North Korea unveils gleaming new airport for Pyongyang

  • 25 June 2015
  • From the section Asia
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects a newly built terminal of Pyongyang International Airport with his wife Ri Sol-ju - 25 June 2015 Image copyright EPA
Image caption North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was pictured inspecting the new terminal building with his wife

Pictures of the shopping and amenities at North Korea's new airport terminal have been published in state media.

Several pages of the daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun showed images of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife inspecting the restaurants and shops.

North Korea has unveiled several large building projects in recent years but human rights groups say much of the country still lives in poor conditions.

The airport, which will serve only a few flights, is set to open on 1 July.

Earlier this month, the country said it was facing its worst drought in a century, sparking fears of worsening food shortages.

Three pages of Thursday's Rodong Sinmun - the ruling Workers' Party official daily newspaper - were devoted to images of Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju being shown around the terminal.

In one photograph, Mars bars and bottled beers were on display in one of the airport's new duty-free shops. Another showed a cafe serving espresso-based drinks.

Image copyright Rodong Sinmum

The glass-fronted building is reported to be six times larger than the old terminal but passenger numbers are likely to be low.

Most of the tiny handful of flights to and from the North Korean capital carry Chinese tourists and North Koreans on official business between Pyongyang and Beijing.

Mr Kim described the building as a "landmark of the Songun [military-first] era", according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

He told workers and officials he was "very satisfied to see the terminal well built in harmony with modern aesthetic taste and national character", KCNA said.

He was also reported to have called for the construction of a high-speed railway and a motorway between Pyongyang and the airport, some 24km (15 miles) northwest of the capital.

Kim Jong-un: Trying to make sense of North Korea's leader

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The vast majority of tourists to North Korea are from neighbouring China, its main ally

Since taking power in 2011, Mr Kim has promised to raise living standards in the isolated country, but most of his signature projects have been beyond the reach of average North Koreans, like ski resorts and water parks.

Many North Koreans suffer from a lack of food, drinking water and stable electricity.

North Korea's troubles

  • Average per capita income of $1,000-$2,000 (£640-£1,280) per year, compared to more than $20,000 in South Korea.
  • Suffered famine from 1995 to 1997 after series of droughts and floods
  • Almost a third of children under five are stunted by malnutrition, says UN
  • About 20% of pregnant and breast-feeding women also malnourished
  • More than two million people receiving help from UN World Food Programme

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