North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently ordered the building of new apartments in Pyongyang and Chagang Province, along with the construction of “Kim Jong Suk Street” in Pyongyang, Daily NK has learned.
“On Mar. 1, Kim ordered experts to join the capital construction brigade command [in Pyongyang] and Chagang Province on Mar. 1,” said a Daily NK source on Wednesday. “The experts are affiliated with the Pyongyang University of Architecture and the Construction and Building Materials Institute in the Academy of Sciences.”
Daily NK sources said that small research groups have already been formed in each institution. They will be grouped into two units to work on the projects, with one working on Pyongyang projects and another on projects in Chagang Province.
Kim Jong Un’s order comes after issues surrounding the speedy construction of apartments in Pyongyang and other areas outside of the city were discussed at an expanded meeting of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Politburo on Feb. 28.
The “areas outside” of Pyongyang discussed during the meeting just involved Chagang Province, Daily NK sources confirmed.
MAKING ROOM FOR KIM JONG SUK STREET
Kim Jong Un’s interest in building Kim Jong Suk Street in the Moranbong area of Pyongyang is reportedly part of his efforts to faithfully carry out the yuhun (legacy) of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung.
Kim Jong Suk was Kim Il Sung’s first wife, the mother of Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un’s grandmother.
“Kim Jong Il tried to build a street named after his mother to honor the legacy of his father, Kim Il Sung. But circumstances didn’t allow that to happen,” one source said.
“This time it seems that Kim Jong Un is determined to see the project through. He’s mobilized the capital construction brigade command as well as the Korean People’s Army (KPA) General Staff Construction Bureau,” he added.
Kim believes building Kim Jong Suk Street will further cement the cult of personality that surrounds him along with his reputation as a “leader of the people,” according to Daily NK sources.
“He has done this before. Kim built Changjon Street, Mirae Scientists Street, and Ryomyong Street and gave apartments on those streets to scientists and teachers,” the source said. “Kim Jong Un thinks that he’s knocking down two birds with one stone through the construction project: promoting his leadership among the people while also giving out gifts to loyal members of the regime.”
Daily NK sources pointed out, however, that the area slated for the construction of the new street in Pyongyang has a significant number of single-story houses owned by those with “considerable authority” in the country.
“Pyongyang’s construction plans show that there are a lot of single-story houses in the area,” another source said, adding, “Most of the houses are owned by high-ranking officials who built them with their own money. The demolition of the houses has now become a point of serious debate.”
Daily sources agreed, however, that the houses will eventually be demolished because Kim Jong Un – the country’s supreme leader – wants them gone.
“He will find a way to appease the officials in some way,” one source noted.
BUILDING LOYALTY IN CHAGANG
Chagang Province’s inclusion in Kim Jong Un’s orders appears to bolster the idea that the province is strategically important to the regime – both from a military and geographical perspective.
The province is designated as a “Special Songun Revolutionary Zone,” while the province’s city of Manpo has become so important that it is called North Korea’s “second capital,” after Pyongyang. The Kosanjin Revolutionary Site, where the underground bunker used by North Korea’s military command during the Korean War is located, is also in Manpo.
“Kim Jong Un ordered the researchers to take a field trip to Chagang Province and essentially live and breathe with local leaders as a way to fulfill their duties and roles as the ‘leaders of the construction of socialist civilization,’” one Daily NK source said.
Kim essentially ordered the researchers to find ways the regime can increase loyalty toward the regime among locals in Chagang Province.
Kim’s planned construction projects in Chagang Province are unlikely to face the same obstacles the construction of Kim Jong Suk Street faces in Pyongyang, sources pointed out.
“Kim approved the blueprints and models of what will be built in Chagang Province and construction will start in late March – or as soon as the COVID-19 crisis winds down,” one source added.
*Translated by Violet Kim
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