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Pyongyang authorities launch investigation into housing corruption

In early June, the Pyongyang People’s Committee launched an investigation into corruption involving residency permits at a housing development on Jonwi Street that was completed in mid-May.

“It emerged that the family of an officer with the military’s Reconnaissance General Bureau was assigned an apartment on Jonwi Street even though families of officers are supposed to live in housing units on base. That prompted the legal affairs department of the Pyongyang People’s Committee to initiate an investigation of the people’s committee in Hyongjesan District, where Jonwi Street is located, on June 5,” a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on June 27, speaking on condition of anonymity.

According to the source, the family of an officer of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB) bribed the housing allocation office of the local people’s committee to obtain a residence permit for an apartment on Jonwi Street. This housing-related corruption came to light when the head of the neighborhood watch unit found out that an officer’s family was moving into the apartment and reported the matter to his superiors.

The RGB officer’s family members said they had been allocated the promised apartment after investing in Jonwi Street in the early stages of its development.

While apartment sales are generally prohibited in North Korea, developers accept unofficial investments from individuals in exchange for residency permits, the source said.

“Private funding goes into every construction project in the country. Individuals make up for shortfalls in construction materials and are given apartments corresponding to their stake in the investment following construction. That’s been happening since the mid-2000s,” the source said.

Military families are not allowed to engage in business in North Korea

While private investors have long been able to obtain residence permits, the problem with this transaction was that the private investors in question were the family members of a military officer. Military families are not allowed to do business in North Korea, and it is very likely that business activities were the source of the large sum of money needed to invest in real estate.

To make matters worse, the officer’s family involved in the case bribed officials at the Hyongjesan District People’s Committee after the Jonwi Street development was completed and pressured the officials to change all the names on the residency permit and allow the whole family to move in at the same time.

Rodong Sinmun bragged on June 19 that “ordinary people in this country” – including disabled veterans, retired officers, teachers and families with multiple children – had moved into apartments on Jonwi Street. Since this instance of corruption would be an example of the dishonest nature of North Korean government propaganda, the investigation will probably be kept under wraps.

At any rate, a number of people implicated in various stages of the process – from the investment in the housing development to the issuance of the residency permit after construction – are likely to be punished accordingly.

“After the legal affairs department of the Pyongyang People’s Committee completes the first phase of the investigation, it will hand [offenders] over to law enforcement depending on the gravity [of their crimes]. As for the family of the RGB officer, the committee is currently working with the RGB prosecutors’ office to check on any similar cases,” the source said.

Pyongyang’s Jonwi Street in the Sopo area of Hyongjesan District was named by an edict of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly on December 5, 2023. The name Jonwi (meaning “vanguard”) is taken from a youth organization called the Youth Vanguard, reflecting the fact that the entire work was done by 100,000 young volunteers from groups such as the Mount Paektu Heroic Youth Shock Troops and the Speed Battle Youth Group.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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July 05, 2024 at 05:30AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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