Kim Jong-un Orders Halt to Border Casino Project

Joshua Park, Dec. 19, 2018, 9:21 a.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered a halt to a casino project under construction in the North Korea-China border region, Radio Free Asia reported on Tuesday.

Kim ordered officials to stop the entire "troublesome" casino project, according to a source in a Chinese border town who spoke to a North Korean trading company official who was there to lure investment.

The regime also abruptly ordered a halt to the construction of a 30-story five-star hotel in Sinuiju last month because Beijing opposed a large casino near the Chinese border, RFA added.

There is speculation that Kim, though eager to lure investment, backed down in the face of China's opposition.

Instead, according to the Wall Street Journal on Monday, "North Korea has accelerated a little-known program to use its abundant coal supply to produce synthetic gas, helping the isolated nation reduce its dependence on foreign oil and withstand sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear program."

Coal gasification is the process of producing a synthetic gas similar to natural gas by making coal react with oxygen and hydrogen at a high temperature. Syngas can be used to generate power or manufacture industrial products.

The North is using Chinese technology to install syngas production equipment at fertilizer, iron and steel, and cement plants, the daily quoted a diplomat as saying.

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