North Korea is performing final inspections on 10,000 new housing units in the Songsin and Songhwa districts of eastern Pyongyang, Daily NK has learned. 

North Korea has so far not announced the completion of the housing units to the wider world, simply saying during a plenary party meeting late last month that the apartments “have generally been put together.” Daily NK understands, however, that construction on the houses has been completed and final inspections are currently ongoing. 

A Daily NK source in Pyongyang said Thursday that the frames of all the new apartment buildings in Songsin and Songhwa have been completed, and some even have finished interiors. He said final inspections were underway, with inspectors being particularly strict because North Korean leader Kim Jong Un spoke at the construction site. There is reason for this: if issues should arise later, the inspectors who gave passing grades to problematic buildings would get sacked.

The source said if the homes pass inspection, people will begin moving in. In fact, North Korea has already decided the “order” in which families will move in.

North Korean authorities will, in principle at least, give priority to families evicted to make way for the new homes, allotting apartments based on family size.

After them come personnel from local bases and factories belonging to the Korean People’s Army Air and Anti-Air Force Logistics Command. Next would be personnel at the No. 8 and No. 9 foodstuff factories run by the Supreme Guard Command.

Fourth on the list are Pyongyang residents who are unable to work and have no one to rely on. Lastly, people who do not fall under the first four groups would then get a chance to move in.

According to the source, the authorities “must” give occupancy certificates to people in the first to fourth categories. He added that if people who receive occupancy certificates do not move in within a month, their certificates will be taken back by the government. 

Among Pyongyangites, there is reportedly widespread praise for the new housing units.

industrial accident
Apartments being constructed in North Korea. / Image: Yonhap

The source said the evicted families are happy as they received very nice, modern houses just a year after they lost their old ones. Residents of Pyongyang’s central districts, meanwhile, say they would like to live in the new homes as long as transportation to and from work is adequate.

The source said two apartment buildings have been completely finished with wallpaper, tile, flooring, kitchen cabinets, furniture, and ceiling lights in preparation for an event attended by Kim Jong Un. He also said, however, that the construction workers believe Kim will not be visiting right away.

The dominant opinion has been that Kim is likely to attend the completion ceremony since he has shown particular interest in building homes for Pyongyang residents. However, the source said talk at the construction site contradicts this.

According to him, builders think Kim will not come right away, but rather perform on-the-spot guidance after people move in. They think because Kim “values the voice of the people,” he will want to talk with people who actually move into the new homes. 

However, some people continue to argue that an event attended by Kim will “definitely” be held – though when is hard to predict – given that the communist party has been trumpeting the results of the government’s construction projects.

Having declared it will construct 50,000 housing units in Songsin and Songhwa, Seopo, Kumchon, Sept. 9 Street, and other districts in Pyongyang by 2025, North Korea plans to pursue planned construction projects this year, too. In particular, the authorities reportedly plan to focus this year on building homes in western Pyongyang’s Kumchon district, which borders the city of Nampo.

The source said the Capital Construction Committee received a “construction order” following the Fourth Plenary Meeting of the Eighth Central Committee. Last year, the authorities simply asked for “homes people would like,” but this year, they are emphasizing creativity, warning against building homes “all the same.” As a result, builders are saying last year’s construction work “was easier,” he added. 

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

SHARE
Ha Yoon Ah is Daily NK's editor-in-chief. Please direct any questions about her articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.