SAMJIYON, Dec 4, 2019, News.com.au. Kim Jong-un has officially opened a new town in North Korea that boasts apartments, hotels and a ski resort built by “slaves”. The Sun reports the North Korean leader cut the red ribbon at Samjiyon, which is envisaged as a “socialist utopia”, according to the county’s state media, News.com.au reported.
A massive celebration involving fireworks was held at the town near sacred Mount Paektu on Monday, local time, news agency KCNA said.
The Rodong Sinmun, a ruling party mouthpiece, ran photos of Mr Kim smiling as he cut the ribbon at the ceremony attended by thousands of people, while state television showed beige, green and purple buildings covered in snow.
The town is envisaged as a “socialist utopia” in North Korea and features new apartments, hotels, a ski resort and commercial, cultural and medical facilities.
It “has turned into an example of a mountainous modern city under socialism, an epitome of modern civilisation”, KCNA reported.
Up to 4000 families could be housed in the town, which has 380 blocks of public and industrial buildings in “hundreds of hectares”, according to the agency.
Colin Zwirko, a correspondent at specialist site NK News, described the town as a “model”.
“As it appears now, it (has) nice clean facades and unique, ornately designed buildings that would not resemble really any other city in North Korea,” he told the BBC.
“Someone roaming around Samjiyon as a tourist would not stumble into less well-kept areas away from the main road, as is the case in Pyongyang and other cities.”
Mr Zwirko said the town was “quite small and walkable”, measuring around two to three kilometres in either direction.
The town is one of the largest economic initiatives Mr Kim has launched as part of his drive for a “self-reliant economy”, as Pyongyang calls for Washington to lift economic sanctions in their nuke talks.
But its construction was delayed – chiefly due to shortages in construction materials and labour as a result of sanctions imposed to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
The delays prompted Pyongyang to mobilise youth labour brigades, which defectors and human rights activists likened to “slave labour” as they got no pay, poor food and were forced to work more than 12 hours a day for up to 10 years in return for better chances to enter a university or join the all-powerful Workers’ Party.
Over the past year, state media has reported on factories, families and individuals who have sent winter jackets, tools, shoes, blankets and biscuits to Samjiyon, which the defectors said was part of the cash-strapped regime’s campaign to source supplies from the public.
The project was completed despite “the worst trials” and “ordeals and difficulties,” KCNA said.
Meanwhile, North Korea today issued a chilling warning to US President Donald Trump, saying it was “up to the US what Christmas gift it will get” from the rogue state.
Mr Kim has given the White House until December 31 to end what it calls ongoing “hostility” while warning time is running out to salvage nuclear missile talks.
This article originally appeared on The Sun