[Photo] Superstitious beliefs drive increase in house repairs

Kang Mi Jin  |  2017-07-04 17:39
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Home repairs and renovations have been recently rising in popularity in North Korea. The phenomenon is reportedly being driven by superstitious rumors that this year is an auspicious one for home upgrades. 
Home repairs occur regularly in North Korea, but efforts have been more conspicuous this year, said a source in South Pyongan Province, noting, "Many people have recently decided to rebuild their homes or renovate them. Residents living near the train stations or markets are renovating their homes to attract customers waiting for trains, or to offer storage room to market vendors."
The flurry of interest in home improvement has become a nationwide phenomenon. Another source in Ryanggang Province confirmed that many of the residents of Hyesan City, Samjiyon, and Paekam County are repairing their houses as well.
Market vendors are actively responding to the needs of the residents. As the interest in interior decorating rises, merchants are busy procuring the necessary construction materials.
"People used to favor southward-facing houses, but these days many are installing windows and doors in the direction that most suits them. Some of the more picky residents are said to be making difficult requests like asking for the main room to not be visible when entering from the front door. According to superstition, doing otherwise can invite property loss," the South Pyongan-based source said.
Superstition is reportedly playing a big role in the nationwide fervor for home improvements. In North Korea, people choose dates for important events like weddings and house moving according to particular dates, but recently, the sudden belief that this year is an auspicious one has become popular.
"North Koreans have little access to outside information and tend to rely on the words of fortune tellers, as they find it hard to believe the authorities. The residents are instructed in lectures that superstitious acts are akin to illegal drugs, but even law enforcement and judicial officials have their fortunes read by shamans when they have important events on the horizon," the Ryanggang source added.
It is said that some residents, influenced by superstition, are even willing to borrow from a loan shark in order to finance their house renewals. 
"Some residents who can't afford to renovate their homes are upset that they cannot take advantage of the lucky year," she said. "Thats why high-interest loans have become prevalent in rural areas."

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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