North Korea’s real estate prices have remained stable amid global fears of price falls due to the economic stagnation caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Daily NK has learned. 

“The cost of apartments hasn’t shifted that much compared to last year,” a Ryanggang Province-based source told Daily NK on Mar. 19. 

The closure of the Sino-North Korean border and the halt of smuggling across the border has led to an economic downturn, but “real estate prices haven’t been affected,” the source said. 

“An apartment on the ninth floor in Wiyon District is still going for RMB 30,000 [around USD 4,228], which was what it sold for last year,” he explained, adding, “Many apartments in the province that are located in areas great for managing smuggling operations over the border still cost the same [as last year] despite the border shutdown.”

There are people even waiting to purchase apartments in the spring because prices have not budged, Daily NK sources said. 

“Apartment owners also aren’t reducing their prices despite attempts by some buyers to use the coronavirus situation as a way to purchase apartments at cheaper prices,” another source in the province said. 

“Apartments in a building located next to the headquarters of the Ryanggang Daily [a local party-run newspaper] are selling for RMB 33,000 [USD 4,650] to RMB 40,000 [USD 5,637],” the source said. 

“Prices shift depending on how much sunlight they receive,” he explained, adding, “Apartments across the street from the newspaper building are selling at similar prices.”

North Korea’s economy is heavily dependent on China, but the country has opted for an uncompromising disease control policy to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The closure of the Sino-North Korean border has seen commodity prices skyrocket and market vendors have seen huge decreases in profits. 

North Korea does not officially allow anyone to own private property; however, the country does have a functioning real estate market. In fact, the country’s real estate space has been at the forefront of privatization and marketization trends in the country.

*Translated by Violet Kim

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