North Korea begins construction of a 10,000-home residential building in Pyongyang

Written Oscar Holland, CNN

The authors Yoonjung So, CNN

North Korea has begun work on a massive 10,000-unit housing project as the country begins building housing in its capital, Pyongyang.

Amid severe economic problems caused by trade sanctions and the Covid-19 pandemic, leader Kim Jong-un attended a groundbreaking ceremony at a construction site on Saturday, according to state media reports.

While some design details have been revealed, digital renderings of the development show towers rising on both sides of a green boulevard in the Hwaseong area of ​​the capital. The plans also show a larger skyscraper at least 40 stories high.

According to Sunday’s issue of North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun, in a speech titled “Let’s further celebrate the golden age of capital construction by making dramatic changes in the Hwaseong area,” Kim thanked construction workers and military personnel at the ceremony. The state newspaper claimed that the project demonstrated the regime’s commitment to creating “a new world of prosperous power, where people enjoy the highest dignity and maximum happiness.”

Kim Jong-un in front of an artistic rendering of a new development. Credit: News EyePress/Shutterstock

The construction is part of a wider housing campaign in which the government has pledged to build 50,000 new homes in Pyongyang by the end of 2025. its nuclear weapons program and a sharp drop in trade with its closest ally, China. The country’s economy has been in free fall since 2020 when the Kim government closed its borders due to Covid-19, although rail freight has resumed since last month.

In a rare acknowledgment of the country’s problems, Kim’s parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly, said last month that it was working to improve living conditions in light of “difficult and complex problems,” according to North Korean state media. North Korea also has a long-standing housing shortage, with some research showing that the country only has enough houses to live in. from 70% to 80% their households.
On the 3D visualization of the building, a tall skyscraper is visible on the left, and other towers along the wide street.

On the 3D visualization of the building, a tall skyscraper is visible on the left, and other towers along the wide street. Credit: News EyePress/Shutterstock

However, construction projects continue to be used in government propaganda to promote government achievements.

A documentary broadcast in North Korea last month titled “The Great Year of Victory 2021” showed Kim visiting a construction site along with images of an 80-story skyscraper and a large residential area. Work in Hwaseong began just days before the country marks the 80th birthday of the late former leader Kim Jong Il.

The new building is one of several high-rise projects announced in recent years in Pyongyang, where the quality of life for residents is significantly higher than anywhere else in the country.

Related video: How North Korea creates the illusion of prosperity through design

According to data There are currently 15 completed buildings 150 meters (492 feet) and taller in the North Korean capital, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and the Urban Environment. Among them are four towers built in Ryomyeong New TownAn exemplary luxury residential area opened in Pyongyang in 2017. And state media reported in January that work on 10,000 new housing units in the Songsin and Songwa districts of eastern Pyongyang was almost complete.

The official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) has previously boasted about the so-called “Pyongyang Speed”, claiming to have built the frame of a 70-story skyscraper in Ryomyeong New Town in just 74 days. But some experts have raised concerns about the quality of building materials, as well as the level of technical know-how and the pace at which work is sometimes carried out.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place on Saturday.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place on Saturday. Credit: News EyePress/Shutterstock

In 2014, an apartment building collapsed in the Pyeongchong district of Pyongyang, possibly housing dozens of families.

The KCNA later attributed the disaster to “careless construction” and “irresponsible oversight by officials.”

Meanwhile, other construction projects in the capital remain unfinished – such as the Ryugyong Hotel, which reached its planned height of 1,083 feet in 1992 but remains unoccupied after decades of unspecified delays. The 3,000-room hotel is among the tallest unfinished buildings in the world.

Top image caption: 3D rendering of a new residential project.

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