Unintended Separation of Young Married Couples

[imText1]Choi (25) from Hamheung, South Hamkyung Province, married with his fiancé last Spring. Wedding ceremony was accompanied by his neighbors, friends and relatives. Happy life afterwards seemed awaiting the newly wed couple.

All of sudden, serious problem emerged. As in South Korea, North Korean married man provides housing while married woman brings furniture and other basic goods. Rarely a newly wed couple lives with their parents.

However in these days, due to rising house prices, couples have hard time finding new homes. Even if they are fortunate enough to find one, sometimes police or local government officials intervene and confiscate houses for private sales of property, which is, in principle, still illegal in communist North Korea.

Confiscated houses are distributed to Army officers or discharged veterans. Choi’s house was forfeited, too. He went to the police office and protested, but police guards bluntly replied; “Then you can live with your parents.”

The Chois are now in debt to buy another house. And for a while, since there is no house to live together, the newly weds are residing in their parents’ houses separately.

Faulty construction in Yongcheon

Kim (female, 55) live with fear. Her little apartment in Yongcheon, North Pyongan Province, is so weak that it might crumble to ground someday.

She and her family lost home in 2004 Ryongchun station exploision. They had lived in tents for several months until local government finally told them a plan to build new houses for refugees. Delight soon turned to disappointment, however. The apartment was well built outside but faultily done so inside.

Rumors spread that new houses built after Ryongchun incident was so hastily constructed that vulnerable to sudden collapse. Materials were poor and construction phase was too quick. Some houses were not even equipped with proper electricity. Cracks emerged soon.

A neighbor of Kim told her that some party officials embezzled money and materials provided upon Ryongchun residents after the explosion.

For Kim who is living in anxiety, state and the Dear Leader are no more venerable.

Photo market in NK

Hwang (male, 20) from Chongjin, North Hamkyong Province, has father who is involved in Sino-Korean trade. Thanks to his rich dad, Hwang seldom goes to work and instead hangs out with friends. He owns a lot of foreign stuff, which attracts many friends.

His most precious is a Japanese digital camera. While walking down the street with the camera on his hand, every girl looks upon him with envies.

Even in Chongjin, there are an increasing number of people who bring digital cameras. Using digital camera grew fast since three to four years ago. And some people take and sell pictures of customers, 2000 NK won (less than a US dollar) per pic.

According to a friend in Hwoiryeong, it is sold five hundred won per picture taken from digital camera, taking five days.

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