Reports say North Korean dam leaking, shoddy construction blamed

North Korean dam

A dam that impounds water for a hydropower plant in North Korea may be leaking, with shoddy construction being to blame, according to news agency UPI.

The dam for the Paektusan Hero Youth Power Station No. 3 (also called Baekdu Youth Power Station No. 3) – in Yanggang Province – was constructed hastily to meet a deadline ahead of the Seventh Party Congress, UPI says.

The Power Station No. 3 designation technically refers to the third unit at the same power plant with units No. 1 and 2 already online.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for a “70-day battle,” which was a mass mobilization that involved ordinary North Koreans volunteering free labor.

News agencies announced construction of the plant – its third near the country’s border with China – was completed on April 23. They said construction was completed four months ahead of schedule. “Two other power plants were built near the border area, but cracks shown shortly after opening the facilities in early October raised criticisms of its shoddy construction,” reported Yonhap News in April.

KCNA said the station was completed March 31 and Kim Jong-un visited on April 23. “The completion of the dam project in a matter of less than three months represents a heroic epic which could be created only by the heroes of the youth power who grew up under the care of the peerlessly great men of Mt. Paektu and a miracle they worked as young people of heroic Korea by bringing about a great leap forward by doing 10 years' work just in one year,” the news site said.

UPI says it received satellite images of the power station showing cracks in several areas and collapse of part of the dam wall. The images, which UPI says were taken May 8, also show a spillway had been built to drain surplus water from the reservoir.

The Korea Times says the leaks were found only 10 days after the plant was completed on April 28, when the state held a “completion” ceremony.

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