Desperate North Koreans sell homes to raise money for food — Radio Free Asia

North Korean citizens living near the border with China are selling their houses at rock bottom rates to raise cash for food as the country prepares for winter season amid the worst scarcities considering that the 1990s scarcity.
Much of North Koreas economy is reliant on trade with China, however commerce in between the 2 countries largely came to a halt when the border was closed in January 2020 at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
The closure not only deprived industry of raw products and merchants with goods to market, it cut off food imports that could cover the space in between North Koreas domestic food production and need. Food costs have skyrocketed.
In the northwestern border city of Sinuiju, all but the most affluent North Koreans are downsizing, simply to be able to manage food this winter season.
” Strange housing deals are increasing with the abrupt drop in temperature. Poor homeowners, who are suffering from challenge, are selling their homes to purchase food, while abundant individuals are benefiting from this opportunity to purchase homes at low prices,” a citizen of the city told RFAs Korean Service Nov. 22.
” As the variety of houses for sale this winter increases, the rates for units in the circular-shaped high-end apartment building along the Yalu River are also dropping. It is among the very best houses in Sinuiju,” said the source, who requested privacy for security factors.
Those selling their houses in the circular building initially paid 30,000 yuan (U.S. $4,698) for a system ignoring the river. However deteriorating economic conditions due to the extended coronavirus pandemic have actually lowered the asking rate to half of that, according to the source.
Private ownership of houses is technically illegal in North Korea. The constitution states that all residential or commercial property is owned by the state, and the federal government typically grants living areas to its people for particular durations of time.

” In the past, rich homeowners contended to buy a home there. … Most of them made a lot of money through trade with China. Residents are now having a hard time to make a living as trade between North Korea and China has been obstructed for nearly 2 years due to the coronavirus crisis,” said the source.

This February 2019 file photo reveals the then under building and construction circle-shaped luxury apartment in the North Korean town of Sinuiju, behind the Broken Bridge, which when covered the Yalu River in between China and North Korea, as seen from the Chinese border city of Dandong, in Chinas northeast Liaoning province on February 22, 2019. Credit: AFP

” The person who bought the house can pay off the Urban Management Department of the Administrative Committee and get a brand-new housing permit. If you have a connection with the Urban Management Department or use an allurement, you can purchase a house,” the source stated
A high-rise system in the circle-shaped structure used to be the envy of the citys elites, but times have actually altered.
” In the past, abundant homeowners contended to purchase a house there. … Most of them made a lot of money through trade with China. Homeowners are now having a hard time to make a living as trade between North Korea and China has actually been blocked for almost 2 years due to the coronavirus crisis,” said the source.
A source from Sinuijus surrounding North Pyongan province told RFA that property owners desperate for cash will offer their real estate allows to richer locals, then turn around and purchase less pricey homes in the countryside.
” It is now challenging to get sufficient food for the day in the city. In winter, locals have to prepare food and fire wood,” said the 2nd source, who requested anonymity to speak easily.
” Finding drinking water from a cross country away often needs selling a two-room house they bought by saving hard-earned cash for only 1,000 yuan ($ 156).”.
City life can be extremely pricey during times of economic crisis, a lot of are leaving for more rural places as rapidly as they can, according to the 2nd source.
” They are leaving their city houses uninhabited and moving to the countryside, even if their houses do not sell.”.
RFA reported in 2019 that the extensive purchase and sale of real estate licenses prompted the federal government to check private ownership in the northeastern city of Rason, part of an unique financial zone situated in the nations northeastern corner near China and Russia.
Under that plan, Rason sold the houses to individuals who were residing in them at the time, and numerous citizens were interested in becoming bona fide house owners.
A source because report, published about nine months before the pandemic began, expected that the rest of North Korea would follow Rasons example.
Translated by Claire Lee. Composed in English by Eugene Whong.
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