Most airports build a new terminal because their current facility is too busy or crowded. There are always exceptions to the rule, however. For example, the sole major airport in North Korea only receives a few hundred international visitors a month, but it just opened a sleek, new international terminal easily capable of handling 20 or 30 times the number of flights it currently sees.
North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un is a big fan of airplanes. That’s why it’s not too surprising that impoverished North Korea, which only receives a few flights a week from Moscow and Beijing, has opened up a brand, new-high-tech terminal for international flights at the Pyongyang airport. Of note, the multi-year international terminal project had to be restarted last year, after project managers did not execute leadership’s architectural vision for the building.
More on new international airport terminal in North Korea
According to the Korean Central News Agency, the state media service of North Korea, the new Terminal 2 of Pyongyang International Airport, which is solely used for international civilian flights, was officially operational on Wednesday.
Photographs accompanying the story showed an ultra-modern, glass-fronted, marble-floored building, certainly visually impressive.
Analysts pointed out that one major change was new elevated passenger boarding walkways. Until now, passengers always had to either walk or drive across the landing areas in order to actually board their aircraft.
The new international terminal is also apparently equipped with a coffee bar and a duty-free store displaying Western chocolate bars, Werther’s Original candy and various bottled beers.
In November of last year, leader Kim Jong Un ordered workers to tear down and rebuild several portions of the terminal under construction, saying that the team had not properly executed the leadership’s vision for the important project.
Much of new terminal was rebuilt after design snafu
The airport improvement project began back in the summer of 2012, when Kim first launched the construction of the new terminal. At the time, Kim commented publicly that the current facility was simply too small and shabby relative to other major airports.
However, Kim halted work on the project back in early November of 2014 after inspecting the site and finding it did meet his standards..
A large portion of the new international terminal demolished on his order when he commented that the building looked too much like a copy of a foreign facility.
Kim reproached workers for not sufficiently taking to heart his comments back in July that the project should fully embody North Korea’s “Juche” (self-reliance) philosophy and national identify.
According to KCNA, when he inspected the new terminal, Kim said it was obvious there were “deviations in the interior layout including halls for check-in and departure.” That meant that various areas of these facilities had to be rebuilt, which set the project back by around six months.
In its article about the new airport facility, KCNA noted: “The terminal was built in a modern way from the gatepost to the airport to departure lounge, entry formalities hall, service halls, etc.”
KCNA also reported that during the opening ceremony, North Korean Prime Minister Pak Pong-Ju said it was Kim’s “ardent patriotic will and unremitting efforts” that had now put the country’s aviation sector on “a world level.”