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North Korea’s Post-Typhoon House-Building Boom

Two months after a powerful typhoon lashed North Korea’s east coast, residents are already moving into new homes—replacing those lost to the storm—according to North Korean state media.

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38 North

This article was originally published in 38 North.

Two months after a powerful typhoon lashed North Korea’s east coast, residents are already moving into new homes—replacing those lost to the storm—according to North Korean state media. The exact number of houses destroyed by Typhoon Maysak (Typhoon No. 9) has never been made public, but media reports have indicated thousands of North Koreans lost their homes.

A few days after Typhoon Maysak on September 6, Kim Jong Un convened an Executive Policy Council meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) to plan response efforts and called on party members in Pyongyang to volunteer to work in the region. A day later, state media reported that 300,000 party members answered that call.

Construction efforts have been reported in several areas, including:

  • Chundong-ri, Kim Chaek City, North Hamgyong Province
  • Unho-ri, Kim Chaek City, North Hamgyong Province
  • Haksadae-ri, Riwon County, South Hamgyong Province
  • Unpo-ri, Hongwon County, South Hamgyong Province
  • Hochon County, South Hamgyong Province
  • Komdok, Tanchon County, South Hamgyong Province
  • Kimhwa County and five unnamed counties in Kangwon Province
  • Taechong-ri, Unpha County, North Hwanghae Province

In mid-September, state media reported on Kim Jong Un’s visit to Kangbuk-ri in North Hwanghae Province. According to the report, this area was reconstructed as a result of damage from an earlier typhoon in August, however, analysis by NK News showed the effort had actually started in June. Naturally, this raises questions about North Korea’s reporting of the latest housing construction projects as well.

However, commercial satellite imagery of the most recent sites indicates that ground clearance began in the days following the typhoon and were not preexisting construction sites positioned to look like a response to the destruction.

Read the full analysis in 38 North.

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