It is the norm for the SPA to convene each spring to carry out the core responsibilities of ratifying personnel changes and hearing budgetary reports. Two of the more noteworthy results of the meeting in April this year were then-Director of the KPA General Political Department Choe Ryong Hae being made a deputy in the National Defense Commission, and Ri Su Yong being handed the foreign affairs portfolio. Ri, a seasoned diplomat, is scheduled to speak to the UN General Assembly later this month.
Conversely, second sessions do not occur every year as a matter of course; rather, they are convened when necessary for the accomplishment of Workers’ Party objectives. One such session convened on September 25th, 2012, for instance, resulted in wide-ranging changes to the state education system, most notably the addition of a 12th year of mandatory schooling.
As a result, attention is set to focus on personnel shifts and the possibility of major policy announcements.
The first session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) held by the Kim Jong Un regime concluded on April 9, 2014 showing no major personnel changes within the Cabinet. The existing regime will continue to lead the North Korean economy, and their recent economic reform measures are expected to gain momentum.
At this session, it was decided that North Korea will retain Prime Minister Pak Pong Ju as leader of the Cabinet, and that many of the other high-level officials will maintain their positions in economic affairs.
It is therefore expected that the Kim Jong Un regime’s economic reform measures, such as the expansion of farmers’ authority (through the Subworkteam Management System), the construction of economic development zones (EDZs), and the system promoting the independent economic management of factories (and all other production facilities), will be implemented smoothly and stably.
It is also expected that North Korea will ramp up the implementation of its economic management improvement measures due to their recent success, which exceeded the state’s expectations. This directly coincides with the decision to retain Pak Pong Ju as Premier, and is an effort to secure the stability, continuity and longevity of North Korean economic policy.
Only three high-level officials in the economic department were replaced at this first session of the SPA: Han Yong Guk replaced Kim Kwang Yong as the forestry minister, Kim Chon Gyun replaced Paek Ryong Chon as the President of the Central Bank, and Ri Je Son was appointed as the Minister of Atomic Energy Industry.
The Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry is presumed to be an expanded and reformed version of the General Bureau of Atomic Energy (GBAE), which previously operated as an entity under the Cabinet. Established in 2013 at the 7th session of the 12th SPA, the Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry is responsible for North Korea’s nuclear program, nuclear policy, and the “byungjin line”, a policy that emphasizes the parallel development of economy and nuclear weaponry.
In 2013, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced the establishment of the Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry, saying it will “both modernize and systemize the nation’s atomic energy industry.” In the announcement, the KCNA also said, “because [the Ministry] has been founded on a firm base of cutting-edge technology, both the production and quality of nuclear materials will increase, and development will be made in self-sustaining nuclear powered industries.”
The newly appointed Ri Je Son has served as the General Director of the GBAE since 1997, and was the target of United Nations Security Council sanctions after North Korea’s second nuclear test in 2009.
Han Yong Guk has risen up through the ranks in the forestry sector, and Kim Chon Gyun has previously served as both director and vice-president of the Central Bank of the DPRK.
These small changes in Cabinet personnel do in fact signify efforts to maintain the stability of the nation’s economic policy, but the fact that these changes are so few in number also signifies that, after the execution of Jang Song Thaek, “re-shuffling” of personnel within the Cabinet had already taken place to some degree.
Before his execution, Jang Song Thaek had influences on many ministries within the Cabinet, including the ministries of commerce, metal and coal industries, and the Cabinet’s Extractive Industries. Since his execution, North Korea has replaced the head of these ministries.
UPDATE 1 [1st session of SPA] (2014-4-9): KCNA has posted many articles on the first session of the SPA. I have archived the important ones below:
Choe Ryong-hae, a top military official, has become a truly influential figure second to only North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on April 9 when the newly launched North Korean parliament elected him as new vice chairman of the communist country’s most powerful body, National Defense Commission (NDC), during its first session.
Choe, the director of the North Korean army’s General Political Bureau, took up the mighty post that had been kept vacant since Jang Song-thaek, a powerful uncle of the North Korean leader, was executed on treason charges in December.
With his NDC appointment, Choe has grabbed all of the No. 2 positions of the North’s three core power bodies, the Political Bureau of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee and the party’s Central Military Commission.
Story 3: Presidium of Supreme People’s Assembly of DPRK Elected (KCNA):
Pyongyang, April 9 (KCNA) — The following Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK was elected at the First Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly:
President of the Presidium of the SPA of the DPRK Kim Yong Nam
Its Vice-Presidents Yang Hyong Sop and Kim Yong Dae
Its Honorary Vice-Presidents Kim Yong Ju and Choe Yong Rim
Its Secretary General Hong Son Ok
Its Members Kim Yang Gon, Thae Jong Su, Jon Yong Nam, Hyon Sang Ju, Ri Myong Gil, Kim Jong Sun, Kim Wan Su, Ryu Mi Yong, Kang Myong Chol, Kang Su Rin and Jon Kyong Nam.
Story 4: Members of DPRK Cabinet Appointed (KCNA) (PDF).
Mun Myong Hak replaced Ri Yong Yong as Minister of Coal Industry
Kim Yong Gwang replaced Han Hyo Yon as Minister of Metallurgical Industry
Ri Hak Chol replaced Kang Min Chol as Minister of Mining Industry
Han Ryong Guk replaced Kim Kwang Yong as Minister of Forestry
Kim Kyong Nam replaced Ri Song Ho as Minister of Commerce
Pak Chun Nam replaced Hong Kwang Sun as Minister of Culture
Kim Chon Gyun replaced Paek Ryong Chon as President of the Central Bank
Pak Myong Chol replaced Kim Pyong Ryul as President of the Supreme Court (not a cabinet position)
Story 5: Director of Supreme Public Prosecutors Office Appointed, President of Supreme Court Elected (KCNA)
Pyongyang, April 9 (KCNA) — The 1st Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK appointed Jang Pyong Gyu as director of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office and elected Pak Myong Chol as president of the Supreme Court.
Story 6: Panel Committees of SPA of DPRK Elected (KCNA)
The following Legislation Committee and Budget Committee, panel committees of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK, were elected at the 1st Session of the 13th SPA of the DPRK:
Legislation Committee of the SPA of the DPRK
Chairman Choe Pu Il
Members Jang Pyong Gyu, Pak Myong Chol, Pak Thae Dok, Thae Hyong Chol, Cha Hui Rim and Pak Myong Guk.
Budget Committee of the SPA of the DPRK
Chairman O Su Yong
Members Pak Yong Ho, Kye Yong Sam, Hong So Hon, Kim Hui Suk, Choe Yong Il and Pak Hyong Ryol.
The elected deputies to the SPA are the genuine people’s representatives who are devoting themselves to strengthening the DPRK government and accomplishing the revolutionary cause of Juche, remaining loyal to the idea and guidance of supreme leader Kim Jong Un.
Among the SPA deputies are anti-Japanese revolutionary fighters who participated in the anti-Japanese armed struggle led by President Kim Il Sung and veterans of the Fatherland Liberation War.
17.2 percent of the deputies are service personnel who are performing shining feats at posts to defend the country and worksites to build a rich and powerful country, true to the Songun revolutionary leadership of Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un.
Workers account for 12. 7 percent, cooperative farmers 11.1 percent and women 16.3 percent. They are bringing about shining labor innovations in the van of the heroic advance to build a thriving socialist nation.
Also among the deputies are officials of the party and power bodies, administrative and economic organs and working people’s organizations, those in the fields of science, education, public health, literature and arts and media and various other sectors and those of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan and organizations under it.
Winners of Order of Kim Il Sung, Kim Il Sung Prize, Order of Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Il Prize account for 30.2 percent, recipients of the titles of the DPRK hero and labor hero 14. 6 percent and recipients of academic degrees and titles including professors and doctors and scientists, technicians and experts 91.7 percent.
3.9 percent of the deputies are aged below 39, 66.9 percent 40-59, 29.2 percent above 60 and 94.2 percent of them graduated from universities or received similar level of education.
Story 8: Report on Implementation of State Budget for 2013 and State Budget for 2014 (KCNA)(PDF).
16% of the total expenditure was spent for national defence, thus contributing to smashing the enemies’ reckless moves to ignite a nuclear war and the anti-DPRK confrontation racket and powerfully demonstrating the dignity and might of the DPRK.
45.2% of the total expenditure went to the field of economic construction to consolidate the foundation of the self-supporting economy, bring a surge in the production in various fields of the national economy including agriculture and usher in a heyday in construction.
38.8% of the total expenditure was spent for the field of cultural construction including education, healthcare, sports and music and arts, contributing to the enforcement of popular policies and the building of a highly-civilized socialist nation.
This year’s state budgetary revenue and expenditure have been shaped in such a manner as to meet the financial needs for realizing the Party’s plan to build a thriving nation as early as possible and carrying out the national economy plan.
The state budgetary revenue is expected to grow 4.3% over last year. Out of this, transaction revenue is expected to swell 4.5%, the revenue from the profits of state enterprises 7.9%, that from the profits of cooperative organizations 4.8%, that from real estate rent 9.5%, that from social insurance 5.1%, that from sale of properties and price differential 2.4%, other revenues 1.7% and the revenue from economic and trade zone 5.1%.
This year’s state budget envisages that provinces, cities and counties will ensure the expenditure with their own incomes and deliver revenue to the national budget for their fulfillment of the plan for local budgetary revenue and expenditure.
The state budgetary expenditure is expected to increase 6.5% over last year. Out of this, spending for the fields of agriculture, stockbreeding and fishery is expected to go up 5.1%, that for capital construction 4.3%, that for science and technology 3.6%, that for the vanguard sector of the national economy and the fields of basic industry and light industry 5.2%, that for education 5.6%, that for healthcare 2.2%, that for social insurance and social security 1.4%, that for sports 17.1% and that for culture 1.3%.
15.9% of the total state budgetary expenditure is expected to be spent for national defence this year and a huge amount of educational aid fund and stipends is to be sent to the children of Koreans in Japan.
The last publicly available figure for Pyongyang’s annual budget, in 2008, was 451.3 billion North Korean won. Based on the latest available market rate, that would be roughly equivalent to $61.8 million. Using that figure to calculate spending on national defense would give a figure of around $8.65 million.
ORIGINAL POST [Politburo] (2014-4-9):KCNA reports on the meeting of the Political Bureau of the Worker’s Party:
Meeting of Political Bureau of C.C., WPK Held under Guidance of Kim Jong Un
Pyongyang, April 8 (KCNA) — A meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea was held under the guidance of Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, on April 8.
It was attended by members of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the C.C., the WPK, and members and alternate members of the Political Bureau of the C.C., the WPK.
Vice-premiers of the Cabinet and some department directors, first vice-department directors and vice-department directors of the C.C., the WPK were present at the meeting as observers.
The meeting discussed the issue of reinforcing the organization for increasing the leadership role and function of the Party as required by the developing revolution.
It discussed a proposal for forming the state leadership body to be submitted to the First Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly.
It also discussed an organizational matter.
Decisions on the relevant agenda items were unanimously adopted at the meeting.
Kim Jong Un at the meeting set forth important tasks to be fulfilled to further strengthen the WPK to be an invincible revolutionary party, firmly protect the dignity and sovereignty of the country and dynamically accelerate the work to improve the standard of the people’s living and the building of a rich and powerful country.
The meeting held under the guidance of Kim Jong Un marks a historic occasion that encouraged the service personnel and people in the struggle to dynamically advance along the road of independence, Songun and socialism under the uplifted banner of great Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism and provided an important milestone in bringing earlier the building of a thriving nation and a great revolutionary event of national reunification.
UPDATE 18 (2014-3-20):KCNA has made the following announcement:
1st Session of 13th SPA to Be Convened
Pyongyang, March 20 (KCNA) — The 1st Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK will be convened in Pyongyang on April 9, Juche 103 (2014), according to a decree of the Presidium of the SPA on Wednesday.
What can we expect at the first session? According to the Hankyoreh:
North Korea is likely to shuffle the members of the NDC during this session of the SPA. The position of vice chairman is vacant following the execution of the previous vice chairman – Jang Song-thaek – at the end of 2013. In addition, Ri Myong-su, former Minister of People’s Security, and Paek Se-bong, former chairman of the Second Economy Commission, were not elected as deputies.
It is expected that these empty seats will be taken by up-and-coming figures including Jang Jong-nam, minister of the People’s Armed Forces.
In the case of the heads of various government ministries, there are not expected to be any major changes since a number of officials were replaced after Jang Song-thaek’s ouster.
One noteworthy question is whether the North Korean constitution will be revised and whether national agencies will be reorganized. During the fifth session of the SPA in Dec. 1972, North Korea adopted a presidency system. At the 10th session in 1998, it revised the constitution to abolish the State Administration Council (SAC) and set up a cabinet. This reform also turned the NDC into the country’s most powerful body.
UPDATE 15 (2014-3-11): The results are in! KCNA has announced the following:
Report of Central Election Committee on Results on Election of Deputies to 13th SPA
Pyongyang, March 11 (KCNA) — The election of the deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly took place successfully in the DPRK
The Central Election Committee Tuesday reported the results on the election held on Sunday.
According to the report, the election was held according to the Rules on the Elections of Deputies to the People’s Assemblies at All Levels.
According to the election returns available, 99.97 percent of all the voters registered on the lists of voters across the country took part in the election and 100 percent of them voted for the candidates for deputies to the SPA registered in the relevant constituencies.
This is an expression of the absolute support and trust of all voters in the DPRK government, the genuine people’s power which serves the people and relies on them, and a manifestation of the steadfast will of the service personnel and people to consolidate the people’s power as firm as a rock and accomplish the revolutionary cause of Juche.
Electors on foreign tours or working in oceans could not take part in the election.
The Central Election Committee deliberated the reports on the election returns submitted by constituency election committees across the country and reported the names of 686 elected deputies to the SPA.
They published the names of the winners in Korean, but not in English. You can see them here. No 2009 SPA delegates returned from the same district.
UPDATE 14 (2014-3-10): Surprise! Kim Jong-un has been elected by his constituency to the SPA. 100% voter turn out as well!
Central Election Committee Reports on Kim Jong Un’s Election as Deputy to SPA
Pyongyang, March 10 (KCNA) — The election of deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK was successfully held in the DPRK.
The Central Election Committee on Monday released a report on the results of the election of the deputies to the SPA held at Paektusan Constituency No. 111 on Sunday.
According to the report, all the voters of the constituency took part in voting and 100 percent of them voted for Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, reflecting the unanimous will and desire of the service personnel and people across the country.
This is an expression of all the service personnel and people’s absolute support and profound trust in supreme leader Kim Jong Un as they single-mindedly remain loyal to him, holding him in high esteem as the monolithic center of unity and leadership and a striking demonstration of their revolutionary spirit and indomitable will to make a fresh shining history of Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s Korea under the leadership of Kim Jong Un.
The DPRK is ushering in the era of great surge in building a thriving socialist nation under the outstanding and tested leadership of Kim Jong Un.
He set it as the supreme programme of the party to model the whole society on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism, providing a firm organizational and ideological guarantee for developing the WPK into the glorious party of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
He, at the same time, opened a new chapter of the cause of immortalizing the leaders with loyalty and sense of moral obligation, developing the DPRK into the socialist country of Juche which is shining with the idea and the august names of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
He set forth a clear-cut strategy for the Korean revolution to be held fast to for all ages so that the country may advance straight along the road to independence, Songun and socialism under the uplifted banner of Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism, providing an ever-victorious treasured sword for the prosperity and development of the DPRK.
He put forward the Korean People’s Army as a reliable scout party and a strong mainstay for the Songun revolution by developing and enriching Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s strategy and tactics and further bolstered it up as elite revolutionary armed forces. He thus remarkably increased the defense power of the country, firmly protecting the destiny of the socialist country and its people.
He made a new legendary history of love for the people and love for the rising generations with his noble patriotic politics and all-embracing politics, bringing into full bloom the happiness of the great socialist family in which all its members have blood relations with their leader.
He has energetically led the servicepersons and the people to bring about a turning phase in building the economy and improving the people’s living standard through a strong wind of Kim Jong Il’s patriotism across the country and their patriotic enthusiasm. As a result, the country witnessed steady great successes showing the appearance of a thriving nation.
Thanks to Kim Jong Un’s leadership, the DPRK will as ever prosper as the glorious state of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and the revolutionary cause of Juche, the revolutionary cause of Songun, is sure to win a final victory.
The Central Election Committee reports that Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, was elected deputy to SPA according to the results of the voting confirmed and submitted by the above-mentioned constituency.
UPDATE 13 (2014-3-9): Election day! Kim Jong-un Votes at the Kim Il Sung University of Politics (just like his dad!). According to KCNA:
Kim Jong Un Visits Kim Il Sung University of Politics and Takes Part in Election of Deputy to SPA
Pyongyang, March 9 (KCNA) — Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, visited the Kim Il Sung University of Politics and took part in the election of a deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly at sub-constituency No. 43 of Constituency No. 105 together with service personnel of the KPA on Sunday.
Kim Jong Un received a ballot from the chairman of the election committee of the KPA for the election of deputies to the SPA and voted for Kim Kwang Hyok, commander of the KPA Unit 855, who is a candidate for SPA deputy.
He met the candidate and warmly shook hands with him, encouraging him to display a high sense of responsibility in the struggle for stepping up the combat preparations and bolstering up the combat capabilities, not forgetting even a moment the last instructions given by leader Kim Jong Il while visiting the unit in the last period of his life.
After voting for him, Kim Jong Un inspected the university.
He looked round the room for the education in the revolutionary history and the room devoted to the history of the university.
He said that the university has creditably fulfilled its honorable mission and duty as the nation’s highest seat for training political officers of the KPA, adding that it is great honor and pride of the WPK and the people to have the Kim Il Sung University of Politics and its history will always remain shining along with the history of the WPK.
He went round the e-library and the hall of service personnel and other places of the university.
He was greatly satisfied to learn that the university has created an excellent educational environment for training its cadets as versatile political officers and it is effectively using it. He appreciated the efforts made by the teaching staff while devoting all their wisdom and energies to training political officers.
Saying that the university has a very important position and role in developing the party political work in the People’s Army as required by the modeling of the whole army on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism, he set tasks which would serve as guidelines for steadily improving the instruction and education, educational environment and the living conditions of the cadets.
Kim Jong Un expressed his expectation and conviction that teachers of the university would train more able all-round political officers strong in the party spirit, keenly aware of the sense of responsibility for training the backbones for carrying out the revolutionary cause of Songun.
He was accompanied by KPA Vice-Marshal Choe Ryong Hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK and director of the General Political Bureau of the KPA, and Kim Kyong Ok, Hwang Pyong So and Kim Yo Jong, senior officials of the C.C., the WPK.
Below is a picture of the Kim Il-sung University of Politics that I identified in 2009:
UPDATE 11 (2014-2-24): Voters meetings held nationwide. KCNA:
Voters’ Meetings Held at All Constituencies
Pyongyang, February 24 (KCNA) — There took place oath-taking meetings of voters for the election of deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK at all constituencies from Feb. 21 to 24 to repay with loyalty the deep trust of supreme leader Kim Jong Un who sent his open letter to all voters across the country.
The open letter was read out at the meetings.
Speeches were made there.
Speakers said that the open letter carries the noble intention of Kim Jong Un wishing all service personnel and people across the country to take part in the election as one, consolidate the people’s power as firm as a rock and further consolidate the state and social system.
The nomination of Kim Jong Un as a candidate for deputy to the 13th SPA was a unanimous will and desire of all service personnel and people of the DPRK and a clear manifestation of their faith and will to achieve a final victory in building a thriving nation under the guidance of the great party, they noted.
They called for making positive contributions to the drive to greet the election with high political enthusiasm and shining labor success, further consolidate the people’s power and build the socialist country into the most powerful one in the world and the people’s paradise.
They also called on all service personnel and people to take part in the election as one and vote for the candidates with patriotism, cherishing the happiness and honor of having nominated Kim Jong Un as a candidate for deputy to the 13th SPA.
UPDATE 10 (2014-2-22): North Koreans have reportedly been notified whom to vote for in the upcoming SPA elections. According to KCNA:
Lists of Voters Displayed at Constituencies, Sub-constituencies
Pyongyang, February 22 (KCNA) — Lists of voters were displayed at the constituencies and sub-constituencies for the election of deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly across the country.
All citizens with suffrage residing in the relevant areas are registered in the lists of voters worked out according to the Rules on the Elections of Deputies to People’s Assemblies at All Levels of the DPRK.
Voters are confirming the accuracy of their names registered.
UPDATE 9 (2014-2-20): Rodong Sinmun calls for greeting election of deputies to SPA with high political enthusiasm and labor achievements (KCNA)
UPDATE 8 (2014-2-19): Although all constituencies nominated Kim Jong-un, he could only pick one in which he would “run”: Paektusan Constituency No. 111. Here is more in KCNA:
Kim Jong Un Sends Open Letter to Voters throughout Country
Pyongyang, February 19 (KCNA) — Supreme leader Kim Jong Un sent an open letter to all voters throughout the country on Tuesday.
The following is the full text of the open letter:
The election of deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly, which is going to be held at a time when the service personnel and people across the country are vigorously stepping up a general onward march for ushering in a golden age of Songun Korea as they are filled with confidence in victory, will prove an important occasion in demonstrating the true features of our style of socialism centered on the masses and further consolidating the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The voters’ meetings held in all constituencies of the country for the nomination of candidates for the posts of deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly nominated me, in reflection of their determination and will to entrust their destiny and future entirely to the Workers’ Party of Korea and support its leadership with loyalty, as candidate for the post of deputy to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly. I keenly felt the steel-strong faith and will of our service personnel and people to place their absolute trust in the Party and follow it to the last, and was greatly encouraged by it.
I feel very grateful for their expression of deep trust in me and extend warm thanks to them from the bottom of my heart.
The integral whole of the Party and the masses, in which the Party believes in the people and the people absolutely trust and follow the Party, is the fundamental source of the unquenchable strength of our Republic and by dint of this great single-hearted unity, the government of our Republic is writing an ever-victorious history, overcoming all manner of challenges and difficulties. No force in this world can match the strength of our single-hearted unity, in which the Party and the masses, the leader and all the service personnel and people are united in one ideology and will and linked with one another in blood-sealed ties.
Remembering the deep trust and expectations of the entire electorate, I will remain faithful to the last to the ideology and cause of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and devote my all to working for my fellow countrymen and expediting the day of prosperity when they would live without envying others, enjoying all the benefits of the world.
According to the Rules on the Elections of Deputies to the People’s Assemblies at All Levels of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a candidate shall be registered at only one constituency. So I decided to register as a candidate at Paektusan Constituency No. 111 for the election of deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly.
Before our people who are advancing, full of confidence, for the final victory of the building of a prosperous socialist nation is the wide, victorious road President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il opened for them, and the people’s government is a powerful political weapon for building a thriving nation. We should strengthen the people’s government in every way and constantly improve its functions and role as required by the times and developing revolution.
All voters should take part in the election of the deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly as one and elect genuine representatives of the people, thus consolidating our most advantageous people’s power to be rock-solid and further developing the state and social system.
I firmly believe that all the service personnel and people will work devotedly with ennobling self-consciousness as befitting the citizens of the Republic and high patriotic zeal and build our socialist country into the most powerful country in the world, a people’s paradise.
UPDATE 6 (2014-2-10):KCNA publishes a laughable description of the election process:
Popular, Democratic Election System in DPRK
Pyongyang, February 10 (KCNA) — The polling day for election of deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK is coming nearer.
The DPRK has the advantageous election system for the working masses to take part in forming state power organs.
Its advantages are evidenced by free and fair election based on a secret ballot in the universal, equal and direct principles.
The universal election principle allows each citizen to elect or to be elected without any restriction and reserve. Accordingly, a citizen over 17 years old is entitled to participate in the elections of deputies to people’s assemblies at all levels, regardless of sex, nationality, occupation, property, standards of learning, party affiliation, political view and religious faith. And he or she can be elected a deputy.
The equal election principle makes every voter elect or be elected with equal qualification and right, not allowing any distinction and privilege among voters in the exercise of rights.
The direct election principle makes a constituent directly cast a ballot. It does not allow voting by proxy and makes it possible to set up special sub-constituencies at hospitals, sanatoriums and other places or organize mobile ballots for citizens hard to move.
The secret ballot guarantees fair election.
The election system in the DPRK fully conforms with the essential character of the revolutionary power, which was established by the popular masses and serves for their interests, freedom and happiness.
UPDATE 5 (2013-2-7): Kim Jong-un nominated as a candidate for deputy to the 13th SPA by full support of all electors and other people. According to KCNA:
Meetings of Electorate Nominate Kim Jong Un as Candidate for Deputy to SPA
Pyongyang, February 7 (KCNA) — Meetings of electorate took place at all constituencies across the country to nominate supreme leader Kim Jong Un as a candidate for deputy to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK.
Reporters and speakers at the meetings said the election of deputies to the 13th SPA of the DPRK will offer a historic occasion of glorifying forever the Juche-oriented idea of nation-building of President Kim Il Sung and General Secretary Kim Jong Il and their immortal exploits, and bringing about a turning-point in the efforts for realizing all dreams and ideal of the people by enhancing the function and role of the people’s government.
They went on:
Kim Jong Un, possessed of outstanding wisdom, versatile leadership ability and noble traits, performed immortal exploits for the Party, revolution, country and people by leading the struggle for accomplishing the revolutionary cause of Juche at a historic time when the new century of Juche era started.
During the days of advancing the revolution and construction by having Kim Jong Un at the supreme posts of the party, state and army, the DPRK army and people keenly realized the great personality of the peerless Songun commander who is possessed of traits and qualifications as a contemporary statesman.
The service personnel and people of the country are full of conviction that the rosy future of Songun Korea and the victory of the cause of building a thriving socialist nation, in which the noble ideal and desire of the great Generalissimos are brought into full bloom, lie in following Kim Jong Un.
At the meetings they courteously proposed nominating Kim Jong Un as a candidate for deputy to the 13th SPA, reflecting the unanimous desire of all electors and other people.
The participants expressed full support for the proposal reflecting the unanimous will of the service personnel and other people.
The meetings solemnly declared that Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, was nominated as a candidate for deputy to the 13th SPA by full support and approval of all electors and other people.
Letters to Kim Jong Un were adopted at the meetings.
UPDATE 4 (2014-2-4): Surprise! Kim Jong-un has been nominated as a candidate to the SPA. According to KCNA:
Kim Jong Un Nominated as Candidate for Deputy to SPA
Pyongyang, February 4 (KCNA) — Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army and supreme leader of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the people of the DPRK, was nominated as a candidate for deputy to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly in reflection of the unanimous desire and absolute trust of all the service personnel in him.
A meeting of electorate took place with splendor at Paektusan Constituency No. 111 Monday to nominate Kim Jong Un as a candidate for deputy to the 13th SPA.
Present there were Choe Ryong Hae, Ri Yong Gil, Jang Jong Nam and officials of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces and KPA service personnel.
Vice Marshal of the KPA Choe Ryong Hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK and director of the KPA General Political Bureau, made a report.
He said the path covered by the DPRK under the leadership of the Songun commander of Mt. Paektu is a sacred path in which it emerged victorious by dint of the spirit, pluck and gut of the supreme commander, and a gigantic path in which it created world-startling miracles and innovations.
Through their life experience the KPA service personnel keenly felt that the bright future of Songun Korea and the victory of building a thriving socialist nation, the lifelong desire and wish of the great Generalissimos, are guaranteed only when they follow the supreme commander.
He courteously proposed nominating Kim Jong Un as a candidate for deputy to the SPA of Paektusan Constituency No. 111 for the election of deputies to the 13th SPA carrying the unanimous desire and warm wishes of all the service personnel.
Ri Yong Gil, chief of the KPA General Staff, Jang Jong Nam, minister of the People’s Armed Forces, and other speakers expressed full support and approval for the proposal for nominating Kim Jong Un as a candidate for deputy to the SPA.
The meeting solemnly declared that Kim Jong Un was nominated as a candidate for deputy to the SPA of Paektusan Constituency No. 111 for the election of deputies to the 13th SPA according to the unanimous desire and warm support and approval of all the electorate.
A letter to Kim Jong Un was adopted at the meeting.
Letter from Meeting of Electorate of Paektusan Constituency No. 111
Pyongyang, February 4 (KCNA) — Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army Kim Jong Un Monday received a letter from the participants in a meeting of electorate of Paektusan Constituency No. 111 to nominate him as a candidate for deputy to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK.
The letter said:
The period in which Kim Jong Un has led the army and the people of the DPRK true to the intention of leader Kim Jong Il was a short time in the nation’s history spanning five thousand years, but the feats he performed during the period are, indeed, the great feats that politicians can not do for a century and more.
The DPRK is giving full play to its dignity and might as an invincible power, while confidently advancing along the road of independence, Songun and socialism despite the world political upheaval. This is the proud fruition of Kim Jong Un’s extraordinary wisdom, distinguished political caliber, matchless courage and pluck.
Therefore, the grand meeting of electorate decided with a unanimous approval to nominate Kim Jong Un as a candidate for deputy to the 13th SPA of the DPRK amid the full support and enthusiastic cheers of all the participants.
The letter expressed the determination to successfully fulfill the honorable mission and duty as the defender of the DPRK government, rallied close around the supreme commander.
Although the SPA is a rubber-stamp organization, it comprises almost all key members of the North’s elite. Late leader Kim Jong-il, the father of current leader Kim Jong-un, was elected uncontested in past elections.
The outgoing SPA with a membership of 687 deputies was elected in 2009. Only those endorsed by the party can run in the elections, according to South Korean officials and analysts.
Election Committees for Deputies to SPA Start Their Work
Pyongyang, February 2 (KCNA) — Election committees were organized in constituencies and sub-constituencies for the election of deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK formed in provinces (municipality), cities (district) and counties and in the field of armed forces according to the law of election of deputies to the people’s assemblies at all levels of the DPRK and started their work.
Preparations are making headway across the country on the threshold of the election of deputies to the 13th SPA.
UPDATE 2 (2014-1-15): Preparations for the elections continue. According to KCNA:
Brisk Preparations for Election of Deputies to SPA
Pyongyang, January 15 (KCNA) — Preparations are making brisk headway across the DPRK for the election of deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA).
Provincial (municipal), city (district) and county committees for the election of deputies to the 13th SPA were organized according to the regulations for the enforcement of the law on electing deputies to the people’s assemblies at all levels of the DPRK and started their work.
Election committees were also organized in the field of armed forces.
UPDATE 1 (2014-1-12):KCNA reports on creation of Central Election Committee:
SPA Presidium Decides to Form Central Election Committee
Pyongyang, January 12 (KCNA) — The Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK decided to organize the central election committee for the election of deputies to the 13th SPA. The decision was released on Jan. 7.
The chairman of the committee is Yang Hyong Sop, vice-chairman Kim Phyong Hae, secretary general Hong Son Ok and its members Choe Pu Il, Kim Yong Dae, Kim Yong Ho, Jon Yong Nam, Hyon Sang Ju, Ri Myong Gil, Ro Song Sil, Ryom Chol Song, Kim Wan Su and Yun Jong Ho.
Pyongyang, January 8 (KCNA) — The Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) decided to hold an election of deputies to the 13th SPA on March 9, Juche 103 (2014), according to Article 90 of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK.
Deputies of the Supreme People’s Assembly represent 687 constituencies and serve for five years, with the last election held in March 2009.
The decision to hold elections was made by the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, North Korea’s most powerful supervisory body. Established in 1948, the Presidium implements the orders of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and sets guidelines for both domestic and international policy. It has the authority to promote and recall core members of central state organs, including the National Defense Commission, the Cabinet and the Supreme Court.
Naturally, the new power shakeup is set to generate intense speculation over the future direction of national and economic policy.
Ahn Chan Il of the World Institute for North Korea Studies told Daily NK, “It seems that the all-powerful regime of Kim Jong Eun will be formalized through the Supreme People’s Assembly for the world to see. This (election) could present an opportunity to revise the law, including amendments to the constitution, the ironing out issues related to land and the selection of special economic zones.”
North Korea usually holds parliamentary elections every five years and the polls are largely a formality because candidates are believed to be hand-picked by the ruling Workers’ Party. But since members of the Supreme People’s Assembly typically hold other top official posts, the elections are closely watched by outside analyst for any hints for a shift in power in the tightly controlled country.
This year’s election will be the first since Kim took power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il in late 2011.
It also will take place after Kim Jong Un had his uncle and top official Jang Song Thaek executed on treason charges last month. Observers said the execution was aimed at bolstering Kim’s power but also showed his grip on power wasn’t as tight as his father’s.
Kim is expected to use the elections to replace aging legislators with younger ones loyal to him, said analyst Cheong Seong-jang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea.
Here are previous posts on the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly:
1. Elections for the 12th Supreme Peoples’ Assembly were held in March 2009. See here, here, here.
2. 1st Session of the 12th Supreme Peoples’ Assembly (regular session: 2009-4): KCNA and here.
3. 2nd Session of the 12th Supreme Peoples’ Assembly (regular session: 2010-4): KCNA 1,KCNA 2, here, and here.
It was recently confirmed that North Korea has passed the International Railroad Cargo Law, Decree No. 2041 at the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly on December 14, 2011. Under this law, foreign investors in the country are provided legal protection of civil rights and interests.
The Law consists of chapters on the fundamentals of the International Railway Cargo Law; planning and contracts for international railway cargo; and transporters of international railway cargo. According to the law, international railroad business will be placed under the jurisdiction of the “Central Railway Transport Guidance Agency,” and will be accountable for all freights of exports and imports going in and out of the country.
The law proclaimed, “There will be strict system and order in the international railway freight system to ensure smooth transports of goods.” Specifically, the international railroad freight plan, A national planning agency will establish annual plans by quarterly and deliver it to the “Central Railway Transport Guidance Agency,” and the agency will make detailed monthly reports and transfer that information to relevant institutions, enterprises, organizations who used the railroad.
The transport contract is to be made between the transporting company and the owner of the freight and it must bear product name and quantity of the cargo being shipped, departing and arriving border stations, sender and receiver of the cargo, conditions and period of transport. In the law, it also explains export or import of prohibited materials or items that may interfere with the international railway cargo will be strictly restricted.
The law also states, the transporter must notify the recipient of the cargo two hours before the cargo arrives at the final destination, and in case of, delay or loss of goods, compensation for damages must be provided. The amount of compensation cannot exceed the amount of all the goods combined. The cargo owners must pay the transporting company for the services and prices incurred for transporting cargos and wages for labor. The cost will be determined by the State Price Commission.
Violation of contract will allow transportation agencies to claim indemnity for the damages and must submit documents with amount and grounds for claim, documents for transporting goods, and filed accident report at the station by a fixed date and submit the dossier to the railway transport authorities. The railway transport agency must process the claim within three months from the date of report.
The law also provides details on sanctions and conflict resolution. If a delay occurs, the party that is responsible must pay compensation for delays or those that interfered with the normal transporting operation, the law provides for administrative and criminal liability to the responsible party. As for conflict resolution, any disputes should be resolved through negotiation, but for those cases that are not resolvable, it must be resolved through arbitration or by trial.
This law is considered as a measure in preparation to revitalize the railway projects with Russia and China.
North Korea is showing great interest in the green industry that pursues both environmental conservation and economic development. Recently, North Korea is stressing the importance of pollution prevention for the construction of a powerful nation, such as research and development in solar and wind renewable energies, and recycling. In addition, it is establishing legal framework to support it.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on September 2, 2013 a new renewable energy law was adopted at the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly. The news reported the law addressed the principle problems in the development and usage of renewable energy. In August last year, the Environmental Protection Act was amended which added the use of renewable energy development, environmental certification system, and recycling technology to the regulations.
According to the news, Renewable Energy Act entails these following components: 1) definition and mission of renewable energy, 2) research and development of renewable energy resources, 3) basic principles in the usage, 4) planning and encouraging the development of renewable energy, 5) enforcement of the materials and technical sectors of renewable energy, and 6) legal requirements to guide the renewable energy sector projects. The Act consists of six chapters and 46 clauses.
The mission of the law is to encourage the development and use of renewable energy and invigorate the renewable energy industry by enabling the sustainable development of economy and improve people’s living standards and contribute to environmental protection.
In addition, the news reported that the law in the field of renewable energy must “strengthen the material and technical foundation for the development of the renewable energy industry and the state is responsible for systematical advancement of investment in renewable energy.”
In addition, the law also included provisions that stressed international cooperation and assistance from other countries and international organizations for the exchange and cooperation for the development of the renewable energy sector. The news provided details that included provisions, “the institutions, enterprises and organizations of the renewable energy sectors must conduct scientific research in renewable energy,” “research plan for renewable energy resources will be established by national planning agencies and the state planning agencies should develop renewable energy resources plans according to the environmental conditions and energy demand and based on the current status of renewable energy technology.”
The news also added that the Renewable Energy Act introduced the basic requirements, development, and objectives of the law. It emphasized hydro, wind, solar, marine, and biological energies are clean energy resources that do not affect the environment, and also promote the construction of powerful socialist economy. It also claimed North Korea must actively seek strategies to industrialize renewable energy that reflect realistic conditions.
DPRK Economic Development Committee launched: Special economic and tourism zones to be named (IFES)
In the wake of normalizing the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) agreement, North Korea has announced that it had installed the Economic Development Committee and named special economic and tourism zones, as well as newly appointed officials in charge. In the near future, North Korea has plans to announce specific special economic zones in Sinuiju, Nampo, and Haeju, along with tourism zones in Mount Baekdu, Wonsan, and Chilbosan. The head and director-level executives for the Economic Development Committee are likely to be appointed from the Joint Venture Investment Committee. The head of the Tourism Development is reported to be the former director of Korea Tourism Administration.
Meanwhile, North Korea has released the preamble of the economic development law adopted at the recent Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly held on May 29. As inter-Korean relations are progressing with the plans of restarting the Kaesong Industrial Complex and the reunion of separated families moving forward, North Korea’s economic development law is drawing attention once again.
In principle, the selection process for the special economic zones must possess these following elements: Area must 1) be in a favorable location for foreign economic cooperation and exchanges; 2) contribute to the economic and science and technology development; 3) be at a fixed distance from the residential areas; and 4) be at a location that does not intrude in the state protected areas (Article 11). This can be interpreted as the North’s effort to segregate the existing residential areas with the special economic zone similar to the Kaesong Industrial Complex so as to minimize the political and social impact of these zones.
The newly confirmed information for the new Economic Development Law is the list of development activities. “Investors from other countries are permitted to develop economic zones either alone or in collaboration after obtaining state approval (Article 20).” Evidently, North Korean institutions and enterprises may also develop economic zones after receiving approval from the state.
In addition, the law granted comprehensive property rights to the development companies. It states that “Companies have the right to sell, re-lease, bequeath, or transfer the ownership of the buildings and land lease” and “the selling or re-lease price shall be determined by the development company” (Article 29).
As for recruitment of workers, there is a provision that states “our country’s labor force must be given preferential consideration” (Article 41), and “the minimum wage for the employees of the Economic Development Zone shall be determined by central guidance organization of special economic zone” (Article 42). This poses some concern as the employee wage at the Economic Development Zone could be compared to that of the KIC, which could lead to wage disputes after the KIC begins to implement its internationalization process.
Another noteworthy change is the currencies permitted at the zone: “currency for circulation and payment must be Korean Won (KPW) or other specified currency” (Article 46), suggesting that other currencies such as the US dollar and euro will be allowed.
Furthermore, the Act specifies that “Companies in the economic development zone will decide on the commodity and service prices, and all the prices in the Economic Development Zone between institutions, enterprises and organizations shall be determined by the international market price based on agreement of all the parties” (Article 43). This suggests that the products produced in the zone may be traded domestically in North Korea.
In this Act, corporate income tax rate was set at 14 percent of profits and “Economic Development companies that operate for more than 10 years will be considered for a tax cut or exemption from the corporate income tax.” Article 58 grants “communication guarantees” for the usage of mail, telephone, and fax services, but did not include the use of the Internet.
UPDATE 3 (2013-8-30): In August, the Pyongyang Times issued the following information on the DPRK’s Law on Economic Development Zones:
New law friendly towards investment
The law on economic development zone was enacted and promulgated in the DPRK on May 29.
The Pyongyang Times staff reporter Kim Rye Yong interviewed Kang Jong Nam, PhD and researcher at Law College of Kim Il Sung University, about the law.
What is the difference between this law and other laws that are in force in such special zones as Rason Economic and Trade Zone, Hwanggumphyong and Wihwado Economic Zone and Kaesong Industrial Park?
The recent law is applied to economic development zones to be newly established.
According to the law, an economic development zone is the area where investors receive preferential treatment in their economic activities in line with the legislation specially laid down by the state. Such a zone includes industrial, agricultural, tourist, exports processing and cutting-edge technology development areas. It is a principle to establish such a zone in the area which is favourable for external economic cooperation and exchange, conducive to the development of the country’s economy, science and technology and somewhat distant from residential areas and reserves.
Foreign investors may develop the zone singly or jointly and DPRK institutions and enterprises may be developers.
The zone shall be invested by foreign bodies corporate, individuals (natural persons) and economic groups and overseas Koreans.
The law defines that the investors’ rights, interests, properties and lawful profits are under protection by law. The state shall not nationalize or expropriate their properties. Should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary to expropriate or temporarily use their properties for the public good, it shall inform them of this in advance and make a full and timely compensation for this.
The personal safety of investors is also protected by law. Without legal grounds they will not be subjected to detention or arrest and their residences will not be subjected to search.
Where there are treaties concluded between the DPRK and foreign countries as regards personal safety, they shall prevail.
How is an economic development zone managed?
It is managed by the economic development zone management body under the guidance and with the assistance of the central special economic zone guidance organ and the people’s committee of a relevant province or a municipality directly under the central authority.
The management body carries out assignments given by the central organ and the people’s committee including the formulation of rules of the development and management of the zone, creation of investment environment and invitation of investment, licensing of the establishment of enterprise and its registration and the licensing, supervision and cooperation related to the construction, management and operation of project.
The law stipulates that an investor can lease land for a maximum of 50 years and, if need be, continue to use the land by renewing the contract before the expiry date.
The enterprise income tax rate shall be 14 per cent of settled accounts profits and that in encouraged sectors 10 per cent, a very low rate. An enterprise that operates in the zone for over ten years shall enjoy the benefit of exemption from or reduction of taxes. Where an investor reinvests profits to increase registered capital or sets up a new enterprise to operate it for over five years, he shall be paid back 50 per cent or 100 per cent of the income tax.
Tariff in the zone is preferential.
The prices of goods and services dealt between enterprises in the zone and those of goods dealt between the enterprises in the zone and the Korean economic organizations outside the zone shall be fixed by mutual consent between the parties proportionate to international market prices.
North Korea passes economic development zone law
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
Since the start of Kim Jong-un regime, internal economic management measures continue to be established. Recently, a new law was enacted for the establishment of economic development zones.
The KCNA reported on June 5 that a law for economic development zones was adopted and “in this regard, ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly’s Standing Committee was promulgated at the session on May 29.”
The legislation is composed of 7 chapters and 62 sections, which cover matters such as configuration, development, management, conflict resolution, and so forth.
The report added that “Economic development zones, in accordance with the regulations set forth by the state, are entitled to various privileges as special economic zones.”
In addition, “Foreign corporations, individuals, economic organizations, and overseas Koreans are able to invest in the economic development zones, and can freely engage in economic activities including establishment of businesses, branches, and offices.” It also indicated that “the state will provide preferential terms to investors in areas such as land usages, recruitment, and tax payments.”
The details of the rights granted to investors were expounded, emphasizing that economic development zone is a special zone, and provides legal safeguards to protect the rights, investment properties and legitimate profits of foreign investors.
According to the KCNA, the economic development zones will include various economic and science and technology sectors such as industrial development, agricultural, tourism, export processing, and high-tech development zones.
Chairman Kim Jong-un delivered a speech at the WPK’s Central Committee Meeting entitled “Economic Development Zones Must Be Created in Every Province Reflecting the Regional Characteristics,” hinting at the state’s policy to attract more foreign investment to accelerate the development of the economic zones.
In particular, investments in infrastructure construction, state-of-the-art science and technology sector, and production of goods highly competitive in the international market were especially encouraged.
The management of these economic development zones will be separated into local-level and central-level zones, indicating that economic development zones will be established in all parts of the country.
However, this law does not apply to the preexisting economic and trade zones in Rason, Hwanggeumpyeong, Wihwa Island, Kumgang and Kaesong. The new legislation indicates that North Korea is committed to economic development regardless of the tense relations on the Korean Peninsula.
UPDATE 1 (2013-6-23):Yonhap offers new details of the legislation not published by KCNA:
North Korea will offer a maximum 50 year lease on land for the economic development zones it wants to set up across the country to spur outside investment, an analysis of a propaganda magazine monitored in Seoul showed Sunday.
Close examination of the May 29 edition of the Tongil Sinbo, a weekly magazine that highlights activities taking place in the isolationist country, revealed the lease system.
The 50-year scheme for development zones is on par with land lease favors offered by Pyongyang to businesses operating in the Kaesong Industrial Complex and the Rason Economic and Trade Zone. The plan can offer assurances to investors, which can be a critical incentive.
Kaesong is on the west coast just north of the demilitarized zone, while Rason is located in the country’s northeastern region near the border with China and Russia.
In addition, the weekly said companies will be able to freely buy and sell rights on buildings and land in the economic zones and even hand over property deeds with a clause being fixed that can allow the present rights holder to release it to a third party.
Development of land leased can be assisted by North Korean state organizations and companies.
The weekly said Pyongyang has set corporate tax rates for these zones at 14 percent of earnings after the settlement of accounts, with the government pledging the safety of all foreigners in the special zones under North Korean law.
In regards to where the development zones will be set up, the weekly said the North will give priority to areas that can trade easily with the outside world, a region that can contribute to the advancement of the national economy, and a location that is separate from local residences.
The report said that all authority for the new development zones will be given to a centralized economic oversight organization to make it easier for investors to talk to authorities and receive administrative assistance.
Read the full story here:
N. Korea to offer max 50 years lease on land in economic development zones
Yonhap (via Global Post)
Pyongyang, June 5 (KCNA) — The DPRK enacted a law on economic development zones.
A decree on the law was promulgated by the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK on May 29.
The law has seven chapters (62 articles) and additional rules (two articles).
The law deals with fundamentals of the law, establishment, development and management of economic development zones, economic transactions in the zones, their encouragement, preference and settlement of complaints and disputes.
According to the law, economic development zones are special economic zones in which preference is granted as for economic activities under the laws and regulations specially provided for by the state.
The economic development zones include industrial development zone, agricultural development zone, tourism development zone, exports processing zone, ultra-modern technological development zone and other development zones in the fields of the economy and science and technology.
The state will assort the economic development zones into local-level economic development zones and central-level economic development zones and manage them according to their affiliations.
Foreign corporate bodies, individuals and economic organizations and overseas Koreans can invest in the economic development zones and also set up businesses, branches and offices and conduct free economic activities.
The state shall provide investors with conditions for preferential economic activities regarding the use of land, employment of labor, payment of taxes, etc.
The state shall specially encourage investment in the fields of infrastructural construction and ultra-modern science and technology and in the field producing goods with high competitiveness in international market in the economic development zones.
Rights granted to investors and investment properties and legal income are protected by law in the zones.
The law on economic development zones and regulations and rules for its enforcement will be applied as for economic activities like development and management of the economic development zones and the operation of businesses.
This law is not applied to the Rason Economic and Trade Zone, Hwanggumphyong and Wihwado economic zones, Kaesong Industrial Zone and Mt. Kumgang Tourist Special Zone.
On March 31, KCNA reported on the recent plenary meeting of the Korean Worker’s Party:
The historic March, 2013 plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea took place at the building of the WPK Central Committee, supreme staff of the Korean revolution, on Sunday.
First Secretary of the WPK Kim Jong Un guided the meeting.
Present at the meeting were members and alternate members of the WPK Central Committee and members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK.
Present there as observers were senior officials of ministries, national institutions, provincial, city and county committees of the WPK, complexes, major munitions factories and enterprises.
The participants paid silent tribute to President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il.
Taken up for discussion at the meeting were the following agenda items “1. On tasks of our Party on bringing about a decisive turn in accomplishing revolutionary cause of Juche as required by the present situation and the developing revolution”, “2. On personnel affairs issue to be submitted to the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly” and “3. On organizational matter”.
Kim Jong Un made a report and concluding speech on the first agenda item.
The plenary meeting set forth a new strategic line on carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously under the prevailing situation and to meet the legitimate requirement of the developing revolution.
This line is a brilliant succession and development onto a new higher stage of the original line of simultaneously developing economy and national defence that was set forth and had been fully embodied by the great Generalissimos.
It was stressed at the meeting that the party’s new line is not a temporary countermeasure for coping with the rapidly changing situation but a strategic line to be always held fast to, in the supreme interests of the Korean revolution.
The nuclear weapons of Songun Korea are not goods for getting U.S. dollars and they are neither a political bargaining chip nor a thing for economic dealings to be presented to the place of dialogue or be put on the table of negotiations aimed at forcing the DPRK to disarm itself.
The DPRK’s nuclear armed forces represent the nation’s life which can never be abandoned as long as the imperialists and nuclear threats exist on earth. They are a treasure of a reunified country which can never be traded with billions of dollars.
Only when the nuclear shield for self-defence is held fast, will it be possible to shatter the U.S. imperialists’ ambition for annexing the Korean Peninsula by force and making the Korean people modern slaves, firmly defend our ideology, social system and all other socialist treasures won at the cost of blood and safeguard the nation’s right to existence and its time-honored history and brilliant culture.
When the party’s new line is thoroughly carried out, the DPRK will emerge as a great political, military and socialist economic power and a highly-civilized country which steers the era of independence.
The meeting set forth tasks for carrying out the new line and ways for doing so.
All the officials, party members and other people should wage bold offensive and all-people decisive battle with faith in sure victory and strong determination and thus make the flame of miracle and innovation sweep all fields of national economy.
The pilot fields of the national economy, the basic industrial fields should be drastically developed and production be increased to the maximum. Forces should be directed to agriculture and light industry, key fields in building an economic power to improve and put on a stable basis the people’s living standard at the earliest possible date.
The self-reliant nuclear power industry should be developed and the work for developing light water reactor be dynamically promoted to actively contribute to easing the strain on the electricity problem of the country.
Spurs should be given to the development of space science and technology and more advanced satellites including communications satellites be developed and launched.
The country’s economy should be shifted into knowledge-based economy and the foreign trade be made multilateral and diversified and investment be widely introduced.
The economic guidance shall be fundamentally improved as required by the new situation and Korean-style advantageous economic management methods be completed by embodying the Juche idea.
The DPRK’s possession of nukes should be fixed by law and the nuclear armed forces should be expanded and beefed up qualitatively and quantitatively until the denuclearization of the world is realized.
The People’s Army should perfect the war method and operation in the direction of raising the pivotal role of the nuclear armed forces in all aspects concerning the war deterrence and the war strategy, and the nuclear armed forces should always round off the combat posture.
As a responsible nuclear weapons state, the DPRK will make positive efforts to prevent the nuclear proliferation, ensure peace and security in Asia and the rest of the world and realize the denuclearization of the world.
Institutions in charge of security and safeguard, judicial and prosecution and people’s security and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces should resolutely foil the vicious moves of the imperialist reactionaries and class enemies, devotedly defend the party, social system and people and surely guarantee the new line of the party with arms and by law.
The party and working people’s organizations and power bodies should increase their militant function and role in every way in the struggle for implementing the party’s line.
The meeting entrusted the Presidium of the SPA and the Cabinet with the matters of taking legal, administrative and technical measures for implementing the tasks.
At the meeting a decision on the first agenda item “On carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously and thus bringing earlier the final victory in the cause of building a thriving socialist nation” was adopted with unanimous approval.
The second agenda item, personal affairs issue to be submitted to the 7th Session of the 12th SPA, was discussed and decided at the meeting.
The meeting also dealt with an organizational matter, its third agenda item.
Members of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee, members and alternate members of the Political Bureau were recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.
Pak Pong Ju was elected to fill a vacancy of a member of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee.
Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyok Sik and Choe Pu Il were elected to fill vacancies of alternate members of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee.
Members and alternate members of the WPK Central Committee were recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.
Upon authorization of Kim Jong Un, Paek Kye Ryong was appointed as director of the Light Industrial Department of the WPK Central Committee and Yun U Chol as editor-in-chief of Rodong Sinmun, organ of the WPK Central Committee.
Members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK were also recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.
Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea Stresses Development of Agricultural, Light, and Nuclear Industries
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on March 31 that a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea was held. At the meeting, a new strategic line was announced to have been set, which called for building a stronger economy and nuclear arsenal. This meeting is drawing attention as it is suspected that Pyongyang will pursue a new economic policy.
The news described the new strategic line as, “most revolutionary and people oriented policy for the construction of a powerful socialist nation by consolidating defense capacity through development of defensive nuclear weapons and economic construction.”
It stressed that this policy is significant as a “creative and parallel policy for defense and economy continuing the policies of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, which must be adopted as a permanent strategy.”
At the plenary meeting, the main agendas for the parallel policy of economy and defense were announced as: 1) Improvement of the production of people’s economy and capacity enhancement for agricultural and light industries to stabilize prices to improve the lives of the people; 2) development of self-reliant nuclear power industry and light water reactors; 3) development and launch of more satellites including communication satellites through advancement in space science and technology; 4) transition to knowledge economy and diversification of foreign trade to vitalize foreign investments; and 5) establish legislation to be recognized as a nuclear state and develop nuclear arsenal both in quantity and quality until denuclearization is realized worldwide.
At the plenary, the new parallel policy was commended, “The supremacy of the policy is demonstrated by expanding capability in war deterrence and national defense without increasing defense budget and enabled concentration on economic development and improvement of the lives of the people.”
The statement released by the KCNA stated that the plenary meeting’s emphasis on transition to knowledge economy and diversification of foreign trade as the main tasks and appears to be pursuing a “fundamental improvement in economic leadership.”
In addition, the plenary assigned the presidium of the Supreme Peoples’ Assembly and the Cabinet to serve as the economic control tower to oversee the future projects decided at the plenary meeting.
North Korea is continuing to place emphasis on light and agricultural industries. The Kim Jong Un regime entered its second year. The leader was reported to have attended the light industry conference, which was held for the first time in ten years and underscored the importance of concentrating on development of the capacity of light industry.
The new Korean line, 병진 (Pyongjin, Byungjin) is the simultaneous development of nuclear weapons and the economy. Learn more about it here.
Following the central committee plenary meeting, the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly was held. According to KCNA:
The Seventh Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK took place at the Mansudae Assembly Hall Monday.
Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, was present at the session.
Present there were deputies to the SPA.
Also present there as observers were officials of party, armed forces and power bodies, public organizations, ministries and national institutions and those in the fields of science, education, literature and art, public health and media.
All the participants observed a moment’s silence in memory of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il in humblest reverence.
The session decided the following agenda items of the Seventh Session of the 12th SPA of the DPRK:
1. On amending and supplementing some contents of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK
2. On adopting the DPRK Law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
3. On adopting the ordinance of the SPA of the DPRK “On Consolidating the Position of Nuclear Weapons State for Self-Defence”
4. On adopting the DPRK Law on Developing Space
5. On adopting the decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On Setting up the DPRK State Space Development Bureau”
6. On the work of the DPRK Cabinet for Juche 101 (2012) and its tasks for Juche 102 (2013)
7. On the review of the fulfillment of the DPRK’s state budget for Juche 101 (2012) and state budget for Juche 102 (2013)
8. Organizational matter
The session discussed the first and second agenda items.
Deputy Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA, made a report on amendment and supplement to some contents of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and on adopting the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
Then followed speeches on the first and second agenda items.
Deputy Kim Ki Nam, secretary of the WPK Central Committee, spoke on behalf of the WPK, Deputy Choe Ryong Hae, director of the General Political Bureau of the KPA, on behalf of the KPA and Deputy Jon Yong Nam, chairman of the C.C., the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, on behalf of the youth.
The speakers fully supported and approved of deliberation and adoption of the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at the current SPA session reflecting the unanimous feelings of all party members, service personnel and youth across the country.
The ordinances of the SPA of the DPRK “On Amending and Supplementing Some Contents of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK” and “On Adopting the DPRK Law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun” were adopted at the session with the approval of all deputies.
The session discussed the third, fourth and fifth agenda items.
The ordinances of the SPA of the DPRK “On Consolidating the Position of Nuclear Weapons State for Self-Defence” and “On Adopting the DPRK Law on Developing Space” and the decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On Setting Up the DPRK State Space Development Bureau” were adopted at the session with the approval of all deputies.
Deputy Choe Yong Rim, premier of the Cabinet, made a report on the sixth agenda item.
Deputy Choe Kwang Jin, minister of Finance, made a report on the seventh agenda item.
Then followed speeches on the sixth and seventh agenda items. Written speeches were presented at the session.
The speakers noted that the Cabinet work and the fulfillment of the state budget for last year were correctly reviewed and summed up, clear tasks of the Cabinet were set forth to meet the requirements of the general offensive to open an epochal phase in building an economic power at the final stage of the all-out action against the U.S. and the state budget was correctly shaped. They expressed full support and approval of them.
They expressed their determination to reenergize the overall economy of the country, step up the grand advance for improving the standard of people’s living to make loud shouts of hurrah for the Workers’ Party and socialism heard this year marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War, true to the historic New Year Address of Kim Jong Un and the decision of the March, 2013 plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee.
The decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On Approval of the Report on the Work of the DPRK Cabinet and the Review of the Fulfillment of the State Budget for Juche 101 (2012)” and the ordinance of the SPA of the DPRK “On the DPRK’s State Budget for Juche 102 (2013)” were adopted at the session with the approval of all deputies.
The session discussed the organizational matter.
At the session Deputy Choe Yong Rim was recalled from the post of premier of the DPRK Cabinet and Deputy Pak Pong Ju was elected premier of the DPRK Cabinet at the proposal of the WPK Central Committee.
Choe Yong Rim was elected honorary vice-president of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA.
Deputies Kim Jong Gak and Ri Myong Su were recalled from the posts of member of the DPRK National Defence Commission (NDC) due to the transfer to other jobs.
Deputies Kim Kyok Sik and Choe Pu Il were elected members of the DPRK NDC to fill vacancies at the proposal of the WPK Central Committee and the WPK Central Military Commission.
Deputy Thae Hyong Chol was recalled from the post of secretary general of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA and Deputy Hong Son Ok was elected secretary general of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA.
Some members of the Cabinet were relieved of their posts and appointed at the session.
Deputy Pak Pong Ju, premier of the DPRK Cabinet, took an oath at the SPA.
KCNA also issued several reports that stemmed from the SPA meeting:
Report on Adopting Draft Amendment and Supplement to Socialist Constitution and Law on Kumsusan Palace of Sun
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, made a report on adopting the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
According to the report, the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution and the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to be submitted to the session for discussion will legalize the plan and intention of the Workers’ Party of Korea to fix by law the shining achievements made in accomplishing the cause of perpetuating the memory of the leaders and complete it on a new higher stage.
To be supplemented to the preface of the Socialist Constitution is the sentence which says that the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il lie in state is a grand edifice for the immortality of the leaders, a symbol of the dignity of the whole Korean nation and its eternal sacred temple.
The law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun specifies that its noble mission is to preserve and glorify forever the palace, which is the supreme temple of Juche, as the eternal temple of the sun of the entire Korean nation.
The law stipulates that Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il will be held in high esteem forever as in their lifetime at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and that it is the obligation of all the Koreans to regard the Palace as a symbol of dignity and a great pride of the nation.
It also specifies the state duty to spruce up the Palace in a sublime and perfect way with the state, all-people and nationwide efforts and devotedly safeguard the Palace in every way so that no one can violate.
Also stipulated in the law are matters for carrying out the work of eternally preserving the Palace as the most important state work with consistency, organizing the committee for the eternal preservation of the Palace and preserving for photos, train coaches, cars, boat and other relics and orders which represent the noble lives of the great Generalissimos.
Orders were also set so that Korean people, overseas Koreans and foreigners can pay respects to the great Generalissimos at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
Also mentioned in the law are the matters of establishment of special sanctuary of the Palace for its protection and management as well as the management of buildings in the premise of the palace, park, arboretum, outdoor lighting and lighting facilities and orders concerning the operation of the plaza and the park of the Palace.
It was specified in the law that electricity, facilities, materials and other supplies needed for the Palace shall be planned separately and be provided without fail on a top priority basis. The law also set the duty to be fulfilled by relevant institutions to strictly supervise and control on a regular basis the work for safeguarding, eternally preserving and providing the conditions for the management and operation of the Palace.
The reporter said that the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is the unique code for the immortality of the leaders, adding that it is the biggest honor for the army and people of the DPRK to have the legal weapon for the immortality of the leaders.
The adoption of the law will serve as a historic occasion for defending and further glorifying the idea on perpetuating the memory of the leaders clarified by the dear respected Kim Jong Un, he stressed.
The reporter said that the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK submits the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution and the draft law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to the SPA session for discussion according to Article 95 of the Socialist Constitution.
DPRK’s Law on Kumsusan Palace of Sun Adopted
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — The DPRK’s Law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun was adopted.
The ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly on it was promulgated Monday.
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il lie in state is the
eternal temple of the sun of the whole Korean nation.
The ordinance says that the SPA decides to adopt this law to eternally preserve and glorify forever the
Kumsusan Palace of the Sun as a grand edifice for the immortality of the leaders symbolic of Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s Korea.
Law on Consolidating Position of Nuclear Weapons State Adopted
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — A law on consolidating the position of nuclear weapons state for self-defence was adopted in the DPRK.
An ordinance of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK in this regard was promulgated on Monday.
The ordinance said as follows:
The DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear weapons state capable of beating back any aggressor troops at one strike, firmly defending the socialist system and providing a sure guarantee for the happy life of the people.
Having an independent and just nuclear force, the DPRK put an end to the distress-torn history in which it was subject to outside forces’ aggression and interference and could emerge a socialist power of Juche which no one dares provoke.
The Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK decides to consolidate the position of the nuclear weapons state as follows:
1. The nuclear weapons of the DPRK are just means for defence as it was compelled to have access to them to cope with the ever-escalating hostile policy of the U.S. and nuclear threat.
2. They serve the purpose of deterring and repelling the aggression and attack of the enemy against the DPRK and dealing deadly retaliatory blows at the strongholds of aggression until the world is denuclearized.
3. The DPRK shall take practical steps to bolster up the nuclear deterrence and nuclear retaliatory strike power both in quality and quantity to cope with the gravity of the escalating danger of the hostile forces’ aggression and attack.
4. The nuclear weapons of the DPRK can be used only by a final order of the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army to repel invasion or attack from a hostile nuclear weapons state and make retaliatory strikes.
5. The DPRK shall neither use nukes against the non-nuclear states nor threaten them with those weapons unless they join a hostile nuclear weapons state in its invasion and attack on the DPRK.
6. The DPRK shall strictly observe the rules on safekeeping and management of nukes and ensuring the stability of nuclear tests.
7. The DPRK shall establish a mechanism and order for their safekeeping and management so that nukes and their technology, weapon-grade nuclear substance may not leak out illegally.
8. The DPRK shall cooperate in the international efforts for nuclear non-proliferation and safe management of nuclear substance on the principle of mutual respect and equality, depending on the improvement of relations with hostile nuclear weapons states.
9. The DPRK shall strive hard to defuse the danger of a nuclear war and finally build a world without nukes and fully support the international efforts for nuclear disarmament against nuclear arms race.
10. The related institutions shall take thorough practical steps for implementing this ordinance.
DPRK Law on Developing Space Adopted
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — The Law on Developing Space was adopted in the DPRK.
The ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly on it was promulgated Monday.
DPRK SPA Decides to Set Up State Space Development Bureau
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — The DPRK decided to set up the State Space Development Bureau.
The decision of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK promulgated on Monday said:
The DPRK is a full-fledged satellite manufacturer and launcher.
It is an invariable stand of the DPRK to develop the country into a world-class space power by exercising its legitimate right to space development for peaceful purposes.
To step up economic construction and improve the people’s standard of living by radically developing the space science and technology of the country and guide and manage all the space activities of the DPRK in a uniform way, the SPA decides as follows:
1. The DPRK State Space Development Bureau shall be set up.
2. The bureau is a state central institution which guides and manages the supervision and control over the working out of a space development program and its implementation and space development work in a uniform way.
3. The Cabinet of the DPRK and other institutions concerned shall take practical measures to implement this decision.
Work of Cabinet for Last Year and Tasks for This Year
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — At the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly held on Monday, Deputy and Premier Choe Yong Rim made a report on the last year’s work of the DPRK Cabinet and this year’s tasks.
According to the report, last year electricity and coal production and the volume of railway freight transport increased amid the endeavors to shore up the four pilot fields of the national economy. Increase was also made in the production of a variety of industrial goods, the report said, and went on:
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun was remodeled to be the supreme temple of Juche, the National Gifts Exhibition House, Pyongyang Folklore Park, Changjon Street, Rungna People’s Pleasure Park and other big edifices in the era of Songun have been built.
Big industrial projects such as the Huichon Power Station, Tanchon Port, Taedonggang Building Materials Factory were completed and technological updating and modernization of major factories and enterprises in the field of metal, machine, chemical and light industries have been pushed forward, consolidating the material and technological foundation of the national economy.
Satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 was successfully manufactured and launched and the third underground nuclear test by the use of smaller and lighter A-bomb of great explosive power was successfully conducted.
The bases for the production of cutting-edge technical goods were built and projects for the development of science and technology have been successfully carried out and the modernization of the information and communications field have been stepped up.
A law on the enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education was promulgated. This paved a wide avenue for consolidating the socialist education system and raising the quality of education.
In the field of health care, a telemedicine service has been successfully introduced. The DPRK’s players glorified the honor of the country at major international sports events including the 30th Olympic Games and other signal achievements were made in the field of cultural construction.
The reporter said that this year’s tasks are to realize at an early date the lifetime desire of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il, who devoted their whole lives to putting the country’s economy on the level of a prosperous and powerful country and to making the people live with no more to desire in the world.
According to the report, this year the Cabinet will organize the economic work with a main emphasis on solving issues arising in the people’s living by shoring up the pilot fields, the basic industrial field, consolidating the springboard for building an economic power and concentrating all efforts on agriculture and light industry while regarding coal industry and metal industry as key fields.
It is necessary to increase the production of coal.
Technological updating and modernization of iron works and steel works will be stepped up while improving the bases for the production of Juche iron which have already been built in the field of metal industry. Strict measures for supplying raw materials and fuel should be taken to increase the production of rolled steel more than 3.5 times as compared with last year and thus meet the need for steel.
The field of railway transport will ease strain on transport by consolidating the material and technical foundation of railways.
The grain production plan for this year should be carried out without condition.
The whole country should make efforts for the reclamation of Sepho Tideland and the construction of stock-breeding bases and thus complete the creation of grassland within this year.
The production should be put at a high rate at major chemical factories and the percentage of locally available raw materials should be significantly increased. The production at mines, factories and enterprises in Tanchon area should be increased and exports be boosted to ensure in a responsible manner funds for improving the people’s living standard.
Big efforts should be directed to the construction of dwelling houses. Wonsan area should turn into a world-level resort and tourist destination and living environment and conditions be improved in provinces, cities and counties.
The state investment in the field of science and technology should be increased and the flame of industrial revolution in the new century be raised so as to bring about a decisive turn in building an economic power by dint of science and technology.
Ultra-modern technological goods of high competitiveness should be massively researched and developed. Scientific and technological issues arising in the technological updating and modernization of the national economy should be satisfactorily solved.
The state investment will be increased in education and the preparations for enforcing the universal 12-year compulsory education system be rounded off within this year and fresh progress be made in education, public health, literature, arts, sports and all other fields of cultural construction.
All the fields and units of the national economy should build under a long-term plan export bases for producing second-stage and third-stage processed goods and finished goods of high competitiveness at international markets by relying on locally available resources and indigenous technology. Latest scientific and technological achievements should be positively introduced to increase the varieties of exports and remarkably raise their quality.
Trade should be made diversified and multilateral while conducting a variety of trade activities. The joint venture and collaboration should be actively promoted and the work for setting up economic development zones be pushed forward.
Review of Fulfillment of State Budget for Last Year and State Budget for This Year
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — Deputy Choe Kwang Jin, minister of Finance, made a report on the review of the fulfillment of state budget for last year and the state budget for this year at the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly held on Monday.
According to the report, the state budgetary revenue last year was over-fulfilled by 1.3 percent, an increase of 10.1 percent over the previous year.
The plan for local budgetary revenue was carried out at 113.8 percent.
The state budgetary expenditure was implemented at 99.6 percent, an increase of 9.7 percent over that in the previous year.
44.8 percent of the total state budgetary expenditure for the economic development and improvement of people’s living standard was used for funding the building of edifices to be presented to the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung, the consolidation of the material and technological foundation of Juche-based, modern and self-supporting economy and the work for face-lifting the country.
38.9 percent of total expenditure was spent for enforcing popular policies and measures for social culture under socialism such as the universal free compulsory education system, free healthcare, social insurance and social security, recuperation and relaxation systems as well as those for development of literature and art and building of a sports power.
Some of the total state budgetary expenditure went to national defence.
According to the report, this year’s state budgetary revenue and expenditure have been shaped in such a way as keeping the overall economy afloat and bringing about a decisive turn in stabilizing and improving the standard of people’s living.
The state budgetary revenue is expected to increase 4.1 percent over that last year.
Out of this, the transaction tax, main source of budgetary revenue, is expected to grow 3.5 percent, the revenue from the profits of state enterprises 6 percent, revenue from the profits of cooperative enterprises 5.3 percent, the revenue from the depreciation 2.8 percent and revenue from real estate rent 3.4 percent.
In the total state budgetary revenue, national budgetary revenue will account for 83 percent and local budgetary revenue 17 percent.
Provinces, cities and counties are envisaged to ensure expenditure with local import and put a huge amount of fund into national budget.
The state budgetary expenditure is expected to grow 5.9 percent over last year.
It was decided to increase expenditure in the field of coal, electricity, metal and railway transport 7.2 percent, the field of agriculture and light industry 5.1 percent, basic investment in capital construction and big overhaul 5.8 percent, the field of science and technology 6.7 percent, the field of education 6.8 percent, the field of public health 5.4 percent, the field of social insurance and security 3.7 percent, the field of sports 6.1 percent and the field of culture 2.2 percent.
Some of the total state budgetary expenditure will go for national defence.
A large amount of educational aid fund and stipends will be sent for the education of Korean children in Japan to promote the development of the democratic national education of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.
The reporter called for working hard to glorify this significant year marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War as a year of gigantic creation and innovations, in hearty response to the historic New Year Address by Kim Jong Un and the decision made at the March, 2013 plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee.
Here is what Yonhap had to say about the DPRK’s defense budget:
North Korea is expected to spend 16 percent of its budget on national defense in 2013, up 0.2 percentage point from the year before, the country’s state media said Tuesday.
According to the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, Finance Minister Choe Kwang-jin reported to a meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang on Monday that the money is needed to effectively cope with “indiscriminate” provocations by the United States and its followers.
The paper, however, did not disclose the exact size of the defense budget, although South Korea’s unification ministry speculated that last year’s military budget totaled US$910 million.
The proportion of the spending plan compared to the overall budget, is the highest tallied since 1998, according to South Korean analysts.
From 1998 through 2002, the North is estimated to have spent 14.4 percent to 14.5 percent of its annual budget on defense, with numbers going up and being fixed at 15.8 percent in the 2007-2012 period, they said.
1. Here and here is KCTV footage of the SPA meeting.
Pictured Above (Google Earth): The Mansudae Assembly Hall, meeting place of the Supreme People’s Assembly. To the east of the Hall is the new Peoples’ Theater and new housing apartments along Changjon and Mansudae Streets.
A rare “second session” of the DPRK’s Supreme People’s Assembly was held on September 25th. The unicameral legislature, with little de facto authority, usually holds a single meeting in April of each year. The last special “second session” was held in June 2010 (see below for more information).
This 6th session of the SPA was widely anticipated outside the DPRK because many analysts believed the country would be announcing a plethora of economic adjustment measures. See here for background. None of this was discussed publicly.
Here is KCNA coverage of the session:
Sixth Session of 12th SPA Held
Pyongyang, September 25 (KCNA) — The Sixth Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK was held at the Mansudae Assembly Hall Tuesday.
Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, was present at the session.
Deputies to the SPA were present there.
Officials of party, armed forces and power bodies, public organizations, ministries and national institutions and those in the fields of science, education, literature and arts, public health and press were present as observers.
The session decided on agenda items of the session.
On Enforcing Universal 12-Year Compulsory Education
Deputy Choe Thae Bok made a report “On Enforcing Universal 12-Year Compulsory Education.”
He said that the DPRK government will enforce the universal 12-year compulsory education to drastically improve and strengthen the secondary general education and further consolidate the socialist education system to meet the requirements of the developing revolution and the times.
The new educational system is aimed at helping the younger generation round off the secondary general education by teaching them general basic knowledge and basic knowledge of modern technologies in the period of the 12-year systematic education which consists of one-year pre-school education, five-year primary school education, three-year junior middle school education and three-year senior middle school education, reporter noted.
He referred to the issues arising in successfully enforcing the new education.
Then followed speeches.
The speakers said that the enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education at this significant period when the new century of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s Korea started is the firm determination and will of the WPK to steadfastly carry forward and glorify the idea and cause of Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il who devoted their all to the future of the country all their life.
The enforcement of the new education provided a sure guarantee for putting secondary general education onto a higher stage and effecting an epochal turn in the work to train able revolutionaries in keeping with the requirements for the building of a thriving nation, they noted.
Ordinance of the SPA of the DPRK “On Enforcing the Universal 12-Year Compulsory Education” was adopted at the session.
The session discussed organizational issue.
Hong In Bom, chief secretary of the South Phyongan Provincial Committee of the WPK, and Jon Yong Nam, chairman of the Central Committee of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, were elected members of the SPA Presidium to fill the vacancies.
Choe Hui Jong was recalled from the post of chairman of the Budget Committee of the SPA and Kwak Pom Gi elected chairman of the budget committee.
Issues Concerning Enforcement of Universal 12-year Compulsory Education Discussed at SPA Session
Pyongyang, September 25 (KCNA) — Deputy Choe Thae Bok made a report on enforcing the universal 12-year compulsory education at the sixth session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK held on Tuesday.
According to the report, the DPRK government will enforce the universal 12-year compulsory education to drastically improve and strengthen the secondary general education and further consolidate the socialist education system to meet the requirements of the developing revolution and the times.
The universal 12-year compulsory education represents the development of the universal 11-year compulsory education that has been enforced by the DPRK government, and a new higher stage of the secondary general education.
The new education system is aimed at helping the younger generation round off the secondary general education by teaching them general basic knowledge and basic knowledge of modern technologies in the period of the 12-year systematic education which consists of one-year pre-school education, five-year primary school education, three-year junior middle school education and three-year senior middle school education.
The reporter said that the enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education is a huge task to be carried out as a nationwide movement with the involvement of whole society. He elaborated on it.
The order and phases for the enforcement of the system shall be fixed properly and be thoroughly carried out, he said.
An important task for enforcing the universal 12-year compulsory education is to properly shape the educational contents and improve the methods of education, he added.
He called for stepping up the work for improving the curricula which constitute a basis in arranging the educational contents, and confirming the general goal of the secondary general education, goals of the courses of study and the scope and level of educational contents. He also underscored the need to write and publish necessary textbooks at an early date.
He also underlined the need to strengthen education in computer technology and foreign languages with a main emphasis on the education in general basic knowledge in the field of basic sciences including mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology.
He also called for kicking off an intensive drive for creating new and substantial educational methods and generalizing them as well as actively introducing test methods for correctly assessing the abilities of students.
All the schools should carry out the positive drive to put the teaching, experiments and practical training on an IT basis, computerize the educational administration and management and establish information communications network between the education committee and educational institutions across the country so that teachers and students can receive information necessary for the education in time, the reporter noted.
He also called for successfully building up in a substantial way the ranks of teachers who are directly responsible for education and drastically raising their levels and roles.
Increased state investment in the educational field and provision of educational conditions are a sure guarantee for the successful enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education, he said, and continued:
The expenditure for education should be markedly increased in the state budget, and electricity, equipment and materials needed for education be provided on a preferential basis.
The role of organizations patronizing schools should be raised and the officials of all units including provincial, city and county people’s committees should pay deep attention to the education and push forward the work for the enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education in close combination with the model education county movement.
Educational and scientific research institutions should strengthen study for raising the quality of the universal 12-year compulsory education on the basis of a correct review and analysis of the present state of education of the country and the worldwide education trend. They should analyze and systematize scientifically and theoretically the new and advanced teaching methods and experience created in practice and generalize them.
The reporter stressed the need to step up the work for successfully enforcing the universal 12-year compulsory education true to the noble intention of the dear respected Kim Jong Un manifested in his ardent love for the younger generation and the future.
Ordinance of DPRK SPA on Enforcing Universal 12-Year Compulsory Education Promulgated
Pyongyang, September 25 (KCNA) — Ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly on enforcing universal 12-year compulsory education was promulgated at the sixth session of the 12th SPA held in Pyongyang Tuesday.
According to the ordinance, the DPRK government enforced the compulsory primary education in 1956, compulsory secondary education in 1958 and Korean-style unique universal 9-year compulsory technical education which closely combined secondary general education with basic technical education and education with production in 1967.
In 1972 the DPRK government introduced the universal 11-year compulsory education, the first of its kind in the world.
The enforcement of the universal 11-year education was a just measure for raising the level of free compulsory education, improving the contents of education and bringing up the new generations to be able revolutionaries and competent socialist builders intensely loyal to the party, the leader, the country and its people as required by the era and the developing revolution.
The DPRK is now demonstrating its might as a dignified military power possessed of nuclear deterrent, a country that manufactures and launches satellites. Korean-style CNC technology and flexible production system have been introduced to the different domains of the national economy and a great number of Juche-based and modern heavy and light industrial bases and grand monuments have been built. This is associated with the feats and merits of young scientists and youth who have grown up, receiving the universal 11-year compulsory education.
The Workers’ Party of Korea and the DPRK government are set to enforce the universal 12-year compulsory education reflecting the present requirements for building a prosperous socialist country in all fields now that the requirements for education have risen higher than ever before.
The enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education is a step reflecting the dear respected Kim Jong Un’s noble outlooks on the country, the younger generation and future and it is a great event that demonstrates before the whole world that the DPRK is dynamically advancing toward an educational power and a highly civilized socialist country.
The universal 12-year compulsory education is the most just and advantageous education for drastically raising the quality of education to meet the requirements for the development of education in the age of knowledge-based economy and the trend of the world and bringing up the younger generation to be Juche-type able revolutionaries possessed of ample secondary general knowledge, modern basic technology and creative ability.
The SPA of the DPRK discussed the issue of enforcing the universal 12-year compulsory education and made a decision.
According to the decision, the universal 12-year compulsory education shall be enforced in all areas of the DPRK.
The universal 12-year compulsory education shall be enforced free of charge and all children from 5 to 17 years are obliged to receive this education.
This education consists of one-year pre-school education and five-year primary schooling, three-year junior middle schooling and three-year senior middle schooling.
The six-year middle schooling shall be enforced from the 2013-2014 school year, divided into three-year junior middle schooling and three-year senior middle schooling.
The work for converting the four-year primary schooling to five-year primary schooling shall go through the preparatory phase to be started in the 2014-2015 school year and this shall be finished in 2-3 years.
Educational system and education of special courses of study shall be decided as separate issues.
Measures shall be taken to solve the shortage of teachers resulting from the enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education, raise their qualifications and improve educational methods.
State investment in education shall be increased and conditions and environment necessary for the enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education be created.
Administrative guidance and legal control shall be strengthened for the successful enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education.
Here is additional coverage of the session by various outlets:
Wu Xisheng, vice general manager of the Xiyang Group, told the Global Times Thursday that the company’s partner in North Korea was an enterprise affiliated with the Korean Workers’ Party, instead of what the country called a private entity.
Wu also said Xiyang is one of dozens of Chinese companies who have been cheated by North Korea.
Hu Chenpei, a diplomat with the business section of the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang, told the Global Times that it is “an isolated case of business disputes,” adding that both sides of the story are true.
“We have been in contact with related departments in North Korea, hoping the two sides could iron out their disputes through rational discussions,” said Hu.
However, Wu insisted that the North should repay their losses or the group will reveal further details about “how Pyongyang cheated it.”
When contacted by the Global Times, a diplomat with North Korea’s embassy in Beijing said he had never heard of the Xiyang Group and refused to comment.
The North Korean spokesperson also said his government will continue improving its investment environment to further draw international investment, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of international investors who follow the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit as well as observing laws.
Liu Ming, a researcher with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the disputes have dealt a blow to Chinese enterprises’ confidence in North Korea.
UPDATE 4 (2012-9-5): In a Reuters article, Xiyang responds to the KCNA statement:
Xiyang told Reuters in an interview after the North’s statement that it had been “cheated” and it lambasted Beijing’s policy of propping up North Korea’s unreformed regime which it said that it was done for geo-political reasons.
“It (Xiyang) has carried out only 50 percent of its investment obligations though almost four years have passed since the contract took effect,” KCNA quoted a spokesman for North Korea’s Commission for Joint Venture and Investment as saying.
Xiyang refused to curb its criticism of North Korea when it spoke to Reuters, suggesting that Beijing was doing little to help companies that ran afoul of what it viewed as arbitrary rulings by North Korean officials.
“This isn’t just about us – it is about all companies investing in North Korea,” Wu Xisheng, vice general manager of Xiyang told Reuters.
“They just don’t have the conditions for foreigners to invest. They say they welcome investment but they don’t have the legal or social foundations.”
UPDATE 3 (2012-9-5): KCNA has issued an official comment on the xian affair:
Media Should Maintain Impartiality in Report about DPRK
Pyongyang, September 5 (KCNA) — A spokesman for the DPRK Commission for Joint Venture and Investment on September 5 issued the following statement:
The Xiyang Group of the Haicheng City, Liaoning Province of China on August 2 posted on its Internet website an article criticizing the DPRK over the disputes that cropped up between the Group and the Korean Ryongbong Corporation in the course of implementing a joint venture contract for the development of magnetite concentrated ore.
After the article was published, some media echoed it before and after the report about the results of the third meeting of the DPRK-China Guidance Committee for developing two economic zones was made public.
They added their own analyses to the article posted by the Group. They even aired what the anti-DPRK hostile forces reported in the past to malignantly slander the inviolable social system and policy of the DPRK.
Generally, it is international usage and commercial ethics to settle disputes that occurred in the course of economic relations in line with the relevant arbitration item of the contract.
But the media have kicked off massive propaganda campaign, defying international usage and commercial order. This cannot be interpreted otherwise than an act of fanning up the dishonest forces in their moves to drive a wedge between the two countries in their economic cooperation and chill the atmosphere for investment.
As far as the procedures for the signing and implementation of the contract between the DPRK Ryongbong Corporation and the Steel Co. Ltd., of the Group and the bilateral disputes are concerned, the Group is also to blame for the abrogation of the contract. In the light of the process of implementing the obligations under the contract, the Group is chiefly to blame from the legal point of view.
It has carried out only 50 percent of its investment obligations though almost four years have past since the contract took effect.
So the two contracting parties again sat together only in vain over the timeline for the completion of the first-phase investment and commissioning.
As for 16 provisions which the Group set forth as the major issue of the disputes, it is the legal obligation of the Group related to the contract to implement them according to the mutual contract in which both sides agreed on the article that “two sides sign it on the basis of the DPRK Law on Joint Venture”.
As regards the dealing of sales price of trial products, the Group insisted on its self-opinionated proposal for settling its debts within the boundary of China, in disregard of the procedures in price dealing pursuant to the relevant financial management norms.
Media should comply with the standards for fairness and objectivity, create an atmosphere helpful to settling the disputes between the two contracting parties and refrain from an act that can be misused by the hostile forces for their vicious propaganda.
We will in the future, too, improve and round off the investment environment to further expand the international investment relations to meet the demand of the developing times and the lawful requirement of the international investment relations under the condition that the security of the country is guaranteed by dint of Songun. We will also ensure the legitimate rights and interests of all investors willing to develop international investment relations on the principles of mutual respects, equality, reciprocity and law-observance.
UPDATE 2 (2012-8-17): Michael Rank sent over the photos below which the Xiyang Group published (source here). I had a Korean friend (thx Angela) look over these and give me an idea of what they say:
This appears to be the DPRK business license or registration. It claims that the Korea Ryongbong Ryonhap Company (조선령봉련합회사) and the Chinese Soyang Jipdan Corporation (중국서양집단공사사) “merged” to form the Yangbong Hapyong Company (양봉합영회사). The new firm is made up of 1,000 local employees and two foreigners. The investment terms also appear to be denominated in Euros.
This image appears to be the cover sheet to the agreement between the two firms. The cover sheet states that this agreement has been approved at the highest levels and that both firms agree to be bound by its terms.
UPDATE 1 (2012-8-15): Michael Rank has followed up on the Xiyang Group story in the Asia Times:
China likes to claim that its relations with North Korea are “as close and lips and teeth” but those teeth are infected with a poisonous abscess so far as one Chinese company is concerned.
In an extraordinary attack, a Chinese mining company has accused the North Koreans of tearing up a multi-million-dollar deal, intimidating its staff, imposing outrageous extra charges and cutting off its power and water, as well as of corruption and demanding prostitutes whenever their North Korean counterparts visited China.
“Xiyang Group’s investment in North Korea was a nightmare, and we were taking our lives in our hands when we entered the tiger’s lair,” the company says.
Xiyang Group, based in the northeastern province of Liaoning, says it was the biggest single Chinese investor in North Korea, having in 2011 signed a 240 million yuan (US$38 million) deal to form a joint venture iron mine that was to produce 500,000 tonnes of iron powder a year.
A few months after the contract was signed, the North Koreans made a series of extraordinary demands that led to the Chinese walking out in fury and to launching what must surely be the fiercest public attack they have ever made on their supposed close ally. 
The company aims much of its invective at a particular North Korean official, who, it says, is “the leader of the criminal gang who deceived Xiyang, this great plotter and fraudster …” The official, Ri Seong-kyu, was the North Korean side’s faren, or legal representative, in the deal and he is blamed for everything that went wrong.
When negotiations began in 2006 the plan was for the Chinese company to take a 75% stake in the venture, but it turned out that North Korean policy stipulated that a foreign firm could own no more than a 70% stake in a natural resources company such as a mine.
Xiyang says Ri, “violating the North Korean national investment law”, nevertheless signed a joint venture contract in which the Chinese side took a 75% stake, “forging an investment certification document in order to gain Xiyang’s confidence”.
He later told the Chinese company that the document was null and void because of the stipulation that the North Korean side must have at least a 30% stake, but Xiyang did not realise his deception until September 2011.
Xiyang says it first became interested in investing in North Korea in 2005 in response to the Chinese government’s call for Chinese companies to “venture out” and invest abroad, “but we had heard that North Koreans do not keep to their word, national laws are not strong and it is easy to be cheated, so we were extremely cautious in our investigations.”
It also notes the secrecy that pervades business dealings in North Korea, which prevented Xiyang from sending ore samples back to China for testing, but despite all this the company “took the great risk of investing”.
“North Korea’s system of doing business is [based on] government departments’ secrecy in relation to foreigners, and they do not allow foreigners to visit government departments to do business,” the online report complains.
It says there were “all kinds of unimaginable serious problems” in reaching an agreement, but after years of negotiations production finally began in April 2011. However, the North Koreans unilaterally annulled the agreement last February, when they “used violent methods” against Xiyang staff, cutting off their water, electricity and communications and smashing the windows of their living quarters.
At 2am on March 3, a group of 20 armed police and security officials led by a North Korean company official woke up the sleeping Chinese and told them the North Korean premier had annulled the deal and they were to leave the country immediately.
Ten senior Xiyang employees, who seem to have been the only ones remaining in North Korea out of over 100 originally sent, were “treated as enemies”, put on a bus and deported via the border city of Sinuiju.
The statement includes a highly personal attack on Ri, who, it says, has a huge paunch and is “North Korea’s number one fat man”, weighing 108 kilograms. “Everybody knows North Korea is suffering grain shortages and ordinary people do not have enough to eat, so North Koreans are quite thin but Ri Seong-kyu’s unusual fatness fully reveals what a luxurious life he leads … When people like Ri Seong-kyu go to China they let down their country and themselves and make all kinds of demands, for money, gifts, food, drink, girls …”
Xiyang said it had paid over US$800,000 in kickbacks to corrupt North Korean officials, including $80,0000 for a Hummer for Ri in 2008 and $100,000 in 2009 for a construction project in which he was involved in South Hwanghae province. In addition, Ri and his cronies would demand gifts of laptops, cellphones and vast amounts of booze, and to be provided with masseuses.
“Sometimes the Chinese would not provide any girls, so they would get them themselves and put it on their room bill,” expecting Xiyang to pay for all their personal expenses, bringing the bill to over 200,000 yuan per person.
This was not all – they would demand a receipt for their expenses that had been paid for by Xiyang, so they could claim the same costs when they returned to North Korea, according to the Xiyang statement.
Xiyang officials, on the other hand, had to pay all their own expenses in North Korea, were only allowed to eat in certain restaurants and were followed 24 hours a day by security officials. Even when Ri invited the president of Xiyang to his home, his host charged $2,000 for the privilege.
The report says the crunch came in September 2011 when the North Koreans made 16 demands that violated the terms of the contract, including a 4-10% sales levy, a one euro (US$0.17) per square metre per year rent charge, a hike in electricity prices and a charge of one euro per cubic metre of sea water consumed.
They also banned the company from releasing waste water, or even clean water, into the sea, which “amounted to the North Koreans forcibly halting production”.
The most serious act by the North Koreans was a ban on sales, the document states, which was clearly aimed at ensuring an end to the joint venture. “Ri Seong-kyu claimed all these [regulations] were included in North Korea’s national joint venture law, and we could not sell the 30,000 tonnes of iron powder that had been produced. In these circumstances, if Xiyang had carried on investing and manufacturing [in North Korea], we would have been the biggest fools in the world.”
Many of Xiyang’s complaints will sound all too familiar to anyone who has visited North Korea. The document tells how Xiyang staff were at first banned from buying food in so-called free markets. After much pleading the authorities finally agreed to this, but each person had to be accompanied by two minders and the route had to be approved by the security police.
Although the mine was only 500 meters from the sea, staff were banned from taking strolls along the shore.
Quite why the North Koreans acted with such prejudice against Xiyang isn’t clear, but part of the reason may lie in the location of the mine. It is in Ongjin county on the west coast, a highly sensitive area ever since this small peninsula ended up in North Korea after the Korean war even though it lies below the 38th Parallel. (It is also close to the port of Haeju, from where the iron was to have been exported).
The Chinese government may wish to dismiss this as a spat between a little known Chinese company and a single corrupt North Korean official, but it has brought into the open the deep suspicion that exists between the two countries.
The Chinese have long felt unable to trust the North Koreans with their xenophobic, quasi-Maoist personality cult, while the North Koreans are equally suspicious of the emerging superpower on their doorstep eagerly eyeing the smaller country’s natural resources.
Change may now be in the air, and the more open leadership style of North Korea’s young Kim Jong-eun has sparked speculation of economic reform and a fresh approach to foreign investment in his country, but horror stories such as this may indicate Kim’s style may be just that – all style and no substance.
North Korea has recently signed a deal with China to jointly develop three mines in the North, a North Korean investment firm said Thursday, as the cash-strapped country steps up attempts to earn hard currency from overseas.
A Beijing unit of North Korea’s Committee of Investment and Joint Venture struck the joint development deal with a Chinese international trading company in Beijing on June 9, according to the unit’s Chinese-language Web site.
“The China firm’s president and his parties conducted field inspections into one (North Korean) gold mine and two iron ore mines and confirmed the investment and development scheme,” the Web site said. “Facility building is now well underway for the project,” it said.
Details on the terms of the deal were not provided.
Experts said the deal is the first foreign investment deal announced by the Beijing unit, which is run by the Committee of Investment and Joint Venture in charge of luring overseas capital and investment into the North.
The joint North-China mining venture also illustrates growing exports of underground resources from the North to China, its closest ally and a major source of foreign currency.
Exports of mineral resources to China reached 8,420,000 tons during the first nine months of 2011, growing sharply from the annual volume of 4,799,000 tons in 2010 and 2,480,000 tons for the whole of 2008.
Although Yonhap does not report the Chinese company’s identity, the IBTimes reports that it is named “Baoyuanhengchang”. According to the article:
Baoyuanhengchang confirmed the plans to develop the mines, as per its pronouncement, noting both parties had conducted field inspections.
“Facility building is already underway and everything is going as planned,” it said. No details of the terms, however, were provided.
The pronouncement has been considered a milestone as this was the first time that North Korea publicly announced its efforts in enlisting foreign investors to help develop its potentially vast mineral wealth, Arirang News reported.
I have yet to determine in which specific projects Baoyuanhengchang is investing.
However, a warning to the Chinese investors can be found below. According to the Donga Ilbo:
A Chinese conglomerate that tried to advance into the North Korean mining industry has been forced out of the Stalinist country due to contract cancellations.
Calling its past five-year investment in the North “a nightmare,” Xiyang Group has filed for arbitration with the Chinese government.
Based in Liaoning, China, the group said Wednesday that it had set up a joint venture with North Korea in March 2007 to build a plant there that extracts iron from ore. Of the paid-in capital of 47.52 million U.S. dollars, the company put up 75 percent of the amount in cash and North Korea 25 percent for land and mine exploration and also managerial rights for 30 years.
Xiyang company invested 37.14 million dollars, the biggest investment for a Chinese private company in North Korea. Pyongyang approved the incorporation in April 2007.
With a target of 500,000 tons of ore dressing per year, Xiyang sent about 100 workers to North Korea and produced 30,000 tons in April last year. In September last year, however, Pyongyang requested modification of 16 items on the contract including a demand of 4-10 percent of sales of products for using raw materials; 1.24 dollars for every square meter of land leased, and 17 cents per cubic meter of sea water for industrial use.
Xiyang said the demands were not included in the original contract, which was ratified by the North Korean parliament in October 2009.
The conglomerate refused modification of the contract, prompting Pyongyang to suspend the effectuation of the contract and cancel corporate establishment Feb. 7. North Korea also suspended power, water and communication supply at the plant.
Xiyang said that on March 3, North Korean police and 20 security guards went to where the Chinese workers were staying and forced them to ride a bus to deport them outside the Chinese border.
The group said the North requested modification of the contract to steal the ore dressing facility that the country lacked in capital and technology to introduce.
A Xiyang source said, “When our company was established in 2007, North Korea had a law restricting a foreign company`s stake in a joint venture to now more than 70 percent. But the North said the law will be revised soon and requested a 75-percent stake. Eventually, this was a drag.”
“Not only North Korean authorities but also the North Korean company we established ties with had a high-end attitude, including a request for money in U.S. dollars.”
Xiyang Group explained the violation of the contract and put it on the Internet to complain of the injustice. Its complaint is titled “Nightmare in North Korea Investment.”
So the North Koreans are violating a contract which was ratified by the Supreme Peoples’ Assembly? That does not inspire confidence.
In 2007 Xiyang set up the Sohae Joint Venture Company to work the Ongjin Iron Mine (Google Earth coordinates: 37.960294°, 125.368651°) and the Xiyang Paekgumsan Joint Venture (aka Soyang Paekgumsan Joint Venture Co.) to work in haevy industry and construction. Although the story does not mention it, I believe the problems are at the Ongjin Mine. I am unsure of the status of the Paekgumsan Joint Venture.
Below I have posted a summary of stories from the Fifth session of the 12th SPA. The stories cover the lead up to the SPA, the completion of Kim Jong-un’s succession (inheriting the title “First Chairman” of the National Defense Commission), and KCNA reports of the official DPRK state budget.
The fifth session on the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly was held on April 13. Premier Choe Yong Rim told the legislators the nation’s top priority is to build up the light and agricultural industries to become an economically powerful nation.
According to the KCNA, Premier Choe also reported on the results of last year’s accomplishments while presenting this year’s goals. He elaborated, “The total industrial production rose by 102 percent against last year (2011) and production of hydroelectric power, iron ore, zinc, generators, fertilizers, and magnesia clinker has significantly increased.”
Other achievements of 2011 were announced, completion of Huichon Power Station, technological improvements in three major chemical factories (Hungnam Fertilizer Complex, 2.8 Vinalon Complex, and Namhung Youth Chemical Complex), and construction of high-rise apartments in the Mansudae area in Pyongyang.
It also stressed that the development and joint venture of special economic zones (SEZ) will be strengthened to promote economic and technological cooperation with foreign countries.
Finance Minister Choe Kwang Jin reported on the state budget, stating that last year’s revenue was 101.1 percent, while local government budget reached 112.8 percent. The national budget expenditure was 99.8 percent. For this year’s national budget, revenue was set higher at 108.7 percent and expenditure at 110.1 percent.
Out of the targeted state budget revenue of 108.7 percent, the detailed for budget revenue increase is as follows: transaction revenue (107.5 percent), national corporation profit (110.7 percent), cooperative organization profit (105.3 percent), real estate usage revenue (101.9 percent), and social insurance (101.7 percent).
As for the aimed 110.1 percent increase for this year’s national budget expenditure, the breakdown of the increase is as follows: light and agriculture industries (109.4 percent); power, coal, metal, railroad industries (112.1 percent); basic construction (112.2 percent); science and technology development (110.9 percent); education (109.2 percent); health (108.9 percent); social insurance and welfare (107 percent); sports (106.9 percent) and culture (106.8 percent).
From the total budget expenditure, 15.8 percent will be allocated to national defense and special scholarships and aid will continue to be provided to ethnic Korean children in Japan.