PYONGYANG: With tens of thousands of adoring citizens looking on –along with invited international media — North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on Thursday opened a prestige housing project as he sought to burnish his country’s image in the midst of mounting tensions over its nuclear ambitions.
The Ryomyong Street development is a collection of residential tower blocks of various shapes – round, square and octagonal – with the tallest proclaimed as 70 storeys, or 234 metres, high, and including nearly 5,000 apartments in total.
It stands just down a wide avenue from the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the bodies of Kim’s father and grandfather — the North’s founding father Kim Il-Sung — lie in state, and its completion was repeatedly promised in time for Saturday’s 105th anniversary of Kim Il-Sung’s birth.
Tens of thousands of soldiers, officials and citizens packed a plaza from early morning, waiting in the cold Pyongyang spring air for hours before Kim made his entrance, leading a delegation of senior officials and generals onto the dais.
Addressing the throng, Prime Minister Pak Pong-Ju lauded Kim, the third of his family to rule the country.
“I would like to express the greatest thanks in the name of the people and the army to great leader comrade Kim Jong-Un, who wisely led this construction to victory,” he said.