With uncharacteristic openness, North Korea admitted that an apartment complex under construction in the capital of Pyongyang collapsed last week.
Numbers of dead and injured were not mentioned, but South Korean officials said that as many as 92 families were already living in the building, although it was not yet complete.
The official KCNA news service reported Sunday that leader Kim Jong-un “sat up all night, feeling painful after being told about the accident.’’
The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper attributed the collapse of a 23-story building to “irresponsible” officials.
Minister of People's Security Choe Pu-il was quoted apologizing at the site of the accident, saying that the collapse was caused by the site's director and workers having failed to follow safety regulations. Choe also apologized for his own failure to identify and eliminate any risks to the nation's well-being and people's livelihoods.
The report of the incident was careful to place blame for the collapse with specific officials, not the central government's policies. The Rodong Sinmun report Saturday said government officials had visited the scene to comfort victims and their families. The article ran beside a photo of an official bowing in apology to families gathered at the construction site.
North Korea uses its official state media to communicate domestic propaganda and its own interpretation of news events, and it is uncommon for state outlets to carry news of accidents with words of contrition by government officials.
It is possible that the quick acknowledgment of the accident and apology could be intended to distinguish North Korea’s leadership from the South, which has faced domestic criticism since the April 16 sinking of the Sewol ferry, in which around 300 people lost their lives.
Borowiec is a special correspondent.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times