PYONGYANG, North Korea -- The capital of North Korea is going through a construction boom, and its biggest project in more than a decade started at the beginning of this month.
Associated Press Television News in North Korea on Friday showed a large area in the center of Pyongyang that has been turned into a huge construction site – part of an effort to build 100,000 new apartments in North Korea's capital by 2012.
Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung and is seen as a highly significant year because Kim, who died in 1994, is considered to be the country's "eternal president."
North Korean authorities have set 2012 as a deadline for attaining the status of "a strong and prosperous nation."
"The central part of Pyongyang will be refurbished according to the requirements of this new century and the demand of modern times by 2012," Yun Sok Chon, head of the Institute of Pyongyang City Design, told APTN.
The building project in Pyongyang's Mansudae area will include a new theater, apartment blocks, restaurants, shops and a 10-hectare (25-acre) park area, the Korean Central News Agency reported earlier this month. KCNA said the project "will change the appearance of the capital city beyond recognition."
In the past two years, three other high-profile apartment projects have been completed in Pyongyang.
Authorities have not made public the cost of the Mansudae project, exact statistics of its scale or the resources involved. But it is part of the biggest construction work in Pyongyang since the development of a new town area called Tongil Street in the 1990s.