North Korea’s capital Pyongyang has begun to demolish entire neighborhoods to make way for leader Kim Jong Un’s ambitious plan to build 10,000 homes in the city by the end of this year, but people The project has nowhere to live, according to sources in the capital.
At the ruling Korean Workers’ Party congress in January, Kim announced plans to alleviate a housing shortage in the country’s largest city by building 50,000 new homes by the end of 2025, catching head with 10,000 houses by 2021.
Construction began almost immediately after the announcement, with organizers using the military to provide special labor brigades known as storm soldiers.
But before the new homes are completed, the project is actually making housing shortages already exacerbated in the city of 3 million people as it is making thousands of people living in these areas. marked demolition off the road, the source said. It is not clear how many homes were destroyed.
“Demolition is going strong in the suburbs of Pyongyang to make way for projects to build 10,000 new homes. Day 9order, they leveled all the houses in Soryong # 2 neighborhoods 1 through 4 in Taedonggang district, “a Pyongyang resident told RFA’s Korea Agency last week.
“Not long ago the city government in charge of construction sent announcements that they would demolish original residents’ homes through their neighborhood offices and individual neighborhood guard units. Residents have complained to the authorities, saying they will not be able to find a new place to live in such a short time, ”said the source, requesting anonymity due to security reasons.
The source said that some residents who could not relocate in time had requested to delay the demolition date.
The source said: “On the day of the demolition, the storm shelter soldiers sent to the village refused to wait, saying it was on the orders of the Supreme Commander,” using Kim Jong Un’s rank as an expression of respect.
“Residents who couldn’t even move their belongings out of their homes shouted and protested,” the source said.
Many of the displaced residents have asked friends and relatives to let them rent a room in their home, the source said.
“But so many people have to be relocated to the point where only a few find shelter in someone else’s home.”
Another source, also a resident of Pyongyang, told RFA: “In the Sadong district of Pyongyang, they are demolishing private homes to make room for the project to build 10,000 new homes.”
In a neighborhood called Turu, “areas 1, 2 and 3 were demolished yesterday,” said a second source.
A second source said some residents were able to find housing with family members, but others were not so lucky.
“An acquaintance of mine who lives in the Turu # 2 neighborhood lost a precious home due to the project, but he feels relieved to be able to move in with his parents, who don’t live too far away. . But there are people who have nowhere to get any help, and they are in a situation where they are almost thrown out overnight, and they are looking for even a storage room to stay in. , said the second source.
“To rent a room just outside Pyongyang, you have to pay 100 yuan [U.S. $15] per month and 30 yuan [$4.50] for a storage room. Poor families can’t even afford to buy 100 yuan a month so they feel lucky to be able to find a small storage room where three family members can barely lie down, ”the source said. said the second.
The government tried to solve the problem by giving original residents the right to live in new homes, but by the time construction was completed, many were essentially homeless.
“They don’t know when the new house will be moved in and the government doesn’t guarantee a place to live, so many people have been brutally driven out of their homes,” said the second source.
All real estate in North Korea is owned by the state. The second source said that since the affected residents are living on the outskirts of Pyongyang, it is likely that they are not the elite and therefore have no power to oppose the sacrifice of their neighborhood. .
“The highest authority claims that the construction of 50,000 modern houses in the capital will bring more stable and civilized living conditions to the people of Pyongyang,” said the second source.
“But residents were outraged, saying the dizzying speed of construction led to being kicked out onto the street with no room to go. They wonder if the new homes are really for the citizens of the capital city or if it’s just propaganda to advertise the government’s achievements.
The pressure to build too many homes too quickly has led construction managers to ignore safety standards.
RFA reported last week that about 20 hurricane soldiers died in an electric fire in the workers’ barracks on site. Due to the overworked force of the storm guard, the person assigned to look after the building at night fell asleep, letting the fire burn down the entire building.
Jeong Yon Park’s Report for RFA’s Korea Service. Translation by Leejin Jun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.