Archive for the ‘Czech Republic’ Category

DPRK registers six CDM projects with UNFCC

Monday, November 5th, 2012

I have previously written about two of the DPRK’s registered CDM projects: Hamhung Hydro Power Plant No. 1 (Registered May 16, 2012) and Kumya Hydro Power Plant (Registered July 13, 2012). I have collected all previous posts on the DPRKs efforts to join the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) here.

After the painful experience of navigating the UN FCC’s CDM web page I discovered that there are four other registered CDM hydropower projects in the DPRK:

Paekdusan Songun Youth Power Station No. 2
백두산선군청년2호발전소
Registered Jul13, 2012

Pictured Above (Google Earth): The approximate location of the Paekdusan Songun Youth Power Station No. 2

The UN FCC documents on the registration of the power plant can be seen here.

Total installed capacity of the project will be 14 MW, consisting of two sets of 7 MW hydropower turbines and associated generators.

According to the UN documents, the project is expected to be put into operation on January 1, 2014.

The organizations listed on the document are the Namgang Hydropower Construction Complex and Topič Energo s.r.o. (Czech Republic)

Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 4
례성강청년4호발전소
Registered July 20, 2012

Pictured Above (Google Earth): The approximate location of the Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 4.

The UN FCC documents on the registration of the power plant can be seen here.

The installed capacity of the project is 10 MW, which consists of 4 sets of generating facilities with a capacity of 2.5 MW each. The project will generate the electricity energy of 40,030 MWh and supply 38,640 MWh to the WPG in a year.

According to the UN documents, the project is expected to be put into operation on December 1, 2012. This facility was last featured on the DPRK evening news on 2012-11-8. See the footage here.

The organizations listed on the document are the Kumchon Electric Power Company  and Topič Energo s.r.o. (Czech Republic).

Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 5
례성강청년5호발전소
Registered August 22, 2012

Pictured Above (Google Earth): Construction work on the Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 5.

The UN FCC documents on the registration of the power plant can be seen here.

The installed capacity of the project is 10 MW, which consists of 4 sets of generating facilities with a capacity of 2.5 MW each. The project will generate electric energy of 41,150 MWh and supply 40,616 MWh.

Organizations listed in the document include the Kangdong Hydro Power Construction Company and Topič Energo s.r.o. (Czech Republic).

According to the documents, the project is planned to be put into operation on May 1, 2012. The most recent Google Earth satellite imagery is dated Spetember 5, 2011 and the last time the project was featured on North Korean television was November 5, 2011. I am skeptical that the project was finished on time since the opening of the dam has yet to be announced publicly.

Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 3
례성강청년3호발전소
Registered October 23, 2012

Ryesonggang-power-station-no-3

Pictured Above (Google Earth): Construction work on the Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 3.

The UN FCC documents on the registration of the power plant can be seen here.

The project with an installed capacity of 10 MW, 4 sets of generating facilities with a capacity of 2.5 MW
respectively. The project will generate the electricity energy of 42,800 MWh and supply the electricity of 41,310
MWh.

Organizations listed in the document include the Tosan Electric Power Company and Topič Energo s.r.o. (Czech Republic).

Though the plant is supposed to go into operation on July 1, 2012, the most recent Google Earth imagery from 2012-11-8 shows the plan remains uncompleted. The last time the plant was featured on North Korean television was 2011-6-25.

Additional information:
The DPRK applied for seven of its hydro power project to be registered with the UNFCC’s CDM program.  Five of the seven have been registered.  Those that have yet to be registered are the Ryesonggang Hydropower Plant No.3, Wonsan Army-People Hydropower Project No.1.

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DPRK’s first CDM project registered: Hamhung Hydro Power Plant No. 1

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Pictured above: Chowon-ri, Jongphyong County (초원리, 정평군) on Google Earth (coordinates: 39.662431°, 127.315594°). The satellite imagery is too old to show the new dam and power station.

A valued reader notified me this morning that the DPRK’s first CDM project was registered in July: The Hamhung Hydro Power Plant No.1.

You can read more about the project on the UN web page here. As I understand it, the CER (the emissions rights) from the plant do not go directly to North Korea but to a Czech company who co-registered the project. It will become operational on January 1, 2013.

Here is KCTV footage showing the construction of the plant that aired on 2012-4-3:

 

Further information on the DPRK’s CDM efforts can be found here.

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DPRK seeks to repay debt in ginseng

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

UPDATE: This story was picked up by the Financial Times (8/11/2010):

North Korea has offered the Czech Republic 20 tonnes of ginseng in lieu of payment for some of its debts.

However, Prague has turned down the deal, instead suggesting that Pyongyang pays in the valuable mineral zinc, which can be resold on international markets.

North Korea owes the Czech Republic $10m from the days when the Czech Republic was under communist rule and the two countries traded with each other regularly. Communist Czechoslovakia was a leading supplier of trucks, trams and machinery to North Korea, creating a large pile of debt.

Pyongyang reportedly offered $500,000 worth of ginseng, a root which is reputed to boost memory, stamina and libido, as a down payment.

However, consumption of ginseng in the European country is low, with just 1.4 tonnes used each year.

North Korea’s economy is struggling as international sanctions tighten and it hopes to be able to barter its way out of handing over valuable cash.

Non-cash transactions between socialist countries is common, with Cuba sending Venezuela doctors in exchange for discounted oil.

A Czech government spokesman has said that the countries were in negotiation over how the debt would be paid.

“We have been trying to convince them to send, for instance, a shipment of zinc,” the deputy finance minister told the MF Dnes newspaper.

ORIGINAL POST: According to the Korea Times:

North Korea has offered to pay its debt to the Czech government with ginseng, according to a local Czech daily newspaper.

MF DNES, a daily newspaper based in Prague, reported last Saturday that North Korea has recently suggested to the Czech Finance Ministry that it would pay 5 percent of its debt — approximately $500,000 — with ginseng.

“We are trying to persuade them (North Korea) to give us, for example a bulk of Zinc instead, so that we could sell it to someone else,” Tomas Zidek, deputy finance minister, told the newspaper in Czech.

North Korea is believed to have a significant amount of zinc in deposits.

The paper went on to say the consumption of ginseng in the Czech Republic is very small, and it only imported 1.4 tons last year. The amount of ginseng worth $500,000 will be roughly 400 tons, securing the supply for more than 200 years.

But, to Czech’s disappointment, North Korea seemed to have made up its mind, as it sent a delegation with samples of ginseng.

North Korea is known to be Czech’s 10th biggest debtor, which goes back to the communist governments. The North bought many trams and vehicles from former Czechoslovakia.

Read the full story here:
North Korea wants to pay back debt in ginseng
Korea Times
Kim Se-jeong
7/26/2010

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North Korean workers leave the Czech Repblic…

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

According to the Choson Ilbo:

Nachod is a small village in the Czech Republic around three hours by car from the capital Prague. It is an isolated place sparsely dotted with farm houses. On the outskirts of the village is a two-story factory called Snezka that manufactures sheets for cars and travel bags. Until 2007, the factory was filled with North Korean women who had gone there to work.

The European press described the women as “21st century slaves,” being watched 24 hours a day by North Korean minders and required to wire most of their earnings back to North Korea. The Czech government eventually sent back all North Korean workers by 2007, including the 90 women who had been working for Snezka.

As orders from European automakers skyrocketed, the number of staff at Snezka rose to around 700, but it was difficult to find cheap and dependable workers in such a remote place. That was when the North Korean Embassy in the Czech Republic called to offer the services of “loyal” workers. The first handful of North Koreans who were hired proved to be excellent workers and the factory kept on hiring more. “From an employer’s perspective, they were ideal workers,” one executive recalls. “Unlike Czech or Ukrainian workers, the North Koreans never wasted time drinking coffee and chatting. They were very good with their hands too. They were extremely accurate in their sewing, as if machines had done it.”

The executive objects to the term “21st century slaves.” The North Koreans worked eight hours a day, five days a week in two shifts — 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. Weekends earned them an extra 75 percent of their daily incomes, a standard uniformly applied to both North Korean and other workers. Factory staff say the North Koreans led a dull existence. Three or four lived in a house supplied by Snezka, and they traveled in groups of five or six even when they were going for a short walk around the factory.

They rarely talked to other workers. One worker from Poland says, “I never heard them say a single word about their family, friends or hometowns.” In time, around half of the 90 North Korean workers were able to communicate in Czech, but they were still said to be “quiet.”

Here is the town of Nachod.  I have not located the factory yet.

Previous posts on this story here (first) and here (second).

Also, North Korea gets trams from the Czech Republic.

Read the full sory below:
Czech Factory Regrets Departure of N.Koreans
Choson Ilbo
10/28/2009

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More Czech tram cars headed to Pyongyang

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

UPDATE: Photos here (h/t Mateusz)

From Radio Prague (hat tip to David):

The Prague Transport Authority announced on Tuesday that the first of twenty reconditioned trams would be shipped to North Korea this week. The North Korean government are paying about 13 million crowns – that’s just over 800,000 U.S. dollars – for the second-hand trams, one of Prague’s most instantly recognisable symbols. But as Rob Cameron reports, they’re not the first Czech trams to be sent abroad, and not even the first to be sent to North Korea.

In the unlikely event you were to find yourself waiting for a tram at Pyongyang’s Mangyongdae station, you might well be surprised to see a Czech tram trundling along the rails towards you. But Czechs trams have long been a feature of life in the North Korean capital. The first – a fleet of new T4 trams – arrived in 1991, in time for Kim Il Sung’s 79th birthday. (The T4 is the chunky, rather boxlike model from the 1990s that runs on the number 3 line in Prague, for example.)

But the latest consignment heading for Pyongyang this week are reconditioned T3s, the older, iconic red and cream trams that date from the 1960s. The T3s were first produced by the CKD Tatra Smíchov factory in Prague (the T stands for Tatra). In all, a staggering 14,000 T3s were produced in Smichov and exported all over the Soviet bloc, as part of the Comecon system of allocating entire industries to individual communist countries.

Read the full article here:
Iconic red and cream Prague trams get new lease of life in Pyongyang
Radio Prague
Rob Cameron
5/6/2008

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North Korean laborers to leave Czech Republic by year’s end

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Korea Herald
12/19/2007

Czech authorities have stopped extending visas of North Korean laborers in conformity with U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang and all will probably leave by year’s end, officials were quoted as saying by Associated Press.

Czech authorities stopped renewing residency permits for North Korean workers on Jan. 25 in line with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718 adopted in October 2006 and laborers have gradually left since then, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The sanctions are aimed at punishing North Korea for carrying out its first nuclear test, on Oct. 9, 2006 _ a test that prompted international condemnation.

Among other things, the resolution allows cargo to and from North Korea to be stopped and inspected for prohibited goods, bans the import and export of certain military material, and freezes the assets of, and bans travel by, individuals and companies involved in the country’s programs to produce weapons of mass destruction.

On average, several hundred North Korean laborers have been working in various clothing and shoe factories in the Czech Republic since 2001, the ministry said.

The laborers have been leaving the country as their visas expired and all were expected to be gone by the end of the year, said Katerina Jirgesova, a spokeswoman for the Czech foreign police.

While 331 North Korean workers were still in the country in May, only 134 remained on Nov. 27, she said. Police have investigated allegations that the workers were used as a source of revenue for the North Korean government, she said, but she added adding that no wrongdoing could be determined. The allegations reportedly were made by a former North Korean diplomat and a major Czech labor organization.

None of the workers applied for asylum in the Czech Republic, she said.

There do not appear to be many North Korean laborers in other parts of Europe. The Italian labor ministry said it did not have a program of this nature. Officials in Portugal and the Netherlands said there were no North Koreans employed in their countries.

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N. Korean workers asked to leave Czech Republic by end of year: report

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Yonhap
6/9/2007

About 200 North Korean workers employed by companies in the Czech Republic have been asked to leave the country by the end of this year, as the East European nation refused to extend their work visas, a U.S. broadcaster reported Saturday.

Radio Free Asia (RFA), quoting the Czech News Agency, said the Czech government decided to replace the North Korean manual workers with laborers from Vietnam and Mongolia, following a U.N. resolution against the North over its nuclear weapons program.

The Czech Republic’s decision also seems to be related to suspicion that wages earned by overseas North Korean workers were exploited by the North Korean leadership in Pyongyang, said the report. Some 200 other North Korean workers were already forced to return home last year for similar reasons, it added.

According to the RFA, Czech government officials confirmed that some North Korean workers had asked for their wages to be sent to “one specific account.”

The U.S. government has frequently called for countries not to hire North Korean workers, arguing their wages are being diverted to the government.

“Because the North Korean government takes a major portion of workers’ salaries, these arrangements provide material support for a rogue government, its nuclear ambitions, and its human-rights atrocities,” Jay Lefkowitz, a U.S. presidential envoy for North Korean Human Rights, said in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year.

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