Build­ing fail sheds light on N. Korean pri­or­i­ties

The Covington News - - WORLD -

PY­ONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Py­ongyang isn’t just any North Korean city. So when a 23-story apart­ment build­ing un­der con­struc­tion col­lapsed in the cen­ter of the show­case cap­i­tal in May, officials faced a bona fide emer­gency.

Their re­sponse was in some ways pre­dictable: a grudg­ingly slow and piece­meal con­fir­ma­tion, fol­lowed by scape­goat­ing and spin. Three months later, they still refuse to give a death toll, say­ing only that it was “se­ri­ous” and that leader Kim Jong Un “sat up all night, feel­ing painful af­ter be­ing told about the ac­ci­dent.”

But in a coun­try where ac­knowl­edg­ment of fail­ure is rare, ex­perts say North Korea’s han­dling of the col­lapse also shines a light on how it is grap­pling with some deeper is­sues, in­clud­ing its image among for­eign in­vestors, the lim­its on its con­trol over in­for­ma­tion and the need to ad­dress, at a pub­lic level.

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