About the Author
Damin Jung was an NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked at the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) Korea Chair.
Like Pyongyang’s Mirae Scientists Street, which was completed in November 2015, Ryomyong Street has been one of North Korea’s most widely publicized projects since construction began in March 2016.
Officially opened on April 13 this year, two days before the “Day of the Sun,” the development has been hailed by state media as proof of the resilience of North Korea’s economy in the face of international sanctions.
Since its opening, government outlets have offered a slow stream of details about the development, but new footage by a pro-North Korean media outlet released last Monday gave an even more detailed look into Ryomyong Street.
The film, “Energy-saving, Green Ryomyong Street,” was produced and released by the Chosun Sinbo, the official newspaper of the Japanese pro-DPRK Chongryon organization.
As the title suggests, North Korea is keen to emphasize the development’s environmentally-friendly properties: from its gardens to the extensive use of green energy.
“Ryomyong Street’s garden vegetation area covers 0.25 million square meters,” Kang Jun Ho, a manager of a garden center in Pyongyang, says in the video. “Among them, the green area of grass reaches 0.15 million square meters.”
“As you can see, we have planted more than 50 kinds of trees, about 30,000 trees, and it is literally a gardened street inside a park.”
The video shows the terraces and balconies of the buildings filled with green plants, with rooftop greenhouses growing fresh vegetables for locals.
The video then explores the interior of the apartments.
“Noteworthy in the green building technology introduced at Ryomyong Street is the use of anion-generating paint, a localized green building material for residential buildings, public buildings and service buildings,” the narrator says.
Anions are atoms or radicals (groups of atoms) that are reportedly found in mountain forests, waterfalls, and beaches, which are said to help people feel energized, invigorated and relieve stress and depression.
Anion-generating paint, which North Korean scientists have, according to the video, exclusively developed, can reportedly generate double the amount of anion than that produced by other countries.
Ryomyong Street’s eco-friendly building technology also features new and renewable energy systems.
Solar panels are reportedly widespread and are used for lighting as well as for both heating and cooling the buildings.
“This technology allows the sunlight that passes through the windows to heat the bottom of the room and sunlight receiver to raise the temperature inside the room,” Lee Won Il, a volunteer worker at the Green Building Technology Exchange, says.
“Painting materials with thermal insulation material used for the wall are used as heat accumulators in the summer to store the heat while cooling the room and to increase the temperature as a heat sink in winter.”
Geothermal heat is also being used for both heating and cooling the buildings, according to the video.
“In our Ryomyong Street, we are providing geothermal heat for the hydroponic rooms as well as the buildings with the water-source heat pump that uses the hydro-geothermal energy,” Park Jung Hyuk, a manager at a building’s heat pump station, says.
“These facilities are special facilities that our scientist engineers created with their own strengths,” he said. “It is said that all of the quality and setting values are more stable than when using other countries’ products.”
Also included in the video is the Green Building Technology Exchange, located in a landmark three-story building along with various shops, a bathhouse, water playgrounds, beauty shops, massage shops, food courts, and playgrounds.
It is not clear how much of Ryomyong is currently occupied, however. An NK News report in May on another recent Pyongyang landmark, Mirae Future Scientists street, revealed that some of the development’s apartments appeared empty a year and a half after opening.
Some of the spaces on Ryomyong Street appeared to be empty in last week’s video.
But the emphasis on green technology on the street does speak to an increased focus on renewable energy in North Korea in recent years.
Full video by Choson Sinbo
Edited by: Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Choson Sinbo