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North Korea workers endured freezing weather to build railroad

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea workers endured freezing weather to build railroad
North Korea footage of machinery being transported by rail to disaster zones in September 2016. The country may have finished work on a railroad that began in 2015, according to multiple sources in the country. File screenshot of KCTV

April 12 (UPI) -- North Korean workers endured subzero temperatures while completing work on a railroad, according to multiple sources in the country.

Work on the Hyesan-Samjiyon railroad began in June 2015, but may have been stalled due to annual floods that destroyed infrastructure in North Korea's northeast.

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A source in Yanggang Province told Radio Free Asia the project was finished but at a great cost to North Korean workers.

"Construction resumed in late 2016 with the goal of completion by April 15, the birth anniversary of [founder] Kim Il Sung," the source said. "People worked without rest on the project, enduring temperatures of -22 degrees Fahrenheit."

The source also said the work was suspended for some time, after a groundbreaking ceremony was held on June 4, 2015, set to coincide with the commemoration of the Battle of Pochonbo, a Kim Il Sung-led attack against Japanese colonial authorities in 1937.

The source said construction supplies from the Chinese government enabled the work to resume its course.

Beijing did assist Pyongyang with flood relief in 2016, so that the state could recover some of its civilian infrastructure in the aftermath of floods that left at least tens of thousands of North Koreans without shelter.

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A second source in Yanggang Province said Kim Jong Un ordered two new diesel locomotives from Kim Jong Tae Locomotive Works be delivered to the railroad.

However, given the lengthy construction period and cold weather, it is likely the railroad would not be in operation until May, the source said.

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