World

North Korea Releases Rare Statement On Building Collapse

In a rare apology, North Korea officials released a statement apologizing to the families of victims in a 24-story construction building collapse.

North Korea Releases Rare Statement On Building Collapse
KCNA
SMS

It's not every day you hear bad news coming from North Korea, at least not from its state-ran media. But the reclusive nation issued a rare public apology Sunday after an apartment building collapsed in the capital Pyongyang. 

NK News picked up the story from the North's official Korean Central News Agency, which reported that the collapse occurred last week due to what they say was "slipshod" construction and officials supervising in an irresponsible manner.

The rescue operation reportedly ended Saturday, with several senior officials meeting families to apologize. North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un was said to have stayed up all night "feeling painful after being told about the accident." (Via Arirang)

According to the Financial Times, the casualties could be in the hundreds. The apartment building was believed to have housed 92 families and typical North Korean families have four members. 

As to what actually caused the collapse? The Washington Post writes that Kim's rush to make the capital appear more grandiose may be to blame:

"The accident hints at one of the risks North Korea faces as it races to complete construction projects using 'soldier-builders' mandated to work at top speed. Under Kim, the North has devoted reams of propaganda to its construction prowess."

But why is North Korea, a country that is known for using its media for propaganda and manipulating news, releasing a statement on something that went wrong anyhow? 

A writer at The Wall Street Journal writes that it may be because North Korean officials can't control the information this time saying that "Increasing use of cellphones in the country in recent years has also made it hard for the state to limit the spread of information." 

North Korea has shown sharp criticism towards the South for their handling of the Sewol ferry disaster. 

A writer at the BBC says that the parallels would be hard to miss.

Perhaps [North Korea] now feels obliged to put on a display of accountability and contrition for its own people, who are bound to see the comparison."

While North Korea has not yet published photos of the accident, its primary newspaper showed a photo of an official bowing to a crowd of people.