It happened on September 15, Juche 37 (1948), several days after the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
That evening, Kim Il Sung called senior officials of the Cabinet and officials of the Ministry of Transport to his office.
After exchanging greetings with them, he said:
The railways play a very important role in nation building and the economic development of the country. So we planned to electrify some sections of the railways as the first major project after the founding of the DPRK. Our country is rich in electric power resources, so we can electrify all the railways of the country in the future.
All the officials were surprised at his words full of confidence.
Because it was hard for them to imagine the project as the country was just liberated from the more than 40-year-long cruel military rule of the Japanese imperialists.
Looking at the officials full of hope, expectation and doubt, Kim Il Sung, with a bright smile on his face, explained that under the present situation, the railway electrification project could not be carried out at a time, and that the Kaego-Koin and Yangdok-Chonsong railway lines should be done first as their steep slopes caused great difficulties in railway transport.
Then he asked about their opinions.
After listening to their answers, he called for launching the project if they do not oppose it, and said as follows:
The electrification of the railways is of great political and economic significance in the sense that it is the first major construction project to be undertaken after the founding of the Republic. When the project is completed, we can say that it is the first gift to be presented to the people after the founding of our Republic.
Needless to say, it is very difficult to electrify the railways on our own efforts under the present situation where technology, experience, materials and all other things are in short supply. However, we must electrify the railways with our own efforts and technology by bravely overcoming the difficulties and hardships encountered, and rapidly reconstruct and develop the railway transport destroyed by the Japanese imperialists. Only then can the country’s economy be rehabilitated and developed to further strengthen the democratic base in the northern half of Korea.
Then, he declared full of firm will:
By completing the electrification of the Kaego-Koin and Yangdok-Chonsong railway lines by the end of December, we should demonstrate to the whole world the inexhaustible strength of our people who have seized power, and the might of the Republic.
All the officials stood up and expressed absolute support to his decision with enthusiastic applause.
He personally took measures to concentrate fund and technicians and equipment available in the country on the project.