Transportation found its place in the sun yesterday as part of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies’ ‘2012 North Korea Week’.
Using his extensive knowledge and firsthand experience of North Korea, Dr. Ahn Byung Min outlined the parlous state of the country’s railways, roads, vehicles, airports, bridges and harbors in his presentation, explaining that not only is the whole thing outdated and secondhand, but that it has also deteriorated over the years to the point that much is structurally unsafe.
For example, even the country’s functioning trains have serious drawbacks, he pointed out; many run at just 15km/hr, and if the electricity fails their operation becomes impossible.
In this same vein, of about 90,000km or so of roads, 26,000km are completely unusable and a majority is unpaved, he went on. 90% of bridges are too unsafe to be used, he also claimed, adding that this creates the need for long detours.
While redevelopment and repairs are underway under agreements between North Korea and neighboring China and Russia, Dr. Ahn said that this is insufficient, and that what is really necessary is an overhaul of the entire transportation system.
The 3-day Asan North Korea Week concludes today.