DPRK’s “Morning” firm produces Pentium IV chips

From Asia Times:

North Korea has mass-produced computers with Pentium IV processors since 2002, a Russian journalist says in a new book. The confirmation came at a time when the United States and North Korea are in a war of nerves over US and international export control regulations that would ban 15 South Korean firms selected to operate in an industrial complex in the North’s city of Kaesong from bringing in “strategic materials,” including computers.

The South Korean companies said they must be permitted to bring computers with at least Pentium IV chips, which are essential for normal office work, citing earlier unconfirmed reports that the North already began to produce those kinds of computers.

“North Korea has produced computers with Pentium IV processors since 2002, which I saw during my visit to an electric appliance factory in Pyongyang,” Olga PMaltseva, a Vladivostok-based journalist, said in her new book about the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il.

The Korean translation of the book, titled “A Waltz with Kim Jong Il” was published here on Monday.

“Seven hundred workers and technicians made 14,000 Pentium IV computers in 2002,” she said.

“The factory has produced tens of thousands of computers since 1986 and half of them were exported to Germany.”

There was a similar report by the Choson Sinbo, organ of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, in May last year.

The newspaper reported at the time that a North Korean electronic appliance developer has been selling computers with Pentium IV processors in a joint venture with China’s Nanjing Panda Electronics Co since September 2002.

South Korea’s Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) confirmed the report in August last year, citing data from its North Korean counterpart, the International Trade Promotion Committee.

The KOTRA said the North’s electronics firm “Achim (Morning)” and China’s Nanjing Panda have produced three types of Pentium IV computers.

The Russian author is believed to have visited the joint venture factory.

North Korea is classified as a “dangerous country” under the Wassenaar Arrangement, which replaced the Cold War era’s Coordinating Committee for Export Control to Communist Areas in 1996, and thus signatory countries cannot export items classified as “strategic materials” to the communist state.

The items include computers, various metal machinery, laser equipment, high-tech materials and electronic appliances with US-produced parts.

South Korea is among the 33 signatory nations.

An earlier report said the South Korean government is studying ways for the 15 domestic companies to use production equipment, materials and office supplies in Kaesong without conflicts with the U.S.

The Kaesong industrial complex, being built by the Korea Land Corp and Hyundai Asan Corp, a South Korea firm, is one of the most prominent symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation set in motion by the first-ever summit of the leaders of the two countries in 2000.

The developers are scheduled to open Kaesong’s main complex to hundreds of South Korean manufacturers in the first half of next year.

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