February 8 Vinalon Complex re-opens

This weekend Kim Jong Il attended a mass rally in Hamhung to celebrate the re-opening of the 2.8 Vinalon Complex.  This is the first mass rally (of which I am aware) that he has attended outside of Pyongyang (Kang Chol Hwan agrees).  

According to Yonhap:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il attended a massive rally celebrating the reopening of a long-suspended factory, state media reported Saturday, a rare move that appears aimed at appeasing public sentiment worsened after the regime’s currency reform.

North Korea often organizes such pro-government rallies, forcing citizens to turn out to mark major state events including the country’s launch of a long-range rocket and recent nuclear test. But Kim has rarely attended such rallies, limiting his appearances only to military parades or ceremonies to welcome key foreign guests.

Leader Kim and top aides attended the 100,000-strong rally held in Hamhung to celebrate the reopening of the February 8 Vinalon Complex in the northeastern city, Pyongyang’s Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station and other state media reported.

The move appears aimed at showing North Koreans that their leader is focusing on the economy as public sentiment has deteriorated in the wake of the government’s currency redenomination. The currency reform reportedly disrupted the already troubled economy, prompting senior officials to apologize and Kim to sack those in charge.

Kim’s attendance in the rally also reflects his strong interest in the vinalon factory that resumed operation last month after shutting down 16 years earlier. Vinalon, an artificial textile similar to nylon, was invented in North Korea and is used in many of the country’s textiles.

According to state media, Kim visited the factory twice last month, and sent a thank-you letter to officials and workers involved in the reconstruction. The totalitarian regime also decorated about 2,400 people for their contribution to the factory’s reopening.

Mr. Kim stood on a balcony on the Hamhung Grand Theater and faced North East towards the monument in the plaza square:

hamhung-grand-theater.JPG

Here are some photos of the rally: photo 1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4.

Josh found a Youtube video of the rally here.  Apologies to readers in China.

The Febuary 8 Vinalon Complex is located here.  It has been featured quite frequently in DPRK media recently.  Mr. Kim just participated in an inspection tour of the facility on February 15th: Youtube video here.

Here is the Wikipedia blurb on Vinalon:

Vinalon is a synthetic fibre, produced from polyvinyl alcohol using anthracite and limestone as raw materials. Vinalon was first developed by the Korean scientist Ri Sung Gi at the Takatsuki chemical research institute in 1939. The fibre was largely ignored until Ri defected to North Korea in 1950. Trial production began in 1954 and in 1961 the massive February 8 Vinalon Complex was built in Hamhung.[citation needed] Its success and widespread usage in North Korea is often pointed to in propaganda as an example of the success of the juche philosophy. Hamhung remains a major production centre for vinalon; in 1998, a vinalon factory opened up in South Pyongan.  Vinalon, also known as Juche fibre, has become the national fibre of North Korea and is used for the majority of textiles, outstripping fibre such as cotton or Nylon, which are only produced in small amounts in North Korea. Other than clothing, Vinalon is also used for canvas shoes, ropes and quilt wadding. Vinalon is resistant to heat and chemicals but has numerous disadvantages: it is stiff, uncomfortable, shiny, prone to shrinking and difficult to dye.

NTI has much more substantive break down of vinalon and February 8 Complex—and maybe points to why this factory is getting so much attention.  Read the NTI summary here.

Here are Kang Chol Hwan’s thoughts.

The DPRK also produces vinalon at the Sunchon Vinalon Complex–also known as the April 25 Vinalon Complex.  It is located here. More about it here.

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4 Responses to “February 8 Vinalon Complex re-opens”

  1. NKeconWatch says:

    Thanks for that Gag. It looks like the DPRK’s new CNC technology is present in the factory.

  2. Gag Halfrunt says:

    It occurs to me that North Korea might be using “CNC” to mean computerisation or automation of any kind of industrial process. Strictly speaking, computer numerical control means the automation of machine tools, which isn’t relevant to a chemical works (unless they have their own workshop for making spare parts). In fact, the North Korean Foreign Trade magazine has been advertising CNC machine tools for several years now.

    However, if you take “CNC” to mean automation in general then the Dear Leader’s claim that “the workers, technicians and officials of the complex introduced the CNC technology into the vinalon production process” makes more sense.

  3. […] facility to be constructed in the DPRK.  The first is the 2.8 Vinalon Complex in Hamhung.  This facility was recently reconstructed and opened after falling into disrepair during the Arduous ….  You can see it in Wikimapia […]