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NK hospital construction project moving ahead fast: state media

A hospital construction project in Pyongyang is moving ahead in a speedy manner, with more than 60 percent of the initial excavation work completed in just about 10 days after ground was broken, state media said Thursday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has shown interest in the Pyongyang General Hospital project, attending its groundbreaking ceremony on March 17 and ordering that construction be completed by Oct. 10, the 75th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party.

"With strong competition under way among builders joining in the construction, over 63 percent of basic excavation work has been completed and concrete placing is actively taking place," the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling party, said.

The paper said that "unfavorable" working conditions have sprung up at the construction site, but heavy equipment and many soldiers have been mobilized to allow the work to progress.

It also reported on the daily outpouring of donations from people across the country wishing to support the construction, with a front-page photo showing materials being delivered to construction workers.

Since the groundbreaking ceremony last month, North Korea has vowed to meet the construction target, with senior officials visiting the construction site to encourage workers.

Skepticism, however, remains over whether the construction can be completed by the deadline amid the North's efforts to prevent the outbreak of the new coronavirus and challenges in securing necessary materials due to global sanctions.

North Korea said that it has no coronavirus infections, but speculation persists that the reclusive state might be hiding an outbreak. Pyongyang has called blocking the virus a "political matter" that will determine the fate of the country. It has shut down its borders and toughened quarantine criteria. (Yonhap)