Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Young members of North Korea's elite are enjoying the good life in high-rise apartments in China and spending large sums of money to buy things not available in their home country.
Radio Free Asia reported Thursday the number of young North Koreans in the northeastern Chinese cities of Dandong and Shenyang, buying expensive goods in cash, has increased.
The children of high-ranking North Korean officials also spend about $27,000 yearly on condominium apartments that come with upscale facilities, according to the report.
A China-based source told RFA the young North Koreans, ranging from their teens to their 30s, began to arrive in Chinese cities near the border in the spring of 2017.
The ethnic Korean-Chinese source in Dandong told RFA the North Koreans "began to occupy luxury residences in early March, in areas near the North Korean consulate in Shenyang, and the consulate in Dandong."
"They caught the attention of locals because they were spending cash like water, amid stronger Chinese North Korea sanctions," the source said.
Elite North Koreans occupy the Shangcheng Zuoyan, an apartment complex about five minutes from the North Korean consulate in Dandong, despite the rent being "very expensive," RFA's source said.
About two to three people occupy each apartment unit, the source added.
The North Koreans have also leased an office space located on the first floor of the apartment complex.
The cost for a one-year lease is about $23,000, and even "rich Chinese do not lease out the space because it is so expensive."
A second China-based source in Shenyang told RFA more than "100 young North Koreans, from their teens to their 30s, live near the consulate" and that their numbers grew exponentially in early June.
"All of them wear fashionable suits and are very different from ordinary North Koreans," the source said.
A North Korean source in China told RFA the elites might be sending their children to China in preparation for the outbreak of conflict on the peninsula.
North Korea has refrained from provocations in October, defying expectations of tests around the anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers' Party and the 19th party congress of the Chinese Communist Party.
On Thursday, Pyongyang's KCTV aired footage of Kim Jong Un visiting a shoe factory.
Kim called on workers to produce more quality shoes for the people, according to South Korean television network SBS.