North Korea construction resumes as China relations bounce back

By Elizabeth Shim   |   April 16, 2018 at 9:08 AM
North Korea construction is booming following a summit between Kim Jong Un and China's Xi Jinping, sources in the country say. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI

April 16 (UPI) -- Construction of high-rise apartments in North Korea for the newly rich might have resumed in the wake of improving relations with China.

A source in North Korea's North Hamgyong Province told Radio Free Asia the new apartments are being built in the Rason special economic zone, referring to a North Korean city bordering Russia.

"The joint venture construction business slowed down as China and North Korea grew distant last year," the source said. "But these days construction has resumed and completion is expected."

Song Tao, the head of the Chinese Communist Party's International Department, was in North Korea this weekend, leading a performing arts troupe to a North Korean festival.

According to Xinhua news agency, Song met with Kim Jong Un and the two "reached important consensus, and the meeting achieved fruitful results."

Joint construction of buildings might have been one of the items on the agenda.

RFA's source said the construction of apartments that can sell for as much as $30,000-50,000 per unit, began in 2017 but work was suspended following international sanctions against North Korea.

In Rason, the buildings measure 20 stories high.

"The Chinese companies provide the building materials and architectural plans, and our [North Korean] side provides the labor and sites," RFA's source said. "Chinese investors are flocking to North Korea."

Pyongyang's KCNA reported Monday Song and the Chinese performers visited the Sino-Korean Friendship Tower in Pyongyang.

North Korea stated Song left a basket of flowers at the memorial built to honor Chinese soldiers who supported the North during the 1950-53 Korean War.

Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in late March.

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