North Korean shock brigade workers face horrific conditions at Samjiyon site
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the Samjiyon construction site earlier this month in his first known visit to the area since the breakdown in US-North Korean talks in February. Kim expressed satisfaction with the progress of the construction, but workers on the site worked 20-hour days in preparation for his visit, local sources report.
“Despite the cold winter weather in the northern region of the country, the construction has progressed a great deal,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Kim saying on April 4. He encouraged construction workers at the site, saying “The construction will be completed on time if this [work] spirit is kept up.”
The February 16 Division leads the large-scale refurbishment project and is made up of Korean People’s Army (KPA) construction unit soldiers, work brigades recruited from across the country, and local Samjiyon residents. Kim had moved the construction completion date up to October 2020 from 2021, turning up the pressure to complete the project more quickly.
“Construction managers on the site conducted a ‘speed battle’ in preparation for Kim’s visit,” a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK. “Shock brigades worked ceaselessly with only four hours of sleep each night.” ......