FILE PHOTO: Houses in Namyang, North Hamgyong Province. (Daily NK)

The North Pyongan Province People’s Committee has begun to crack down on people who illegally build additions to their houses to accommodate two families. People who build additions to their houses often try to evade non-tax burdens and labor mobilization by registering only one household in their houses when there are actually two families.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in North Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Thursday that the provincial people’s committee recently “ordered families who live two to a house after illegally enlarging the property without government approval to obtain housing use permits by the Day of the Sun,” referring to the April 15 holiday marking the birthday of late North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

According to the source, single-story detached houses outnumber apartment buildings in most places in the province outside of major cities such as Sinuiju. People often add additions to their so that the parents and their children’s families can live in the same structure.

In the past, parents often lived with their married children in a single house, but these days children want to live separately. However, as parents find it difficult to prepare separate homes for their married children due to economic difficulties, they often enlarge their current homes to provide space for their children, the source said.

It is now common to demolish a shed in a corner of the yard and build a room for the children’s family to live in, registering one household with the government when in fact there are two independent households living on the property.

This reduces the non-tax burdens that each household has to pay and is also helpful in avoiding labor mobilizations, the source said.

And that is why the provincial people’s committee has moved to stop it. Officials announced that single rooms are complete homes if people can live in them, no matter how good, bad, big or small they are, and ordered their occupants to obtain residential use permits.

People living in these enlarged homes feel helpless because officials who issue housing permits can name their price in money or bribes.

“If it were easy to register and get a permit, they’d have done it by now,” the source said. “People know that the people’s committee doesn’t really want to crack down on illegalities; officials just want to collect bribes. People are unhappy because they’ll have to endure more non-tax burdens or mobilizations.”

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

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