On April 27th, KCNA reported that Kim Jong-un “guided general tactical exercises of KPA Combined Unit 655 held on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the KPA.” NK Leadership Watch wrote about the demonstration here. Just by chance, I recognized the facility and was able to pinpoint it on Google Earth. This is rarely so easy.
Pictured above, the KPA observation facility (Google Earth: 38.948016°, 125.916006°) in Sadong-guyok (사동구역).
The building sits on top of a small mountain, and according to the Google Earth ruler, it is approximately 50m x 32m (at its widest). The oldest satellite image available of the facility (on Google Earth) dates to 2003-12-25. There are several support facilities located nearby, but I do not have any specific information on them.
Here is a layout of the facility in relation to the target area (Google Earth):
According to the Google Earth ruler, the observation facility is approximately 3km from the most distant portion of the test grounds.
Perhaps the strangest aspect of this test is that an elite residential compound lies just on the other side of the mountains from the artillery testing area (about 1km away)! Who would have ever thought they would detonate explosives and projectiles so close to one of these compounds? Perhaps the presence of the elite residential compound explains why this observation facility has not been used for as long as I can remember (which admittedly is not a long time ago).
I have located several KPA demonstration areas on Google Earth and will include them in the next version of North Korea Uncovered, hopefully out in the next couple of months.