Penthouses in North Korea are mainly for the less fortunate

For people in many countries, live in a penthouse is the dream. In North Korea? Not much.

Leader Kim Jong Un continues to build splendid high-rise apartment buildings outside in the capital Pyongyang, with the latest being an 80-story skyscraper completed this week.

But defectors and other North Koreans say unreliable elevators and electricity, poor water supplies, and concerns about workmanship mean that historically few have wanted to live near the top of the such works.

“In North Korea, the poor live in penthouses more than the rich, because elevators often don’t work well and they can’t pump water up due to low pressure,” said Jung Si-woo, a 31-year-old. defector said. to neighboring South Korea in 2017.

In the North, he lives on the 3rd floor of a 13-story building that lacks an elevator, while a friend who lives on the 28th floor of a 40-story building has never used the elevator because it doesn’t work, Jung said.

When asked about the new 80-story skyscraper that opened this week, Jung said he thought Kim was just bragging.

“It shows how much their construction skills have improved, rather than looking at residents’ preferences,” said the college student.

North Korea transfers housing, with the buying and selling of houses or apartments technically illegal in the socialist state.

However, experts say the practice has become widespread, mostly practiced by those who benefited from the spread of the private market under Kim. He pledged to improve construction quality and build tens of thousands of new apartments.

The country’s economy has been impacted by self-closing borders against Covid-19, natural disasters and international sanctions over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, which the United States believes has drawn limited resources away from meeting people’s needs.

On Wednesday, state media said the first 10,000 new apartments had been completed in Pyongyang, from a target of 50,000, and touted the speed of their completion, including an 80-story skyscraper.

The workers “ensure the quality of construction” and the new apartments and other buildings used for education, public health and welfare services will help the prime minister, state news agency KCNA said. The capital becomes a city “for the people above all”.

On Thursday, state media showed Kim inaugurating another housing complex, this time for members of the elite, including a popular TV presenter.

Image: Pyongyang
People stroll by high-rise apartment buildings in Pyongyang earlier this week.Kyodo via AP Images

These are low-rise buildings, each building only a few stories high.

Electricity supplies have improved dramatically under Kim, creating some new nightlife opportunities, but North Korea still struggles with power shortages and sometimes shoddy infrastructure.

Many have turned to individual solar panels for spells without electricity. That has led to an explosion of small consumer electronics, but unable to power amenities like elevators and water supplies.

Lee Sang-yong, editor-in-chief of Daily NK, a Seoul-based website that covers North Korea, said his sources reported that the apartments for ordinary people were not ready to live in. .

Frameless windows and faucets, installed but not working, but recently completed luxury homes are fully furnished and equipped.

To ensure the popularity of new high-rise apartments, he added, North Korea will have to further improve its electricity and water supplies, while overcoming concerns about construction quality.

Jung said that when he lived in Pyongyang, most elevators only operated twice a day, during rush hour travel from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and the same time in the evening.

Low water pressure often forces people living on higher floors to bring water up from the ground floor or install their own special pumps, he adds.

During the last major government-arranged international tour, in 2018 elevators operated at the 47-story Yanggakdo International Hotel, but dozens of floors where North Korean employees stay were without power.

At the time, two North Korean officials admitted to Reuters that the upper floors of high-rise buildings at one of Kim’s recently opened pet construction projects, on Mirae Scientist Street, had very few people follow due to worry about the elevator.

“No one wants to risk climbing for an hour,” said one.

You are reading the article Penthouses in North Korea are mainly for the less fortunate

at – Source: – Read the original article here

Back to top button