(By Bang Seung-bae): North Korea squanders $150 million for the 60th anniversary of Victory Day
A fortune goes into constructing the War Museum… a celebration bigger than the 100th anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s birth
It is reported that Kim Jong-un, First Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea, will invest a minimum of $150 million to complete the construction works on the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and the cemetery for North Korean soldiers and hold a military parade for the celebration of “Victory Day,” or the 60th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, on July 27. The scale of the parade will be similar to or greater than the one held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s birth on April 15, 2012. It will be North Korea’s largest-ever military parade, and 15,000 personnel and 530 pieces of military equipment are expected to be mobilized.
Experts who are familiar with North Korea’s internal situation said on July 19 that “North Korea spent about $2.6 million to provide fuel to the equipment used in military parade practices for the past 100 days” and “an estimated amount of at least $150 million will be used to construct the War Museum and hold a miliary parade.” They further added that “Kim Jong-un gave orders to have the finest materials used in constructing the War Museum, and the construction cost alone will amount up to $95 million at the minimum.” The military parade is also assessed to be the largest one in North Korean history. A ROK military official stated that “though the North is suffering from chronic food shortage, it is planning to hold a military parade similar to the one held on Kim Il-sung’s 100th birthday or even larger.”
Futhermore, Kim set the goal of completing the Masik Pass Ski Park within this year. The construction of the park began at the beginning of 2012 with the purpose of propagating Kim’s achievements. He has visited the construction site many times to encourage the workers and publically announced that he will be the “first one to demonstrate skiing once the grounds are completed,” and it has therefore become a matter of life and death for the construction workers to complete the works within 2013. The ski park will be comprised of about 40 facilities including 10 ski slopes that are about 100,000 meters long and 40-120 meters wide, a hotel, a helicopter landing site, an outdoor ice-skating rink, and a swimming pool, and it would normally take at least 10 years for such a large-scale park to be completed. Kim’s pushing for the works to be finished within a year, therefore, raises serious concerns over poor construction.
The $1.8 billion being wasted on building the Masik Pass Ski Park is nine times larger than the amount that will be injected into WFP’s project to provide food aid to North Korea ($200 million) from July 2013 to June 2015. This is enough to support North Korea for up to 18 years, and enough to purchase approximately 5 million tons of corn (on the premise that the import price of corn is $350 per ton) to feed the entire North Korean population for about 16 months.
North Korean authorities already signed a contract with a Swiss company at the beginning of this year to purchase high-tech ski lift equipment at $7 million. In addition, Kim Jong-un forcefully mobilized his people to participate in the construction project and his chimerical comment that “a skiing wave will hit the country and North Koreans will become happy by skiing at the Masik Pass Ski Park” has resulted in resentment of the people toward him.
It is also reported that “North Koreans are making sarcastic comments about how the Masik Pass Ski Park has become ‘Tansik’ (a Korean word meaning “sigh”) Pass Ski Park, as there is widespread discontent among the people.”