North Korea's propaganda machine has spent days promoting a new airport in Pyongyang, showcasing the building's sleek glass walls and espresso stations. But the images, which feature Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, fail to mention that the building's principal designer was likely executed last year because Kim was unhappy with the design.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency published a 30-photo slide show Thursday of Kim Jong Un and his wife touring a two story international terminal in Pyongyang's airport. It's the latest appeal to potential tourists since Kim ascended to power in North Korea three years ago, featuring a jewelry store, coffee bar, a pharmacy, a chocolate fountain and other luxury amenities. The new transportation hub is scheduled to open July 1, the Los Angeles Times reported, and will primarily accept flights from China and Russia.
— Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) June 25, 2015
Ma Won Chun, who was North Korea's director of the Designing Department of the National Defense Commission until his disappearance last year, was noticeably absent from the press photos. Chun was the chief architect behind North Korea's biggest government projects when he, along with five other high-level officials, were reportedly killed during one of Kim's attempts to consolidate power. Ma was executed in November 2014 “for corrupt practices and failure to follow orders,” according to the Diplomat, a news outlet that covers the Asia Pacific.
— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) June 26, 2015
— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) June 25, 2015
His death coincided with a report from NKNews.com explaining that airport renovations were being suspended because of Kim's dissatisfaction.
“Defects were manifested in the last phase of the construction of the Terminal 2 because the designers failed to bear in mind the party's idea of architectural beauty that is the life and soul and core in architecture to preserve the Juche character and national identity,” Kim said, according to NKNews' transcript of a state media report. “It is necessary to finish the construction of the terminal to be an icon of [North] Korea, the face of the country and the gateway to Pyongyang.”
It's not clear where North Korea - a country ravaged by regular famines and fuel shortages - acquired the necessary funds to build the new airport.