Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
North Korea has been working to construct “Miraewon” – electronic libraries packed with cutting edge equipment and the latest information technology – in all counties and provinces across the country.
The Rodong Sinmun introduced the recently completed Jonchon County Miraewon in a May 12, 2014 article saying, “Many workers, students, and young people are already visiting the Miraewon, which has been magnificently renovated into an electronic library to meet the demands of the information-economy age.” The article praised the Miraewon, noting that “In just a short period of two months, the entire interior and exterior has completely changed; the library has been updated with dozens of the newest computers, audio-visual equipment, networks, lighting and various other amenities.”
Prior to this, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on May 9th, “There have been many new businesses sprouting up all over the nation’s various counties and provinces with the goal of constructing these modern Miraewon.” It has also been revealed that each center is equipped with “e-libraries, computer study rooms, rooms for scientific and technical knowledge, tele-education rooms, etc.” According to the KCNA, the Miraewon will act as a “base” for scientific technology and information, contributing directly to the nation’s economic development and the “cultural and emotional life of the people.”
Specifically, the KCNA emphasized the establishment of a “data service system” at the Miraewon, which “allows readers to access modern scientific and technological data and [the] latest achievements in various fields [at] any time.” It appears that the name “Miraewon” was created by the First Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Kim Jong Un.
This was first seen in a Korean Central Broadcasting Committee (KCBC) report from February 2014: “Marshal Kim Jong Un has extended his love and graciousness by bestowing the name ‘Changsong County Miraewon’ unto a newly renovated library (in North Phyongan Province).”
First Chairman Kim Jong Un stressed the importance of scientific technology in his New Year’s Address, saying that it is the “impetus that drives the construction of a great nation.” He also emphasized the need for all executives and workers alike to strive to master modern scientific technology, calling on the nation to have a “science and technology-focused spirit” and setting the goal for all citizens to become technologically capable.
Meanwhile, North Korea is also concentrating efforts on developing energy-saving technology which will ultimately lead to the end of the nation’s chronic energy shortage. North Korean state media emphasized the need to address the energy problem, saying, “The most important thing in creating a great Socialist nation is the urgent demand of electricity and energy. In a Socialist economy, saving ten percent more energy would have a much larger effect than increasing production by ten percent, and would also drastically cut costs.”
In other articles, the Rodong Sinmun introduced several examples of newly developed energy-saving technology in detail. Such technology includes the “High Performance Far-Infrared Radiator (FIR),” which reduces energy consumption in heating, and the “High Frequency Impulse Electroseparator,” which increases the efficiency of the electricity used in extracting minerals. Furthermore, the Rodong Sinmun introduced “Distributed Power Systems,” which focuses on the construction of several smaller power plants compared to having just a few large-scale plants. According to the Rodong Sinmun, this method is not only more efficient, but more eco-friendly as well.
First Chairman of the National Defense Commission Kim Jong Un spoke in his 2014 New Year’s Address, “All members of society must strive to save each watt of electricity, each gram of coal, and each drop of water,” emphasizing North Korea’s devotion to reducing consumption of energy and natural resources. This movement to develop energy saving technology and increase energy efficiency is related to the national pursuit of economic “self-rehabilitation” in the midst of sanctions imposed by the international community.