UPDATE : 2018.7.19 THU 14:28
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N.K. leader orders completion of new residential areas by April

SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's leader has ordered the completion of a new residential district building project in Pyongyang "at any cost" by the birthday of his late grandfather in April, the North's state media said Thursday.

The North's leader conducted an inspection of the construction site of Ryomyong Street before the Day of the Sun, the birthday of the country's founder Kim Il-sung which falls on April 15, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Kim called on all servicemen and builders involved in the work to complete construction by the deadline, highlighting that the move demonstrates the country's will to defend socialism, according to the report.

North Korea originally set the deadline for the end of 2016, but massive floods that hit the country's northeastern areas last year diverted resources for the construction and caused delays.

The country has been pushing for the project in a bid to show that tough international sanctions do not work.

"He stressed that its construction goes to prove once again that neither sanctions nor pressure can ever check the victorious advance" of the army and North Koreans, the KCNA said, adding that the project should be finished "without fail."

It marked the first time that the North's state media confirmed the deadline being pushed back into the 105th anniversary of the late founder's birthday.

Minjok Tongshin, a U.S.-based pro-North Korea website, earlier said that Pyongyang has injected about US$2.8 million into the project.

North Korea is building skyscrapers in Ryomyong Street, which covers about 900,000 square meters and would house about 4,800 households.

Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected to Seoul last year, said that a set of sanctions put a severe strain on Kim Jong-un's policy enforcement including the construction of Ryomyong Street.

South Korea's unification ministry said last week that North Korea may launch another work-hard drive this year to carry out tasks unveiled by the North's leader in his New Year message including the Ryomyong Street project.

Last year, North Korea staged so-called 70-day and 200-day campaigns of loyalty in a bid to give the impression that it had not been affected by international sanctions.

Yoo Heui-jin  edt@koreapost.com

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