Some new Google Earth discoveries…

UPDATE 1: Some of these pictures were picked up by RFA, SBS, Choson Ilbo, Money Today (ROK), Donga Ilbo, KBS

(ORIGINAL POST): Google has uploaded some new imagery of the DPRK.  I am still going through it, but here are some highlights:

1. Namhung Youth Chemical Complex (남흥청년화학련합기업소: 39.657983°, 125.697516°) has seen the addition of a anthracite gasification compound.


Image dates are located in the top left corner.

This facility is one of many that is being rebuilt as part of the DPRK’s 2012 Kangsong Taeguk (강성대국) policy. See also here, here, here, here, here.

NTI offers additional information on the complex:

Subordinate to: 5th Machine Industry Bureau (第5機械産業總局), Second Economic Committee (第2經濟委員會) for chemical weapons production, and the Ministry of Chemical Industry (化學工業省) for civilian production

Size: Annual chemical production capacity of approximately 550,000 tons (combined), including 400,000 tons of urea; anticipated (2001) production capacity of 20,000 tons per year for synthetic fibers (e.g., Orlon) and resins

Primary Function: Production of major civilian chemical products including ammonia, ethylene, fertilizers, fibers, and paper; possible production of blood agents (e.g., cyanogen chloride) and blister agents (e.g., mustard)

*Note: This chemical complex is located in an area known as the “Ch’ŏngch’ŏngang/Anju-Kong’ŏpjigu ‘industrial district’ (淸川江/ 安州工業地區).” “Kong’ŏpjigu” means “industrial district,” but it is not a formal administrative unit in North Korea. In this case, its use is analogous to “Silicon Valley” in California. The Ch’ŏngch’ŏngang-Kongŏpjigu district, known as the center of North Korea’s chemical industry, is spread over Kaech’ŏn and Anju, South P’yŏng’an Province, and over Pakch’ŏn-kun, which is adjacent to both Kaech’ŏn and Anju but in North P’yŏng’an Province.

Description: Constructed in 1976, this facility was originally built with French, Japanese, and (West) German equipment. As of 1998, it was the only petrochemical plant in North Korea capable of processing seven different hydrocarbon products, including naphtha and ethylene. Naphtha is brought in from the Sŭngni and Ponghwa chemical factories. New equipment has been brought in (2000) to produce sodium carbonate, and plans in 2001 called for the manufacture of Orlon, polyethylene, propylene resins at a capacity of 20,000 tons per year. The Namhŭng Youth Complex has a French-built polyethylene production facility that uses intermediates of propylene and butane. There is also equipment imported from Japan that is used to produce ethylene, ethylene oxide, and ethylene glycol. This facility obtains its electricity from the Ch’ŏngch’ŏn River Thermoelectric Power Plant, which is about 4km away. Considering the ethylene oxide production capacity, it is plausible that blister agents (such as mustard) or their immediate precursors could be produced here. Otherwise, it is difficult to discern the clear relationship between this plant and ongoing CW activity in North Korea. The 16th Nuclear Chemical Defense Battalion under the Nuclear Chemical Defense Bureau is reportedly billeted here and in reserve status.

2. Juche Academy (39.029590°, 125.612762°) gets spruced up:

The Juche Academy is most well known outside the DPRK as the former employer of Hwang Jang-yop (황장엽), the DPRK’s most senior defector. He passed away on  October 10, 2010. Two North Korean spies were recently found guilty in South Korea for conspiring to assassinate him.

3. New KPA position on NLL in West Sea: In the most recent issue of KPA Journal, Joseph Bermudez provides satellite imagery of a new KPA Navy hovercraft base in Ryongyon County (룡연군: 38.195758°, 124.903548°).  The DPRK also appears to be constructing a new military facility further south in Kangryon County (강령군: 37.6831241°, 125.3428459°)–about 18.5 miles/29.5km west of Yonpyong.  Here is an overview of the site location:

Below I provide a closeup of the facility with some explanation:

Buildings: I have outlined uncompleted buildings in Yellow.  There appear to be two left.  The three completed (or nearly completed) buildings are probably administrative in nature  and are typical of KPA naval bases in the area (see more here).

Surroundings: A new road has been constructed to access the facility. Additionally an opening has been made in the electrified beach defense wall.  It is likely a jetty or dock will be built on the coast where North Korean naval vessels may be kept.

Dimensions: The main facility rectangle is approximatley 186m x 118m (appx  21984 sq. m.)

If any military specialists see this, I would love to hear your thoughts.

4. New Airfield?: It is near Kumsong-ri, Jungsan County, South Pyongan (금송리, 증산군: 39.095128°, 125.441483°).  It appears to be for small aircraft.

It is conceivable that this is come sort of training facility.  Other ideas welcome.

5. Orascom’s Koryolink mobile phone towers: I am convinced that the images below are of Koryolink mobile phone towers.  They are identical, new, and popping up all over the country.  Below are just three.


6. Strange Tower: Located in the remote eastern section of Musan County (무산군:  42.173132°, 129.492721°), this tower is one of the more unique in the DPRK.

There appears to be a cable or wires leading from the tower to a remote control facility at the base of the mountain.  I could be wrong about this, so if any readers know better, please let me know.

7. The Changsong Leadership Compound: Finally in high resolution (40.441270°, 125.114379°).

This compound lies on a Yalu River bay just across from China. Kenji Fujimoto stayed here a few times and took pictures.  They still match! I have posted them here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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  • Drrtybyl

    Strange tower == Silo?

  • http://twitter.com/GerbenMa Gerben

    When are you going to update North Korea Uncovered?