North Korea has executed a party official after they defied Kim Jong-un in hopes of opening an empty show hospital to patients.
The dictator personally broke ground at Pyongyang General Hospital in March last year amid much fanfare, demanding that the facility be built in just over six months.
But his deadline came and went without a grand opening, amid rumors that the completed building was an empty shell, with no basic medical equipment.
Now a party official has paid the ultimate price after proposing a solution that clashed with Kim Jong-un’s vision for the hospital.
The tyrant wanted the facility to be equipped with medical equipment from Europe, according to the Daily NK newspaper in South Korea.
Kim Jong-un personally pioneered work at Pyongyang General Hospital in March last year amid much fanfare, demanding that the facility be built in just over six months.
The hospital was under construction last year. Kim had asked for it to be completed in just over six months
A mock-up of what the hospital in the capital should look like
But an alternative plan was made to use Chinese equipment instead – and the official was blamed when an ‘outraged’ Kim Jong-un found out about it.
The convict was a deputy director at the State Department in his early 50s and responsible for imports and exports, Daily NK reported.
A director of the health ministry was also fired, the paper said.
Kim Jong-un, who spent part of his childhood in Switzerland, reportedly believes that equipment made in Europe is of the highest quality.
The party therefore allocated a large budget to furnish the hospital according to its wishes.
But officials reportedly struggled to overcome European sanctions against North Korea and, as a result of the pandemic, also struggled to get the items to neutral third countries.
At that time, a plan was made to use cheaper Chinese equipment that could be more easily imported.
However, a contract was reportedly signed before Kim Jong-un could approve the change.
North Korean analyst Martyn Williams, who has been monitoring the hospital’s construction via satellite images, said in January that the search for medical equipment appeared to be the problem.
“We cannot judge inner progress,” he said.
‘One of the main bottlenecks is the purchase of medical equipment.
The hospital in September last year. The tyrant wanted the facility to be equipped with medical equipment from Europe, according to the Daily NK newspaper in South Korea.
Scanners and the like are not cheap and North Korea is not rich.
‘I understand that it has asked foreign governments for equipment donations, but that has not happened much yet.
Photos from Kim Jong-un’s visit to the hospital last July showed that construction was largely complete, although most of the windows had not yet been installed.
Another photo from September shows the exterior as good as complete.
The tyrant originally ordered the hospital to be open on October 10, 2020 – the 75th anniversary of the day the ruling party was founded.
But state propaganda has not provided an update on the project since September, when it bragged that the outside work was in its final stages and progressing ‘at a rapid pace’.
According to reports, North Korea’s broadcaster, Korea’s Central Television, even pulled the hospital off a December propaganda reel.
Meanwhile, a government document listing ‘major national construction projects’ for 2021 made no mention of the project.
Mr. Williams, a fellow at the Washington DC-based Stimson Center, said the hospital is primarily a ‘propaganda project’ and therefore expects it to be displayed as soon as it is ready.
He said: ‘The state media has simply ignored it and the hospital has been canceled due to news updates.
Kim was photographed outside the hospital last July
“ Since it missed its deadline, it is no surprise that it has disappeared from the propaganda, but I expect they will get back to it and it will reappear in the media once it is completed. ”
The hospital is not the first major construction project to be left out in North Korea.
The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, also known as the Hotel of Doom, was supposed to be completed in 1992, but the 105-story skyscraper is still empty and unfinished.
And a beach resort in the eastern town of Wonsan, called Benidorm, North Korea, has met several deadlines without opening.