SEOUL, Feb 19, 2022, NK News. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un led a groundbreaking ceremony for a new greenhouse farm to be built in Ryonpho, state media reported on Saturday, kicking off the 250-acre project designed to address “diet problems” in the surrounding region, NK News reported.
In a speech during the ceremony, Kim described the greenhouse farm as an important step in securing vegetables for east coast regions. The Rodong Sinmun added that Kim Myong Sik and Kim Kwang Hyok, two Korean People’s Army officers, also made speeches lauding workers for their revolutionary zeal.
Although the North Korean leader called for the construction of “modern large-scale vegetable greenhouse farms” late last year, Kim reportedly decided that Ryonpho in South Hamgyong province specifically needed the facility during an unpublicized visit in April 2019.
Several other high-ranking party officials attended Friday’s event as well, including Jo Yong Won and Ri Jong Nam, according to state media.
The Ryonpho megaproject appears to be a new favorite for Kim Jong Un this year, after several other projects failed to meet year-end deadlines in 2021 due to supply shortages and other issues. Kim Jong Un personally detonated explosives to initiate construction on Friday, sending plumes of earth into the sky, the Rodong Sinmun said. The deadline for the project is Oct. 10, 2022.
Peter Ward, a North Korea economy expert and NK Pro contributor, told NK News that the project resembles Chinese economic planning strategies from the 1980s, when central planners poured capital into large-scale projects rather than providing incentives to the farmers themselves.
“More building, more machinery, rather than more motivated farmers,” Ward said.
The project’s commencement comes amid continued efforts from the country’s ruling party to address food shortages. In late January, Kim demanded in a letter to the country’s Union of Agricultural Workers of Korea that farmers stop illegal black market sales and boost efforts to solve “critical” food problems.
Similarly, Pyongyang decided on Jan. 21 to reorganize the Ministry of Agriculture into an Agricultural Commission, a move NK Pro contributing analyst Martin Weiser said was likely aimed at addressing “bottlenecks and inefficiencies.”
If and when completed, the Ryonpho greenhouse will be the second such farm to replace an airfield in recent years. Another large-scale farm, the Jungphyong Vegetable Greenhouse Farm, was built in 2019 at the site of an old airfield in Chongjin on the country’s east coast.
Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un showed off a high-end luxury vehicle in his growing collection, greeting throngs of cheering North Koreans through the sunroof of what is likely a Lexus LX570. A U.N. Panel of experts report last year said that North Korea attempted to import multiple LX570s in late 2020 at a cost of over $1 million.