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N. Korean hydropower dam leaking shortly after completion: sources

All Headlines 11:51 May 11, 2016

SEOUL, May 11 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean hydropower plant, which has been touted by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as one of the major accomplishments of the communist country, started to leak shortly after its completion last month, sources said Wednesday.

The hydropower dam, located in North Korea's Yangang Province bordering China, has cracks and part of its walls appears to have collapsed, resulting in water leaks, according to satellite imagery dated May 8, which was obtained by Yonhap News Agency.

The image also showed the floodgates being opened to drain water from the dam.

North Korea marked the completion of the dam's construction on April 28 with a ceremony attended by the country's key officials from the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK).

The satellite imagery indicates the power plant started to show signs of problems less than 10 days after building work was officially completed.

North Korea had been hurrying to finish the construction project in the runup to the rare WPK congress, which ended Monday. The four daylong congress helped strengthen Kim's hold on power. He was made the new chairman of the ruling party.

The dam generated attention last October after the North Korean leader issued an order to finish the construction of the Paektusan Here Youth Power Station No. 3 by Youth Day (Aug. 30) next year under any conditions.

At the congress session, Kim once again referred to the construction project, hailing it as one of the country's industrial accomplishments.

North Korea kicked off a campaign to increase output by getting people to work more. A source familiar with the isolated country claimed that it is because of this push to speed up production that may have led to problems at the dam.

"Many of North Korea's show-off projects have been the object of criticism for shoddy construction," the source said. "The latest mishap could lead to punishment for those involved because of the damage it could mean for the country's leadership,"

Other Pyongyang watchers then said the construction of the dam caused the deaths of a dozen construction workers because they were forced to work in the midst of extreme winter cold without proper nutrition or protective gear.


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