Shenyang, China — Large numbers of additional soldiers and students have been mobilized to try and address the slipping schedule for the construction of 100,000 homes in Pyongyang by 2012, with universities in the capital and some bigger local universities having received a ‘socialist construction mobilization order’ in mid-June.
A Pyongyang source, explaining the situation today, said, “I know that students from universities in Pyongyang like Kim Il Sung University and Kim Chaek University of Technology have been sent to the construction of 100,000 houses. I hear that they will be at the construction site for at least two months or more.”
The mobilization could easily be extended depending on the status of the construction project, he further added.
Another source from North Hamkyung Province reported similar news on the 7th, saying, “Since July, juniors and seniors from No. 1 and 2 Colleges of Education in Chongjin have been mobilized for construction projects under the ‘socialist construction mobilization order,’” and confirming that the students have been sent to Pyongyang.
He went on, “I hear that the center (meaning Party central authorities) notified each university of the number of people required for the Pyongyang construction work. Accordingly, each university selected a certain number of students and sent them to Pyongyang.”
However, the order does not appear to amount to a full, nationwide shutdown of universities. For example, certainly some universities in Yangkang Province have evaded the mobilization order. One college student living in Hyesan, the provincial capital said, “There has been no ‘socialist construction mobilization order’ handed down. We are going on summer vacation in late July.”
Mobilized personnel are reportedly working primarily on construction in neighborhoods where major public works idolizing the Kim family are to be found.
The Pyongyang source reported, “Construction of houses in Changjeon Street, where the Suryeong’s statue is, started in early May. Soldiers have been mobilized to this construction site in large numbers; even some previously involved in construction in the Hyeongjesan district have been in that region for about a week.”
He added, “Equally, the Mansudae region (Kim Il Sung’s birth place) is another place where ‘construction must be completed even if it is not completed elsewhere’, so they have mobilized people from construction sites in other regions.”
According to sources, the pace of construction in those places where soldiers have been mobilized is markedly quicker than elsewhere, although interior construction remains problematic because it calls for special materials.
One source reported, “In Seopo and Hadang 2-dong, where there are soldiers, buildings have already been erected, so people can move in there in August. However, the interiors have not been completed, so people don’t actually want to move in.”
However, on those sites staffed by people from enterprises, events are characterized by a lack of basic materials and the siphoning off of what is available.
The source said, “They are short of materials, while individuals are selling off existing materials and cement to buy rice because the authorities are not providing them with any support. Of the construction overseen by enterprise work units, almost none have been erected. In Hyeongjesan district, with the exception of those sites for which soldiers are responsible, they have only erected the bottom floor.”
According to one source, on April 1st the National Defense Commission ordered, “Complete the construction of 100,000 homes by April 15th, 2012 and get people to move into the new homes without condition.”
However, reports suggest widespread skepticism of this, with one source saying, “According to rumors, there was even a threat, ‘Those in charge of construction who cannot complete it must prepare to leave their posts.’ However, there are many people saying that the 100,000 houses won’t even be done by 2017.”