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North Korean leader fires officials for extortion linked to hospital project

Pyongyang, N. Korea: North Korea's leader has sacked officials building a hospital after they pressed the public for contributions, media reported on Monday, July 20, the second rebuke linked to the high-profile project in a country where such problems are rarely publicised.

Leader Kim Jong Un ordered the Pyongyang General Hospital to be built by the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party in October, calling it a "top priority" in improving public health in the face of the novel coronavirus. But during his latest visit to the site, Kim fired a group of project managers for failing to allocate a proper budget and supplying equipment and materials from ordinary citizens.

KCNA released photographs of a serious-looking Kim speaking at the site with officials wearing masks. It was his second rebuke for the managers this month. He earlier criticised them for causing delays with "inattention" and violating unspecified anti-epidemic rules.
North Korea has not reported any cases of the coronavirus but has taken intensive prevention measures, including a ban on gatherings, an order to wear masks and mandatory quarantine for border workers.

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