Skip to comments.N. Korea: More Info on the N. Korean Explosion Site(is a major military supply node)
Posted on 04/22/2004 11:28:07 PM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
More Info on N. Korean Explosion Site(A recent defector's take)
KBS1 Radio around 1pm in S. Korean time interviewed a recent N. Korean defector(refugee) from Shinuiju, located 10 miles north of Ryongchon, where the massive blast was believed to have killed or wounded 3,000 people yesterday. He says:
(1) A lot of cargos are hauled in Ryongchon these days. Other established site like Yongju station does not have enough capacity to handle them all the time. Freight cars which cannot find their parking space are often parked in Ryongchon. Significant part of supplies destined for N. Korea from China went through Ryongchon station. Ryongchon station used to mostly handle agricultural products. However, lately, products from China, raw materials from Dukchon mines, and other industrial products are handled there. Its capacity grew steadily and it now rivals Yongju as a major transportation hub.
(2) There are military installations around Ryongchon. For example, N. Korean navy gets many of its supplies via Ryongchon station. Dasado Repair Center for tordedo boats and other naval bases are among them. There are also missile base(s) nearby.
(3) Trains arrive infrequently in N. Korea. As a result, around the train arrival/departure time, a large crowd is formed at the station to wait for trains. He suspects that a majority of casualties are from the train stration, not from neighboring apartment housing complex.
(4) Kim Jong-il reportedly passed the Ryongchon station some 9 hours earlier. However, this is a speculation based on the estimated speed of Kim's train. You won't be certain this is true, though.
His comments gave some useful insights into reconstructing the possible situation at Ryongchon when the blast occurred.
After a long wait, a train with a number of ethnic Chinese or Koreans is bringing in goods from China. These are people engaged in cross-border trades. They made a tidy fortune in this niche market. There are many takers on N. Korean side and passengers, waiting for them at the crowded station, some for hours. Right next to the station, there are also housing areas made up of 5 storied apartments(according to another news report.) Then, a freight train filled with extremely flammable materials slammed into another train with similar cargos at the station, the ensuing explosion blowing up the entire station and its neighborhood. The sheer number of wounded Chinese citizens overwhelmed the N. Koreans, whose medical system has virtually collapsed in recent years. Since they were Chinese and mishandling them would provoke ire from China, which N. Korea cannot afford, they were sent to Chinese city of Dandong, across the border. This made it impossible to impose a total news blackout, even after cutting local phone lines to stem the spread of the news.
In my opinion, the city is now sealed, except that patients are sent to other locations for treatment. It is a standard operating procedure in N. Korea to flood such a potential trouble spot with a large number of soldiers and security agents, lest this disaster should touch off any civil unrest. Since military installations are said to be in the city, I guess that they only need to send in additional reinforcements. Any large-scale freak accident like this has a potential to snowball into a political catastrophe for N. Korean regime, the one in a slow terminal disintegration. They won't take any chances.
N. Korean train system is already battered enough. The destruction of a major transportation route and a station will make the shortage of goods and materials, which are already atrocious, much worse. Could it cripple the N. Korean economy?
(1) Was it really a mere accident? Was Kim Jong-il physically affected by this in anyway? Considering the possibility that Kim Jong-il might have sent a decoy train first and come much later in another train, which is not unusual for a security-obsessed dictator like him , somebody might have gone after him, after finding out his real train schedule.
(2) Were those petroleum and LNG earmarked for the N. Korean military? I raise this question because the comments above mention Ryongchon as a key military supply node.
(3) If Kim Jong-il is alive and well, how would this accident will affect him psychologically? Would he turn more paranoid, hunker down and isolate his regime further whether this was an accident or an attempt on his life?
No, not really. No outsider is allowed to take a close look at this time, as far as I know. However, we know that spooks are busy with analyzing data collected from various sensors deployed to watch N. Korea. They could provide some answers eventually.:)
Not any more after the reports of the size of that exlosion
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