Widening the web: North Korea’s collapsing ‘Ironworks Hotel’

Image copyright AFP

Ever since the days of Mao Zedong, China has taken pride in its ability to turn raw materials into usable products.

Now, the country is struggling to remove piles of rusting steel from the construction site of a swanky hotel in North Korea.

It’s the latest in a series of embarrassments for the ruling Workers’ Party.

The president visited the site in capital Pyongyang last year, highlighting the work being done to prepare it for his visit.

Image copyright AFP

Built to host a United Nations conference at the height of Kim Jong-un’s consolidation of power, the conference centre now appears to have collapsed into a semi-vacant ruin, surrounded by rubble.

Owners of the iron buildings that line the 5km (3 miles) route from Kim Il-sung Square to the Ironworks Hotel had hoped that this was the start of a new boom in North Korean tourism.

Instead, the state-owned Korea Railway Corp has finished its part of the renovations, and only the Korea Railway Corporation is still pushing the steel, setting it back from the bustle of the streets to the lonely isolation of the massive concrete zone.

If this turns out to be the part of the hotel where Mr Kim is staying, then it has been a damp squib.

If these steelworkers cannot get any help from the machine-building south of the border, they’ll have to make the whole thing work on their own.

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