Seventieth anniversary of ‘The Pyongyang Essential Foodstuff Factory’, symbol of nationalized industry

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

The Pyongyang Essential Foodstuff Factory, important symbol of North Korea’s nationalized industrial sector, celebrated the 70th anniversary of its foundation on August 10, 2016. It was the first factory to come under state management following the adoption of the Major Industries Nationalization Law on the same day.

The official Workers Party of Korea (WPK) daily, Rodong Sinmun, reported on August 11 that “a commemorative briefing session was held on 10th August on the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Pyongyang Essential Foodstuff Factory. . . . Loyally following the will of the Party, the factory has strengthened and developed itself into a comprehensive and modern essential foods production facility with massive productive potential and a robust physical-technical basis.”

In commemoration of the anniversary, the Central Committee of the WKP sent a congratulatory message, while Pyongyang City Party Secretary Kim Su Gil, head of the factory Ri Gun Il, chief engineer Son Hyon Chol, and shop floor head Rim Jin Myong were in attendance.

The future trajectory of the factory was set out in the aforementioned nationalization law: “it has been observed that under Japanese imperialism, the Korean economy was subjugated, and factories, power plants, railways, etc. were constructed with the blood and sweat of the Korean people. All of these facilities must become the property of the Korean people.”

In accordance with this, all property of Japanese companies and individuals, and national traitors, including factories, mines, power plants, railways, communications, banks, retail enterprises, and cultural institutions, were confiscated and nationalized.

The Pyongyang Essential Foodstuff Factory was originally the ‘National Foods and Soy Sauce Corporation’, formed by a Japanese Zaibatsu in September 1933. Following its nationalization in 1946, it became known as the Korean Soy Sauce Factory in 1947, and became the Korean Pyongyang Soy Sauce Factory in 1955 as it became affiliated with the Ministry of Light Industry. In 1960, its name changed to the Pyongyang Soy Sauce Factory, then the Pyongyang Sauce Factory in 1963, and in 1973, it was again changed to the Pyongyang Chemical Seasoning Factory. It acquired its current name in the year 2000. [NKeconWatch: It is now known as “Pyongyang Condiments Factory”]

Located in the Songyo District of Pyongyang, it began in late 1945 by producing soy sauce and soy bean paste. In January 1961, on the orders of Kim Il Sung, it merged with Songsin Oil Factory. It was further remodeled in 1967, and began to produce synthetic seasoning. In April 1982, at around the 27th anniversary of Chongryon, a patriotic fermentation soy sauce works was constructed.

In the Kim Jong Il era, the factory became equipped with a disinfecting, unmanned oil refining process, and an essential nutrients production facility. When Kim Jong Un gave on-the-spot guidance in June 2013, he judged “the factory to be a rare court of workers, a delicious place for the Worker’s Party generation, overflowing with patriotism.”

Remodeled in 2013, it takes up a total area of 102,000 square meters, with a floor space of 63,900 square meters. It produces a range of products including soy bean paste, soy sauce, cooking oil, seasonings, salt and vitamin E-related products.

As a recipient of the title of a 2nd Grade Twenty-sixth Exemplary Unit Movement Factory, it was described as having “been as loyal to Party and Leader as white jade, and accomplishing the dying wishes of the General [Kim Jong Il] in an exemplary fashion. It has actively contributed to the development of the country’s food industry and improvement of the people’s diet with revolutionary struggle and clear industrial success.”

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