DPRK admits sanctions pressure, stresses frugality

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 09-10-7-1
10/7/2009

The March 2009 issue of the North Korean Journal Economic Research emphasized that with the strengthening of international economic sanctions against the North, actively participating in the “Battle for Savings” was essential in all sectors in order to construct a “strong and prosperous nation.”

The recently obtained academic journal called on readers to broaden the “savings battle” in an article titled, “Strongly Spreading the Battle for Savings Is an Important Measure for the Construction of an Economically Strong Socialist Nation.” The article stressed that the “savings battle” was necessary for the successful completion of large-scale industrial construction projects, such as the Huicheon Power Plant, as well as the construction of hundreds of thousands of private homes and pubic facilities. North Korean authorities consider these projects essential to the successful construction of a ‘strong and prosperous nation’ by 2012, the year marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Kim Il Sung.

The journal reported that Kim Jong Il had ordered, “Instances of waste among workers and laborers is to be eliminated and the Battle for Savings strengthened.” It also offered, “The ‘Battle for Savings’ is one of the conditions necessary to be able to overcome the economic difficulties created by the Imperialists’ sanctions.”

The journal accused the United States of “villainously daring to carry out military pillaging and economic sanctioning measures” in order to blockade the North and reported that “American and Japanese Imperialists are not only sanctioning imported and exported goods, but are going as far as to interfere with loan accounts.” These statements may provide some insight into the economic and social difficulties the international sanctions are causing for North Korea.

The article went on to say that these circumstances demand that all people “Raise the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance and strenuous efforts while strengthening to new heights of the savings battle throughout all sectors of the People’s Economy.”

Furthermore, it stated that if the “Battle for Savings,” was strengthened, “The capital saved could increase the number, quality and variety of products, increasing the export base,” and, “foreign capital can be saved by closely managing and efficiently using materials which must be imported, such as crude petroleum and some raw materials and equipment.”

The article also evaluated the implementation of savings plans in factories and enterprises, stating, “Pilot projects to increase production need to be expanded through schemes such as prizes and money for saving of raw materials and increasing output by introducing overtime pay schedules.”

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  • If the journal is from March, and sanctions were implemented after the April missile tests, how is this a reflection of the efficacy of sanctions?

  • That is a good point. I believe I would summarize the DPRK journal article as saying, “We need more capital to achieve Kangson Taeguk and our people should be ready to give it to us by saving more income and eliminating waste”.

    The only reason sanctions are brought up at all is to provide an excuse for “raising capital” through forced and/or confiscated savings. The DPRK government has used international sanctions as an excuse for poor economic performance for many years, so it is likely that the journal is referring to past sanctions in general rather than the specific actions taken this year.


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