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North Korea’s Kim pledges thousands of new homes in storm recovery effort

By Sangmi Cha

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised to help typhoon-hit areas recover and to build at least 25,000 houses over the next five years, state media said on Wednesday.

Visiting one of the worst-hit areas of North Korea, Kim expressed regret over the more than 50-year-old houses in which people have been living and urged the military to embark on a more ambitious construction plan, KCNA said.

The visit came after Kim appeared to shed tears at the weekend as he thanked citizens for their sacrifices, in the most striking demonstration yet of how he is relying on his “man-of- the-people” persona to tackle his country’s deepening crises.

The military has reached a construction level of 60% for at least 2,300 houses in the Komdok area in South Hamgyong province, northeast of the capital, Pyongyang, the state media said.

Kim said new houses were now only built when the old ones were brought down by natural disasters, and called for a “revolution” in construction plans, starting with building 25,000 houses during his five-year plan set to be unveiled in January.

Last week, Kim called on his country to embark on an 80-day “speed battle” – to attain economic goals before a congress in January to decide the new five-year plan.

North Korea has had a tough year because of the impact of anti-coronavirus measures, international sanctions and several typhoons that battered towns.

(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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North Korea’s Kim pledges thousands of new homes in storm recovery effort: state media

By Sangmi Cha

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised to help typhoon-hit areas recover and to build at least 25,000 houses over the next five years, state media said on Wednesday.

Visiting one of the worst-hit areas of North Korea, Kim expressed regret over the more than 50-year-old houses in which people have been living and urged the military to embark on a more ambitious construction plan, KCNA said.

The visit came after Kim appeared to shed tears at the weekend as he thanked citizens for their sacrifices, in the most striking demonstration yet of how he is relying on his “man-of- the-people” persona to tackle his country’s deepening crises.

The military has reached a construction level of 60% for at least 2,300 houses in the Komdok area in South Hamgyong province, northeast of the capital, Pyongyang, the state media said.

Kim said new houses were now only built when the old ones were brought down by natural disasters, and called for a “revolution” in construction plans, starting with building 25,000 houses during his five-year plan set to be unveiled in January.

Last week, Kim called on his country to embark on an 80-day “speed battle” – to attain economic goals before a congress in January to decide the new five-year plan.

North Korea has had a tough year because of the impact of anti-coronavirus measures, international sanctions and several typhoons that battered towns.

(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Kim Jong Un orders remodeling of major hotels in Pyongyang

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently ordered sections of several hotels in Pyongyang to be remodeled by the end of 2021, Daily NK has learned. 

Specifically, Kim ordered that hotels for foreign visitors be rebuilt in a modern way to conform with world standards. The order seems to suggest that the country is preparing to opening its borders in the “post-coronavirus era” as part of efforts to earn foreign currency. 

A military source told the Daily NK on Sunday that Kim handed down the order to the command of the Seventh General Department, a military engineering unit, on Oct. 5.

Specifically, North Korean authorities ordered the unit to rebuild the basement restaurant and revolving observatory restaurant of the Koryo Hotel Pyongyang; the hall and 80 guest rooms of the Pothonggang Hotel; the revolving observatory restaurant, basement bowling alley and arcade of the Yanggakdo International Hotel; 30 bedrooms of the Sosan Hotel; and shops in the Pyongyang Hotel.

The order called for all the reconstruction projects to be completed by the “end of 2021.” This seems to suggest that the country’s leadership believes the COVID-19 pandemic will end next year. 

The source explained that the Workers’ Party has an “unchanging” policy to keep promoting the tourism industry and attracting tourists to the country as a way to secure funds for the party along with foreign currency. 

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The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang. / Image: BRJ Inc., Creative Commons, Flickr

In short, the authorities wish to highlight North Korea’s image as a “normal country” by bringing several hotels in Pyongyang up to world standards. Meanwhile, they aim to create an opportunity for the country to “break through” its economic troubles by using its image as a  “COVID-19-free” nation to attract tourists. 

Kim’s latest order hints that the authorities may also be trying

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