N.K. opens new residential area in Pyongyang: report

SEOUL-- North Korea on Thursday opened a new high-end residential area in Pyongyang ahead of a key national anniversary, a Japanese media report said.

Its leader Kim Jong-un and ranking officials attended the ceremony to mark the completion of the construction of Ryomyong Street lined by skyscrapers, according to Japan's broadcaster NHK.

Kim had ordered the country to finish the project before the 105th birthday of the late founder Kim Il-sung, which falls on April 15.

A host of foreign journalists have been invited to North Korea as Pyongyang is set to celebrate Kim's birthday, known as the Day of the Sun in North Korea.

Jeremy Koh, a reporter at Singapore's Channel NewsAsia, said on his Twitter account that "after much secrecy, foreign reporters in Pyongyang watch Kim Jong-un preside over the opening of the skyscraper-lined Ryomyong Street."

North Korea's state media has yet to unveil relevant reports.

Ryomyong Street will house about 4,800 households and about 30 support facilities for residents in about a 900,000-square-meter area, said Minjok Tongshin, a U.S.-based pro-North Korea website.

The ceremony came amid speculation that North Korea could conduct its sixth nuclear test or launch missiles to celebrate its key anniversaries in April.

The country has been pushing for the housing project in a bid to show that tough international sanctions do not work.

North Korea's leader stressed, "Its construction goes to prove once again that neither sanctions nor pressure can ever check the victorious advance" of the army and North Koreans, the Korean Central News Agency reported on Jan. 26.

North Korea's leader originally set the deadline for building Ryomyong Street for the end of 2016, but massive floods that hit the country's northeastern areas last year drained resources for the construction, causing delays.

Seoul's unification ministry earlier said North Korea's "show-off" project targets the privileged class in Pyongyang, not ordinary North Koreans.

Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected to Seoul last year, said that a set of international sanctions put a severe strain on Kim Jong-un's policy enforcement, including the construction of Ryomyong Street.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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