North Korea has officially opened a new town its media is calling the “epitome of modern civilisation”.
Leader Kim Jong-un cut the red ribbon at Samjiyon, hailed as one of the country’s most important construction projects.
Reports said the town which is able to accommodate 4,000 families, boasts new apartments, a ski slope, and a stadium amongst other facilities.
However, forced labour is said to have gone into the construction of Samjiyon.
The town, even if it lives up to state media billing, will be an outlier in North Korea, where the majority of people live in poor conditions.
According to a non-governmental organisation, the National Committee on North Korea, many “suffer from shortages of food, fuel, electricity, running water and other necessities”.
Cost of construction
It’s not known how much money has gone into construction of the town.
But construction happened at a time when North Korea is under tough sanctions, and its completion shows how much importance the government placed on the project.
Importance of the project
The project is important for its proximity to Mount Paektu, considered to be a sacred mountain in North Korea and said to be the birthplace of Kim Jong-un’s father.
The town has also been presented as a model for other towns in the country to look up to.
In his annual new year’s address this year, Mr Kim directly referenced Samjiyon, calling it an “ideal socialist village”.
“The whole party, the entire army, and all the people should turn out to transform Samjiyon into a model of modern mountainous city, an ideal socialist village,” he said in his speech.
The opening of the town is just one part of a bigger scheme. It’s the second stage of a three-stage plan to boost the entire county the town is located in.
The three-stage construction project is expected to be complete by October 2020.