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Kim Visits Hospital Project, Fires All Officials Involved

This could be a sign sanctions are biting
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 20, 2020 2:01 PM CDT

(Newser) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un berated construction managers for unspecified problems in building a showpiece hospital in comments reported Monday that may indicate the country is struggling to secure supplies amid US-led sanctions and a coronavirus lockdown. During a visit to the construction site in Pyongyang, Kim lamented that his ambitious project of building a new general hospital was being carried out in a "careless manner" and without a proper budget and ordered all officials responsible to be replaced, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

The report said Kim accused construction managers of making a "serious digression" from the ruling party’s policy over the supply of materials and equipment by "burdening the people by encouraging all kinds of 'assistance,'" which apparently indicated rising complaints among people who were mobilized for its construction. In announcing the plans to build the hospital in March, Kim made a rare acknowledgement that his country lacks modern medical facilities and called for urgent improvements in the country’s health care system, the AP reports. However, the country hasn’t directly linked the hospital project to the coronavirus pandemic and has steadfastly maintained that no one in its territory has been sickened by COVID-19, a claim many foreign experts doubt.

(Read more North Korea stories.)

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