SEOUL, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- A 53-story apartment tower is the new pride of North Korea.
State television devoted a news segment to the building where residents "don't pay a dime of their own money" to live in a newly-designed area dedicated to Pyongyang's scientists.
The blue building, which faces the Taedong River, is the tallest structure in a cluster of ambitious high-rises that cost the state $88.4 million, and is shaped like a giant bamboo shoot with four distinct facades. South Korean television network SBS reported the building's top segment, shaped like a satellite signal receiver, measures 24 meters and weighs 40 tons.
The apartments are lavish by North Korean standards. South Korean news network MBN reported an apartment unit typically comes with a spacious and ornately decorated living room, and that the building is equipped with four high-speed elevators. Sports and leisure facilities comprise the common areas, and apartments come furnished courtesy of the state.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un previously attended an opening ceremony for the building. According to KCNA on Tuesday, Kim said the apartments "prove the superiority of North Korea's socialist system...[because] the residences enable our humble educators and scientists to live without paying a dime of their own money."
Pyongyang's state media outlet touted the building as a construction miracle, and reported the tower took six months to complete. South Korean press reported the rush to complete the building could have resulted in poor construction in North Korea's rapidly changing capital.
Pyongyang was at the center of speculation after South Korean press reported United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would visit North Korea's capital this week.
South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban will to fly directly to New York from the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, and that Ban has a full schedule for the week.
Dujarric, however, did not rule out a North Korea visit for the future.