Building an Entrepreneurial City: Urban Research on Pyongyang

With all eyes on the second US-DPRK summit and its impact on North Korea’s development, Choson Exchange has completed a major research project on Pyongyang’s rapid urban transformation over the past six years.

Led by Choson Exchange associate Calvin Chua, who has trained DPR Koreans in the urban planning and real estate sector, the project tracks Pyongyang’s urban development through cartographic mapping and simulations. Chua also surveyed more than 60 locals on the perceived pros and cons of their urban environment. Participants were asked to rank 38 factors related to transportation, energy & environment, educational infrastructure, convenience facilities, public spaces, production spaces, and healthcare infrastructure.

Productive Pyongyang - Research On Recent Urban Transformation

Three key insights from the survey were particularly interesting: 

  • A three-fold increase in urban density of new residential streets reveals an appreciation of the importance of real estate land value 

  • The importance of regenerating neighborhoods that are aging and not well connected to the city centre 

  • The survey affirms the positive urban planning legacy of well-distributed public facilities throughout the city. There is also an aspiration in having a quality living environment that offers more than basic amenities

Based on this research, Chua recommends three projects which would shape the physical urban environment to allow businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive: The regeneration of Kwangbok and Tongil Street residential area, the development of Southern Taedong District, and the distribution of incubator spaces throughout key areas of the city.

Map of Pyongyang

The real estate and urban planning sector continues to be an important area of focus for Choson Exchange. A CE program in Hanoi in 2014 led to the passing of a real estate and property law for the DPRK’s Special Economic Zones. Building on the interest from DPRK partners, Choson Exchange will be organizing the Pyongyang Urban Innovation Week in August. If you have expertise in this field and would like to join this event, please contact us today!

Choson Exchange staff will be available to share DPRK insights and expertise in Hanoi from February 26-28 during the US-DPRK summit. For media inquiries, please contact us at 

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Building an Entrepreneurial City: Urban Research on Pyongyang