North Korea builds 10,000 homes in capital Pyongyang, despite harsh sanctions

DPRK leader Kim Jong Un described the housing project as a cherished and most important undertaking of the government

April 19, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
North Korea Apartment complex
The new block of 10,000 apartments were opened on April 16, as part of an ongoing housing project in the North Korean capital Pyongyang. (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

In a major ceremony in North Korean capital Pyongyang, the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea celebrated the completion of 10,000 new apartments on Sunday, April 16. The ceremony saw Kim Jong-un, the country’s president and general secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, cut the ribbon to the newly-built apartments.

According to the Korean Central News Agency, the ceremony was also attended by senior officials including premier Kim Tok-hun, party secretary for organizational affairs Jo Yong-won, chairman of the standing committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly Choe Ryong-hae, and senior party leader Ri Pyong-chol, among others, indicating the national significance of the project.

President Kim stated that “to build 50,000 flats in the capital of the country is the long-cherished plan being pushed forward by the Party and the state as a top priority to provide citizens with more stable and civilized living conditions,” reported the KCNA.

The ground-breaking and construction for the finished block of apartments began in February 2022. The apartments are built in the Hwasong district, close to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, an important landmark that houses the mausoleum of former leaders of North Korea—Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.

The new apartments mark the completion of the first phase of an ongoing housing project that was launched by the government in March 2021. The opening of the new flats also comes barely two months after the government held a ground-breaking ceremony in February for the second-stage of the housing project in Hwasong, for another 10,000 apartments.

The socialist government has been focusing on massive housing projects in the capital city as a means to deal with the growing shortage for the residents and to “overcome … mounting economic hardships” posed by the prolonged sanctions regime imposed on the country by the United States and its allies and also the United Nations Security Council.

In 2022, the government finished two major housing projects in the city, including another 10,000-flat residential complex in the Songsin area of the Sadong district, and an 80-storey skyscraper in Songhwa.

The government plans to build a total of 50,000 houses in the city by the end of 2025, with the initial plan of building 10,000 apartments each year between 2021 and 2025. Despite initial delays, finishing of the first phase of the project has indicated the plan is firmly on track.

There are also indications that the government intends to extend the current housing project outside of Pyongyang as well. In his speech on Sunday, President Kim also called on party workers and public servants “to usher in a heyday not only in the capital city construction but also in regional construction” to “accelerate the building of highly civilized society.”