The large-scale demolition and reconstruction of the North Korean mountain town of Samjiyon has been completed, the country’s state media declared Tuesday, with leader Kim Jong Un on hand to cut the ribbon in an opening ceremony the previous day.
The rebuilding of Samjiyon Township was considered under the now-completed second stage, with the third and final stage, which kicked off with Monday’s ceremony, encompassing more construction in surrounding areas.
The target completion date for the entirety of the Samjiyon County construction project was repeated in a speech given at the ceremony by first vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission (SAC) Choe Ryong Hae as the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) 75th foundation day anniversary on October 10, 2020.
Almost three full pages of Tuesday’s party daily Rodong Sinmun were dedicated to the opening festivities, including the ceremony where Choe gave his speech — chaired by Kim Jong Un in front of the statue of his father Kim Jong Il.
The date of the ceremony was apparently chosen as it marks the 2nd anniversary of Kim’s December 3, 2017 visit to Samjiyon (published in state media on December 9 that year) where he “pointed out the fundamental flaws” and righted the course of construction, according to Choe.
There was also a fireworks display and organized communal dancing displays, as well as the traditional tour of the town and its facilities and factories by top national and local officials.
English-language articles published in state outlet Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) described Samjiyon as the “sacred place of the revolution” and “the utopia town under socialism.”
It was called an “example of a mountainous modern town” and “an epitome of modern civilization.”
Samjiyon was also created, according to KCNA and previous reports of “guidance” visits by Kim Jong Un and other top officials, as a “model of successfully realizing the Party’s idea of local construction” — indicating intentions to carry out modernization and reconstruction in other small towns, possibly on a larger scale than is already underway nationwide.
Much of the apparent focus of the Tuesday reports was to paint a picture of heavy involvement in the construction process by Kim Jong Un.
One report said he “[led] the construction as the designer, key builder and key operator of the project,” and that his guidance visits were conducted “despite rainy muddy road, mid-summer heat and mid-winter blizzards.”
It repeated the state’s official lore that Kim undertook the project “as one of due obligations and revolutionary duties of soldiers and disciples of Chairman Kim Jong Il to better his native country as befits the sacred place of the revolution.”
Another report elaborated that Samjiyon Township is “the glorious land housing Paektusan Secret Camp where Chairman Kim Jong Il’s birthplace is located” — though evidence suggests he was actually born in the far east of Russia near Khabarovsk.