Samjiyon officials selling off apartments to cover construction budget shortfall

Samjiyon construction site
Samjiyon construction site. Image: Rodong Sinmun

North Korean officials have begun selling semi-finished apartments to local residents in Samjiyon County, Ryanggang Province, due to a cash shortfall impeding the completion of their construction.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the Samjiyon modernization project to be completed by October 2020, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea. However, international sanctions have made it difficult for the country to generate the foreign currency it needs to purchase construction materials.

North Korean government agencies and the donju are now selling apartments that are part of the project to continue construction. Donju (North Korea’s nouveau riche) invested a significant amount of money into the apartments built on Pyongyang’s Ryomyong Street and Mirae Scientists Street.

“The head office for construction in Samjiyon decided to quickly entice people to buy the apartments to generate funds for building materials,” a Ryanggang Province-based source told Daily NK.

“Local residents who had their homes demolished for the project and former soldiers have already moved into their apartments as of late July. The apartments being built now are going to be sold to ordinary residents and the main construction office has even created a marketing brochure.”

The construction of apartments in Samjiyon County has proceeded more quickly due to Kim’s interest in the project, but the lack of building materials has made construction slow-going in areas located near the railway tracks. Only the frames and walls of apartments in these areas have been erected.

“The plans are to sell the apartments that only have walls for 4,000 Chinese yuan (around 680,000 South Korean won) and then use that money to buy the materials needed to finish them,” a separate source in Ryanggang Province reported. “The construction office is marketing the apartments to residents living in Hyesan.”

She added that the construction office is calling efforts to acquire new construction materials a form of “self-sufficiency” promoted by the government to overcome international sanctions on the country.