Kim Min Se
Pyongsung, a city located in the province of South Pyongan has recently been targeted as a scientific city transformed into distribution hub.
In the late 1960’s, North Korean authorities established Pyongsung as an area for scientific research with a population of 300,000.
In Pyongsung, there are 25 scientific research centers beginning with a nature centre. Further, there is Pyongsung Scientific University and a training centre for scientists and engineers. Pyongsung lies on the outer-skirts of Pyongyang near the districts of Soonan, Samsuk and Yongsung.
Park Chan Joo (pseudonym) a North Korean tradesman on business in Dandong, China introduced the changes occurring in Pyongsung in a telephone conversation with reporters.
Park currently works as an employee for the Myungjin Trade Company and imports goods needed for everyday living into North Korea.
Park said, “All goods made from China pass through Shinuiju and are generally dispatched from Pyongsung to each region for sale. This includes eastern regions such as Hamheung and Wonsan. Of course traders from Sariwon, Haeju and Nampo in southern provinces also come to Pyongsung to receive their goods.”
Regarding Pyongsung which developed into a distributor of imports, Park said, “The delivery cost is double if goods made from China pass through Shinuiju and are delivered directly to eastern and southern regions. However, stopping over at Pyongsung can make a profit on time and cost effective.”
Further, he said, “It’s close to eastern regions and in the vicinity of southern regions. This area has increasingly become an intermediary wholesalers district with the rise of warehouses.”
Park said, “We are located right next to Pyongyang where the population is greatest. Also, many Pyongyang citizens with high standards of living compared to other regions come and buy the goods.”
“It only takes about one hour to travel from Pyongyang to Pyongsung via car or train. Tradesmen and citizens must obtain a travel permit to enter Pyongyang, but any North Korean citizen can easily come to Pyongsung with an ordinary identification card. Nowadays, you can travel to any special district (excluding Pyongyang and border regions) as long as you have an identification card” he added.
Also, Park said “There are more and more people wanting to living in Pyongsung because of trade” and informed, “All this happened as Pyongsung changed into a centre for wholesalers. Even up until a few years ago, it wasn’t so hard to live in Pyongsung, but now you have to pay thousands of dollars to move in the area to Pyongsung’s People’s Safety Agency (police).”
As Pyongsung emerged into a distributors haven, more and more long distance bus services have been operated connecting rural districts to Pyongsung city.
Kim Jong Hoon (pseudonym) a Shinuiju resident who came to Dandong to visit his relatives said, “People with money hire second hand buses made from China and register the vehicle at the traffic registry and operate the services while offering some profits” and “It takes 3 days to get from Shinuiju to Dancheon in South Hamkyung. It took me 3 days to go to Pyongsung, then from Pyongsung to Wonsan and then Wonsan to Dancheon.”
Presently, the only direct bus services in operation from Pyongsung are to Shinuiju, Wonsan, Sariwon, Nampo and Haeju.
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 07-7-9-1
The North Korean city of Pyongsung, situated in the South Pyongan province, is undergoing a transformation. Previously known as the center of North Korean scientific research, it is now becoming a distribution hub for goods imported from neighboring China. Pyongsung, with a population of approximately 30,000, was established by DPRK authorities in the mid 1960s in order to serve as a center for scientific studies. It is a satellite city on the outskirts of Pyongyang, bordering the Soonan, Samsuk, and Yongsung areas of the capital. The Institute of Natural Sciences and 24 other scientific research centers are located there, along with the Pyongsung College of Science and numerous scientific and technical training facilities.
These days, most Chinese imports being brought into the country through Shinuiju are coming though Pyongsung before being sold to various regions throughout the country. Traders from the east-coast cities such as Hamheung and Wonsan, as well as Sariwon, Haeju, Nampo and other areas regularly travel to Pyongsung in order to stock up on goods.
Located close to eastern cities and bordering southern provinces, Pyongsung is becoming the new distribution center of Chinese goods due to the considerably lower cost of delivering wares through Shinuiju and directly to these regions. This new route is much more lucrative in terms of both cost and time. Therefore, the number of wholesalers erecting warehouses and filling orders in the city has been growing quickly.
Pyongyang, the capital city with a population greater than any other city in the North and a higher standard of living than the rest of the country, is only one hour away by train or car, and so many Pyongyang residents have been purchasing high-end goods from there.
Traders and ordinary North Koreans need a travel permit with an approval number in order to enter Pyongyang, but anyone can easily travel to Pyongsung with only a general registration permit. In recent times, North Koreans can travel throughout the country with only a resident permit, with the exception of some particularly sensitive areas such as the border region or the capital city. Recently the number of people wishing to live in Pyongsung in order to trade has been on the rise. Only a few years ago, it was relatively easy to move to Pyongsung, but today someone wishing to relocate in this new market must hand over several thousand dollars.