North Korea may not complete construction of 10,000 new homes in Pyongyang’s Songsin and Songhwa districts by the end of the year due to serious difficulties resolving power and heating issues.

“You have to build a lot of homes, which are in short supply for the densely populated capital, but in terms of quality, you have to build them to match demand,” a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on Oct. 7. “In Sadong District, one of Pyongyang’s outlying districts, you have to renovate or build new power transmission equipment to provide electricity to the homes and resolve the issue of transformers and electrical poles. But the state isn’t providing them, so workers are struggling.”

Even if builders had the equipment, whether they could actually properly provide electricity is an open question in the face of chronic energy shortages, said the source. In fact, mines and farms in North Korea are suspending production due to blackouts, and even residents of central Pyongyang are suffering inconveniences due to electricity shortages.

Because of this, residents say that since they cannot use the elevators when the power goes out, they should sell their homes after two or three years and move into nice, single story homes, according to the source. 

Pyongyang Housing real estate prices
Apartment buildings in Pyongyang. / Image: Todd Mecklem, Creative Commons, Flickr

“As Sadong District is where Pyongyang’s ignition coal merchants live, half of the homes under construction use underfloor heating. Only six designated blocks are scheduled to use individual gas heating systems,” said the source. “However, since you can’t buy gas now at state supply centers at state prices, residents of Ryomyong Street, Sept. 9 Street and Future Scientists Street, where there are individual gas heating systems, are shivering in the cold.”

Because of this, people scheduled to receive homes in the six blocks to receive gas heating wish authorities would instead build them with coal-powered underfloor heating.

Meanwhile, the construction headquarters for the 10,000 new homes 

is spurring military construction units, the Capital Construction Committee, youth labor brigades and other construction work units to resolve problems in completing the interiors of the homes, while at the same time completing exterior gardens and greenery so that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can eventually attend a completion ceremony. 

North Korea previously pledged during the Eighth Party Congress in January that it would build 50,000 new homes in Pyongyang by 2025, the 80th anniversary of the founding of the ruling party, by building 10,000 homes each year.

North Korean authorities are reportedly scheduled to erect new homes in five districts: Songhwa and Songsin districts in east Pyongyang, Sep. 9 District in central Pyongyang, and Sopo and Kumchon districts in west Pyongyang. A groundbreaking ceremony for the very first homes in Songsin and Songhwa districts took place in March.

If North Korea completes construction of the 50,000 new homes as scheduled, Pyongyang’s administrative districts may be expanded into outlying regions to the city’s east, west and north.

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