Apartments on Mirae Scientists' Street 'frozen solid'

Lee Sang Yong  |  2016-01-29 09:56
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Right: Kim Jong Un visiting the Mirae Scientists' Street in November 2015.
Left: Aerial view of street and its newly constructed facilities. According to
state-run publication, Rodong Sinmun, Kim Jong Un expressed his
"profound satisfaction" with the construction of the area, stating, "If one wants to see what
North Korea is truly like, come to Mirae Scientists' Street." Image: Rodong Sinmun

Of the 2,500 units comprising North Koreas newly constructed residential building on the Mirae (Future) Scientists Street, proclaimed by Kim Jong Un in this years New Years Address as a huge monument to creativity, only 500 are currently occupied by families. Most families assigned to live in the homes cite a lack of power and water supplies and incomplete construction as their reasons for avoiding what they had once hoped would be a major housing upgrade. 

On the 27th, our Daily NK reporter spoke with a source in South Pyongan Province, who informed us that although announcements and promulgating across North Korean state media outlets of the apartment complexs completion, the reality falls far short. Only the apartments that Kim Jong Un has gone out to inspect himself have been completed; the remainder languish in a half-finished state, she explained. 

Two sources in Pyongyang reported the same developments to Daily NK. 

She continued, Electricity is not yet being supplied properly to the buildings, and the regime has advised those living below the 10th floor not to use the elevator. Although this is likely a step that was taken for the convenience of those living above the 10th floor, the number of residents who have been assigned to these houses who are refusing to move in is growing. 

Without running water and functional heat, many of the apartments are frozen solid--literally. The interiors resembled ice caves. Many who have been assigned to the housing are planning to postpone their move in dates until spring accordingly, said the source. 

Future residents of the apartments are also wary of the high probability for shoddy construction work behind the building's facade, fueled by state directives to finish the apartments at an unreasonable, and unsafe, pace. Such concerns are borne out by the timeline: plans for the Mirae Scientists' Street apartments, 'completed' in November 2015, were put in motion directly following a visit by Kim Jong Un to the construction site of the faculty housing for Kim Chaek University of Technology, where he provided on-the-spot guidance in May of 2014. 

Then, in February of 2015, Kim Jong Un proposed April 15th (Kim Il Sungs birthday) as a completion date for construction on the first section of the site he had visited, and October 10th (the anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party) for the second section. 

All of this, it should be noted, following the collapse of a 23-story apartment complex in May of 2014, a tragedy that claimed hundreds of lives and drove up the number of North Koreans unwilling to risk their lives in loftier reaches of residential dwellings. With the ghastly consequences of poor quality construction still fresh in their minds, more and more people who are assigned to these upper floor apartments are flat out refusing to move in.

With this winter promising record-breaking cold temperatures, people are also taking into account the very real possibility that they might freeze to death. If theres not a steady supply of power to these homes, theres certainly no way theyre going to be able to fix the heating problems in the apartments, noted the source, adding that because the facilities are so new most tenants probably haven't had the chance to try to replace their [in effect, inoperable] heating systems to those that use wood." 

Those who trusted their new housing assignment and left their old houses behind to move into the Mirae Scientists' Complex have no choice but to find some way of overcoming the cold, she pointed out. 

"As usual, the people suffering the most are innocent people who believed [regime] propaganda.

*Translated by Natalie Grant

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