Sinpo Shipyard officials have been blamed by North Korean authorities for the considerable damage done to the shipyard’s facilities by Typhoon Haishen, Daily NK has learned.

“Shipyard cadres were punished for failing to actively [prevent damage] by the typhoon,” a South Hamgyong Province told Daily NK yesterday.

North Korean authorities had warned officials throughout the country about the possibility of typhoon damage and had called on them to take “proactive measures” to prepare for the storm, according to the source.

Understanding that Sinpo Shipyard and other facilities on the coast could sustain damage from the storm, North Korean authorities even ordered local officials to move all the facility’s boats to “safe areas,” to dock boats with sufficient space between them (to prevent collisions caused by high winds), and for the shipyard’s cranes to be dismantled.

Sinpo Shipyard officials took some measures to prepare for the storm, but the measures were “not proactive enough” to prevent damage to the facility’s cranes and ships, the source said.

sinpo
A North Korean weather caster reports on flooding in Sinpo recently. / Image: KCTV

“Sinpo Shipyard officials thought it unlikely that massive structures like cranes would be damaged by the winds and took a passive approach by not taking them down,” the source said. “The midsections of two cranes completely snapped and were hurled [to the ground], and other cranes didn’t escape getting damaged, either.”

According to the source, around 10 small to mid-sized boats anchored temporarily at the shipyard’s wharf were seriously damaged while colliding with each other during the storm. The typhoon’s winds also stripped off the roofs of several buildings at the facility.

North Korean authorities reportedly were very angry at Sinpo Shipyard officials about the damage caused by the typhoon. The officials were blamed for “acting irresponsibly” because they failed to take measures to prevent typhoon damage despite calls by the authorities to prepare for the storm.

“The assistant manager of the shipyard was dismissed for poorly managing the facility, and the shipyard’s party committee director and manager were called into the party provincial committee to write self-criticisms, among other party [political] punishments,” the source said.

The shipyard management has placed a priority on repairing the cranes, which are required for the shipyard to do much of its work. Technicians and laborers are focused on repairing the damaged cranes, while others are busy cleaning up the wreckage from damaged and destroyed boats, according to the source.

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

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Lee Sang Yong is editor-in-chief of Daily NK and previously spent a number of years working as one of the publication’s foreign correspondents in China. He can be reached at dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.