Construction is booming in North Korea, but who's paying?

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Construction is booming in North Korea, but who's paying?
FILE - In this April 13, 2017, file photo, North Korean soldiers carry the Korean People's Army flag as they walk past residential buildings along Ryomyong street, in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea is racing forward with major development projects some experts believe are aimed at expanding a market for rented or privately owned real estate to bolster his regime against the bite of sanctions. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea is racing ahead with major development projects some experts believe are aimed at expanding a market for rented or privately owned real estate to help fortify the finances of Kim Jong Un’s regime against the bite of sanctions over its nuclear program.

A swelling market for private property doesn’t sound socialist. But the chronically cash-strapped government appears to be nurturing a fresh source of revenue — sales to the newly affluent class of North Koreans who have made their fortunes on the country’s growing, but still largely unofficial, market economy that has come into its own since leader Kim assumed power.

The pressure on Pyongyang is growing as the Chinese investors who traditionally have propped up its economy retreat amid tougher than ever restrictions imposed by Beijing.