Institute for Far Eatern Studies (IFES)
“Currently, North Korea is not just addressing the issue of food quantity but is raising food quality as well,” the Chosun Sinbo reported on May 13, 2015 in an editorial entitled ‘The Sepho Plateau Ranches’ (Sepho dungpan mokjang). The Chosun Sinbo editorial made this argument and revealed that due to the food quality issue, “North Korea is pushing forward the development of the Sepho Plateau Ranches until the anniversary of the Party’s founding. These ranches are located throughout Kangwon province, the regional center of animal husbandry that produces North Korea’s edible meat, in the counties of Ichon, Pyonggang and Sepho.”
In reference to the food quantity issue, the editorial said, “The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is reporting that North Korea will be food self-sufficient within three to four years […] When you think about the difficult food situation during the time of the ‘Arduous March,’ one cannot help but be moved.”
Regarding these ranches spread over three counties, the newspaper reported, “The site of Chosun University in Japan is approximately 7 chongbo [about 70,000 m2] in area, while these ranches are over 50,000 chongbo [496 km2], more than 7,000 times more vast […] Last year North Korea and the Mongolian People’s Republic reached an agreement in which the Mongolian People’s Republic will offer North Korea assistance in livestock farming technology as well as 10,000 livestock animals for free.” This agreement will contribute not just to the Sepho Plateau Ranches but to the overall development of North Korea’s livestock industry.
The newspaper also revealed North Korean society’s overall progress. “Although we do not have expertise in satellites, we can easily guess as to the technological significance of a successful satellite launch. In addition, the fishing industry, led by the People’s Army, has also had success in recent years and is filling the people’s tables with food,” the Chosun Sinbo reported.
It recalled the words of Kim Jong Un’s 2015 New Year’s address, in which he vowed to “solve the people’s food issues through the three axes of agriculture, livestock and fisheries and raise the standard of living to the next level.” It also pointed out that Kim Il Sung had said, “Let’s work so that everyone can wear silk clothes and eat meat soup in tile-roofed houses.”
Meanwhile, North Korea plans to cultivate Sepho tableland (the flat and expansive land of Kangwon province’s Sepho, Pyonggang and Ichon counties) and build a large-scale animal husbandry complex, creating hundreds of square kilometers of pastures and vegetable plots, hundreds of cattle sheds, over 20 livestock product processing plants and more than 1,000 employee residences.
As the people’s standard of living improves, North Koreans are also placing greater importance on things like technology, health and environmental-friendliness. At the ‘18th Pyongyang Spring International Product Exhibition,’ which opened on May 11, 2015, health products such as medicine sold better than ever. In addition, high-tech products such as energy-saving products and environmentally-friendly diesel engines exceeded the number of everyday products at the expo. Previously, North Korea primarily exhibited traditional products like ginseng, sea cucumber, and honey; but due to the emphasis on domestic technological development, businesses displaying domestic technological products are becoming more common.