Unification Ministry failed to prevent asphalt donated by S. Korea for use at Samjiyon Airport
North Korea has either poorly used or diverted 9.3 billion won (US$8.6 million) worth of asphalt pitch given by South Korea to pave the landing strip at the Samjiyon Airport near Mount Baekdu, according to a report released August 25 by the Board of Audit and Inspection.
The pavement work that was done at Samjiyon was done haphazardly, and 2 billion won worth of asphalt was used elsewhere, and not for the Samjiyon Airport runway.
“While giving aid from the North-South Cooperation Fund, the Ministry of Unification failed to put in place devices that would prevent budget waste from poor construction and unauthorized appropriation by giving the aid gradually, based on progress in paving the runway,” said the report.
The Ministry of Unification used money from the North-South Cooperation Fund to support the paving of the landing strip at Samjiyon Airport in 2005 and 2006 in order to facilitate the establishment of direct tourist flights from South Korea to the Mount Baekdu area. In July 2005 it gave the North 4.9 billion won worth of asphalt pitch, but in December of the same year a site inspection indicated that the quality of the work was inadequate. More paving work would be needed to land passenger planes, it was found, and in March 2006 the ministry supplied the North with another 2 billion won in asphalt pitch to make repairs. In December of last year, however, South Korean technical experts visited Samjiyon again and found that none of the additional asphalt was used at the site.
The BAI noted that the ministry had failed to put measures in place to prevent the asphalt pitch from being diverted to other uses even after a North Korean official told South Korean businessmen at the Gaeseong Industrial Park in February 2006 that the additional material, delivered to the North through Port Nampo, had been used at Pyongyang’s Sunan Airport.
The ministry has responded, saying it “humbly accepts” the findings and “is formulating measures” to prevent similar occurrences.
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