The donju —North Korea’s nouveau riche — have recently been expanding their business
inroads. Whereas this contingent previously forayed in wholesale/retail
businesses, the burgeoning real estate market, and transportation, they are now yielding profits by increasingly partaking in state construction projects, Daily NK has
“The South Pyongan Sunchon Thermal Power
Plant recently built swimming pools and bathhouses by utilizing waste heat
recovery, a project in which several of the donju invested,” a source in South Pyongan Province informed Daily NK on the 16th. “The authorities merely granted permission—the entire project was
undertaken with the money invested by the donju.”
The recently constructed swimming pool can
hold up to 200 people, creating potential for significant financial profits to be split 50/50 between the state-run power plant and the donju
investors, according to the source. She noted that since last year, the Sunchon
Thermal Power Plant has already reaped in significant construction funds through
residual revenue from the swimming pool.
“The swimming pools, bathhouses, and steam
room facilities boast modern amenities, such as restaurants and snack bars,
attracting scores of patrons,” she explained. “All the waste heat from the power plant turbines was squandered until the launch of this construction project, which was based on a proposal by the donju to redirect the secondary heat in order to establish swimming pools and
Those members of the donju with more expendable wealth
have impressive business acumen, utilizing connections with executives of
state-run enterprises in order to partake in various profitable ventures. “The donju are doing what the state cannot ,” the source pointed out.
She expounded on this by saying that donju business domains are rapidly expanding to encompass state construction
endeavors. Beset by financial difficulties, North Korean officials are heavily
reliant on the donju to implement state-run construction projects, creating a de facto “public-private partnership.” Party cadres forge a symbiotic relationship with
the donju: the former receive immense kickbacks from the latter,
who are more than willing to pay for the opportunity to expand their business terrains.
“The city of Sinuiju has been carrying out a large-scale national project of building apartments recently,” a different source based in the city told Daily NK. As previously reported by
Daily NK, a multitude of the donju have invested in this large-scale venture.
“The donju are investing in the apartment
construction under the condition of attaining a certain degree of leasing
rights; in other words, they will effectively own the place and charge rent to individuals to reap in
profits,” she concluded.