take place when soldiers performing grueling labor on only four to five hours of sleep a night become drowsy and lose their footing.”

One 27-year-old soldier who was near the end of his 10-year military service was performing welding work at 1 AM without a safety harness at a high altitude when he fell to his death. Other soldiers working alongside him reportedly said that he could barely keep his eyes open while working due to a lack of sleep, which led to the fall.

Locals have witnessed numerous falls among soldiers mobilized to work on the site. It breaks their hearts to see soldiers – who could just as well be their own children – dying in this manner,” the source said, adding, “They are angry, asking why the construction has to proceed in a way that leads to such a great loss of life.” 

Daily NK recently quoted a source in the country who noted the occurrence of casualties, including falls, after managers of the Pyongyang General Hospital project brought in soldiers to work on the site around the clock.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.