By Koh Byung-joon
SEOUL, July 20 (Yonhap) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un strongly criticized officials for carrying out the construction of a large-scale general hospital “in a careless manner” and ordered the replacement of all of those responsible, state media said Monday.
Kim made the remarks during a “field guidance” trip to the construction site for Pyongyang General Hospital, one of his top-priority projects he has vowed to complete by Oct. 10, the 75th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party. He attended its groundbreaking ceremony in March, calling it a “crucial task” for the country’s public health.
“After hearing a detailed report on the overall situation of the construction from the construction coordination commission on the spot, he pointed out serious problems in economic organization for the construction,” the Korean Central News Agency said.
“The construction coordination commission is organizing economy in a careless manner with no budget for the construction properly set up, yet,” he was quoted as saying.
“Noting that it is making a serious digression from the Party’s policy in supplying equipment and materials… he severely rebuked it for burdening the people by encouraging all kinds of ‘assistance,'” it added. “Kim instructed an investigation the construction coordination commission and replacement of all the officials responsible.”
He also pointed out that the construction is progressing ahead of schedule thanks to workers’ “patriotic zeal and devoted efforts” but added that it is in the early stages with a lot of tasks still to accomplish before its completion.
Kim’s strong rebuke came as skepticism has risen over whether the construction can be completed by October amid challenges in securing necessary materials due to tight border control kept in place to stave off the new coronavirus and crippling global sanctions.
North Korea said it has no coronavirus infections, but it has been relatively swift in closing its borders and implementing toughened quarantine criteria, calling antivirus efforts a “political matter” that will determine the fate of the country.
The KCNA did not disclose when the on-site inspection was made to the construction site. It usually reports on the leader’s public activity a day later.
Kim was greeted at the site by Pak Pong-ju, vice chairman of the party’s Central Committee; Kim Jae-ryong, the cabinet premier; and other officials in charge of the construction project, according to the KCNA.