Archive for the ‘Construction’ Category

Ryomyong Street Project (UPDATED)

Friday, March 18th, 2016


Pictured above (Google Earth): The location and approximate area of renovation of the newly announced Ryomyong Street

UPDATE 3 (2017-5-4): Here is an update from the Pyongyang Times:

Ryomyong Street demonstrates nation’s strength

Lecturers and researchers at Kim Il Sung University, former residents and other people began to move into new homes in newly built Ryomyong Street on April 17, presenting an impressive scene of people shouting cheers of hurray and dancing full of excitement and joy.

As they entered the modernly-built new flats, many of them said they are ordinary people but they received new houses for free and it is only possible in the Korean socialist system in which people are regarded as heaven.

The construction of the street is the crystallization of the love for people of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and a product of his great courage, outstanding leadership and infinite devotion to the people.

Last year the US and its vassal forces staged the largest-ever nuclear war games and applied tougher sanctions and pressure against the DPRK in the wake of its first hydrogen bomb test for self-defence and legitimate satellite launch.

On March 17 2016 the Supreme Leader came out to the site and declared the start of the street project. He named it Ryomyong Street in the meaning that the dawn of the Korean revolution breaks from the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the supreme temple of Juche, where President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il lie in state, and Ryongnam Hill on which the Chairman took a historic oath to add glory to Korea. He said now the imperialists and the following forces try to tighten the noose around our neck while imposing the most vicious sanctions so far, the construction of Ryomyong Street would be a demonstration to the world of the will of the Workers’ Party of Korea that advances in the face of any enemy pressure and it would be like driving a dagger into the dirty body of the imperialists who resort to every means to do harm to the country.

The construction of the street which envisaged building many high-rise, multi-storeyed apartment houses for over 4 800 families in an area of over 90 hectares was not merely a construction project, but a campaign to defend the dignity of the DPRK and Korean socialism and to demonstrate once again its national strength and might.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place on April 3 last year amidst the apprehension, jealousy and interest of the world.

The Supreme Leader paid constant attention to the project. He saw many construction plans and layouts, saying the street should be built as a splendid one that makes perfect combination of the Juche character, national identity and uniqueness as a model of modern architecture. He also noted that the focus of the project is to wonderfully construct houses for educators, scientists and researchers of Kim Il Sung University, nurseries, kindergartens, laundries, post offices and other public buildings and service amenities, and ensured that the convenience-first and aesthetics-first principle was applied to all of them. When he visited the construction site for the second time this year, he took the lift which was in a trial run to climb up the 200-odd-metre 70-storey apartment house and check details of it.

Greatly encouraged by his noble love for the people, soldiers and other builders created construction legends of the Mallima era one after another, completing the concrete work of the 70-storey apartment building with a total floor space of over 120 000 square metres in 74 days by reducing the construction time of one storey from 36 to 24 hours, and again to 12 hours, and finishing the external tile fixing covering over 43 000 square metres in 13 days.

Thanks to their indomitable spirit and the nationwide assistance, the street, the equivalent of a town, was successfully completed in a matter of only one year.

The inaugural ceremony took place on April 13 in Pyongyang with the Supreme Leader in attendance.

The completion of the project hit the headlines of world media. Saying that the DPRK Supreme Leader cut the ribbon to open the street, they reported that north Korea replied with the opening of Ryomyong Street contrary to the expectation of the international community that it would respond to the UN sanctions with additional nuclear test or test fire of ICBM on the occasion of the Day of the Sun; the street construction proves UN sanctions against north Korea cut no ice with it and it develops its own way and at a very stable and fast speed; and Ryomyong Street, representative of Kim Jong Un’s era, is a demonstration of the DPRK’s Mallima speed to the international community.

Ryomyong Street shines brightly as a great and proud monument of the era of the Workers’ Party epitomizing the highest civilization and as a symbol of the great leap in the great Kim Jong Un’s Korea which advances with lightning speed ushering in the dawn of final victory.

UPDATE 2 (2017-4-15): Ryomyong Street was officially opened by Kim Jong-un on April 13. Here is the video.  Here is coverage in Rodong Sinmun:

Inaugural Ceremony of Ryomyong Street Held in Presence of Kim Jong Un

Magnificent Ryomyong Street has made its appearance in the area of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the sacred temple of Juche, amid the mounting festive atmosphere for celebrating the 105th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung as the greatest auspicious holiday of the nation.

The street, which was built as an icon of modern street architecture and a fairyland representing the era of the Workers’ Party, is a gift of loyalty presented by the army and people of the DPRK to President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il.

Its inaugural ceremony took place with splendor on Thursday in the presence of Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army.

Present there were senior party, state and army officials including Hwang Pyong So, Pak Pong Ju and Choe Ryong Hae and officials of party and armed forces organs, ministries and national institutions, delegates to the celebrations of the 105th birth anniversary of the President, army and social officials, soldier-builders and shock brigade members who took part in the construction, officials of institutions and industrial establishments in Pyongyang, scientists, educators, youths and students and other Pyongyangites.

Also on hand were overseas Koreans’ congratulatory groups and delegations, overseas compatriots, the chief of the Pyongyang mission of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front, representatives of foreign embassies and international bodies and military attaches and their spouses and foreign guests.

Pak Pong Ju made an inaugural speech.

The speaker said the ceremony for the successful completion of Ryomyong Street represents a report on the shining victory won by the army and people to President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il and a great event of adding luster to the Day of the Sun, the greatest auspicious holiday of the Korean nation. He went on:

Ryomyong Street is like an ever-lasting monument to the love for the people as it reflects the intention of the motherly Party to let the people enjoy the highest level of civilization.

Respected Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un proclaimed the construction of the street and energetically led its whole course.

Ryomyong Street symbolic of the great era of Kim Jong Un is a proud edifice in the era of Mallima that sprang up thanks to the indomitable mental power of the army and people of the DPRK and their inexhaustible might of self-reliance and self-development to flatten even a mountain and empty a sea if it is a call of the Party.

Kim Jong Un cut the inaugural tape. He waved back to the enthusiastically cheering crowd.

At the end of the ceremony all the participants went round the street together with senior party, state and army officials.

UPDATE 1 (2016-3-29): According to the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES):

North Korea to Construct ‘Ryomyong Street’ Despite Imposed Sanctions

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered for the construction of ‘Ryomyong Street’ in Pyongyang. Following the development of Mirae Scientists Street, the new street will serve as another landmark of the Kim Jong Un era, and this order of his can be interpreted as an economic move in response to the recent UN sanctions against the country.

On March 18, the state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim Jong Un declared the construction of ‘Ryomyong Street’, which is to be built between Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and the Ryonghung Crossroads in Pyongyang. The street’s name signifies a place where ‘the dawn breaks in the Korean revolution’. Kim also mentioned that the area is to be surrounded by magnificent skyscrapers and multi-level buildings that fit the geographical characteristics surrounding the palace, displaying the Party’s idea of giving importance to science and talents in socialist Korea.

The report also announced that the street will include residential apartment housing, daycare centers, laundry services, post offices and other public service buildings and amenities, including for the scholars, scientists and educators at Kim Il Sung University, and to push ahead with construction of Building No. 3 at Kim Il Sung University. In making the street, the construction is to emphasize 21st century energy conservation and eco-friendliness, hence the goal to design lighting and heating systems of the housing and public buildings so that they utilize solar panels, geothermal energy, and natural lighting, and for roof tops to “go green” with instillation of greenhouses.

Along these lines, Kim put emphasis on the policy of securing building materials in constructing the new street and to diversify the size, design and color of decorative objects on the exterior of buildings. He also instructed for the mobilization of ‘soldier-builders’ who previously worked on the construction of Mirae Scientists Street. The construction of the new street shall be carried out with “Mallima speed” during the country’s ‘70-day campaign’ in run-up to the Party Congress scheduled for this upcoming May. The news report also stated that “the party, state, and society should render positive assistance to the construction and the Cabinet, commissions, ministries and national institutions take the lead in this work.”

According to the report, Kim Jong Un also said that “The construction of the street is not merely for formation of a street but serves as a political occasion of clearly showing the spirit of the DPRK standing up and keeping up with the world, despite all sorts of sanctions and pressure by U.S. imperialists and their followers, the appearance of the country advancing to realize the great ideal of the people and truth that the DPRK is able to be well-off in its own way and nothing is impossible for it to do.” The construction of the street appears in part as a means to show off the strength of ‘Songun’ Korea, following in the footsteps of Kim Jong Il’s policy.

Despite the strong sanctions imposed upon the country by the international community, North Korea is striving to achieve some form of economic success. The 70-day campaign has been initiated in the run-up to the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party. North Korean media are boasting about the country’s successes on the production front since the campaign’s initiation, saying “under the Juche ideology, people are working hard especially in the fields of electricity, coal, metal, and railroad transportation that they have achieved great success in the [campaign’s] first week.”

ORIGINAL POST (2016-3-18): Here are some official photos from Rodong Sinmun:

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Ryomyong-Street-3 Ryomyong-Street-2

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KCTV later published these photos:

Ryomyong-street-KCTV-4a Ryomyong-street-KCTV-3a

Ryomyong-street-KCTV-2a Ryomyong-street-KCTV-1a

According to KCNA:

Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, declared the construction of Ryomyong Street and set forth the tasks for it on the spot, though he was very busy with his guidance over the 70-day campaign while disciplining the enemies’ anti-DPRK moves in the Paektu attack spirit.

The street is to be built in an area between the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and Ryonghung Crossroads in Pyongyang.

Seeing the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the sacred temple of Juche where President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il lie in state, and Ryongnam Hill where the leader made a historic oath “O Korea, I Will Add Glory to Thee”, Kim Jong Un named the street to be built “Ryomyong Street” in the meaning that it is a significant place from where the dawn breaks in the Korean revolution.

He examined a layout of the street, a map showing the bird’s eye view of it and its model board and gave instructions for building the street into a monumental edifice strikingly displaying the WPK’s idea of attaching importance to science and talents and the might of socialist Korea.

The essence of its construction is to splendidly build apartment houses for scientists and researchers including educators of Kim Il Sung University, nursery, kindergarten, laundry, post office and other public buildings and public service amenities, he said, stressing the need to push forward the construction of Building No. 3 of the university at the same time.

It is the Party’s intention to turn Ryomyong Street into an energy-saving and green street in the 21st century, he said, adding that the designing and construction units should set it as a goal to ensure the lighting and heating systems for the houses and public buildings with solar panels, geothermal energy and natural lighting and build rooftop greenhouses to go green.

Saying that he would dispatch the solider-builders, who took part in the construction of Mirae Scientists Street, to the construction of Ryomyong Street on the order of the KPA Supreme Commander, he gave an instruction that the entire party, state and society should render positive assistance to the construction and the Cabinet, commissions, ministries and national institutions take the lead in this work.

The construction of the street is not merely for formation of a street but serves as a political occasion of clearly showing the spirit of the DPRK standing up and keeping up with the world, despite all sorts of sanctions and pressure by the U.S. imperialists and their followers, the appearance of the country advancing to realize the great ideal of the people and the truth that the DPRK is able to be well-off in its own way and nothing is impossible for it to do, he said.

Noting that the construction of Ryomyong Street is a fierce battle with the U.S. imperialists and their followers, he called for completing the construction within this year to inspire the servicepersons and people with faith in sure victory and optimism and demonstrate the might of the DPRK fighting its way out with conviction in the rosy future and the traditions of ever-victorious Juche Korea that the world has neither understood nor can do.

This is the sixth overhaul of a specific housing area in Pyongyang since the 2012  “Strong and Prosperous Nation (강성대국) Policy” was implemented. The successfully completed efforts are Mansuade Area 1, Mansudae Area 2, Unha Scientists Street (for employees at the Second Academy of Natural Sciences), Satellite Scientists Street in Unjong District (next to State Academy of Sciences and new SEZ), and finally the Mirae Scientist Street in Phyongchon District, which houses facilities for Kimchaek University, a health club, lots of shops and restaurants, and possibly the Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry (address in Haeun-2 dong). There are still many housing units that were started in 2012, but never completed, particularly in Hyongjesan and Rakrang Districts.

According to my North Korean maps, until this announcement Ryomyong Street (려명거리) was named Kumsong Street (금성거리).

As KCNA noted, the project aims to build apartment houses for scientists and researchers, nursery, kindergarten, laundry, post office and other public buildings and public service amenities–including the completion of Building No. 3 and a new stadium at Kim Il sung University. I have discussed these last two projects before.

Not mentioned in the article is what appears to be new housing for party cadres who live in high rises right next to the Worker’s Party No. 3 complex (complex 1 and 2 are in the “forbidden city” in Central District).

party-complex-3-housing-1 Complex-3-housing

Here is coverage in Yonhap.


North Korea’s self-assessment of its economy in 2015

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

The Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korea newspaper of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, released an article on December 18 that evaluated North Korea in 2015 and commended it for “achieving a remarkable leap that reached 10 years achievement in just one year.”

The newspaper commented that many monumental works had been created in 2015 that changed the country. The newspaper also introduced the recently completed constructions of Mt. Paekdu Hero Youth Power Station, multi-tier power stations on the Chongchon River, Future Science Street, Mangyongdae School Children’s Palace, Pyongyang Nursing Home, Mansudae Fountain Park, and “Mujigae” ferry on the Taedong River.

In addition, the Sonbong region in Rason City which had suffered severe flood damages in August was reported to have achieved great changes in only 30 days, turning the village into a “socialist fairyland.”

The newspaper added that “this year, Choson [North Korea] embarked on the advancement of science and technology and emphasized ideology, weapons, and technology as three pillars for constructing great and powerful socialist nation.” It also stated that “in accordance with the party’s policy to turn all people into science and technology talents, institutions, factories, enterprises, and cooperative farms across the country were equipped with over 2,000 science and technology resource rooms.”

A corn processing plant and a catfish farm were discussed as examples: “Pyongyang corn processing plant has achieved automation, and dust and bacteria-free conditions in the entire production process, from raw material to the packaging stage”; “Pyongyang Catfish Farm established the comprehensive production system that integrated intellectualization, informatization, and magnetization in the factory.”

In particular, the newspaper mentioned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s onsite field guidance visit to the Pyongyang Catfish Farm where he emphasized the modernization of farm, noting that “the modernization of the catfish plant did not simply bring in power and technology from outside but is based on our independent technology and facilities.”

Moreover, the newspaper said, “This year, measures were devised to improve the dietary level of the people through focusing on advancing livestock, agricultural, and marine products.” It further announced that “Vegetable Science Institute of the Academy of Agricultural Science succeeded in cultivation methods of producing 300 tons per chongbo (1 chongbo = 9,917 square meters) through vigorous research that concentrated on scientification of greenhouse vegetable cultivation.”

In addition, the newspaper added that “scientification” was promoted in other sectors including education, sports, and culture.


Some Huichon Power Stations go operational on Chongchon River

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


Pictured Above (Google Earth): Huichon Power Station No. 9, site of the opening ceremony

According to Rodong Sinmun (2015-11-9):

Multi-tier power stations on the River Chongchon went operational.

The stations are the labor gifts the Korean people presented to the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) with loyalty.

The 10 multi-tier power stations in the 80 km-long section of the River Chongchon would contribute to the building of an economic power and improvement of people’s living standard.

An inaugural ceremony of the power stations was held at Huichon Power Station No. 9 on November 17.

Present there were leading officials of the party and state, the ministers of electric power industry, metal industry, railways, construction and building-materials industry, electronics industry and machine-building industry, the president of the State Academy of Sciences, the chief secretaries of the provincial committees of the WPK, officials and members of shock brigades who took part in the construction of the power stations and others.

A congratulatory message from the Central Committee of the WPK to the builders, officials and helpers who performed shinning labor feats in building the power stations was conveyed by Pak Pong Ju, member of the Political Bureau of the C.C., the WPK and premier of the DPRK Cabinet.

O Su Yong, member of the Political Bureau and secretary of the C.C., the WPK, said in his inaugural speech that the completion of the 10 multi-tier power stations on the River Chongchon in a short span of time as monumental structures in the era of Marshal Kim Jong Un is of great significance in demonstrating the rapid development of Songun Korea.

The speaker called upon the builders of power stations on the River Chongchon to demonstrate their heroic stamina once again in the all-out drive for presenting a labor gift to the 7th Congress of the WPK with loyalty.

UPDATE: Note that the article does not claim that ALL of the hydro power plants on the Chongchon River are operational. In the March 2016 Korea pictorial magazine, did a feature on Huichon Power Stations Nos. 3, 4, 8, 9, and 11. 1 and 2 were previously constructed. There are construction sites available on Google Earth for plants 5,6,7, and 10, but I am not sure about specific names for each. I am also unsure if the Hyangsan Army-People Youth Power Station near Hyangsan is being renamed and included in the Chongchon River plants.


KCNA reports on cost of Mirae Scientists Street?

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015


Pictured above (Google Earth): The Mirae Scientists Street under construction (2015-5-20)

According to the Korea Times:

North Korea has invested about 10 billion won in North Korean currency creating a big housing precinct for scientists in Pyongyang, Yonhap reported Thursday.

The Korean Central News Agency said the communist regime had spent about 9.9 billion won on 19 buildings to house 2,584 households and commercial and public facilities.

The first phase was completed on April 15, the birthday of late North Korean leader Kim Il-sung. Phase two was finished on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean Workers’ Party on Oct. 10.

Leader Kim Jong-un was quoted as saying the new street reflects the “love for people, respect for people and politics that puts people first” of the North Korean Workers’ Party.

For what it is worth KPW9.9 billion is approximately US$1.237 million on the black market, which comes to just $478/household assuming they each got an individual unit.

However, I would not get to hung up on these numbers, I cannot find any story in KCNA on the cost of Mirae Scientists Street, so until I hear an official estimate, I am going to put an * next to these numbers.

Here is what KCNA had to say about Kim Jong-un’s tour of the recently completed Mirae Scientists Street:

Pyongyang, October 21 (KCNA) — Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, went round Mirae Scientists Street, which was successfully completed as a model of Juche-oriented architecture and fairy street in the era of the Workers’ Party.
Feasting his eyes on the street, he said the longer one watches it, the more magnificent and spectacular it looks. He noted with pleasure that it proves visually the idea of the Workers’ Party of Korea of attaching importance to science and talents, it is a fashionable street of perfect combination of the Juche character, national identity, originality and formative art and unique one of our style which appeared in the capital city of Pyongyang as an icon of cultural efflorescence.

He said it is something unimaginable to build a street with flats for thousands of families and more than 150 public catering outlets in a matter of just one year by the existing method of construction. He noted with excitement that the completion of Mirae Scientists Street convinces everybody that the appearance of the country would undergo beyond recognition a decade later as everything is done in just one year instead of ten years.

Going round different places of the street, he learned in detail about the construction.

He said that it is fantastic, indeed, to watch the tower symbolic of the 53-storied skyscraper which has been built like an electronic track so that one may know it is Mirae Scientists Street even from distance, adding that formative art was applied to all the buildings at a very high level.

He was pleased that the flats have been constructed at the best quality and teachers and researchers would need to bring with them only hand luggage as their drawing rooms, parents’ rooms, rooms for couples, children’s rooms, kitchens, etc. are fitted with high-quality furniture and fixtures,

Hearing officials say foreigners will hardly believe that ordinary educators and scientists of the country will live free of charge in such deluxe apartment houses in the street on the picturesque bank of the Taedong River, he said that it is the advantages of the socialist system in the DPRK which capitalist countries can neither imitate nor build.

He praised the builders for having built all kinds of public catering and cultural and welfare establishments on the ground floors of the buildings in an impeccable manner to meet requirements of settlers.

He noted with appreciation that resting places and sporting parks have been built in a peculiar style so that residents might have good rest and do sports and greening in the residential area and the project for reinforcing banks of the river were done very well.

It is the steadfast will of our party to consolidate the foundation of socialism by dint of science and advance socialism with the power of the engine of science, he said, stressing the need to steadily increase substantial investment in the scientific researches on the basis of the successes and experience gained in the work for consolidating the material and technical foundations of different scientific research bases and improving the living standard of the scientists and researchers in recent years.

All the buildings of the street spruced up at a speed unprecedented in the history of construction are laudable structures of Songun Korea built by our service personnel and people with the will to create everything dear in their own style by their own efforts at a lightning speed, optimistic about the future, and they are valuable crystal of their patriotism, he said, extending thanks to the units of the Korean People’s Army and other units which participated in the construction, builders and helpers in the name of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

He expressed expectation and belief that all the builders would give fullest play to the inexhaustible mental power displayed in the construction of Mirae Scientists Street and make a positive contribution to turning Pyongyang City into a hub of Songun culture and the most magnificent and fashionable city of the world fame in all aspects and building the socialist country into a highly civilized nation.

He gave an instruction on inaugurating the street.

He was accompanied by Hwang Pyong So, Kim Ki Nam, Kim Yang Gon, O Su Yong, Jo Yong Won and Ma Won Chun.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea pours 10 billion won into street for scientists
Korea Times


On the Hyesan and Sinuiju real estate markets

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

According to the Daily NK:

Construction of new apartment buildings is being accelerated in North Pyongan Province’s Sinuiju and Hyesan, Yanggang Province, with low rise apartments fetching the highest price at nearly US $10,000. Unlike Sinuiju, which has high rise buildings, Hyesan is mainly constructing low rise apartments. Apartments at or above the fifth floor are being called “Royal Suites,” and selling for big money, according to inside sources.

In a telephone conversation with the Daily NK on October 1st, a source in Yanggang Province explained, “Hyesan is currently undergoing a makeover. New apartments are going up all over the city. Residents are preferring the high rise apartments despite their relative scarcity, or perhaps because of it. Right now a fifth floor, two room apartment (approximately 80-120 square feet) sells for 60,000-70,000 Yuan (US $10,000- $11,000) is the most expensive.”

Another source in Yanggang Province confirmed this development.

In Hyesan, the lower floors go for much cheaper; apartments in floors 1-3 usually sell for about 20,000 – 25,000 Yuan (US $3,000 – $4,000).

“The prices tend to be tied to the floor level like this,” she explained.

“By the time the Korean Workers’ Party Foundation Day holiday arrives on October 10th, Hyesan will look like a totally new city. But construction is not limited to Hyesan; we also see apartment buildings shooting up in Hyesan’s suburbs and riverside regions, in Tabsongdong near Hyesan Stadium, and in Hyemyeongdong, an area filled with statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.”

Added the source, “Much of the construction is due to investment from the Hwagyo [community of overseas Chinese] residing here. They buy one story houses at a very cheap price and then build up a multi-storied apartment and sell it off. They are making a good amount of money through the sales, but the residents are happy to be enjoying the more modern living spaces, so it’s a win-win.”

When asked why the residents prefer apartments on higher floors, the source said that “people are less worried about theft of furniture and large appliances when they live higher up.” In years past, she asserted, most people preferred to be ground level so that they could have access to the yard for planting vegetables. But now, “ lots of folks are worried about flood damage during the rainy season or the possibility of theft.”

She continued to describe the state of one story homes, saying, “houses near Nongnim University or the Hyesan train station sell for approximately 25,000 Yuan (US $4,000). Homes in Yeonbong Il Dong sell for rather cheap at 5,000 Yuan (~$800). However, there are some pricier places in Yeonbong located near the jangmadang (marketplace) that sell for about 20,000 Yuan (~US $3,000).”

Last week the currency conversion rate in Hyesan was 1 Yuan/1320 KPW. That means that a 60,000 Yuan apartment sells for about 80 million KPW (~US $70,000) and a cheaper home selling for 5,000 Yuan sells for about 6.5 million KPW (~ US $7,000).

Read the full story here:
Hwagyo investors fuel building boom
Daily NK
Kang Mi Jin


In Pyongyang, it’s “out with the old, in with the TBD”…

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Pyongyang’s construction boom is taking its toll on some of the city’s most historic landmarks. Recently while perusing on Google Earth I noticed one of central Pyongyang’s most unique (and old) buildings had been torn down.



Here is what the building looked like before it was torn down (Source: Kernbeisser):


At the time it was torn down, it housed the Taedongmun Restaurant (대동문식당), Student Library (학생도서관), Fishing Tackle Shop (낚시도구전문상점), and allegedly some kind of driving offenses office.

This was one of the first buildings to be constructed in Pyongyang following the Korean War. Images of the new building can be found in North Korea Caught in Time by Chris Springer (p80):



It appears to have been built even before most of the buildings on Kim Il-sung Square.

A fellow North Korea enthusiast was able to provide some (actual) rare images of the building being torn down:

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I was also able to dig up a declassified CIA report published on 1959-5-14 (Slightly edited to improve reading experience) that contained some information on the building when it was constructed:


Obviously the “D” wing was torn down sometime between 1959 and 2000. After the elimination of the original “D” wing, newer construction gave the building a distinct “L” shape.

Many apartment buildings in Pyongyang are being torn down. To see what will replace them, we will have to wait and see.


Wonsan Kalma Airport imagery (UPDATED)

Monday, August 17th, 2015

UPDATE 1 (2015-8-17): Kim Jong-un visited the Wonsan Airport (Kalma Airport) for an air force demonstration reported in Rodong Sinmun on July 30. You can see a video of that event here. A second official video claims that the demonstration took place on July 28. A satellite image of the facility was taken just the day before (July 27) and we can see some of the new facilities and preparation for Kim Jong-un’s arrival. I have already reported on most of this material at Radio Free Asia (새단장 갈마비행장…활주로에 광고도).

First, Google Earth imagery shows thousands of soldiers on the new runway practicing for Kim Jong-un’s arrival at the observation building. They can also be seen in the official images:



We can also see the completed (on the outside) Wonsan Airport terminal building:


Also unveiled is the new logo for the airport which reminds visitors that (despite the heavy military presence) the new airport welcomes civilian vacation travelers. We can see this design at both ends of the runway:


We can also see what appears to be a (fifth!) runway for Kim Jong-un. This runway contains similar facilities to the new Kim Jong-il runway built in Taesong District for use of the individuals that live in the Kim Family’s Ryongsong Complex:


Pictured above: The probable Kim Jong-un light aircraft runway at the Wonsan Kalma Airport


Pictured above: Kim Jong-un’s runway in Taesong district of Pyongyang which bears a close resemblance to the facilities at the Wonsan Kalma Airport.

ORIGINAL POST (2015-5-1): New Google Earth imagery shows continued development of the new civilian airport in Wonsan. The airport is presumably intended to support the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone.

2015-3-26 (Google Earth)


2015-2-10 (Google Earth)


2014-12-25 (Google Earth)



Wonsan City seeing new construction area

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015


Pictured above (Google Earth): Site of the new Kalma Street construction site in Wonsan

According to KCNA (2015-5-20):

Ground-breaking Ceremony of Construction in Wonsan Area Held

Wonsan, May 20 (KCNA) — The Wonsan area will turn into a world-famous tourist city under the plan of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).

A ground-breaking ceremony took place in Kalma Street on Wednesday.

Present there were Vice-Premier Kim Yong Jin, officials concerned, builders and citizens of Wonsan.

A reporter and speakers said it was the lifetime wishes and behests of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il to spruce up Wonsan area.

Marshal Kim Jong Un launched a big operation for building Wonsan area into a world famous tourist city, model of city formation, with noble intention to bring about a fresh turn in building a highly civilized socialist nation and dynamically aroused the whole party and country to the drive for doing so, they said.

They called for launching vigorous campaigns to carry out the behests of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and defending the party’s policies to powerfully demonstrate the might of Songun Korea in construction once again.

At the end of the ceremony they started projects including dwelling houses at the entrance of Kalma Street in Wonsan City.

Here is coverage by the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES):

Wonsan: Start of Construction as ‘Global Tourist City’

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has reported that the groundbreaking ceremony for the Wonsan region took place on May 20, 2015 on Wonsan city’s Kalma Street.

The KCNA explained that “in accordance with the plans of the Korean Workers’ Party, the Wonsan region will be vigorously transformed into a global tourist city.” It also reported that Vice Premier of the Cabinet Kim Yong Jin was in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony.

According to attendees at the ceremony, “The proper management of the Wonsan region is the will of Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il as well as their earnest dying injunction.” They also stressed that “Comrade Kim Jong Un is committed to bringing about a new change in the construction of a civilized socialist state and has unfolded a magnanimous strategy for managing the Wonsan region as a model of city development and global tourist cities.”

The KCNA reported that after the ceremony ended construction was started on private homes near the entrance to Kalma Street.

The ‘Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region’ was announced as a central-level Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on June 11, 2014 by way of an ordinance by the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA). It is part of the large-scale tourism belt that includes Wonsan district, the Masikryong Ski Resort, Ullim Falls, and the Sogwansa, Tongchon, and Kumgangsan districts.

The KCNA confirmed that the Wonsan development was the “will” and “dying injunction” of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, offering as evidence the fact that Kim Jong Il made the development of the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region a recent priority of North Korea’s foreign economic sector.

In his 2015 New Year’s address, Kim Jong Un proclaimed to the people, “We need to multilaterally develop foreign economic relations and actively push forward the development of economic development zones like the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region.” Also, in February 2015, the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee and Central Military Commission presented ‘joint slogans’ for the 70th year anniversary of the country’s liberation and the Party’s founding. Among those presented was the slogan, “Let’s actively push forward the economic development of the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region!”

In May 2015, North Korea took the ‘18th Pyongyang Spring International Product Exhibition’ as an opportunity to hold an investment briefing session regarding the development of the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region. Another on-site investment briefing at Kumgangsan is slated for six days beginning May 25, 2015.

Regarding the upcoming briefing, O Ung Gil, general manager of the Wonsan Area Development Corporation, said, “At the investment briefing, topics such as the favorability of the development zone (which has abundant tourist attractions), the legal environment, its current state, and the overall development plan will be revealed. […] All entrepreneurs and businessmen who have an interest in development in the region are welcome to attend.”


KKG in Pyongyang

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

UPDATE 4 (2015-7-6): Stephan Haggard provides some additional information on Queensway Group/KKG.

UPDATE 3 (2015-6-24): Writing in the Financial Times, Tom Burgis links Queensway Group/KKG with Office 39.

UPDATE 2 (2015-5-1): J.R. Mailey has much more information on the Queensway Group/KKG.

UPDATE 1 (2014-7-17): Over at 38 North, J.R. Mailey has uncovered much more information on KKG (Queensway Group) and linked it with the Kaesong High Tech Industrial Park.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-9-11): “Kumgang Street/KKG Avenue Project in Pyongyang”: Aggressive construction and re-development projects have taken place on Pyongyang’s Mansudae Street over the last few years as part of the DPRK’s “Strong and Prosperous Nation (강성대국)” policies. See Mansudae renovation no. 1 here and Mansudae renovation no. 2 here.

Residential construction projects, however, have been limited neither to Mansudae Street (See here, here, here, here, hereherehere, here) nor to Pyongyang. In the interest of [my] time, I will offer only the most recent example: There are reports of an ambitions real-estate project in Chongjin, though satellite imagery in the area is too old to confirm the project or evaluate its size/scope.

However, a recent tourist photo taken in Pyongyang near the Tongil Market reveals yet another ambitious plan for residential development in Rakrang-guyok (락랑구역). It is unclear how long this project has been planned or if/why it appears to be on hold. Here is the photo of the billboard:

Click here to see a larger version of this photo on flickr.

According to the billboard, this project bears the name “Kumgang Street” in Korean (금강거리) and “KKG Avenue” in English. The operation appears to be run by 금강경제개발총회사 (The Kumgang Economic Development Corporation). A quick Google search for “금강경제개발총회사” yields pleanty of results, but all of them are in Korean–meaning it will be excruciatingly painful for me to do any research on this organization. If you can determine anything else about this project, please let me know.

From what I can tell, this effort is set to take place just north of the Tongil Market (conspicuously absent from the billboard, though enhanced with a wide avenue and bridge to Yanggak Island). Here is the approximate location as seen on Google Earth (I have added the position of the proposed Yanggak Bridge to make the comparison easier):

According to the billboard, the Mullet Soup Restaurant on the bank of the Taedong River will be part of the finished project.  The remainder of the land looks like it has been cleared and prepared for the development project, although historical imagery on Google Earth indicates that this land has been largely unused for decades. The image below dates from 2000-6-12:

 According to “The Skyscraper Center” the tallest building(s) in the new development will be 274m/899 feet.

I have been able to find out little more about this project. Again, if you can find additional information, please let me know.


New Satellite Control Center

Monday, May 4th, 2015

UPDATE 1 (2015-7-10): New Google Earth satellite imagery (2015-5-20) shows the completed Satellite Control Center:


ORIGINAL POST (2015-5-4): On May 4, 2015, Rodong Sinmun reported that Kim Jong-un visited the “Newly-built General Satellite Control Centre”.

Imagery release on KCTV helped me identify the facility on commercial satellite imagery:




This is one of several large construction projects in Pyongyang that I have had my eye on for some time (I thought it was a new theater or stadium).

The new satellite control center is located in the Pothonggang District of Pyongyang. The size of the mission control room is approximately 570 square meters. Other facilities in the building, according to the DPRK media, include a revolutionary history room, auxiliary display and control room, and optical observation room, E-library, lounge, conference room, offices, dining room and bedrooms.

Based on commercial satellite imagery, construction began sometime between 2014-4-13 and 2014-7-3, meaning that if completed, construction took nearly one year.



This new control center may also be the administrative home of the National Aerospace Development Administration. Construction of the new satellite control center began shortly after NADA was publicly announced last year.

If completed, this new facility raises a question about the status of the older satellite control center in Ryongsong District at the Second Academy of Natural Sciences.


An affiliate of 38 North