On April 13, a group of around 200 foreign journalists in North Korea was told to prepare for a big event to take place early that morning.
The journalists were not allowed to bring cell phones, lighters or laptops, leading to speculations that they were being taken to a rocket launchpad or a relatively long trip out to Pyongyang.
North Korea has made similar announcements to groups of foreign journalists in the past, but only for the events to require little fanfare.
However, it was confirmed after several hours that the journalists were being taken to Ryomyong Street, a new luxury boulevard in Pyongyang equivalent to Seoul’s Gangnam district.
In preparation for Kim Il Sung’s 105th birthday anniversary on April 15th, Pyongyang has undertaken major construction and renovation projects in the past several months as part of a wider campaign to improve the city, and Ryomyong Street was no exception.
North Korea has aimed to finish construction of the 2.5 km Ryomyong Street by the end of 2016, including 100 apartment houses and public buildings, as well as a 70-floor apartment building. They have even moved thousands of soldier-builders to work on the project, with their temporary shelters visible in satellite imagery dated May 2016.
Major floods in August have delayed construction around the city, but as the anniversary deadline approached, state media has diligently reported that Ryomyong Street was nearing completion, showing photos of major turfing and tree-planting campaigns.
On Thursday morning, April 13, Pyongyang opened the new boulevard to foreign journalists and Pyongyang residents in an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by Kim Jong Un.
Take a tour of the newly built city, and experience the hustle and bustle of the parade celebrating the opening of Ryomyong Street, in 19 photos taken by NK News.
Christina Lee contributed to this report.