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N. Korea diverts int'l aid for flood recovery to construction projects: report

2017/02/14 10:12

SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has misappropriated part of an international relief package to help it deal with the devastation caused by deadly flooding last year for its major infrastructure projects, a U.S. broadcast said Tuesday.

A source in the northern Ryanggang Province told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that materials and funds in humanitarian aid for flood-hit areas offered by the international community were partly used to roof public buildings and houses for locals, and the rest was diverted to Ryomyong Street development underway in Pyongyang and an underwater hotel project in Wonsan on the North's east coast.

Typhoon Lionrock smashed the province in early September last year, which North Korean news outlets earlier said left nearly 70,000 residents homeless. More than 130 North Koreans were also reportedly dead and about 400 missing in the North's worst-ever flood.

According to the source, the North kept all the canned aid food for its war preparations and redirected all of the diesel offered by Russia to its military.

The source also claimed that the confectionery given by the international community was presented to children in major cities on the birthday of leader Kim Jong-un, which fell on Jan. 8.

The 20 million yuan (about US$3 million) in emergency aid offered by China was used to acquire excavators, iron bars, cement and other construction equipment or building materials for the Ryomyong project, according to the source. Ryomyong Boulevard connects the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, which holds the embalmed bodies of the leader’s father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung, with a Tower of Eternal Life -- one of many in North Korea.

Accompanied by officials, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un tours the construction site of a newly developed district in Pyongyang, named "Ryomyong Street," in this photo provided by the North's ruling party organ Rodong Sinmun on Jan. 26, 2017. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap) Accompanied by officials, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un tours the construction site of a newly developed district in Pyongyang, named "Ryomyong Street," in this photo provided by the North's ruling party organ Rodong Sinmun on Jan. 26, 2017. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

The North is expected to concentrate its efforts on a development project in Samjiyon near Mount Paektu on the border with China and the construction of a tourist development project in Wonsan after the street project is complete, the source said, adding international aid for the recovery of its flood damage is used to help it publicize Kim's leadership and his political achievements.

namsh@yna.co.kr

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