N. Korea Under Strain from Kim Jong-Un's Costly Pet Projects

North Korea’s already impoverished economy is straining under the burden of three extravagant projects conceived by Kim Jong-un in a questionable effort at adding luster to his nation’s image, according to a S. Korean official cited by Chosun Ilbo.

Kim’s three incongruously costly pet projects are a ski resort, a Pyongyang equestrian club and a campaign to turn the nation’s unused land into lawns.

Each N. Korean diplomat and worker overseas has been ordered to send home $300 to help finance construction of the ski resort. A pro-Pyongyang organization in Japan called Chongryon has been asked to undertake a fundraising drive for the project. The regime is also pressuring people to send gifts to soldiers working on the ski resort.

A large number of people have been pressed into providing the labor to build the equestrian club, a quirky project in a nation in which few citizens have the means to own horses for recreation. Resources badly needed elsewhere are being diverted to allow senior party officials overseas to spend hundreds of millions of won to buy racehorses.

Equally quixotic is the nationwide greening campaign Kim launched last year to cover with grass large areas of barren land. Residents are being pressured to plant grass on all empty lots in schools and other public areas. The regime has even established a national lawn research center and workers stationed overseas are being asked to send home grass seeds.

The N. Korean people are becoming restive at being forced to sacrifice in order to complete Kim’s pet projects on a strict timetable without being provided the necessary resources, the source said.