North Korea’s ambitious 10,000-home construction project is behind schedule – Radio Free Asia

North Korea has failed to meet leader Kim Jong Un’s ambitious plan to build 10,000 homes in the capital Pyongyang by the end of 2021, leaving many residents in a state of housing vacuum, sources said. the country to FRG.

Pyongyang, the country’s largest city with a population of around 3 million, suffers from a severe housing shortage. Kim promised at the ruling Korean Workers’ Party Congress in January 2021 to build 50,000 homes by the end of 2025, with a fifth to be completed by the end of last year.

But a shortage of building materials, mainly due to the halt in trade with China during the coronavirus pandemic, has severely delayed the project.

“Winter is coming to an end and citizens of Pyongyang who have been waiting for new homes are still waiting to move into their new apartments,” a resident of the city told RFA’s Korea Service on February 5.

“The new residential houses being built in Songsin and Songhwa areas are 20-storey apartment buildings. Exterior construction has been completed with locally sourced steel aggregates and cement, but interior works are on hold as they require imported materials,” said the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons. .

“There is no glass for the windows, no finishing materials for the interior walls, no fittings for the kitchens and no toilets and bathtubs. Everything has to be imported from China, so it’s hard to predict a completion date,” he said.

North Korea and China finally resumed cross-border rail freight late last month, although RFA reported that various government-run industries are vying for freight space.

North Korea has forced soldiers and citizens to work around the clock to try to keep Kim’s housing goals on track. But construction was halted when workers ran out of building materials.

A family in the town who lost their home to the project have been forced to find temporary accommodation with relatives, another resident told RFA.

“My acquaintance was happy to be given a new apartment, but he called me two days ago to complain that the family still couldn’t move in. They live at his brother’s house,” said the second source, who requested anonymity to speak freely. .

“They left the house they were living in just before construction started and moved into his brother’s house over two miles away, and he had to drive to work. It must be very inconvenient and difficult to have a family of four living with his brother’s family of five, including their two elderly parents,” she said. “Their dreams of moving into a new house were shattered.”

The 10,000 housing project is a top priority for the North Korean government. RFA reported in June that authorities had diverted power from other parts of the country to keep Pyongyang fully powered so construction workers could work through the night.

Working on the project was exhausting and dangerous for the workers involved. Residents of Pyongyang complained in May that undernourished workers were assaulting civilians for money for food. Additionally, a fire in a workers’ dormitory killed 20 workers in April, RFA reported.

Translated by Claire Lee and Leejin Jun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.