By Lee Haye-ah
WASHINGTON, March 26 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has begun construction on a new hospital backed by leader Kim Jong-un, a U.S. monitor said Thursday, citing commercial satellite imagery.
38 North, a U.S. website specializing in North Korea analysis, said the imagery shows construction on the Pyongyang General Hospital began on March 17, the day Kim attended the groundbreaking.
It published an image from March 24, which it said showed that excavation has started on the site.
Preparations were made soon after the project was approved at a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party Central Committee in December, according to 38 North.
By Jan. 21, blue-roofed "construction-related buildings" were erected adjacent to the site, it said, marking the area in imagery from Feb. 3.
"While the groundbreaking comes at a time when the world is grappling with COVID-19, the development of new hospitals has been an ongoing initiative during the Kim Jong Un era," 38 North said, noting the opening of other hospital facilities in 2012, 2013 and 2016.
During the groundbreaking ceremony, Kim ordered the completion of construction by Oct. 10, the 75th founding anniversary of the Workers' Party.
"The hospital is being built on a block of land directly in front of the monument to the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea on the east bank of the Taedong River," 38 North said. "Until now, that area has been left open allowing a line-of-sight view between the monument and Mansudae Hill. It is notable that the hospital will obstruct this view between two of Pyongyang's (principal) propaganda sites."