As construction teams begin to demolish houses near Samjiyon city to make way for new housing developments, some of the evictees are facing the cold winter in nothing more than tents, Daily NK sources reported on Nov. 19.

North Korea is nearing completion of the second-phase of the massive-state led Samjiyon modernization project in Samjiyon city and is now preparing to begin construction on residential areas outside of the city.

The third phase of the project has centered on demolishing houses in the Chunghung Workers’ Zone near the city.

SAMJIYON’S DOUBLE-SIDED REALITY

The Samjiyon modernization project is one of North Korean leader’s Kim Jong Un’s pet projects and he has pledged to make it a “model of a cultural city in the mountains.” 

Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the construction site in Samjiyon and expressed pleasure over the success of the second stage of construction, and ordered that the construction should be completed by the 75th anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s founding on Oct. 10, 2020. 

Samjiyon city will reportedly boast an 18-story hotel, a museum devoted to extolling the North Korean revolution, a dental office and modern hospital, and at least 10,000 apartments. 

Conditions on the ground for construction workers, however, have been difficult. Work brigades have been left to fend for themselves and some brigades are facing starvation.

Local residents in Samjyon have also been forcibly mobilized to work on construction projects.

NO PROTECTION FROM THE COLD

The former inhabitants of homes demolished outside of Samjiyon city are also facing immense difficulties. Many of the evictees now living with relatives or in tents near the construction sites.

With the winter cold setting in, the evictees have requested temporary residences, but the North Korean authorities have not yet taken any measures to resolve this situation, Daily NK sources reported. 

“They thought that they would be allowed to live in the empty houses in Samjiyon until their new homes were built, but no orders to this effect have been handed down yet,” one of the sources said. “They live in dugouts covered in thin plastic and are helplessly awaiting orders.” 

While the evictees have no objections to moving into new houses, they have urged officials in their people’s committees for a solution to their current woes, sources said.

“Temperatures are falling to 30 degrees Celsius below zero and the evictees are likening living in tents to being asked to freeze to death,” one of the sources remarked. 

*Translated by Violet Kim

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net

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Kim Yoo Jin is one of Daily NK's freelance journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.