Of the 2,500 units comprising North Korea’s
newly constructed residential building on the Mirae (Future) Scientists’
Street, proclaimed by Kim Jong Un in this year’s New Year’s Address as a “huge
monument to creativity”, only 500 are currently occupied by families. Most
families assigned to live in the homes cite a lack of power and water supplies
and incomplete construction as their reasons for avoiding what they had once
hoped would be a major housing upgrade.
On the 27th, our Daily NK reporter spoke with
a source in South Pyongan Province, who informed us that although announcements
and promulgating across North Korean state media outlets of the apartment
complex’s completion, the reality falls far short. “Only the apartments that
Kim Jong Un has gone out to inspect himself have been completed; the remainder languish in a half-finished state,” she explained.
Two sources in Pyongyang reported the same
developments to Daily NK.
She continued, “Electricity is not yet
being supplied properly to the buildings, and the regime has advised those
living below the 10th floor not to use the elevator. Although this is likely a
step that was taken for the convenience of those living above the 10th floor,
the number of residents who have been assigned to these houses who are refusing
to move in is growing.”
Without running water and functional heat,
many of the apartments are frozen solid–literally. “The interiors resembled
ice caves. Many who have been assigned to the housing are planning to postpone
their move in dates until spring accordingly,” said the source.
Future residents of the apartments are also
wary of the high probability for shoddy construction work behind the building’s facade, fueled by state directives to finish the apartments at an unreasonable, and unsafe, pace. Such concerns are borne out by the timeline: plans for the Mirae Scientists’ Street apartments, ‘completed’ in November 2015, were put in motion directly following a visit by Kim Jong Un to the construction site of the faculty
housing for Kim Chaek University of Technology, where he provided on-the-spot
guidance in May of 2014.
Then, in February of 2015, Kim Jong Un proposed April 15th
(Kim Il Sung’s birthday) as a completion date for construction on the first
section of the site he had visited, and October 10th (the anniversary of the
founding of the Workers’ Party) for the second section.
All of this, it should be noted, following the collapse of a 23-story
apartment complex in May of 2014, a tragedy that claimed hundreds of
lives and drove up the number of North Koreans unwilling to risk their lives in loftier
reaches of residential dwellings. With the ghastly
consequences of poor quality construction still fresh in their minds,
more and more people who are assigned to these upper floor apartments are flat
out refusing to move in.
With this winter promising record-breaking
cold temperatures, people are also taking into account the very real
possibility that they might freeze to death. “If there’s not a steady supply of
power to these homes, there’s certainly no way they’re going to be able to fix
the heating problems in the apartments,” noted the source, adding that because
the facilities are so new “most tenants probably haven’t had the chance to try to replace
their [in effect, inoperable] heating systems to those that use wood.”
“Those who trusted their new housing
assignment and left their old houses behind to move into the Mirae Scientists’ Complex have no choice but to find some way of overcoming the cold,” she
“As usual, the people suffering the most are
innocent people who believed [regime] propaganda.”