N.Korea Downsizes Prestige Housing Project

      June 21, 2011 09:18

      The North Korean regime's ambitious project to build 100,000 homes in Pyongyang, which started in 2009, has been drastically downsized due to a lack of money and building materials. The regime has now cut the target to about 20,000.

      That means plans to make 2012 the year when North Korea becomes a "powerful and prosperous nation" has hit a serious snag.

      A South Korean government source said the regime planned to build a total of 100,000 homes in the capital -- 35,000 homes by late last year; 30,000 homes this year, and another 35,000 by next April.

      But only nine apartment buildings with 500 units are built, a mere 0.5 percent of the goal with only 10 months to go before the planned completion date. This was reportedly due to the regime's failure to raise the billions of dollars needed for the project.

      The regime therefore reduced the target to a mere 20,000 to 25,000 in the Ryongsong, Sopo, and Ryokpo districts and gave up the housing plan for the Mangyongdae district, the source said.

      The campaign was meant to boost the standing of Kim Jong-il's son and heir Jong-un and was being supervised by Kim junior's uncle Jang Song-taek, who is seen as the North’s eminence grise.

      "The project was never feasible given the economic situation in the North without massive foreign investment," a source familiar with North Korean affairs said. "Officials in charge of construction are expected to face harsh punishment."

      Another project to re-pave and landscape the road to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where regime founder Kim Il-sung's pickled body lies, was completed between January to April. Since last month, the regime has also been repairing the 23 m-tall Kim Il-sung statue.

      For propaganda purposes, there is also a plan to build a 77-story apartment building for the privileged class in the newly designated Mansudae district which the statue overlooks, the government source said. The district combines the former Mansudae and Changjon junction areas.

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