Fears over North Korean dam that 'killed' Kim Jong-il
The structural integrity of a hydroelectric dam in North Korea that is said to have driven Kim Jong-il to his death has been called into question.
Images from South Korean satellites show that the floodgates have been opened on the Huichon dam, in Jagang Province, and that the water level has fallen below 10 per cent of the reservoir's capacity of 550 million tons.
Work on the dam was started in 2009 and the facility was designed to generate 300,000 kilowatts of energy and solve the power problems that continue to plague Pyongyang.
But, with the water level so low, the hydro-electric plant is not now able to generate electricity, experts told South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper.
The project has been crippled by problems from the start.
The dam - which stands nearly 330 feet high and is more than 1,820 feet wide - was found to have large cracks in its face and had sprung a number of leaks as soon as the first phase was completed in April 2011.
Sources in North Korea claim that Kim - who saw the dam as one of the crowning achievements of his government and visited the project at least eight times - died in a fit of rage on December 17, 2011, after hearing of the latest setback.
"After being briefed about the leak, Kim Jong-il lambasted officials and ordered them to repair it," the source told the newspaper. Unable to contain his anger, he rushed to make an on-site inspection of the facility and died suddenly."
North Korean media reported two days later that Kim had died of a heart attack aboard his personal train and blamed his death on a heart attack brought on by stress and overwork.