‘High-temperature air-combustion technology’ developed

April 23rd, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

At the Third Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) held on April 9, Premier Pak Pong Ju of the DPRK Cabinet delivered a progress report on the Cabinet’s performance for the previous year and goals for this year. He said, “High-temperature air-combustion technology and other technologies that do not require the use of heavy oil should be introduced into various fields of the national economy.” As North Korea is a non-oil producing country, such technology would be beneficial. But whether this technology is possible requires careful consideration.

According to various state media reports, “high-temperature air-combustion technology” maintains the internal temperature of the furnace by combusting gas or liquid raw material into the air by heating it to high temperature, wherein high temperature needed at the time is acquired through the gasification of anthracite. Respectively, this technology is also called the high-temperature, air-combustion technology by the gasification of anthracite.

This technique is known as energy-saving advanced technology that manages the thermal efficiency which greatly lowers the heat loss that occurs from the used gas discharge. This technology is characterized by its wide range of application that includes heating of the metal factory that uses heavy oil as fuel, as well as glass melting furnace, furnace refractories (or kilns), pottery baking furnace, and heat treatment furnace.

For the production or heating of rolled steels, application of this technology allows for effective production without the use of heavy fuel oil.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Metal Industry has begun to implement projects with major metal industry enterprises such as Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex, Hwanghae Iron and Steel Complex, and Chollima Steel Complex. This technology is being introduced into various enterprises including all steel production process and refractories that use heavy oil.

In 2011, North Korea emphasized “vanguard technological breakthroughs” and constructed heating furnace equipped with high-temperature air combustion technology at the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex for the commemoration of Kim Il Sung’s 100th birthday. It was widely publicized that introduction of this technology has put an end to the steel billets production system that uses heavy fuel oil.

In this regard, Rodong Sinmun reported on January 11 that Kaesong Insulator Factory in North Hamgyong Province succeeded in the complete domestic production of high-speed transfer switch and thermal mass which is the core of the high-temperature air-combustion technology. It also drew particular attention as the news touted that this was the first successful introduction of “large-scale continuous furnace.”

The newspaper boasted that, “the introduction of the high-temperature air combustion technology was introduced with a small investment into the heating furnace and kilns in each sector of the people’s economy,” and evaluated this as a result of “our capabilities and technology that proceeded in accordance with the principles of ‘our-style’ modernization.”

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North Korea to concentrate state budget towards economic construction

April 20th, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

North Korea has drafted a budget that emphasizes improving the lives of its citizens and the establishment of an economic power this year.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that on April 9, 2015, North Korea held the 3rd Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), where authorities balanced accounts from last year’s spending and decided the budget for this year.

“This year the state budget was designed to further strengthen the self-defense capabilities of national defense while putting technology firmly at the front and bringing about a transformation in the building of an economic powerhouse,” North Korea’s head of the Finance Ministry, Ki Kwang Ho, explained at the session.

First, North Korea decided to raise the entire budget expenditures over last year by 5.5 percent to celebrate the 70th anniversary this October of the establishment of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK).

This year the national defense expenditures represent 15.9 percent of the budget, the same as last year. Meanwhile, authorities decided to increase investment in the technology sector over last year by 5 percent.

The following areas were also increased over last year: forestry (9.6 percent), basic construction (8.7 percent), physical education (6.9 percent), education (6.3 percent), culture (6.2 percent), general industry and light industry (5.1 percent), fisheries (6.8 percent), agriculture (4.2 percent) and health (4.1 percent).

Every aspect of the budget is designed to improve the citizens’ lives and further economic development. Finance Ministry Director Ki Kwang Ho explained, “[the budget] enables the state to raise the entire People’s economy and drastically improve the lives of the people while fully engaging in the forest restoration battle and the construction of monumental building projects.”

North Korea, however, did not disclose the full amount of the budget. Based on the budget, it is predicted that North Korea will concentrate state management this year on improving the people’s quality of life.

In his New Year’s address, First Chairman Kim Jong Un intimated his intentions to better the lives of the people through economic reform this year.

“We need to solve the people’s food issue through the three axes of agriculture, livestock and fisheries and bring the food situation to the next level […] We need to encourage businesses to be proactive and creative to take the lead in business activities,” he proclaimed in his address.

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‘Okryu’ North Korean online shopping website gaining popularity

April 10th, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern studies (IFES)

According to the Japanese newspaper Choson Sinbo, a new online shopping mall in North Korea is enjoying popularity. “In Choson [North Korea] an e-commerce service system is being operated that handles food and all kinds of light industry goods,” the newspaper’s Pyongyang correspondent reported on April 2, 2015.

The newspaper explained that at the end of 2014, North Korea did a test-run of the system, and since the beginning of this year it has been in full operation. Since February of this year, they also started an e-commerce service that uses smart phones with communication functions.

Users access a computer network, and after joining the ‘Okryu’ e-commerce system, they can browse and purchase products.

In the Okryu e-commerce system, there are products of various name-brand commercial stores, restaurants and shops, including Changjon Haemaji Restaurant, Haedanghwa Restaurant, and Kumsong Foodstuff Factory.

On the homepage users are able to search for the products and when they decide to purchase a product they pay for it with an electronic card.

Currently, a variety of North Korean products are sold through Okryu, including various culinary dishes and food items, cosmetics and medical supplies, and footwear and bags. The Choson Sinbo said that “through Okryu [North Koreans] can even order naengmyon (cold buckwheat noodles) from the famous Okryukwan Restaurant.”

The newspaper went on to say, “This system has been a sensation among working-housewives, who can conveniently buy the products they need without going to the store […] There are also many users who choose products from Okryu’s homepage to send to friends or family during holidays and on birthdays.”

According to officials from the General People’s Service Bureau, “If the same types of products produced at several stores or factories are posted on the computer network, people will choose to purchase goods that are higher quality and cheaper in price. As a result, production units will begin competing in the areas of cost-saving and quality improvement.”

The newspaper added, “In the future the ‘Okryu’ homepage will not just contain the pictures of products, but it will also contain audio and video and become a fully multimedia website.” The e-commerce system is “also exploring a service that would make it possible for travelers to make reservations and search for information about accommodations at their respective destinations.”

Additional Information:

1. Here is the original report in the Choson Sinbo.

2. Here is coverage in North Korea Tech.

3. Here is coverage in UPI.

4. Here is coverage in NK News.

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Increase in sales volume of domestic goods in North Korean stores

April 3rd, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

North Korea’s official news agency, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on March 25, 2015 that the volume of domestic goods sold at North Korean stores is increasing.

“Every display is filled with all kinds of inexpensive, high-quality domestic goods. Numerous shoppers are purchasing these goods, all of which are produced at domestic light industry factories. This is a sight that is commonly seen today at Choson’s [North Korea’s] department stores,” KCNA reported.

The news agency also quoted the manager of Pyongyang’s Department Store No. 1: “In recent years there have been remarkable improvements in every indicator, from the amount and quality of light industry goods produced domestically to the brands and packaging. As this has occurred, demand for these goods has increased,” he explained.

While he says that stores are mainly selling domestically produced goods like food and cosmetics, he also said, “Because furniture and building materials, shoes and clothing, medicine and other goods are also low-priced and suited to the tastes and health of our people, they are gradually overwhelming imports.”

The manager of Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory commented as well: “Previously, our ‘Pomhyanggi’ (or ‘Spring Scent’) brand was the only product that people could point to as a cosmetics product […] But the popularity of Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory’s ‘Unhasu’ (or ‘Milky Way’) is rising, and when you include the units produced at Myohyang Cosmetics Factory, its units actually surpass ours and are putting up a strong challenge. We had better get ourselves together.”

At light industry factories across the country, production of food products is rapidly increasing, and quality is improving as well. But it has reportedly not been easy to meet the people’s demand. Thus, manufacturers are working to improve product design and manufacturing technology and pledge to actively help improve the lives of the people.

In addition to this, KCNA reported that at places like the Namhung Youth Chemical Complex and the Hamhung Automated Equipment Factory, they are also spurring on production of domestic products through means such as domestically producing raw materials and equipment.

Meanwhile, North Korea is building one modern foodstuff factory after another in Pyongyang. The Rodong Sinmun, mouthpiece of the Workers’ Party of Korea, reported on March 18, 2015 that in the Nakrang district, construction of the ‘corn processing plant’ entered its final stages. There are plans for this factory to produce around 10 different food items out of corn (corn is the most common food ingredient in North Korea), including corn noodles and snacks.

On February 10, 2015, in Pyongyang’s Mangyongdae district, ‘Mangyongdae Kyonghung Foodstuff Factory’ was completed and went into operation. KCNA emphasized that this foodstuff factory is “a modern and comprehensive food manufacturing center” and will supply residents with “tasty and nutritious food.”

Similarly, in June 2014, the Unha Taesong Foodstuff Factory in Pyongyang’s Potonggang district finished construction and began production. North Korea’s official web portal,  ‘Naenara’ explained that the factory produces approximately 100 kinds of food such as bread, snacks, candy, beer, ham and sundae (or Korean sausage).

The fact that in a relatively short period of time modern foodstuff factories are continually being built in Pyongyang is consistent with the most important task of North Korea in the Kim Jong Un era: improving the food situation of the North Korean people. On February 18, 2015, First Chairman Kim Jong Un spoke at the enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Workers’ Party. There, he asserted that the improvement of people’s lives was the nation’s first priority, and he specifically emphasized the importance of solving the food issue. Unlike the past, recent efforts extend beyond solving the food shortage problem and aim to raise the quality of food for the people.

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Dandong businesses propose lowering trade duties

March 30th, 2015

According to Yonhap:

Chinese firms have proposed establishing a non-tariff trade market with North Korea where cheap goods can be traded without tariffs between the two nations, according to the Chinese border city of Dandong on Monday.

The proposal was made by representatives of Chinese firms in Dandong on Thursday when they met with a North Korean trade delegation, led by Pak Ung-sik, director of the North’s Korean International Exhibition Corporation, according to a statement posted on the Chinese city’s website.

More than 70 percent of bilateral trade between North Korea and China is conducted through Dandong.

Pak reacted positively to the proposal, saying he would relay it to the relevant North Korean authorities and hopes to hold more discussions over the proposal, according to the statement.

Another Chinese border city, Tumen, in the northeastern Jilin province, opened a non-tariff trade market with North Korea in 2010, but the market was quickly suspended as North Korea banned civilians from participating in it due to concerns over the spread of banned materials that may enrage the North’s leadership.

At that time, Tumen had pledged not to impose tariffs on the trade of goods worth less than 8,000 yuan (US$1,287) per person.

China’s is the economic lifeline of North Korea, but their political ties remain strained over the North’s defiant pursuit of nuclear ambitions.

North Korea’s annual trade with China fell 2.4 percent from a year ago in 2014, marking the first decline since 2009, according to data compiled by the Beijing unit of the South’s Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA).

The North’s trade with China totaled US$6.39 billion last year, compared with $6.54 billion in 2013, the data showed.

Read the full story here:
Chinese firms propose non-tariff trade of cheap goods with N. Korea
Yonhap
2015-3-30

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Outline for development of Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region revealed

March 26th, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

North Korea has recently revealed an outline of its plans for the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region. In May an information session regarding the development of this project will be held on-site in Kumgangsan.

The Chinese newspaper Liaoning Daily reported on March 21, 2015: “North Korea recently held a briefing session regarding its development plans for the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Region at the Grand Metropark Hotel in Shenyang. The meeting was attended by professionals, scholars and businesspeople from several neighboring Northeast Asian countries.”

According to the newspaper, at the event North Korea revealed development plans for a tourist region of approximately 430 square km in area. It also revealed that there will be six major scenic spots throughout the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region, namely, Wonsan, Tongchon, Mount Kumgang, Sogwangsa, Masikryong Ski Resort and Ullim Falls.

North Korean authorities explained, “This year the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region development project is considered the most important element of our country’s international economic development efforts. The region is being designed at the government level as a world scenic spot that combines the beauty of the ocean, lake, and city.”

The authorities went on to explain that “Geographically, the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region is situated on the eastern part of the Asian continent and the central part of the Choson [Korean] Peninsula. Within a 3-hour flight of that region there are a total of 40 cities with populations exceeding 1 million people […] The region contains a total of approximately 670 tourist sites, 140 historical sites, 10 sand beaches, 4 mineral springs, 10 natural lakes, and 3 million tons of muds that are highly effective in the treatment of neuralgia and enteritis of the small and large intestines.”

While North Korea repairs and expands the existing road network connecting each tourist site (focusing first on Wonsan), North Korean authorities have decided to construct a transportation network by establishing a high-speed railroad between Pyongyang and Wonsan, as well as opening passenger routes between Wonsan Harbor and Rason and Wonsan Harbor and Vladivostok. They will also introduce a series of measures for attracting tourists, including a no-visa system, which is currently being studied.

The authorities also explained that North Korea “guarantees the free economic activity of investors and will offer fixed, regular benefits in areas such as land use, labor employment, and taxes.”

“Tourism, manufacturing, and service businesses will be exempt from corporate income taxes for four years, three years, and one year respectively. Meanwhile, real estate businesses that invest in infrastructure will be exempted from land use taxes for ten years, and those that invest in other areas will be exempt for five years.”

The Liaoning Daily reported that at the information session, O Ung Gil, president of North Korea’s Wonsan District Development General Corporation, said, “I hope that by participating this May at Mount Kumgang in the international seminar regarding the development of the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region, everyone will have the opportunity to witness and experience Mount Kumgang first-hand. […] North Korea’s door is always open and investors are welcome any time.”

Various Chinese companies and private organizations hosted the information session. Approximately 50 Chinese professionals and business people, who were invited beforehand, attended the program. Only a few Chinese and Japanese media outlets that were chosen by the organizers were permitted to cover the event.

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Japanese police raid home of Chongryun chairman

March 26th, 2015

According to the Japan Times:

The head of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, had his home searched by police on Thursday, and two South Korean men were arrested on suspicion of illegally importing matsutake mushrooms from North Korea.

Raids took place at six locations, including the Tokyo home of Ho Jong Man, chairman of Chongryon, a body which has functioned as a de facto North Korean embassy for many decades in the absence of diplomatic ties between Tokyo and Pyongyang.

Observers said the raid on the chairman’s home could affect stalled bilateral talks on Pyongyang’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

Police arrested Lee Tong-chol, 61, president of a Tokyo-based trading house, and Yoshihiko Kin, 42, an employee of the company. They are suspected of illegally importing about 1,200 kg of matsutake mushrooms worth around ¥3 million via China in September 2010.

The mushrooms are believed to have been sold in Japan, mislabeled as Chinese-grown produce.

Japan has banned imports from North Korea since October 2006 as part of economic sanctions imposed in response to Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programs.

Both suspects are residents of Japan, and both denied the allegation. Investigators quoted Lee as saying he does not understand why he should be arrested, while Kin denied all knowledge of the matter.

Police are investigating the relationship between the suspects and Ho, who is a member of North Korea’s top legislature.

After the early morning raid on his home in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward, Ho told reporters angrily he does not even know the name of the trading company.

“The investigation is done unlawfully and this would lead to serious problems in the relationship” between North Korea and Japan, he said.

“This is political suppression against the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan,” he said.

Touching on the ongoing investigation into the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea, Ho said the Japanese authority is making things worse, interfering with the investigation by deliberately worsening relations with North Korea.

Meanwhile, a senior police investigator said authorities suspect a link between the illegal trade and Chongryon, and that they will do everything they can to investigate.

To that end, police have so far searched more than 10 locations, including the trading house and the homes of Lee and of Ho’s son last May.

The locations searched Thursday include the Tokyo home of the pro-Pyongyang group’s vice chairman.

Read the full story here:
Police search home of Chongryon leader over suspected North Korea mushroom shipment
Japan Times
2015-3-26

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DPRK apparently easing up on market restrictions

March 23rd, 2015

The Daily NK gives us some relatively good news on North Korean market operations.

First, it appears there is an informal easing up on unauthorized street vendors near marketplaces. According to the Daily NK:

Alley merchants [also known as grasshopper merchants]– those who sell goods in alleyways to avoid crackdowns by Ministry of People’s Safety [MPS] officials–are now referred to as “tick merchants,” a term coined after their rapid proliferation, according to sources within North Korea.

Affiliated with city and county People’s Committees throughout North Korea, official marketplaces are run by a management center, charged with collecting and handling fees for vendors renting stalls from which to sell their sundry goods.

However, securing a location for their operations is not feasible for a multitude of residents. “Many don’t have enough money to afford to pay for a stall in the marketplace, so they either sell goods in the alleys of villages or by crossroads in close proximity to the jangmadang [North Korea’s system of markets],” a source in North Pyongan Province told Daily NK on February 9th.

Regulation of these “alley merchants,” of whom there are countless numbers, is carried out by the Ministry of People’s Safety and patrol units falling under its umbrella. Frequently, these officials are know to extort merchants under the pretense of regulating illegal market activity, confiscating their goods, only to turn around and return the merchandise as soon as their bribe demands have been met.

Despite the incessant threat of crackdowns and extortion by these officials, “grasshopper vendors” are determined to continue selling their items, desperate to hold onto their “lifelines,” according to the source, who noted a marked difference in this particular sector of the market economy since just last year.

Of this situation, she said, “With February 16th [Kim Jong Il’s birthday] fast approaching, the number of alley merchants has surged [to sell goods for residents preparing for the holiday], as has the number of MPS officials.” She went on to explain that last year, however, these “grasshopper merchants” largely abided orders, fleeing the premises after the MPS units arrived for fear of the repercussions. But this year most are staying put in these makeshift alleyway market areas, even saying things to the officials like, ‘If we got our rations, do you think we would be putting ourselves through this?’

This is how the newly coined term, ‘tick merchant’, came into existence: derived from a common expression in North Korea–regarding how impossible ticks are to remove and keep away before another comes along–these merchants are much the same–refusing to budge despite the consequences, determined to claim their spot in the market system.

Recently, investigations launched by the Central Party, aimed at rooting out reckless misconduct of MPS officials toward residents, are also thought to be contributing to the ease on regulation of these alley merchants. This, coupled with the bribe culture continually infiltrating the “tick merchant” realm–just as in the rest of North Korea–has seen the number of those engaged in these operations spike; nominal bribes of cash or goods ensure, at least for the time being, that they can do business in relative peace. Not unlike those with official stalls inside the market, some even reportedly pay periodic fees directly to the market management, all but guaranteeing their exemption from regulation.

The residents, and even the MPS officials themselves, are not overly preoccupied with regulations and clampdowns, because, as the source put it, “it becomes increasingly difficult for officials to crackdown on merchants selling in the surrounding areas of the markets, entirely reliant on selling goods to survive.”

Many are concerned that the leniency pervading these alley way operations may be fleeting, but the source asserted things will never return to the past. “When the investigations on the Ministry of People’s Safety officials are over, regulation of the alley markets is expected to become stringent again. Still, at this point, it’s next to impossible for these officials to make residents, largely dependent on business to maintain their livelihoods, obey them, meaning eradicating these ‘tick merchants’ is just as improbable,” she concluded.

And the DPRK has begun lifting age restrictions on market vendors. According to the Daily NK:

Amid relaxation of restrictions on market activities, the North Korean authorities began lifting age restrictions for vendors at the end of last year in some regions and, more recently, scrapping the ban nationwide.

“The authorities have been quite lax with clampdowns and regulations of official markets as of late,” a source in Yangkang Province reported to Daily NK on March 20th. “Those previously not permitted stall rights to sell their products are now being granted these privileges, greatly increasing the number of stalls. Also, women below the age of 50 are no longer prohibited from selling at the markets.”

In the absence of age restrictions, markets have seen a marked increase of women selling goods there. According to the source, the North Korean authorities previously regulated trade activities by women under 50 to deter shirking of ideological study sessions or–even more importantly– nationwide mobilization directives for agricultural or construction efforts, The authorities compromised by granting these women permission to participate in these compulsory organization activities only in the morning, freeing up the afternoon for market activities.

“Since last year, the authorities didn’t really implement clampdowns and have even showed a great deal of leniency to those selling in the alleys. As a result, women who previously idled away at home have been propelled into market life, selling everywhere they can,” she explained.

Unsurprisingly, most women are perplexed, if cautiously elated, by the leniency shown by a system that has wielded such stringent power and regulation over them for so long. “The shift in sanctions feels like hell has frozen over,” many have remarked, adding that they “finally have the opportunity to make ends meet.” Still, many are wary, noting that “you never know when the authorities will abruptly declare a new policy or revert to stringent clampdowns.”

She added that while the state did not lift the restriction to “improve people’s lives” as it claims, it has had a positive impact nevertheless. According to the source, North Korea’s motives for the lift begin and end with procuring funds. “There are thousands of stalls in Hyesan Market; this yields huge profits for the state who collect the fees vendors pay to use the space,” she pointed out.

That said, she maintained a sanguine outlook, remarking how empowering it is to see women effecting change in the markets by expanding their inroads into this sector, while making significant, if not dominant, fiscal contributions within their individual households. “Whereas there were only older women in the markets in the past, you can now easily spot women in their 20s and 30s in the industry,” she explained.

Surprisingly, the reduced regulations have increased rather than diminished participation in state mobilization efforts– such as compost collection or “loyalty singing sessions”– because women are afforded a bit more breathing room from unceasing concerns about how to secure their next meal. The positive results are already palpable, according to the source, who said that “most families are better off now due to women’s increased forays into the market domain.”

Read the full story here:
Crackdowns Ease Up on Alley Merchants
Daily NK
Seol Song Ah
2015-02-11

NK Lifts Market Age Restrictions
Daily NK
Kang Mi Jin
2015-03-23

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Gravity-fed tap water system established in DPRK

March 22nd, 2015

According to KCNA:

Gravity-fed Tap Water System Established in DPRK

Pyongyang, March 22 (KCNA) — Today marks World Water Day.

In this regard, Ri Nam Hyon, section chief of the DPRK Ministry of Urban Management, noted that the government has striven to supply quality drinking water to citizens on a normal basis.

He told KCNA:

The DPRK government has made big efforts to the introduction of gravity-fed water supply system.

This introduction began in the township of Pukchong County, South Hamgyong Province, in 2003 while a brisk work was launched to explore the headstreams throughout the country.

At present, the gravity-fed water supply system has been established in 35 cities and counties, including Rason and Wonsan, across the country.

The establishment of this system was carried out in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund and other international bodies and governmental and non-governmental agencies of various countries.

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DPRK-Russia look to boost business ties

March 22nd, 2015

According to Voice of America:

A Russian official said Moscow and Pyongyang have agreed to discuss the creation of advanced development zones in Russia’s Far East and North Korea.

The latest project to be discussed between Russia and North Korea would call for a trilateral project, with South Korea’s participation, said Alexander Galushka, Russia’s minister for the development of the Russian Far East.

In an email sent to the VOA Korean news service, Galushka said Moscow and Pyongyang agreed to “discuss the creation of advanced development zones in the Russian Far East and on the territory of the DPRK with the participation of the Russian Federation, the DPRK and South Korea.”

Economic delegation

The agreement was reached during a visit by a North Korean economic delegation to Moscow in late February. The North Korean delegation was led by Ri Ryong Nam, Pyongyang’s Minister for Foreign Economic Affairs.

Ri and Galushka co-chair a commission tasked with promoting economic ties between Moscow and Pyongyang.

The move is an example of a series of ambitious economic projects recently launched by Moscow and Pyongyang in their efforts to enhance economic ties.

In November, the two sides expanded the Khasan-Rajin project, a project connecting the railways of Russia’s border town and the North Korean port, by conducting a test shipment of Russian coal from Russia to the South Korean port city of Pohang through the Rajin.

In October, the two countries launched a rare joint project that calls for Russia to overhaul North Korea’s railway system in return for access to the North’s mineral resources. The project involves reconstruction of more than 3,000 kilometers of railroads over 20 years.

Galushka said the railway project would pave the way for a significant increase in bilateral trade between Russia and North Korea.

Some analysts are skeptical that the project can be sufficiently financed. So far, Moscow is known to have attracted one domestic investor for the project.

Read the full story here:
Russia, North Korea Boost Economic Ties
Voice of America
Yonho Kim
2015-3-22

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