Archive for the ‘Kim’s New Year Address (Joint editorials)’ Category

2010 Joint editorial round-up

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Naenara published an excerpt of the 2010 joint editorial of Rodong Sinmun, official organ of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Josoninmingun, newspaper of the Korean People’s Army, and Chongnyonjonwi, organ of the Central Committee of Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League:

Bring about a radical turn in the people’s standard of living by accelerating the development of light industry and agriculture once again this year that marks the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea

Today our service personnel and people greet the New Year Juche 99 (2010) with the pride of being victors, who wrote a new history of great revolutionary upsurge.

A heyday unprecedented in the history of the nation lies ahead of them, who are courageously rushing towards the world by tapping the inexhaustible potentials of Songun Korea.

Kim Jong Il is leading the campaign for the building of a great, prosperous and powerful nation to a brilliant victory as he steers the efforts to effect a great revolutionary upsurge on the strength of single-hearted unity. Now all the service personnel of the Korean People’s Army and all the people are offering their heartfelt thanks and the greatest glory to him who is shaping the brilliant future of the country and the revolution with unflagging energy and untiring leadership, and are filled with a firm determination to support the Party’s cause to the last with intense loyalty and heroic feats.

Last year Juche 98 (2009) was a year of dramatic change, when a phenomenal age of realizing all the ideals of the people has come.

Kim Jong Il worked out a grand plan for making a decisive turn in the Korean revolution and the building of a thriving nation by effecting a new revolutionary upsurge and wisely led the efforts of the service personnel and people. After kindling the torch of a great upsurge in Kangson, home to the Chollima movement, he proposed launching the 150-day and 100-day campaigns successively, and took revolutionary measures to bring them to a victorious conclusion. His outstanding leadership ability was the source of impetus for the unprecedentedly great innovations and leap. The matchless fighting spirit of the leader, who continued the forced march of high intensity to vibrant hard-fought fields for an upsurge throughout the year, burning his heart with noble love of his country and fellow people, gave free rein to the mental strength of all the service personnel and people and worked world-startling miracles across the country. Last year’s struggle etched in their hearts the truth that his decision is precisely practice and they will always emerge victorious when they follow him.

Last year witnessed one remarkable event of knocking on the gate to a thriving nation after another.

The successful launch of man-made satellite Kwangmyongsong No. 2 and the successful second underground nuclear test by our own efforts and technology were a landmark event signalling the first victory in the building of a prosperous nation. The perfection of the Juche-based steel-making system in the Songjin Steel Complex and the attainment of the cutting edge of the CNC technology constitute a great victory of the great Juche idea and an auspicious event for the whole country and all the people that demonstrated our inexhaustible economic and technological potentials. The firework displays on the Day of the Sun–birthday of President Kim Il Sung–, May Day and the WPK anniversary in October were a striking manifestation of the lofty ideals and ambition of the Korean people who are building a thriving nation and the rosy future of Songun Korea that is advancing under the leadership of the great Party.

The economy of the country entered the stage of full-scale upturn as all the people staged a life-and-death struggle under the leadership of the Party.

The 150-day and 100-day campaigns were an unforgettable struggle that wrote the most brilliant chapter in the history of our great upsurge. The whole course of the heroic campaigns conducted by all the people, including the workers, clearly showed what kinds of miracles would be performed and what kinds of changes would be effected when we give free rein to the might of the harmonious whole of our leader, our Party and our people, in which the Party trusts the people and the people defends the Party and the leader at the risk of their lives.

Production sharply increased in the sectors of basic industries, vanguards of the national economy, and the industry as a whole achieved revitalization. Structures of lasting value in the Songun era, like the Nyongwon Power Station, Wonsan Youth Power Station, Waterway on the Miru Plain and Mansudae Street, were built across the country. The gasification project in the Namhung Youth Chemical Complex was completed, and dynamic efforts were made to upgrade the major factories and other enterprises. Last year remarkable achievements were brought about in agricultural production and rural construction, many cooperative farms transformed into ideal villages appropriate to a prosperous country and the production foundations and potentials of the light-industry sectors, including the textile and food-processing industries, strengthened markedly.

Remarkable successes were achieved in the development of socialist culture.

In the heat of the revolution in literature and the arts in the Songun era conducted under the energetic guidance of Kim Jong Il, masterpieces were produced and re-presented one after another in the fields of the cinema, opera, drama and music. Examples of mass-based culture and the arts in the era of a great upsurge were set to inspire the whole country with revolutionary enthusiasm and militant spirit. Kim Il Sung University, Wonsan University of Agriculture and other institutions of learning were refurnished splendidly, and sportspersons registered good results bringing great pleasure to the people.

The victorious great upsurge of last year confirms that the DPRK is developing in leaps and bounds, and the day when the successful building of a thriving nation will be proclaimed is just approaching.

New Year Juche 99 (2010) is a year of general offensive, when all-Party and nationwide efforts should be concentrated on improving the people’s standard of living on the basis of the laudable victory and achievements of the great revolutionary upsurge.

Kim Jong Il said:

“Our building of the country into an economic giant is aimed, to all intents and purposes, at radically improving the people’s standard of living. When the people’s living standards are decisively improved, hooray for socialism and singing of Arirang of prosperity can ring out louder across the country and the gate to a prosperous nation be opened.”

This year marks the 65th anniversaries of the founding of the glorious Workers’ Party of Korea and the country’s liberation.

The anniversary of the founding of the WPK will be an important occasion for demonstrating the mounting national spirit and mettle of the Korean army and people, who are adding brilliance to the undying exploits performed by President Kim Il Sung in building the Party and carrying out the revolutionary cause of Juche and the human cause of independence, and are speeding up the building of a thriving socialist nation on the strength of the single-hearted unity around the leadership of the revolution. We should celebrate the anniversary as a great revolutionary event to be written down in the history of Kim Il Sung’s nation as we give the fullest play to their ardent loyalty to the Party, great guide, that has opened up a bright future for the country and people.

The great upsurge we are bringing about as we make unheard-of creation and leap forward under the leadership of the Party has entered a new phase.

The might of the country’s economy, including the heavy industry, was strengthened in the flames of the gigantic great upsurge, setting up a springboard for the country, already a politico-ideological and military power, to justifiably reach the status of an economic giant.

Now, based on the brilliant achievements of the great revolutionary upsurge, the Party is unfolding unprecedentedly grand plans and operations to bring about a decisive turn in the people’s standard of living. It is the firm determination and will of the Party to enable the people, who have braved severe hardships together with the Party, to enjoy the blessing of socialism to their heart’s content by getting them relish the substantial fruits of the present great upsurge and realize without fail the noble intention and desire of President Kim Il Sung who devoted his heart and soul to the people all his life. True to the intention of the Party, which regards it as the supreme principle in its activities to steadily improve the people’s standard of living and spares nothing for them, we should channel all our efforts to improving the people’s standard of living.

To launch a sweeping campaign to bring about a drastic turn in the improving of the people’s standard of living in the flames of the great revolutionary upsurge—this is the general orientation of this year’s efforts.

We should conduct an all-Party and nationwide drive for improving the people’s standard of living to ensure that the achievements of the great upsurge are followed by greater ones and this year becomes a prosperous year filled with the people’s happiness.

“Bring about a radical turn in the people’s standard of living by accelerating the development of light industry and agriculture once again this year that marks the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea!” is a slogan we should uphold.

Light industry and agriculture are the major fronts in the efforts for the improving of the people’s standard of living.

Great are the foundations of light industry and agriculture, which our Party has laid out with an eye on today against all odds.

An all-Party, nationwide effort should be directed to mass-producing consumer goods. The light-industry sector should carry forward the upgrading of its factories and enterprises on a high level, and strive to improve the quality of the consumer goods. Local-industry factories should be operated at full capacity, and units, as many as possible, should launch a campaign to turn out more daily necessities favoured by the public. The agricultural sector should sharply increase the grain output by thoroughly applying the Party’s policy of agricultural revolution, like improving the seeds, doing double cropping and improving potato and soya bean farming. It should strictly observe the requirements of the Juche farming method and introduce organic and other new farming methods and technologies. We should ensure that the updated stockbreeding, fish farming and fruit production bases that have established a Juche-oriented breeding system and embodied the principle of profitability demonstrate their great effect in reality.

We should radically increase the state investment in the fields related to the people’s living, and all the sectors and units should supply fully and in time the raw and other materials needed for the production of light-industry goods. We should gain access to more foreign markets, and undertake foreign trade in a brisk way to contribute to economic construction and the improving of the people’s standard of living.

The four vanguard sectors are the engine of the national economy and a key to solving the problem of the people’s living.

In December last year, Kim Jong Il kindled the flame for the new year’s drive while inspecting the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex and placed the workers of the Songjin Steel Complex, who had perfected the Juche-based steel-making system, in the van of the great revolutionary upsurge in the Songun era. The vanguard sectors, with a firm view that the development of light industry and agriculture depends on that of heavy industry, should push ahead with today’s general offensive for the improving of the people’s standard of living by means of increased production.

Steel production leads to the production of grain and machinery. The sector of metal industry should increase the capacity of Juche iron production that relies on the domestic raw materials and fuel and scale without fail the targets of pig iron, steel and rolled steel production set by the Party. The sector of electric power industry should channel effort to run thermal power stations at full capacity and push ahead with the construction of large-scale hydroelectric power stations, including the Huichon Power Station. The sector of coal industry should produce coal without condition for the thermal power stations, chemical factories and other important units, and step up modernization projects to steadily enhance its production capacities. The sector of rail transport should set an order and discipline as strict as in the army, produce new-type locomotives and freight cars in a larger number and make railway service modernized and railways heavy-duty.

The sector of machine-building industry should extend the scope of introduction of the CNC technology on a high standard as required by the IT age, and effect a revolution in the production of tools, so as to produce high-performance, state-of-the-art machinery in a larger number.

We should implement the people-oriented policies of the Party and the state to enable all the people to substantially enjoy the benefits of socialism.

The true nature of our socialism lies in putting the people’s well-being above anything else and providing them with all the benefits. We should ensure that the advantages of the people-oriented policies, like giving free medical care and free education, formulated by President Kim Il Sung and applied by the Party and state throughout their history are given fuller play to in the people’s living. We should speed up the construction of 100 000 flats in Pyongyang with those in Mansudae Street as a model, and build beautiful socialist streets and villages in a greater number in other urban and rural areas. Socialist principles should be maintained in commodity circulation, and the quality of welfare service improved decisively.

The fundamental secret of making a new leap in this year’s general offensive is in launching a campaign to push back the frontiers of science and technology in all sectors.

We must turn out as one under the slogan, “Let us push back the frontiers of science and technology in all the sectors of the building of a great, prosperous and powerful country and leap higher and faster!” The sector of defence industry, a major front in pushing back the frontiers of science and technology, should continue to lead the efforts to open the gate to a great, prosperous and powerful country, and all other sectors and units of the national economy should launch a drive to push back the frontiers of science and technology. They should bring science and technology close to production and put themselves on a modern and scientific basis in a far-sighted manner, focusing on enhancing their abilities to develop new technologies and products. We should map out a correct strategy for the development of science and technology as required by the 21st century, and rapidly develop core technologies, technical engineering of major sectors and basic science. Scientists and technicians should fulfil their role as the pioneers in pushing back the frontiers of science and technology and standard-bearers in making their country a scientific and technological giant, with a determination to glorify their country by means of their intelligence, their technology. All the sectors should conduct a vigorous mass technological innovation movement to push back the frontiers of science and technology and create new norms and records.

Today’s vibrant reality requires a revolutionary change in the organizing of economic work.

The leading economic officials should map out aggressive and realistic business and management strategies, and actively push ahead with the advance of the current great upsurge. A strict discipline should be established in planning, financial management and labour administration, so as to give full play to the superiority of the highly-organized, socialist planned economy.

In order to maximize the speed of this year’s general offensive, it is necessary to give steady play to the unconquerable mental strength of the service personnel and people.

Our Party remains unchanged in its stand to persistently hold fast to the ideological strength, mental strength, no matter how the situation may change.

The mental strength of our people is based on the strong will and fighting spirit of General Kim Jong Il. All the Party members and other people should become staunch revolutionaries and vanguard fighters, who, defending their leader unto death, translate into reality the idea of great upsurge and the far-reaching plans of the General, who continues his unremitting forced march for the benefit of his country and fellow people. The slogan “When the Party is determined, we can do anything!” must become the eternal motto of our people in their life and struggle.

For us, who have to make a higher and faster leap towards the world, national dignity is as precious as life itself. We should thoroughly embody the Korean-nation-first spirit in all fields of social life as befits the people of a dignified power, who opened up an era of frontier science in which our satellite is circling the orbit.

The sector of art and literature should produce many masterpieces so as to give the fullest play to the mental strength of the service personnel and people.

In order to achieve the goals set by the Party this year, we should strengthen in every way the might of our revolutionary ranks, whose core is the Korean People’s Army.

The KPA should plan and conduct all forms of its military and political work on the highest level this year that marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Songun-based revolutionary leadership of Supreme Commander Kim Jong Il, thus giving fuller play to the inexhaustible might of the revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu.

The KPA is an elite force that has formed a harmonious whole with the Supreme Commander in idea and will, in disposition and pluck, and in feeling and emotion.

It should train all its men and officers into the vanguard fighters of the Songun revolution, holding aloft the slogan “Let us defend with our very lives the leadership of revolution headed by the great Comrade
Kim Jong Il!” It should ensure that it overflows with the soldiers’ spirit of implementing without condition the orders and directives of the Supreme Commander by holding the work of establishing the revolutionary command system and military discipline as a priority task of the Party political work and developing the work without letup. It should always remain highly alert without a moment of relaxation or indolence while keeping itself fully ready for combat action so that it can resolutely frustrate any surprise attacks of the enemy.

The men and officers of the People’s Army should continue to perform feats that would go down in history in the grand construction sites, including the Huichon Power Station, by displaying the revolutionary soldier spirit. Under the slogan “Let us help the people!” they should strengthen the unity between the army and the people, a foundation of Songun Korea, and become the role models for civilians in the ideological spirit, morality, sports and physical culture, the arts and all other aspects.

The working class, youth and all other people, who are taking part in the effort for the building of a great, prosperous and powerful country, should launch determined offensives, regarding their work places as battle fields. Our workers should create a new speed of advance in the spirit of having performed labour feats during the 150-day and 100-day campaigns.

The youth, who are a shock brigade in the great revolutionary upsurge, should make breakthroughs in the construction site of the Paektusan Songun Youth Power Station and other most difficult and labour-intensive posts and build more monumental edifices representing the Songun era, burning their hearts with the determination to move even the mountain if the Party calls them to do so. They should become heroes, who add lustre to the era of great upsurge with undying labour feats, and talented persons, who highly demonstrate the dignity of the country by pushing back the frontiers of science and technology.

We should strengthen the Party and remarkably enhance the role of Party organizations to achieve a brilliant victory in this year’s general offensive.

This year, when we will be celebrating the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Party, Party organizations should give free rein to our Party’s militant might, which was built in the tempest of the Songun revolution, by bringing about a fresh turn in the Party work.

They should further intensify the Three-Revolution Red Flag Movement, so as to ensure that the revolution in ideology, technology and culture is waged briskly at all units.

We should defend the interests of the masses in a thoroughgoing way and solve all problems by relying on their strength as required by the revolutionary mass line of the Party.

Officials should become true servants of the people, who understand their sentiments and unfold their work as suited to these sentiments, and commanding personnel who, enjoy reputation and love among them, as they are possessed of free and easy character and ennobling humane traits.

All Party members, with a high political consciousness that they are the members of the glorious Workers’ Party of Korea, should become skillful political activists and courageous fighters, who always hold the flag in the van in all fronts of making a great upsurge.

The working people’s organizations should strengthen ideological education and briskly conduct various kinds of mass movements, like the socialist emulation movement among their members so as to give free rein to their patriotic enthusiasm in today’s effort for building a great, prosperous and powerful nation.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of the historic June 15 North-South Joint Declaration. The North-South Summit and the publication of the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration in 2000 were a historic event that is of great significance in accomplishing the cause of national reunification. Under the banner of June 15 North-South Joint Declaration, a new era of independent reunification has been opened, and great, unprecedented successes were achieved in the development of inter-Korean relations and the national reunification movement. The previous ten years since the publication of the June 15 Declaration followed by the publication of the October 4 Declaration for its implementation, during which the Korean nation has advanced along the road for independent reunification and peace and prosperity, has clearly confirmed that these declarations are the most reasonable reunification programmes and the ideal of “by our nation itself” is the very national spirit and the one and only ideal in the June 15 reunification era.

Last year, we took active and bold measures and made sincere efforts in order to improve the aggravated inter-Korean relations and bring a radical phase in national reunification. Our measures evoked great support and sympathy at home and abroad and created an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation between the north and the south.

The schemes of the separatist forces to thwart the advance of the era of June 15 reunification are vicious, but they cannot break the desire and will of the fellow countrymen to achieve independent reunification and national prosperity by implementing the north-south joint declarations, and it is inevitable that the pro-reunification, patriotic forces will prevail over the separatist forces and emerge victorious.

This year we should hold high the slogan “Let the entire nation unite under the banner of north-south joint declarations and achieve national reunification at the earliest date!”

The way for improving the north-south relations should be opened.

Unshakable is our stand that we will improve the north-south relations and open the way for national reunification on the basis of the historic June 15 Joint Declaration and October 4 Declaration. If the south Korean authorities continue to negate the June 15 Declaration and cling to the policy of confrontation in collusion with the foreign forces, the relations between north and the south will never be improved. They should refrain from committing acts that may aggravate the confrontation and tension, and take the road of respecting the North-South Joint Declaration, promoting north-south dialogue and improving the relations between both sides.

National reconciliation and cooperation should be promoted actively.

Reconciliation should be promoted with the common national interests given precedence, and cooperation should be encouraged through travel and contacts between the people from all walks of life. All sorts of legal and institutional mechanisms that hinder the projects for common interests and prosperity of the nation should be abolished and free discussion and activities of the broad sections of the people for reunification should be fully ensured.

The unity of the entire nation constitutes a decisive guarantee for the country’s reunification. All the fellow countrymen in the north, south and abroad should strengthen solidarity and collaboration to develop the national reunification movement. They should build up the atmosphere of independent national reunification, reconciliation, cooperation and unity on a nationwide scale to greet the 10th anniversary of the publication of the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration and the 30th anniversary of the advancing of the proposal for the founding of the Democratic Federal Republic of Koryo.

The entire Korean nation should crown the year 2010 as a year of opening a new phase of independent reunification by frustrating all challenges of the anti-reunification forces with their concerted efforts and stepping up the grand nationwide march toward reunification.

The fundamental task for ensuring peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the rest of Asia is to put an end to the hostile relationship between the DPRK and the USA. It is the consistent stand of the DPRK to establish a lasting peace system on the Korean peninsula and make it nuclear-free through dialogue and negotiations. Our Party and the Government of our Republic will strive to develop relations of good-neighbourliness and friendship with other countries and achieve global independence under the unfurled banner of independence, peace and friendship.

Our Party is a great guide which steers our motherland and people to sure victory, and ours are a heroic army and people who perform everything without fail once the Party has planned and decided to do it.

The majestic firework display to be held on the auspicious October holiday will resound all over the world as a reflection of the determination of all the service personnel and people to follow the Party to the last along the road of Songun and the delight of all the people in enjoying the blessings of socialism.

More about the joint editorial below:
(more…)

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Korea Business Consultants Newsletter (1/09)

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Korea Business Consultants has published their January newsletter.

Here is a link to the PDF.

Topics covered:
New Year Joint Editorial
Year of DPRK-China friendship
UNDP to resume DPRK operations
Buddhist Leader to Head DPRK’s ROK Affairs
DPRK Railroad Engineers Study in Russia
Housing Construction Progresses Apace
Orascom Opens Bank in Pyongyang
DPRK Tackles Clothing Shortage
“DPRK Harvest Best in Years”
China to Invest in NK Coal
US$ 3.75 Million in Australian Aid for DPRK
The Principles of the DPRK’s Foreign Trade
ROK Farmers Send Rice to DPRK
New SNG Kaesong Plant Idle
“Inter-Korean Trade Slides Due to Weak ROK Won”
ROK to Build Nursery in Kaesong Complex
DPRK Opens Consulate in Dandong
DPRK, China Foreign Officials Meet
Seoul Forum Highlights DPRK Films
“NK Martial Arts Team Best in World”
PUST Opening Delayed
DPRK TV Takes Note of Park Ji-sung
The Korean War

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Assessment of the 2008 DPRK economy, outlook for 2009

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
ICNK Forum No. 09-2-2-1
2/2/2009

ASSESSMENT OF THE NORTH KOREAN ECONOMY FOR 2008

In the 2008 North Korean New Year’s Joint Editorial, Pyongyang established the year 2012 as “The Year of the Perfect Strong and Prosperous Nation,” while labeling 2008, “The Year of Turnabout,” and, “The Year of the Betterment of the Livelihoods of the People.” As the year marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the regime projected a highly motivated façade, but there was no sign of new changes in the North’s economic policies.

Faced with the inability to produce any substantial results in the realm of international economic cooperation, North Korean authorities focused on how to put a positive spin on international conditions that were tied to the progress of 6-Party Talks. However, no visible measures appeared to emerge. Internally, North Korea’s chronic supply shortages drove further disparities between official and market pricing and monetary exchange rates as authorities were unable to stabilize the domestic economy. The growing global economic instability also caused economic policy makers to act more conservatively.

In 2008, North Korea’s food production in 2008 amounted to 4.31 million tons, recording a 7.5 percent increase over the previous year, while energy production is estimated to have grown by approximately 10 percent. Through joint development projects for North Korea’s underground resources, the North received raw materials for light industries (soap and shoes) amounting to 70 million USD in 2007, and 10 million last year. In addition, DPRK-PRC trade and inter-Korean economic cooperation both grew (DPRK-PRC trade increased significantly, while North-South cooperation grew only slightly), but it is difficult to measure the extent to which these increases impacted the North’s economy.

It appears that overall, North Korean trade and industry has improved since 2007, and the 2008 economic growth rate was positive. However, when estimating the North’s economic growth rate in light of the quickly rising exchange rate for South Korean won, DPRK economic growth for 2008 could be seen as a negative value.

While North Korea’s overall industrial production grew in 2008, when compared to previous years, and the primary reason for such was the refurbishment of equipment in most stable industries, development assistance and heavy oil aid as part of the 6-Party Talks, the provision of raw materials for light industries by South Korea, and the rise in prices on goods internationally.

Because of favorable weather conditions and increased production of fertilizer in the North, the agricultural sector showed a relative increase in production in 2008, despite the suspension of fertilizer aid from South Korea. Grain production was up 300 thousand tons, for an estimated total of 4.31 million tons last year. Boosted energy production was helped by improvements in hydroelectrical production and heavy oil tied to 6-Party Talks, and the provision of parts and materials for power plants, which considerably increased power production, at least in the first half of the year. This played an important role in the increase in industrial operations, as well. As electrical supply is the biggest obstacle to raising the operating rate of production facilities, more power resulted in overall production increases.

The construction sector has focused efforts on Pyongyang, and in particular on efforts to improve the lifestyles of its residents. Housing (averaging 20,000 family dwellings per year), restaurants, waterworks, roads, and other construction and repair projects have been aggressively undertaken.

North Korean authorities emphasized the science and technology sector in 2008, although it appears that the actual impact of this campaign topped out at the supply of some practical technology and the at production facilities, power plants, and other factories, and the promotion of modernization and normalization of industrial production.

At the mid-point of 2008, inter-Korean trade had grown by 1.2 percent compared to the same period the year prior, reaching 1.82 billion USD. The freeze on the annual supply of 400 thousand tons of rice and between 300~350 thousand tons of fertilizer from the South had a negative impact on the North’s food situation. On the other hand, DPRK-PRC trade from January-November 2008 jumped by 29.3 percent over the same period in 2007, considerably more than the 14.9 percent recorded in 2005, the 14.9 percent seen in 2006 and the 16.1 percent rise last year.

The increase natural resource development and improvements in core industries, the possibility of expansion of markets, and the advantage of low-cost labor give China, Russia, and other adjacent countries positive perceptions regarding investment in the North, and as Pyongyang continued to expand economic cooperation with these countries last year, it also improved economic relations with Europe as well as Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries.

PROSPECTS FOR THE NORTH KOREAN ECONOMY IN 2009

If one looks at North Korea’s domestic economic policies, one will see that basically, in the 2009 New Year’s Joint Editorial, North Korea’s domestic and international economic policies have not undergone any significant changes. However, in order to accomplish the goal of establishing a Strong and Prosperous Country by 2012, it is expected that all efforts will be poured into reviving the economy. Based on the Joint Editorial, this year, the North’s economic policy is not one of reform due to transformation of the outside environment, but rather a revival of pas, conservatively grounded economic policy. Regarding international economic relations, the 2008 Joint Editorial specifically stressed the building of an economically strong nation based on the principle of the development of external economic relations, but there was no particular reference to this in 2009.

In 2009, resolution of agricultural problems was again prioritized as the task most necessary for the realization of a Strong and Prosperous Nation by 2012. Along with this, the North’s economic policy for 2009 will prioritize the modernization and normalization of the economy’s ‘vanguard sector’, and it is expected to continue to strengthen efforts to revive the economy. As it continues to work toward creating an environment in which it can concentrate efforts on the building of an ‘Economically Strong Nation’, North Korean authorities are expected to issue new measures to strengthen the economic management system, including the planned industrial system, the distribution and circulation framework, and an effective market management system. The North is also expected to further emphasize efforts to modernize the People’s Economy, as it considers modern vanguard science and technology to be the answer to recovery from its current economic crisis.

There is a possibility North Korea’s foreign trade, including that with China, will shrink in the future, as its external economic activity is hit by the current international economic situation and the rising value of the U.S. dollar and Chinese Yuan. Just as was seen in 2008, with the shrinking growth of the Chinese economy, DPRK-PRC trade will be hit negatively. Progress on the rail link being promoted between Rajin and Hasan, as well as the redevelopment of the Rajin Harbor is also expected to face difficulties. This is likely to lead to further efforts by the North to expand economic cooperation with the EU and Middle Eastern countries.

Despite North Korea’s removal from the U.S. list of terrorism-sponsoring states, because sanctions against North Korea still remain, the North will need to make progress in non-proliferation, human rights improvement, and marketization in order to see real economic benefits from improved relations with the Obama administration. However, because of a lack of confidence regarding market reform, differing stances between the U.S. and DPRK on denuclearization, and deeply rooted mistrust, there is a more than a small chance that progress on the nuclear issue will be stretched out over the long term.

Looking at prospects for the main domestic economic sectors of North Korea, firstly, the amount of development in the energy and mining sectors could take a favorable turn if there is movement on the nuclear issue, and this would have an overall positive effect on the entire industrial sector. The drop-off of demand due to the international financial crisis could have a considerable impact on the North’s mining sector, making it difficult to see much growth past the levels seen in 2008.

In 2009, the supply-demand situation regarding North Korean grains is expected to improve over last year. North Korea requires 5.2 million tons of grain, and is expected to harvest 4.9~5 million tons, falling only 200~300 thousand tons short. This is an improvement over the 790 thousand ton shortfall the North suffered in 2008. However, the actual amount of grains distributed to the people may not increase, because some of the 2008 shortage was relieved through the release of emergency rice reserves, and so some portion of the 2009 harvest will need to be set aside to restock that emergency reserve.

In the manufacturing sector, the increase in electrical production and increase in large-scale equipment operations in metalworks, chemicals, construction materials, and other heavy industries, the supply of materials for light industries as well as fertilizer will be extended, but the reduction of inter-Korean economic cooperation and foreign capital will mean a reduction in the ability to import equipment and materials, making it difficult to meet 2008-level growth in industrial production numbers.

In the construction sector, housing construction in Pyongyang and other areas will not fall off suddenly, but with the anniversary of the founding of the Party Museum upcoming and the impact of the furious construction activity that has been underway, it is likely to slow down in 2009. With North Korean authorities restricting private-sector economic activity, controlling the size of markets, and other measures controlling commerce in the North are expected to strengthen, which will considerably restrict anti-socialist commercial activity. To what extent official commerce networks will absorb this activity will be pivotal.

Trade between North Korea and China is expected to shrink as the global economic crisis drives down the price of raw materials that the North exports to the PRC. Following the North Korean authorities’ enforcement of a measure reducing inter-Korean economic cooperation on December 1, 2008, without improvement in the North Korean nuclear issue, and in U.S.-DPRK relations cooperation between Seoul and Pyongyang will gradually shrivel. Trade with other countries is also expected to fall as a result of the current global economic situation. Therefore, reduction of inter-Korean economic cooperation, North Korea’s principle provider of foreign capital, and sluggish trade between Beijing and Pyongyang will weaken the North’s foreign reserves supply-and-demand situation.

As for the investment sector, if North Korea is to succeed in its push to build a Strong and Prosperous Nation by 2012, it must attract foreign investment through aggressive policies of opening its economy. In order to improve the investment environment, Pyongyang must work more aggressively to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, but despite the demands of the surrounding countries, it is likely North Korea will insist on recognition as a nuclear power, making it difficult to expect progress on this front. Therefore, foreign investors’ interest in North Korean markets, and North Korea’s assention into international financial institutions through improved relations with the United States, appears to be a long way off.

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DPRK relic in Ethiopia

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

dergmonument.jpg

The Dialachin Monument (a.k.a. Victory Monument, Derg Monument) was a gift from Pyongyang to Addis Ababa’s Derg regime in the 1970s.

You can see the location of the monument in Wikimapia here.

You can learn more about the Derg here.

See more photos of the monument here.

*This location will be added to the next version of North Korea Uncovered (North Korea Google Earth).  If readers are aware of other construction projects the DPRK has supported, please let me know.  I am especially interested in locating the North Korean restaurants in China, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.  Are there others?

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DPRK outlines region-specific economic growth plans

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
Nk Brief No. 09-1-23-1
1/23/2009

Following the recent North Korean New Year’s Joint Editorial and its calls for economic measures, on January 5, more than 100,000 people attended a rally in Pyongyang at which customized economic tasks were presented for each of the North’s provinces, taking into account each region’s particular industrial concentration or specialty.

According to North Korean media reports on January 20, Pyongyang stressed reforms in steel, power, coal, railway, and other sectors it considers ‘Priority Sectors of the People’s Economy.” It also presented tasks for the promotion of housing construction, refurbishment of pig farms, and the increase in production of farms and light industries providing daily necessities to the people of the North.

South Pyongan Province was tasked with increasing the production of ‘Juche’ steel’ at the Chollima Steel Complex, which kicked off the “new revolutionary upsurge” late last year during an on-site inspection by Kim Jong Il, as well as full operation of the newly built ‘superpower electric furnace’, and called on all the people of the province to increase production of organic fertilizer in order to boost food production.

For North Pyongan Province, “mass reforms” for the metalworks sector and concentrated efforts to increase electrical production at the Supung and Taechon power plants were called for. In addition, increased production at the Kujang Earth Colliery Complex, Rakwon Machinery Complex, and the Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory were ordered, as was the institution of advanced agricultural management methods.

Efforts in South Hwanghae Province are to be focused on increasing iron ore mining and scrap iron collection at sites such as the Eunryool and Jaeryung mines, and agricultural production goals are to be met through the introduction of high-yield crops and double-cropping.

North Hwanghae Province was ordered to focus on increasing production at the Hwanghae Iron Complex, the Yesong River Youth Power Plant No. 1, the 2.8 Madong Cement Factory, the Sariwon Poultry Farm, and the Sariwon Pig Farm. In addition, high-yield crops are to be introduced and construction of irrigation systems is to begin, as land management efforts are to be implemented in order to expand agricultural land in Mirubol. North Hwanghae Province is also to build a new library, a new arts theater, and a new housing.

In South Hamgyung Province, efforts are focused on construction of the Keumya River and Keumjin River Guchang power plants, as well as improving mining capacity at the mines in the Danchun area while renovating production facilities at the Sudong Mines. Aggressive promotion of construction on the second stage of the 2.8 Vinylon Complex was also emphasized. Provincial authorities were also ordered to complete the initial stage of refurbishment in the Heungnam Pharmaceutical Plant, improve production at the Kwangpo Duck Farm and the Hamju Pig Farm, and accelerate home construction in Hamheung City.

North Hamgyung Province was tasked with perfecting ‘North Korean-style steel production methodology’ at the Kim Chaek Iron Complex and Sungjin Steel Complex, and modernizing exploration, mining and processing equipment at the Musan Mining Complex in order to boost output, along with bringing the Seodusu Power Plant and Chungjin Thermoelectric Power Plant fully on-line. Another important task prioritized was the completion of the second stage of the Urangchun Power Plant.

In Kangwon Province, construction of the Wonsan Army-People Power Plant, increased production at the Munchon River Ironworks, modernization of the Wonsan Shoe Factory and the Wonsan Textiles Factory, and the refurbishment of the Munchon Poultry Processing Plant were emphasized, along with the diversification of management in farming communities in order to resolve food shortage problems.

Ryanggan Province, in the northern Gosan region, was tasked with improving management of the Samsu Power Plant, which entered service in May 2007, and construction of the Baekdu Mountain Military-first Centennial Power Plant and other electrical facilities, and the establishment of a ‘hometown of potatoes’ for the quick increase in potato cropping.

The Jagang Province was tasked with modernizing its metalworks sector and increasing electrical production at the Gangye Youth Power Plant and Janga River Power Plant, construction of small and medium-sized power plants, and increasing its logging production. Jagang Province was also tasked with normalizing production in its pig, duck, and chicken factories, and software development for local organizations was emphasized as a priority task for the Electronic Business Research Institute in Ganggye City, which was visited by Kim Jong Il after its grand opening last year.

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DPRK establishing yearly economic development plans

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 08-1-9-1
1/9/2009

The Jochongryeon mouthpiece, Chosun Sinbo, reported on January 5 that North Korea is working to boost economic production by establishing “concrete attainment goals” in each sector in a “yearly, phased plan” from last year until 2012 in order to reach the goal of establishing a “Strong and Prosperous Nation” by the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung. The paper reported that the North had not made an official announcement regarding this plan, but that it was currently in the process of implementing a 5-year economic development plan

In the textile industry, North Korea is focusing efforts on upgrading equipment in five weaving factories, including major sites in Pyongyang and Sariwon, with the goal of increasing cloth production 400 percent by 2012. The newspaper also reported that North Korea is aiming to increase coal production over the next few years, with the goal of reaching 1980s-levels of production. Coal production peaked in 1989 at 43 million metric tons, and it is estimated that North Korea has over 20 billion metric tons of coal reserves, but the Bank of (South) Korea estimates that in 2007, the North mined a mere 24.1 million metric tons of coal due to a lack of electricity and spare parts. Many of North Korea’s coal reserves are below the waterline, and require constant electricity in order for pumps to maintain an environment in which mining can take place. Last year, in order to boost coal production, North Korea increased budget allocations for energy, coal and metal industries by nearly 50 percent.

This year’s New Year’s Joint Editorial placed heavy emphasis on the metals industry, and emphasized that efforts last year to modernize equipment and improve technology increased 2008 steel production by 150 percent at the Chollima Steel Complex and the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex. The newspaper stressed that these plans were not merely wishful thinking, but that they were “the basis for meaningful achievements,” pointing out that last year, the North Korean cabinet increased investment into both basic industries and vanguard enterprises 49.8 percent. In 2008, North Korea either refurbished or newly constructed over 140 new production facilities, and, “in particular, actively promoted metal, instrument, science, and light industrial sectors.”

According to the newspaper, North Korea would continue to promote economic development in the new year, as well, citing the current global economic crisis and the need to build an independent economic foundation not reliant on South Korea.

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2009 Joint Editorial published

Monday, January 5th, 2009

North Korea’s “New Year’s Day Joint Editorial” lays out the government’s policy priorities for the year—similar to a US State of the Union address. In the editorial, which is quite long, the government committed to strengthening the military, ridding the peninsula of nuclear weapons, improving the economy (energy, agriculture, and transport) and improving the people’s quality of life.  Although the editorial is quite long, KCNA published a summary (KCNA link here, PDF here).

Today the Korean Worker’s Party threw itself a rally in Kim il Sung Square in support of the 2009 Joint Editorial. 

Here are some reactions in the press:
Jon Herskovitz in Reuters, Korea Times, AFP, Xinhua.

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World oil and grain prices up, DPRK feels the pinch

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Bfrief No. 08-3-13-1
3/13/2008

International fuel and food prices are skyrocketing, while the cost of Chinese goods continues to rise, so that this so-called ‘triple-threat’ is sending shockwaves through the North Korean economy. In this year’s New Year’s Joint Editorial, North Korea championed the banner of a ‘strong and prosperous nation’, and declared that this year would focus on the economy, however this ‘triple-threat’ will likely make it extremely difficult for the North to meet its policy goals.

With oil prices peaking at over 110 USD per barrel, if these high oil prices continue, North Korea, which imports crude and refined oil from China, Russia and other countries, will face a growing import burden. In accordance with the February 13th agreement reached through six-party talks, South Korea, the United States and others will provide some heavy fuel oil, and the agreement stipulated the amount of oil to be delivered, rather than the value, so this will not be affected by rising prices. However, this oil does not cover all of the North’s needs, and as for the remaining portion, either the amount imported will have to be reduced, or the North will have no choice but to invest considerably more in fuel. In addition, as a large portion of North Korea’s oil is imported from China, Pyongyang’s trade deficit with its neighbor will also grow.

According to the Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), North Korea imported 523,000 tons of crude oil from China in 2005, 524,000 tons in 2006, and 523,000 tons last year, each year accounting for approximately 25 percent of total oil imports. North Korea’s trade deficit with China has shown a steadily growing trend, reaching 212,330,000 USD in 2004, 588,210,000 USD in 2005, and 764,170,000 USD in 2006. With grain prices also skyrocketing, and North Korea depending largely on China and Thailand for rice and other grain imports, the burden on the North’s economy is growing, and this is one factor in the instability of domestic prices in the DPRK.

According to the Chinese Customs Bureau, North Korea imported 81,041 tons of rice and 53,888 tons of corn last year, increases of 109.9 percent and 37.4 percent, respectively. North Korea’s corn, rice and oil imports from China are subject to market price controls, so that rising international prices directly affect the North’s cost burden. Last year, the price of Chinese goods rose 4.8 percent, recording the largest jump in ten years, and this trend extends to a wide variety of goods. 80 percent of disposable goods in North Korea are produced in China, and rising Chinese prices are directly reflected in North Korean import costs, which is passed on to DPRK citizens.

As North Korea emphasizes the building of its economy, it appears unlikely that residents will feel any direct effects of Pyongyang’s promise to prioritize the stability of its citizens’ livelihoods.

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2008 The New Year Joint Editorial

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

When President Kim il Sung was alive, he delivered a “state of the nation” address each new year.  Since his death in 1994 audio recordings of his past speeches have been played publicly.  However, the North Korean government did develop a new tool to fill the role of informing the public about the government’s policy goals without overshadowing the unique position of the deceased leader: the “Joint Editorial” published by three of the DPRK’s leading journals, Rodong Sinmun, the People’s Army, and the Youth Vanguard. Each January it is published and North Korea watchers rush to interpret and extrapolate what each line signals. If you have a lot of spare time, you can read some extensive excerpts here.

The title: Glorify This Year of the 60th Anniversary of the Founding of the DPRK as a Year of Historical Turn Which Will Go Down in the History of the Country

Although many publications have pointed out that North Korea missed yet another deadline to declare its nuclear facilities, South Korean reviews seem to indicate that the editorial was docile compared to previous years:

(more…)

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DPRK Economic Policy One Year after Nuclear Test

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 07-10-18-1
10/18/2007

One year after the DPRK nuclear test, North Korea is still focusing all of their policy efforts on restoring their economy. North Korean leaders are convinced that an economic revival is crucial for the survival and stability of their regime.

The DPRK stated in this year’s New Year Joint Editorial, a publication that presents the regime’s policy direction for the year, that “the founding of a strong national economy is a crucial requirement for the revolution and advancement of our society, and is a historic undertaking toward becoming a fully prosperous and powerful nation.” The emphasis on “focusing all the state’s efforts on solving the economic issue,” was indicative of their sense of imminence regarding economic revival.

The Joint Editorial presenting the DPRK’s national goal of “founding a strong national economy” came out three months after the October nuclear test, which took place just over one year ago. Since its publication, the North Korean media has been stressing that the DPRK already realized powerful military strength and strong political ideology, and must now strive to establish a strong national economy. The military might of the nation was epitomized by the success of the nuclear test.

A copy of the North Korean quarterly publication “Politics & Law Review” obtained on September 14th emphasized the need to establish a strong national economy, stating that “without a strong national economy, it is impossible to strengthen the forces of political ideology and military power,” and, “the only way to block the infiltration of economic imperialism is by strengthening economic power.” It also added that “if we are weaker than South Korea, we will naturally look to them and depend on them.”

North Korean press claims that Kim Jong Il’s decision to carry out a nuclear test was the reason the 6-party talks have been working since January’s meeting between the United States and the DPRK in Berlin, thus easing tensions on the Korean peninsula by ameliorating the U.S.-DPRK relationship and advancing inter-Korean relations. The fact that 18 out of 55 public appearances (a significantly higher proportion than that of last year) made by Kim Jong Il this year were visits to economic bureaus also reflects North Korea’s economic ‘all-in.’ North Korea’s pro-active movement toward ameliorating relations with the United States, and its determination to expand inter-Korean economic cooperation, all stem from its urgency to develop their economy in order to stabilize their regime.

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