Changsong County held up as economic example (again)…

Pictured above (Google Earth) is Changsong Town in North Pyongan Province.

There has been a lot of talk about economic reform in the DPRK in recent weeks (see here). One of the aspects of these reforms has been greater local/regional control over economic policies and outcomes.

On August 9, the Daily NK reported that Changsong is “again being put forward as a model for the spontaneous economic development of regional cities and counties as the regime works to foster a different mindset prior to impending economic changes”. According to the article:

On the 8th, Rodong Shinmun published an editorial entitled, ‘Let Our Country Be Prosperous in the Spirit of the Changsung Joint Session’ in an edition that also featured seven other related articles. The articles served as a timely reminder of the joint session of central cadres, their provincial counterparts and economic sector officials held on August 7th and 8th in Changsung County.

[…]

Utilizing the history lesson, Rodong Shinmun emphasized, “The fundamental essence of the Changsung Joint Session was increasing the role of the county in developing regional industry and agricultural accounting, and enhanced the people’s lives by the strength of our household itself.”

It went on, “In every city and district, we must resolve to decisively raise the productivity of our land to solve issues of food insecurity, and must thoroughly implement the Party’s agricultural revolution.”

On days prior, Rodong Shinmun, KCNA and other state-run media outlets also reported in various forms the idea that ‘all the counties in the country are going to follow the example of Changsung County.’ For example, on the 7th it introduced a new food processing plant in Changsung County itself.

Analyzing these moves, Kwon Tae Jin, a researcher with the Korea Rural Economic Institute told Daily NK, “When it comes to the agricultural sector, the county is at the center of everything. This is a way of passing the center’s role to the regions at a time when the center (the Ministry of Agriculture) cannot play its role properly.”

“The purpose of emphasizing the responsibility of the Cabinet and the counties at the same time is to readjust the system,” Kwon added, while the head of North Korea Strategy Center, Kim Kwang In added, “Since the center cannot do what it needs to, they want the regions to deal with survival.”

The move is also intended to raise the likelihood of the 6.28 Policy succeeding. In Kim’s words, “The regime is pushing regional self-reliance prior to the announcement of the new policy.”

I have previously written about the “Changsong Joint Conference” here.

Interestingly, this narrative paints the 6.28 policy as an effort to decentralize economic production because Pyongyang can no longer afford the old policies, yet for propaganda purposes, it is being portrayed as the continuation of a movement personally launched by Kim Il-sung 50 years ago!

Changsong has indeed seen a lot of recent construction. According to KCNA (2012-8-4):

County, Model in Local Economic Development

Pyongyang, August 4 (KCNA) — Changsong County, North Phyongan Province of the DPRK, has become a model in the development of local economy in the new century. Great changes have taken place in all aspects of production and construction in a matter of little over one year.

Local industrial factories have been placed on a modern and scientific basis to lay a firm foundation for reenergizing production and improving the standard of people’s living. The county seat has taken on a new appearance to suit the specific features of a county.

President Kim Il Sung provided field guidance of devotion to the county, once known as remote mountainous county, more than a hundred times in his lifetime with a noble intention to turn it into a model to be followed by all other counties.

There began a new history of mountains of treasures in the county under his care. As a result, the Changsong joint meeting of local party and economic officials was held in the county in August 1962.

Leader Kim Jong Il made sure that the spirit of the joint meeting was fully displayed generation after generation. He gave an instruction to the county to raise a new torch for effecting a dramatic turn in the local industry in November 2010.

The dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un has led a drive to face-lift the county as required by the building of a thriving nation so that the year 2012, the 50th anniversary of the joint meeting, may shine as a proud year and a year of new changes in the development of local industry.

All local industrial establishments in the county have undergone dramatic changes as required by the new century in a matter of little over one year.

All production processes at the foodstuff factory ranging from feeding of raw materials to packing and forwarding have been automated and its overall processes sterilized to ensure high quality and hygienic safety of products.

Its textile mill has installed new type machines. Technological updating has made brisk headway at all industrial establishments in the county including paper, furniture and chemical and daily necessities factories.

There has sprung up a new food processing factory. All its processes computerized, the factory mass-produces processed meat and vegetables, varieties of soft drink, and confectionary.

A garment factory with big capacity has been built to meet the county’s need for school uniforms and solve the issue of clothing by itself.

The appearance of the county has changed beyond recognition.

The county erected a mosaic depicting the portraits of the smiling peerlessly great persons. The Changsong revolutionary museum and the county hall of culture have been successfully renovated as centers for the education in the revolutionary history and people’s cultural and emotional life.

The Changsong Restaurant and a noodle restaurant built with Korean style roofs in the center of the county seat add to the beautiful landscape of the township.

There sprang up the Undok Health Complex with all welfare and service facilities, a children’s hall, kindergarten and nursery.

The library, county people’s hospital, sanatorium, commercial and catering network, public buildings and dwelling houses have also been renovated as required by the new century.

A great success has been made in the land management.

The eye-opening changes in the county promise a socialist land of bliss where all varieties of consumer goods are mass-produced at the local industrial factories and the people enjoy happiness in their modern houses.

On 2012-8-7,  the KCTV evening news broadcast images of some of the new construction:

And on August 8, KCNA reported that Choe Yong-rim visited the town:

Senior DPRK Party and State Officials Visit Changsong County

Pyongyang, August 8 (KCNA) — Senior party and state officials including Choe Yong Rim and officials of party, ministries, national institutions and local party, power and economic bodies visited various places of Changsong County, North Phyongan Province on Wednesday on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Changsong joint conference of local party and economic officials.

Changsong County is associated with the leadership feats of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il who opened up a wide road of developing local economy and improving the people’s living standard by increasing the role of county as a regional base.

The participants laid bunches of flowers before the newly erected mosaic depicting portraits of smiling Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and made bows to them.

At the Changsong Revolutionary Museum, they looked round historic relics showing the efforts made by the President and Kim Jong Il who ushered in a new history of mountains of treasures, while giving field guidance to the county.

They also went to local industrial factories in Changsong including Foodstuff Factory, Foodstuff Processing Factory, Furniture Factory, Paper Mill, Jute Bag Factory and Okpho Stockbreeding Farm.

They enjoyed a performance given by the art group of the county at its cultural hall.

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