Archive for the ‘Ministry of Foreign Trade’ Category

Russia and DPRK discuss economic opportunities

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

What are the opportunities? Rason port, Iron Silk Road (Rail), Kaesong Industrial Complex, gas pipeline.

According to RIA Novosti:

Russia and North Korea have signed a new protocol to transition to using the ruble for payments between the two countries as part of an effort to boost annual bilateral trade to $1 billion by 2020, Russia’s Far East Development Ministry said Friday.

The announcement came as Russian officials have expressed a desire to explore new markets for the country’s businesses, following the introduction of sanctions by the West in reaction to Moscow’s stance over Crimea. Russian leaders have simultaneously reassured international investors the country remains open for business, and there are no plans to restrict international commerce.

The protocol announced Friday came following a visit of a Russian delegation to the Asian country for a meeting of a standing bilateral commission, timed to mark the 65th anniversary of a cooperation agreement between the Soviet Union and North Korea.

The parties agreed to move towards settling payments in rubles as well as adopting further measures to boost bilateral trade, including easing visa procedures and providing for Russian access to proposed special economic zones in the country, the ministry’s statement said.

The ministry reaffirmed the countries’ mutual interest in joint projects with South Korea, including international connections for railways [Iron Silk Road], gas pipelines and power lines.

The Russian delegation also proposed the entry of Russian businesses into the Kaesong Industrial Park, a special economic zone in North Korea just north of Seoul where South Korean companies are allowed to employ northern workers.

The two sides identified areas for further cooperation, including a transshipment complex at the port of Rason and technical cooperation for the modernization of North Korea’s mining sector, automobile industry and electric power plants.

According to the statement, during the talks Russian Far East Development Minister Alexander Galushka emphasized that achieving such goals would only be possible if stability is maintained on the Korean peninsula.

The next meeting of the bilateral commission is scheduled for June in Russia’s far eastern Vladivostok.

Here is what Yonhap reports:

North Korea and Russia have agreed to boost economic ties by pushing for trilateral projects involving South Korea, including a plan to support Russian companies’ entry into an inter-Korean industrial complex, a media report said Saturday.

The agreement between the two was made earlier this week when Russia’s Far East Development Minister Alexander Galushka visited the North for a five-day run until Friday to explore ways to boost bilateral economic cooperation, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

“The Russian delegation proposed the entry of Russian businesses into the Kaesong Industrial Park, a special economic zone in North Korea just north of Seoul where South Korean companies are allowed to employ northern workers,” the RIA Novosti reported, citing the ministry.

Officials of Seoul’s unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, welcomed the agreement between the North and Russia, while stressing the importance of Russia’s prior consultation with the South.

“Russian companies’ making inroads into the Kaesong park is desirable in terms of the internationalization of the complex … It would also prevent the North from unilaterally reversing its agreement with Seoul over the Kaeesong operation,” the ministry official said, requesting anonymity.

Internationalization of the enclave, a symbol of inter-Korean detente, is one of the key topics for inter-Korean meetings aimed at ensuring its normal operations and further invigorating the complex. The Kaesong park resumed operations in September, more than five months after the North unilaterally closed it in anger over Seoul-Washington joint military exercises.

“But it is crucial for Russia to discuss the matter with our side first as it is basically operated by the South Korean authorities,” he added.

A handful of companies from China, Australia and Germany have so far expressed interests in making an investment in the Kaesong complex, prompting the Seoul government to review holding joint presentation sessions with the North to lure investors from overseas, according to another ministry official.

Here is additional information from Yonhap on recent shipments from Russia to the DPRK:

Russia exported US$21.16 million’s worth of jib cranes, machinery used mostly for cargo handling at ports, to North Korea last year, accounting for nearly 22 percent of its total exports to the North, according to the report by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA). The amount surpasses that of Russia’s traditional export goods such as coal, petroleum and bituminous oil.

There were no records of the machines being exported to North Korea the year before, with the 2011 amount standing at $139,000.

North Korea and Russia maintain economic relations that include a project that would make North Korea’s northeastern port city of Rajin a logistics hub by connecting it to Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway. North Korea is said to have agreed to a long-term lease of the No. 3 dock at Rajin port to Russia and that it is modernizing facilities there. The cranes may be for such modernization efforts, the KOTRA report said.

Also noteworthy is Russia’s exports of ambulances to the North, amounting to approximately 10.1 billion won ($9.45 million), the fourth largest in terms of value. Ambulances are a relatively new product on the trade list.

KCNA’s reporting of the meeting was much more muted:

DPRK Premier Meets Minister of Development of Far East of Russia

Pyongyang, March 26 (KCNA) — Pak Pong Ju, premier of the DPRK Cabinet, met Alexandr Galushka, minister of the Development of Far East of Russia who is chairman of the Russian side to the Inter-governmental Committee for Cooperation in Trade, Economy, Science and Technology between the DPRK and Russia, and his party.

He had a friendly talk with them who paid a courtesy call on him at the Mansudae Assembly Hall on Wednesday.

Minutes of Talks between Governments of DPRK, Russia Signed

Pyongyang, March 26 (KCNA) — Minutes of talks on cooperation in trade, economy, science and technology between the governments of the DPRK and Russia were signed here Wednesday.

Present at the signing ceremony were Ri Ryong Nam, minister of Foreign Trade who is chairman of the DPRK side to the Inter-governmental Committee for Cooperation in Trade, Economy, Science and Technology between the DPRK and Russia, and officials concerned, Alexandr Galushka, minister for the Development of Far East who is chairman of the Russian side to the Inter-governmental Committee, and his party and Alexandr Timonin, Russian ambassador to the DPRK.

Ri Ryong Nam and Alexandr Galushka signed the minutes of the talks.

Read the full story here:
Russia, North Korea Agree to Settle Payments in Rubles in Trade Pact
RIA Novosti
2014-3-28

N. Korea, Russia to discuss supporting Moscow firms’ advance into Kaesong park
Yonhap
2014-3-29

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On DPRK efforts to join UN carbon market

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

UPDATE 14 (2012-12-13): Robert Winstanley-Chesters has some additional data here.

UPDATE 13 (2012-10-23): The DPRK has registered its second CDM project: Kumya Hydro Power Plant.

Here is the official UN web page containing all of the technical information.

Here is an older Google Earth satellite image featuring the approximate location of the dam and power station (39.554552°, 127.164363°):

The Hanns Seidel Foundation (Facebook page here) visited the site and took this photo:

The dam was also featured on the North Korean evening news on 2012-9-28–although domestically it is known as the “Kumya-gang Power station No. 2 (금야강2호발전소)”. You can see it here at the 3:36 mark:

UPDATE 12 (2012-8-16): DPRK’s first CDM project registered: Hamhung Hydro Power Plant No. 1

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

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

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

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

 

UPDATE 11 (2012-6-5): In addition to the seven power plants submitted for approval below (update 10), the DPRK is involved in several other “Programmes of Activities (POAs)“.

You can see all the POAs by clicking here and selecting DPRK as “Host Country”.

Here is a summary:

1. Methane Utilization and Destruction Programme from Animal Waste Management System (AWMS) in DPR Korea

2. Methane Utilisation and Destruction Programme from Industrial Wastewater in DPR Korea

3. CarbonSoft Open Source PoA, LED Lighting Distribution: Emerging Markets

4. Coal Mine Methane Utilisation and Destruction Programme in DPR Korea

5. International water purification programme

6. CFL Lighting Scheme in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)

UPDATE 10 (2012-6-2): The creator of Nord Korea Info passed along the following information on the DPRK’s CDM projects:

1. Naenara, one of the DPRK’s official news outlets, has posted numerous CDM documents.  You can see them here.

2. Information posted to the UNFCC web page on specific CDM projects:

A. Kumya Hydropower Plant
B. Ryesonggang Hydropower Plant No.3 (Comments)
C. Ryesonggang Hydropower Plant No.4 (Comments)
D. Ryesonggang Hydropower Plant No.5 (Comments)
E. Paekdusan Songun Youth 14MW Hydropower Project No.2
F. Wonsan Army-People Hydropower Project No.1 (Comments)
G. Hamhung Hydropower Plant No.1

UPDATE 9 (2012-5-31): Bloomberg Businessweek reports on the DPRK’s efforts to sell carbon credits:

[U]nder the terms of the [Kyoto] protocol, North Korea, as a developing country and a member of the United Nations, has the right to build clean energy projects that may apply for Certified Emission Reductions, or CERs, popularly known as carbon credits. The North Koreans can then sell them to a rich country or company that needs the credits to offset its own greenhouse gases. Dig into data from the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, and you will find seven North Korean projects registered for carbon trading.

This is where Miroslav Blazek comes in. Blazek, director of Czech company Topic Energo, acts as a link between North Korea and potential carbon credit buyers. He says his experience as manager of a tractor factory in socialist-era Czechoslovakia is invaluable for doing business with the communist North Koreans. “I can work with them because I understand how their system works,” he says. “If I send an e-mail and still don’t have a reply in several days, I know it’s not because they didn’t see it but because it had to work its way through the chain of command. For me it’s like a trip down memory lane.”

North Korea is now building seven hydroelecrtric plants, which provide some of the cleanest energy going. Most can earn tradable carbon credits. Blazek says the North Koreans “jumped” at the opportunity to get into carbon trading: “They immediately grasped that this is a way to make money.” Korea’s seven dams may generate as many as 241,000 CERs a year, worth almost €1 million ($1.3 million). “The projects are already in a relatively advanced phase,” says Ondrej Bores, director of carbon advisory services at Virtuse Energy in Prague, who’s worked with Blazek on other deals.

Still, selling anything made in North Korea has its challenges. More than 30 potential buyers pulled out because of the U.S. embargo on trade with North Korea. Blazek finally struck a deal with a Chinese-controlled conglomerate that needs credits to offset emissions from facilities in Europe. He won’t name the company, citing a confidentiality clause.

The Prague Post also reported on this story.

UPDATE 8 (2012-2-14): I have been notified that the certification program is proceeding. From a reader:

There has been a statement by the 1718 committee (on sanctions) that CDM projects in NK do not violate UN rules.

[Seven] hydropower plants did get their validation and underwent a process of “clarifications and corrections” as foreseen by UN rules. After the final report (which might have been already issued or might be issued soon) they will go for final vote to the UNFCCC.

Currently, North Korea works on projects as diverse as methane gas from coal mines, biogas and electricity-saving light bulbs.

UPDATE 7 (20120-1-23): Read an update on the Huichon Power Stations 1 & 2 and the Ryesonggang Power Stations 2 & 3 here.

UPDATE 6 (2011-7-11): It looks like none of the DPRK power stations have been approved by the UNFCC for the CDM program as of this date.  A reader notes:

[I] just searched through the entire CDM database with the category numbers for these projects, and as far as I can see none of these has got beyond validation phase['s] comments phase, and judging by some of the comments – “It is evident from the PDD [Project Design Document] that the values are consistent and it is definitely forged and cooked up values to show a non CDM project as a CDM project” – being one of the more polite, that I’d be amazed if they make it beyond that. [It] looks like the DPRK hasn’t got its environmental and managerial audit systems quite up to date yet.

UPDATE 5 (2011-7-11): I just checked the UNFCC web page, and it appears that in addition to the hydro power plants mentioned below, the North Koreans also submitted the “Energy Efficiency Improvement Project in Pyongyang Textile Factory” [sic] for carbon offsets on May 23, 2011. According to the UNFCC web page, the project is in the portfolio of the Carbon-Trade Division, GBCIO, Ministry of Foreign Trade.

UPDATE 4 (2011-7-11): DPRK begins construction of Ryesonggang Power Stations 3 and 4

Pictured above (Google Earth): Ryesonggang Youth Power Stations 1, 2, and 6 (례성강청년발전소).

Back in March of this year, the DPRK registered eight potential power plants with the UNFCC which it intended to construct to obtain carbon offset credits.  These eight hydro-power plants are:

Hamhung Hydropower Plant No.1
Hamhung 20MW Hydropower Plant No. 2
Kumya Hydropower Plant
Paekdusan Songun Youth 14MW Hydropower Project No.2
Ryesonggang Hydropower Project No. 3
Ryesonggang Hydropower Project No. 4
Ryesonggang Hydropower Project No. 5
Wonsangunmin 20MW Hydropower Project No. 1

On June 25th the DPRK evening news featured footage of the construction of the Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 3 (례성강청년3호발전소).  I have uploaded the footage to YouTube and you can see it here.

On June 28th the DPRK evening news featured footage of the construction of the Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 4 (례성강청년4호발전소).  I have uploaded the footage to YouTube and you can see it here.

I have not had the time to pinpoint the exact locations of these power stations using Google Earth.  Since the imagery is older, it will take some time to match up the mountain contours.  However, we have a general idea where they are located: between the Ryesonggang Power Stations 2 and 6.  These are mapped out in the image at the top of this post.  The satellite imagery is of Thosan (토산군) and Kumchon (금천군) counties.

Since I have a job, am in graduate school, am a landlord, and running this web page, I have not had time to follow up with the UNFCC to see if they have approved these projects for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). If there is an enterprising journalist or reader who cares to find out the answer, please let me know.

UPDATE 3 (3/23/2011): According to the UNFCC web page (select Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the “Host Party” box), these are the eight power stations that have been submitted for consideration:

Hamhung Hydropower Plant No.1
Hamhung 20MW Hydropower Plant No. 2
Kumya Hydropower Plant
Paekdusan Songun Youth 14MW Hydropower Project No.2
Ryesonggang Hydropower Project No. 3
Ryesonggang Hydropower Project No. 4
Ryesonggang Hydropower Project No. 5
Wonsangunmin 20MW Hydropower Project No. 1

The UNFCC web page does not mention the locations, size, or power generation capacity for most of the dams, but I am sure that information will trickle out over time. With the exception of the Kumya Power Station (See satellite image below), none of these facilities are visible on Google Earth–but related facilities are: the Paektusan Power Station 1 (See satellite image below) and Ryesonggang Power Station 1, 2, 6 (See satellite image below).  The Hamhung Power Stations are probably in or near Hamhung, and the Wonsangumin project is probably near Wonsan.

And according to an email from the UNFCC:

This list contains all the projects which have already started and for which a notification of CDM prior consideration has been submitted. This notification is necessary to prove that the incentive of the CDM was a decisive factor for taking up the project when a project has started before a project design document (PDD) has been published for global stakeholder consultation or a new methodology in connection with the project has been submitted. However, kindly note that these projects have not yet entered the CDM project cycle as lined out in the CDM rules, requirements and procedures, and to submission for registration has yet been made.

Further details on the CDM project cycle are available here: http://cdm.unfccc.int/Projects/diagram.html

More information will be added here as time passes.

UPDATE 2 (3/11/2011): The DPRK has apparently registered eight power plants with the UNFCC.  According to Reuters:

North Korea has registered eight hydroelectric plants with the United Nations, and if approved, could allow the world’s most reclusive state to sell carbon offsets to earn precious hard currency.

These hydropower projects were registered with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for prior consideration in getting carbon credits, some of which have a capacity of 20 megawatts, the UNFCCC website showed.

Prior consideration is the first step for accreditation toward the U.N.’s Clean Development Mechanism that allows developing countries to earn tradeable carbon credits for emissions from clean-energy projects.

Bernhard Seliger, a messenger for North Korean officials on these projects, said the United Nations uploaded the information on Thursday after he submitted related forms on behalf of the North Korean government’s carbon trade division in late February.

“I have no idea when the U.N. makes a decision… North Korea has to finish the power plants, which up to now are only half-finished dams,” Seliger, Hanns Seidel Foundation’s representative in South Korea, told Reuters via email.

Analysts questioned the demand for carbon credits from North Korea, concerned the money might be siphoned off to nuclear arms or other military projects.

The UNFCC web page is not stranger friendly.

UPDATE 1 (3/8/2011): According to the Guardian:

North Korea hopes to earn much-needed hard currency by selling UN-backed carbon offsets from a series of hydro-power projects, as the country faces sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme.

If approved and registered by the UN, these would be the first projects for North Korea under a scheme called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This allows developing countries to earn tradeable carbon credits for emissions reductions from clean-energy projects.

Some analysts questioned the demand for carbon credits from North Korea, with fears the money might be siphoned off to nuclear arms or other military projects.

The government has asked the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany, which focuses on humanitarian issues, to act as a go-between by working with UN-approved verification agency TUV Nord.

According to Bernhard Seliger, the foundation’s representative in South Korea, North Korea is initially looking at trying to get approval for three hydro power plants of 7-8 megawatts (MW).

Seliger visited the three hydro-plant construction sites in the north-east corner of the country in January.

In a statement, TUV Nord confirmed the foundation had engaged their services.

“In this respect, TUV Nord intends to verify hydropower dams in North Korea once pre-registered with United Nations framework conventions on climate change [UNFCCC] via the Beijing branch of its Chinese subsidiary TUV Nord Guangzhou,” it said.

If registered, the plants could yield millions of euros over several years.

Beijing-based lawyer Tom Luckock, who specialises in projects that curb greenhouse gas emissions, estimated that an 8 MW hydro plant could yield about 23,000 UN offsets a year.

The offsets, called Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), are generated from registered CDM projects, such as wind farms, that are rewarded for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The offsets currently trade at nearly €12 (£10) each and are bought by governments in rich nations that need to meet UN emissions reduction targets.

Europe is the biggest buyer, with large polluting firms allowed to buy the offsets to meet a portion of their emissions reduction targets under the EU’s emissions trading scheme.

“Finding ways to secure foreign currency is the priority for North Korea, which is linked to everything from food to raw material imports to boost reduced productivity,” said Cho Myung-chul, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.

Seliger said North Korea, which signed the UN’s Kyoto Protocol climate pact in 2005, was also interested in biomass power generation projects under the CDM.

The UN-approved national agency that assesses and approves CDM projects in North Korea was not available for comment.

Questions remained on demand for North Korean CERs.

“Even if they open up, who in the world wants to pay for North Korea that is blamed for its nuclear weapons programme?” said Choi Soo-young, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification.

Cho said the UN needed to prevent outside cash going into its nuclear development activities, while Luckock, of global law firm Norton Rose, said: “Their limited access to hard currency has to be a concern for buyers – the damages clauses will carry limited weight without some security there.”

Another challenge is that North Korea would have to make public its energy consumption and generation data and disclose information on the amount of energy linked to the hydro project.

“Annual inspection, constant measurement and energy flow posting on the [UNFCC] website – all these things are new for North Korea,” Seliger said.

According to the AFP:

“We are talking about eight power plants, with the smallest size about 7.5 megawatts. These are not big projects but small or medium-sized projects,” Bernhard Seliger told AFP.

None has yet been completed, he said.

“I saw some (construction) sites in South Hamkyong province but that’s not all. There are other plants in other regions,” Seliger said, adding that some of the projects are led by the UN Development Programme.

The Hanns Seidel Foundation has been working since 2003 to build the North’s development capacity, and in 2008 organised a seminar on carbon trading for Pyongyang officials at their request.

The tradeable credits, called Certified Emissions Reductions, are awarded for approved clean-energy projects such as hydropower plants or wind farms.

Big polluters elsewhere in the world can buy them as part of their efforts to cut emissions.

Seliger said his foundation is helping the North to prepare for the auditing process required to join the UN carbon credit trading system known as the Clean Development Mechanism.

“One good thing about this project is that it is very transparent, involving monitoring and auditing on an annual basis… I think it is very good for North Korea to participate in such an international regime,” said Seliger.

An official at a South Korean state agency, the Korea Energy Management Corp, said registration would take at least a year or two and it was unclear how much the North would be able to earn if approved.

The official, who declined to be identified, said a typical eight-megawatt hydropower plant could yield about 19,500 carbon credits each year, each of which was currently traded at 12 euros in global markets.

This would amount to around $327,000 a year.

But some buyers may shun the communist state, given its history of nuclear and missile development which has led to international sanctions.

“Government buyers will certainly shy away from dealing with the North,” said Koo Jung-Han, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Finance.

“But private companies have few reasons not to buy credits from the North as long as it can offer a competitively low price. However, the big question is whether the North will be able to build the plants without outside financiers.”

Koo said that countries hoping to buy carbon credits from upcoming overseas projects often encourage investment in the ventures by their own finance companies.

“But what kind of financial companies will take a plunge in projects in such a volatile, politically risky country like North Korea?”

The North suffers persistent power shortages even in the showpiece capital Pyongyang.

Many rural areas receive power only during key agricultural seasons, and must rely for the rest of the year on alternative fuels, according to a recent policy paper published by the Nautilus Institute think-tank.

Here are the web pages for the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Program.

I am not sure which hydro power stations the DPRK is planning to submit to the UN, but many have been been highlighted in North Korean “media” in recent years:

Kumya River Dam
A dam is being constructed in Kumya County, South Hamgyong Province, to provide electrical power. Kim Jong-il last visited in August 4, 2010. It is just one of several dams under currently under construction in the DPRK.

Here is a satellite image of the Kumya dam’s construction (Google Earth: 11/25/2008,  39.574232°, 127.104736°)

This new reservoir will flood the locations of three villages (리): Ryongnam-ri (룡남리), Ryongsang-ri (룡상리), and Ryongchon-ri (룡천리).

Estimates of the reservoir size are made by me, but it is fairly obvious where the North Korean engineers expect the reservoir to flood because they have already relocated the villages from their former locations in the flood zone.

Kumjingang River Power Stations
Beginning in 2000, the DPRK has constructed three power stations on the Kumjin River (금진강) in  South Hamgyong Province.  The first was the Kumjingang Power Station (금진강발전소).  The second was the  Kumjingang Hungbong Youth Power Station (금진강흥봉청년발전소).  The third was the Kumjingang Kuchang Youth Power Station (금진강구창청년발전소).  All three are pictured below on Google Earth:

It does not appear that these projects have resulted in dislocated villages.

Wonsan Youth Power Stations
Below is a satellite image of the Wonsan Youth Power Stations No’s. 1-4 (원산청년발전소).   These projects required the construction of both the Kuryong Reservoir (구룡저수지) and an appx 8.5 mile (13.69km) tunnel to link the hydro power stations with their power source.  The inaugural ceremony for these facilities was on January 10, 2009.

The construction of the Kuryong Reservoir resulted in the dislocation of three villages: Kuryong-ri (구룡리), Konja-ri (건자리), and Haerang-ri (해랑리).

Orangchon Power Station No. 1
Kim Jong-il offered guidance at the Orangchon Power Station (어랑천1호발전소) in February 2007.  This facility will probably not be submitted to the UN for scrutiny because it lies just outside the security perimeter of what human rights groups assert is Kwan-li-so No. 16.

Anbyon Youth Power Stations No’s 1 & 2
The Anbyon Power Stations (안변청년1-2호발전소, 38.954400°, 127.538912°) are powered by waters from the Imnam Reservoir (임남저수지) via an underground tunnel nearly 45km in length.  Much more here.

The Imnam Reservoir flooded Chondo County’s capital city as well as appx 14 villages. The South Korean government was so worried about the Imnam Reservoir being used as a weapon that they built a dam downstream to prevent flooding should the DPRK release a large volume of water (38.209539°, 127.848760°).

Ryesonggang Youth Power Stations 1-6
Some of the Ryesonggang Youth Power Stations (례성강청년1-6호발전소, 38.367696°, 126.781096°) appear to be under construction in North Hwanghae Province.  The North Korean “media” has only broadcast images of the Ryesonggang Power Stations 1, 2, and 6 (all completed), so I presume that power stations 3, 4, and 5 are too new to show up on available Google Earth Satellite imagery. Below I post images of the distance between power stations 1 and 6 as well as close-ups of both facilities.

Power Station No. 1 was completed in 2007 and most recently received media attention in South Korea in September 2009 when the DPRK released a massive amount of water from its dam (Hwanggang Dam), causing floods in South Korea that killed six people. An estimated 40,000,000 short tons (36,000,000 t) of water was dumped during the flood, causing the water level at the border of Gyeonggi-do to leap from 7.5 feet (2.3 m) to 15.1 feet (4.6 m).

Power Station No. 2 (38.324008°, 126.673366°) has been completed, but it is too new to appear on Google Earth satellite imagery.  I have drawn it on Google Earth below:

Construction of Power Station No. 2 resulted in the dislocation of approximately 27 houses, but I have not been able to determine if any other villages were relocated due to construction of the other facilities.

Paektusan Songun Youth Power Stations
The North Korean media has also done a lot of advertising for the Paektusan Songun Youth Power Stations (백두산선군청년발전소) in Paekam County, Ryanggang Province (41.716931°, 128.786163°).

These dams have resulted in the dislocation of  two small communities as well as the severing of the old railway lines that connected Unhung, Kilju and Paekam with Musan.  Maybe the railway lines have been moved to accommodate the new dams, but it is also unclear if these line were in use to begin with.

Pukchang Ryongsan Power Station
Up until recently I believed the Pukchang Ryongsan Power Station (북창룡산발전소, 39.596238°, 126.266478°) was a large-scale river-straightening project, but according to recent KCTV footage (which I posted to Youtube here) it is in fact a hydro power station.  Work on this project began sometime around the spring 2002 (as best I can tell).

Huichon Youth Power Stations
The Huichon Youth Power Stations No. 1 & 2 have received the most attention in the North Korean media.  I recently located them and will post something soon.

Since the DPRK will likely be subjecting several of these (or other) power plants to international scrutiny, I look forward to seeing that data published.  KCNA is short on details and the disclosed information would facilitate more accurate assessments of the DPRK’s domestic hydro-power generating capacities.

A reader writes in with the following comments:

I would like to share some comments on the potential CDM projects in north Korea as i have been working on this field for many years now.

Concerning existing hydropower plants:
To be eligible to a CDM project, one of the first criteria is the additionality of the project. You have to prove (the rules are very stricts) that the project would not have been launched without the consideration of the revenues from the reselling of the CERs.
So the Dams that have already been buit are not eligible.

Concerning hydropower plants that are being implemented:
The first step of a CDM project is to notify to the UNFCCC secretariat and to Designated National Authority (in this case the Secretariat of the National Coordinating Committee of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for Environment) that you are seeking to establish your project as a CDM project.
Up to now, no such notification has been received by UNFCCC so it would be quiet difficult for projects being implemented to ask for the CDM status (i mean nearly impossible).

Some facts concerning future hydropower projects:
From the day you send the notification that you are seeking the CDM status to the day you are actually given the status, it takes in average 2 to 3 years (they would have to build the plants during this period)
Then it can be at least another year before you receive the CERs.
The price of 12 euro for a CER is for secondary market. The price for primary CER (directly sold by the producer) would be much less than 8 euro.
The figure of 20 000 CERs/year is completely unpredictable for the moment, here is a simplification of the calculation:
One CER is equal to one tonne of CO2 equivalent that would be avoided by producing clean electricity. For example when you produce 1 MW electricity from coal, the process releases X tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere but when you produce 1 MW from a hydropower plant, you do not release CO2.
In order to calculate what the CDM project would be able to claim, we would have to know the CO2 emission factor of the North Korean grid and then multiply it by the amount of MWh produced by the CDM project.
If most of the electricity produced these days in North Korea already comes from hydropower plants, then the national emission factor will be low and the CDM project will not avoid a lot of CO2 emission (and so not earn a lot of €)
Without the capacity of the future project and the national emission factor, it is impossible to estimate the amount of CERs the project could generate.

The CDM status seems quiet unrealistic to obtain for North Korean projects but other international agreements are discussed these days and their outcome may be more adapted.

ORIGINAL POST (2011-1-31): According to Radio Free Asia:

Nuclear-armed but cash-starved North Korea has expressed interest in joining the world carbon market in an apparent bid to earn precious hard currency and avoid international sanctions, an expert told RFA.

But the secretive Kim Jong Il regime has to disclose critical information, such as energy consumption data as well as methods by which it derives energy, to be eligible for funding under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), said the North Korea expert, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The CDM is aimed at encouraging companies or organizations in the developed world to invest in carbon dioxide emissions-saving projects in developing countries.

In return for funding and technology transfer, investors receive carbon credits, which can then either be traded on carbon markets or used to reduce their own emissions tally if they are subject to a domestic cap.

The Kyoto Protocol set emission caps for 38 countries through 2012, establishing the CDM as a worldwide carbon market. It is a cornerstone of the group’s efforts to tackle global warming.

The North Korea expert told RFA on Jan. 13 that Pyongyang intended to apply for funding via the CDM and that the regime might list its proposed hydro-electricity power projects under the U.N. mechanism.

UN refrains from comment

When contacted on the North Korea move, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the secretariat charged with implementing the global environmental treaty to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations, said it would refrain from commenting on individual country projects.

The North Korea expert estimated that one ton of carbon dioxide would trade for about U.S. $26 dollars and if a hydro-electric power project was registered under the CDM, depending on the carbon credit bid price, about U.S. $1 million dollars could be earned annually.

A hydro project registered under the CDM would need to be evaluated by U.N. inspectors for it to qualify for carbon credits. Usually, it would be evaluated continuously for about 14 years.

Details, including the amount of energy linked to the hydro project and potential reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, would have to be submitted.

North Korea has been mostly reluctant to share information about its energy generation activities.

According to the expert, North Korea has recently displayed “great interest” in the possibility of operating hydro-electric power stations to alleviate its domestic energy shortages and to acquire “carbon credits” that it could, in turn, sell on the international carbon market.

Hard currency

As North Korea’s economic crisis worsens, Pyongyang is seeking ways to earn hard currency following a failed currency reform and due to sanctions imposed by the international community over its nuclear and missile developments and provocations targeting South Korea.

The interest in the CDM is likely to be part of this search.

The North Korea expert also said that earning hard currency through “carbon credits” would not be subject to sanctions imposed on Pyongyang under UN Security Council resolutions, and that any North Korea’s application for participation under the CDM “may stand a chance.”

“For North Korea, this could be an opportunity to earn hard currency without engaging in illegal armament sales, while operating an electric power station in transparent fashion, and accepting strict monitoring by the UN, and abiding by applicable international standards.”

The United States has been pressing China to use its influence to persuade North Korea regime to end recent provocations and return to disarmament talks involving the three countries and South Korea, Russia and Japan.

The six-party nuclear talks were last held in 2008. The impoverished North has been seeking a restart to the nuclear negotiations, which propose to reward its gradual nuclear disarmament with phased infusions of economic aid.

In a bid to renew dialogue and ease chances of conflict, South Korea recently proposed holding a preliminary meeting with North Korea on Feb. 11 to prepare for high-level defense talks. On Friday, the North suggested parliamentary talks between the two sides.

Read the full story here:
North Korea Eyes Carbon Market
Radio Free Asia
1/29/2011

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KJU supporter takes over Rajin-Sonbong (Rason)

Monday, February 14th, 2011

According to the Donga Ilbo:

North Korea has reportedly appointed Vice Trade Minister Jo Jong Ho as chairman of a civic committee for Rajin-Sonbong Special City, a major post in the North, to succeed Kim Su Yol, who was dismissed late last year.

Jo is a member of a group that supports Kim Jong Un, the youngest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and heir apparent, and reportedly has helped set the North’s new economic policy.

A source on North Korean affairs said Sunday, “Jo Jong Ho has been named the new chairman of the people’s committee, a post which has remained vacant after the dismissal of former chairman Kim due to sluggish foreign investment.”

“Since Jo used to work with former Trade Minister Im Kyong Man, chief secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party for Rason City, he will likely enjoy a harmonious working relationship with Im.”

Pyongyang has apparently deployed a key member of the power elite among supporters’ groups of Kim Jong Un to an important economic region to lay the foundation for a successful power succession based on economic achievements.

The source said, “The North deployed a Kim Jong Un supporter at a time when Pyongyang is striving to establish the structure for power succession,” adding, “Since Jo is fluent in English, activities to attract foreign investment from overseas enterprises will likely gather momentum.”

Read the full story here:
NK appoints heir apparent`s supporter to key post
Donga Ilbo
2/14/2011

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Rajin-Sonbong (Rason) clarification

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

UPDATE: In addition to the information below, the Choson Ilbo reports that  the DPRK’s former trade minister has been appointed mayor of Rason.  According to the article:

The North Korean regime has appointed former foreign trade minister Rim Kyong-man as the mayor of the Rajin-Sonbong Economic Special Zone, which was promoted to a special city in January. A source said Rim was appointed as part of a reshuffle and new regulations for the city.

Rim is known as an expert in trade who served as the minister for foreign trade from April 2004 to March 2008, and headed the North Korean trade representatives to Dalian in China. He also toured Africa (June 2005), Latin America (November 2005), Libya and Malaysia (June 2006) and Russia (March 2007) as the leader of the North Korean economic delegation.

“It seems that North Korea appointed Rim, who is very experienced in trade with foreign countries, with an aim to further open Rajin-Sonbong as a free trade area,” the source added.

ORIGINAL POST: The designation of Rason as a “special city” this week left me a bit confused, but I believe I have sorted it out.

This week, Reuters reported:

“The city of Rason has become a special city,” the North’s KCNA news agency said in a brief dispatch on Monday.

And Yonhap reported:

North Korea designated Rason, the country’s first free trade zone, as a “special city” on Monday, the North’s official news media reported.

North Korea designated Rason and nearby Sonbong, located on the country’s northernmost coast close to both China and Russia, as an economic free trade zone in 1991, though foreign investment has never materialized.

According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) monitored here, the Standing Committee of the North’s Supreme People’s Assembly designated Rason as a special city in a decree.

So aside from the fact that Rason was named “special” there were no other details given.  What does it mean to be a “special city”?

Well, today the nice Chongryun individual in Japan who updates the KCNA web page finally came back from vacation and posted the story to the official KCNA web page.  Here is what it says:

Rason City Designated as Municipality
Pyongyang, January 5 (KCNA) — Rason City was designated as a municipality.

The Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK said in its decree promulgated on Jan. 4:

1. Rason City shall become a municipality.

2. The DPRK Cabinet and relevant organs shall take practical measures to implement the decree.

Without seeing any additional information it seems that what has actually happened is that the municipalities of Rajin and Sonbong have been dissolved, merged, or been made subject to a newly created Rason municipal government which controls both cities.  So Rajin-Sonbong is dead.  Long live Rason.

So why would the North Korean government do this?  Here is one theory: Since the district was under the direct control of Pyongyang (not the provincial government of North Hamgyong), the DPRK government simply thought that two municipal governments in the special economic zone were one more than was necessary.  So this could mean something significant–in terms of the DPRK’s intent to increase foreign trade–or it may not.

If anyone else has a better idea please let me know in the comments.

UPDATE:

1. Here is a decent story in the AFP which interprets the change as a significant policy signal.

2. Here is a decent story in the Daily NK which offers lots of additional information.

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DPRK Policy on Foreign Trade

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Foreign Trade (Naenara)
January, 2010

(An interview of a reporter of Foreign Trade of the DPRK with Sin On Rok, director of a bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Trade)

Question: I’d like to have a talk with you about the DPRK policy on foreign trade. Would you please tell me about the fundamental of its foreign trade policy?

Answer: The DPRK Law on Foreign Trade was adopted by the decision of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly in 1997. Article 2 of the law stipulates that it is a consistent policy of the DPRK to develop foreign trade.

The fundamental of its foreign trade policy is to consolidate the foundation of the independent national economy and, on this basis, to expand and develop trade relations with other countries.

This foundation provides a material guarantee for promoting foreign trade on the principles of complete independence and equality. If the developing countries, in particular, fail to conduct trade business based on their self-reliant national economy, they can neither construct independent structure of trade nor defend their sovereignty in the end.

From this point of view, the DPRK government has consistently maintained trade policy of developing foreign trade on the basis of the independent national economy and further consolidating its foundations through foreign trade.

In the past the government has developed heavy industry with machine building industry as its core, light industry and agriculture simultaneously in conformity to the actual conditions of the country and, relying on them, produced and exported goods that are highly competitive in international markets. And it has always ensured that foreign trade serves development of the economy and betterment of the people’s life.

Q: What is the principle pursued by the government in foreign trade relations?

A: The DPRK government employs the policy of maintaining the principles of independence, equality and mutual benefits, as well as credit-first principle in the relations of foreign trade.

The government has so far developed trade relations holding fast to these principles and given active support and assistance to the developing countries in their efforts to establish the fair international economic order.

It has put forward the credit-first policy in trade dealings and ensured that all the trading corporations keep credit in their transactions so as to create better climate for foreign trade of the country. It is making efforts to establish rigid discipline that corporations should ensure the superior quality of exports, keep delivery date and faithfully discharge contractual obligations like payment for imported goods.

Q: I think the issue of making foreign trade diversified and multifarious also assumes due importance in the foreign trade policy of the government.

A: You are right. Article 3 of the Foreign Trade Law stipulates that diversification and variegation of foreign trade constitute a basic way for wide-ranging trade. The State shall ensure to deal with different countries and corporations employing various forms and methods in foreign trade.

For the sake of diversification of foreign trade, we pay a primary attention to the neighbouring countries in developing economic exchange and cooperation including trade.

It is due to the geographical location and role of our country in the economic development of the Northeast Asia and the rest of the world.

And the government executes a policy of expanding the scope of foreign trade to all countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe in its effort to make foreign trade diversified.

Entering the new era, our country intensified the diversified economic exchange and trade transactions with EU member nations.

The EU top level delegation paid a visit to our country in 2001. The DPRK-EU symposium was held in Torino, Italy in March 2007 and the 3rd DPRK-EU economic symposium held in Pyongyang in October 2008. These events marked important occasions in the development of economic and trade relations between the DPRK and the European countries.

The DPRK government is also carrying out the policy of making foreign trade multifarious in keeping with the developing trend of international trade.

It puts a stress on processing trade on the basis of its economic potentialities and up-to-date processing technologies.

The government encourages local trading corporations to import raw materials and accessories and to process and assemble them for export in different sectors of the economy such as textile, clothing, machinery and facilities, rolling stocks and electronic goods.

We are channeling much effort into the export of technological products like software relying on the development of information industry of the country.

Transit trade and consignment trade are also in full swing.

Q: What is the highlight in the export policy of the government at present?

A: The key issue in the export policy is to improve export structure from the export of raw materials into that of processed goods.

The government makes efforts to give full play to the potentialities of existing export bases while building new ones in various sectors, increase the variety and volume of exports and upgrade their quality.

It defined the production bases of internationally competitive goods as strategic export industries, and is concentrating its investment on them and paying a close attention to their scientific and technological development.

The government takes some measures to encourage the export business of the corporations with a view to increasing export volume of the country.

It affords preferential treatments such as loaning from banks and supply of raw materials and power to those export bases and corporations which have cultivated new markets with new items of export or produced and exported hi-tech goods.

Besides, the government simplifies export procedures and upgrades services of the export-related institutions so as to carry on the smooth operation of export business of the country as a whole.

The DPRK government will continue to promote the impartial and reciprocal economic and trade relations with all countries on the principle of independence, mutual respect and equality.

and

DPRK Tariff System
Foreign Trade, Naenara
Kim Tong Hyok, University of the National Economics
January 2010

The tariff system in the DPRK contributes to protecting the independent national economy and improving people’s livelihood.

The basic aim of the tariff policy in our country is to apply either no or low tariff on materials and goods imported for the acceleration of economic construction and the betterment of people’s life and high tariff on goods that have been or can be produced at home.

First, the government builds a tariff barrier against the imports which can be produced in our country.

High tariff is imposed on such imports as the goods that the domestic factories and enterprises are now producing or have potentials to produce, the products that are not needed at present in economic sectors, and the goods that are of no direct use for enhancing people’s living standards so as to increase the domestic production capacity and raise the quality of the homemade articles to be competitive in the world markets.

Second, the government imposes low or no tariff on the imports which are in short supply or unable to produce at home, i.e. the latest machines and equipment, oil and crude rubber needed for consolidating the foundations of the independent national economy and some of daily necessities that are more profitable to import than to produce at home.

It is impossible for each country to produce by itself all things necessary for its economic construction and people’s life because its natural and economic conditions and the level of productive forces differ from those of others.

Third, the government holds the principle to introduce advanced technologies in executing tariff system.

It imposes no or low tariff on hi-tech products and preferential tariffs on the goods imported by foreign-invested enterprises for the purpose of introducing advanced science and technology.

Fourth, the government defined correct criteria for tariff on the imports and is properly applying them.

It stipulated appropriate criteria of assessing the price of each variety of the imports pursuant to the regulations for the implementation of the DPRK Customs Law and the provisions of the Customs Law, and is now applying them in keeping with the requirements of the developing reality.

Besides, the government has prepared the catalogues of export commodities and the tariff rate table in conformity to the provisions of GATT and exercised tariff system suitable to each phase of development of the national economy, thus further promoting foreign trade and preventing tax evasion and other commercial wrongdoings which exert negative influence upon international markets.

Today the DPRK tariff system makes a big contribution to the protection of the independent national economy and the development of foreign trade.

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DPRK eases fees for investors

Monday, September 7th, 2009

According to Yonhap:

North Korea has taken steps to attract more overseas investors by scrapping extra land use fees and introducing selective import rules that can help foreign-owned companies maintain a market share, a Chinese newspaper said Friday.

According to the Jilin Newspaper, the official daily of China’s Jilin Province, a North Korean official promoted the new foreign-investor friendly measures during a recent trade exposition held in the city of Changchun.

“We revised pertinent laws and regulations so as to relegate land use fees, which have been paid annually by foreign-invested companies to their (North) Korean partners that loan the land,” Yun Yong-sok, a senior official at the international investment department of the North’s Ministry of Foreign Trade, was quoted by the paper as saying at the expo. North Korea’s Radio Pyongyang reported a delegation’s trip to the Chinese expo on Aug. 26.

Foreign investors have so far paid annual land use fees to the North Korean government in addition to a one-off lease payment, which will be still levied after the revisions.

The measures come as North Korea faces tightening international sanctions over its May nuclear test. The U.N. sanctions ban North Korea’s arms trade, a major source of income for the impoverished country, and closely scrutinize cash flows to the North.

North Korea also introduced “state support measures,” such as banning imports of goods that are already produced in adequate quantities within the North by foreign companies to ensure investors’ profits, Yun was quoted as saying.

Foreign companies that invest in science and technology in the North will get additional tax incentives, but those who take North Korean minerals, timber or fish abroad will be levied a new “resource tax” to protect the country’s natural resources, Yun added.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea boosts incentives for foreign investors
Yonhap
9/4/2009

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DPRK ministerial shakeup and SPA elections announced

Monday, January 5th, 2009

UPDATE 3: According to numerous media sources, Choe Sung Chol has been shot (h/t Marmot). Read more here: Bloomberg, Reuters, Korea Times.

UPDATE 2: According to the Joong Ang Daily:

North Korea’s point man on South Korea, who was earlier said to have been sacked for misjudgment, is said to be undergoing what sources called “severe” communist training at a chicken farm, sources here said yesterday.

Choe Sung-chol, once a vice chairman of the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, the North’s state organization handling inter-Korean affairs, was reported to have been dismissed in early 2008 for what sources called his lack of foresight on South Korea’s new conservative administration under President Lee Myung-bak.

Political dissidents in North Korea are said to often undergo training on the communist revolution. This includes hard labor in harsh environments, such as mines or in labor camps.

Choe, 52, became better known to South Korean officials and the public in 2007, when he escorted then-President Roh Moo-hyun throughout his visit to Pyongyang for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

He is also known to have played a key role in arranging the summit.

Officials in Seoul have acknowledged the dismissal of Choe, but could not confirm his whereabouts or why he was sacked.

“He has been undergoing training for about a year now, so it really is hard to tell whether he will be reinstated or not,” another source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

(UPDATE 1) Shortly after the DPRK’s ministerial and leadership changes were dscovered, the DPRK announced the Supreme People’s Assembly will be recomposed in March.  According to Reuters:

The reclusive North’s official media said in a two-sentence dispatch the election for deputies to its Supreme People’s Assembly would be held on March 8, without offering details.

North Korea wants to promote economic elite to the assembly to help lay the groundwork for the next generation of its leadership, a think tank affiliated with the South’s intelligence service said in a report in December, Yonhap news agency said.

However, analysts cautioned against reading too much into the leadership changes, saying Kim Jong-il and his inner circle hold the real power while ministers and other government officials have almost no influence in forming policy.

The assembly session that typically meets in April each year is a highly choreographed affair focused on budget matters where legislation is traditionally passed with unanimous approval.

North Koreans can vote only for the candidates selected by supreme leaders who allocate assembly seats to promote rank-and-file officials and purge those no longer in favor.

“Even if we know that someone was replaced, everything related to it is pure speculation because we have no clue as to the individual inclinations of these people,” said Andrei Lankov, an expert on the North at the South’s Kookmin University. (Reuters)

The Joong Ang Ilbo provides some additional facts:

The election is also a mere formality in the North because the candidates are hand-picked by the Workers’ Party and then approved by North leader Kim Jong-il.

The five-year terms of the 687 representatives, selected in 2003, were supposed to end last September. North Korea watchers have speculated that Kim’s health was linked to the election delay. According to intelligence sources in Seoul, Kim suffered a stroke in August.

North Korea watchers said Kim’s appearance at a polling station will put an end to speculation about his health. Kim had cast ballots in the 1998 and 2003 elections, according to past North Korean media reports.

With the upcoming election, Kim’s regime will enter its third term. The newly formed legislature will, on paper, form a cabinet, devise a national budget plan and conduct foreign policy.

Following former leader Kim Il Sung’s death in 1994, the Supreme People’s Assembly did not meet for four years. At that meeting, it elected the younger Kim as the National Defense Commission chairman and officially launched his regime. At the time, the legislature also amended the Constitution and undertook a dramatic cabinet shakeup.

ORIGINAL POST
According to the Joong Ang Daily:

Yu Yong-sun, a 68-year-old Buddhist leader, has become North Korea’s senior South Korea policy maker, a top Seoul official told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

Choe Sung-chol, deputy director of the United Front Department of the North Korean Workers’ Party, was in charge of Pyongyang’s South Korean affairs until early last year. After he lost the job, Yu, head of the Korean Buddhists Federation, was appointed to the post, the source said.

“Yu succeeded Choe in March last year,” the source said. “Choe was once deeply trusted by [North Korean] leader Kim Jong-il, but he stepped down because he had failed to accurately assess the outcome of the 2007 presidential election in the South, the Lee Myung-bak administration’s North Korea policy and the outlook for inter-Korean relations.”

The source also said corruption scandals involving the overseas North Korean assistance committee under the United Front Department played a role in Choe’s sacking.

Choe played a crucial role in arranging the second inter-Korean summit between the president of South Korea at the time, Roh Moo-hyun, and Kim in 2007.

Yu, the successor, is not an entirely new face in inter-Korean affairs. Since 2000, he represented the North in several rounds of inter-Korean ministerial talks. He has led the Buddhist group since May 2006.

“We’ve also obtained intelligence that Kwon Ho-ung, who used to be the chief negotiator for the inter-Korean ministerial talks, stepped down from the post and has been put under house arrest,” the source said.

The North reshuffled its cabinet recently, according to the South’s Unification Ministry. Ho Thaek, vice minister of the electric power industry, was promoted to minister. Other minister-level promotions also took place at the Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Forestry and Ministry of Foreign Trade. (Jeong Yong-soo, JoongAng Ilbo)

The Choson Ilbo reports on some more ministerial changes:

North Korea has reshuffled two cabinet ministers and appointed a new man to a key post in the Workers’ Party. North Korean state media reported that Kim Tae-bong was appointed new metal industry minister and Hur Tack new power industry minister. They replace Kim Sung-hyun and Pak Nam-chil. Kim Kyong-ok as newly-named first deputy director of the ruling party’s Organization Guidance Department that controls the party, Army and administration and is headed by leader Kim Jong-il.

It is rare for reshuffles to be announced separately. The new economic appointments may be related to the emphasis on “economic recovery” in a New Year’s statement released in the state media last week that is the closest the North has to an annual message from Kim Jong-il, a government official here speculated. The statement described the metal industry as the “pillar of the independent economy of socialism” and said the electricity, coal and railroad sectors “should take the lead in the people’s economic development through reforms.” Hence replacement of the metal and power industry ministers, according to the official. He admitted little is known about the newly appointed ministers.

The Organization and Guidance Department’s new first deputy director Kim Kyong-ok is reportedly in charge of regional party organizations.

“If the power succession is to move smoothly, the economy must be revived and control of the party organization is essential,” an intelligence officer here said. He predicted noticeable changes in the North’s power structure this year. A researcher at the Korea Institute of National Unification said North Korea “is going to take various steps in a bid to prevent Kim Jong-il’s authority from weakening due to ill health.”

And from Yonhap:

North Korea promoted industrial veterans to top posts in its latest Cabinet reshuffle, signaling Pyongyang’s stepped-up drive to rebuild the country’s frail economy, Seoul officials and analysts said Tuesday.

A reshuffle in the communist state is usually inferred when new faces appear in its media, as the country does not publicize such moves.

Five new names were mentioned as the North’s ministers of railways, forestry, electricity, agriculture and metal industry in the North’s New Year message and reports in October, Seoul’s Unification Ministry Spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun said.

“They are formerly vice ministers or those who climbed the ladder in each field. The reshuffle considered their on-spot experiences and expertise,” the spokesman said.

It was not clear when the reshuffle took place, he said.

North Korean media have been reporting a brisk campaign to rebuild the country’s ailing industrial infrastructure, following up on the New Year economic blueprint rolled out by leader Kim Jong-il. Kim called on citizens “to solve problems by our own efforts” and increase production in electricity, coal and daily equipment.

In the reshuffle, Jon Kil-su was named minister of railways; Kim Kwang-yong minister of forestry; Ho Taek minister of power industry; Kim Chang-sik minister of agriculture; Kim Tae-bong minister of metal industry.

Kim Kwang-yong and Kim Chang-sik were vice ministers and Jon held a senior post in their respective ministry. Ho was formerly a power plant chief, while little was known about Kim Tae-bong, Seoul officials said.

The shakeup was rumored to have affected more posts, but the Seoul spokesman could not officially confirm it.

Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea studies professor at Seoul’s Dongguk University, said the reshuffle is a sign that the North is shifting its focus to the economy from the military. In its New Year message, Pyongyang pledged to build a “prosperous and powerful nation” by 2012, the 100th anniversary of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung’s birth, he noted.

“The key word this year is the economy,” Koh said. “The reshuffle seems to suggest officials with technical expertise should take the initiative to develop the economy.”

Kim Young-yoon, a researcher with the Korea Institute for National Unification, said Pyongyang is turning to its natural resources amid suspension of South Korean aid. The Seoul government halted its customary aid of rice and fertilizer this past year as Pyongyang refused offers of dialogue.

“North Korea has no other way but turn to its own natural resources as long as inter-Korean relations and the nuclear issue are in limbo,” he said.

Read the full articles here:
Buddhist leader gets North’s South policy spot
JoongAng Daily
Jeong Yong-soo
1/5/2009

N.Korea Reshuffles Economic Posts
Choson Ilbo
1/5/2009

N. Korea promotes industry veterans in Cabinet reshuffle
Yonhap
Kim Hyun
1/6/2008

North Korea says to elect MPs in government shake-up
Reuters
1/6/2009

North to hold parliamentary election
Joong Ang Ilbo
Ser Myo-ja
1/8/2009

Top North official said to be getting re-educated
Joong Ang Daily
1/12/2009

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Last call at Kaesong…

Monday, December 1st, 2008

The end of sunshine?
According to Yonhap (here and here), Friday, November 28, was the last day of the Kaesong day tours (210 tourists made the trip) and the last day the “train to nowhere” made its inter-Korean trip.

As for the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ)…According to (Bloomberg), on December 1 the DPRK cut the number of “windows” available each day for South Korean vehicles to enter and leave the KIZ from 19 to 6 (though the Donga Ilbo claims just 3), and limited the number of South Koreans allowed in the complex to 880—about 20% of the 4,200 previously permitted to enter the complex.

According to the  Donga Ilbo, Pyongyang delivered notice at 11:55pm Sunday saying those allowed to stay in Kaesong are 27 staff of the management committee; four from the (South) Korea Land Corp.; 40 from Hyundai Asan Corp.; five at restaurants and living quarters; two at shops and hospitals; and 800 from South Korean companies. Border crossings are also limited to 250 staff members and 150 vehicles each time.

Jeopardizing more than Kaesong
As previously discussed (here and here), South Korea and Russia are interested in building oil and natural gas pipelines which would cross the DPRK. If these projects went through, the DPRK government would benefit from construction and “rental” fees—in effect taking a cut of all the energy resources that cross their borders.  North Korea, is now telling the Russians that the project is not too palatable at the moment.

Still more red than green it seems.

What now?
So while the DPRK chases away investment from the South, they solicit more from Kuwait and Singapore (where Chris Hill is due to stop by):

North Korean Foreign Trade Minister Ri Ryong Nam, now in Singapore, has urged Singapore companies to invest in the isolated country, the Singapore government said Monday.

The North Korean minister “briefed…on economic developments in North Korea and possible investment opportunities for Singapore companies,” in a meeting with Singapore’s former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, now a senior minister in the Cabinet, a government statement said.

Goh said, “Singapore would be glad to explore ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation, including in the areas of trade and investment, once international concerns were assuaged and the environment improved.”

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo made a trip to North Korea in May, accompanied by a business delegation, in what was the first official visit to North Korea by a Singapore Cabinet minister.

On that trip, Yeo met North Korea’s No. 2 political leader Kim Yong Nam and Ri.

Yeo said at the end of his visit North Korea might be keen to learn from some aspects of the Singapore development model and that Singapore is ready to offer help and ideas. (Kyodo-Japan Economic Newswire)

Chewing gum manufacturers beware!

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Download glitch fixed: North Korea Google Earth (version 11)

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

The most authoritative map of North Korea on Google Earth
Download it here

This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the eleventh version.

Additions include: Mt. Paegun’s Ryonghung Temple and resort homes, Pyongyang’s Chongryu Restaurant, Swiss Development Agency (former UNDP office), Iranian Embassy, White Tiger Art Studio, KITC Store, Kumgangsan Store, Pyongyang Fried Chicken Restaurant, Kilju’s Pulp Factory (Paper), Kim Chaek Steel Mill, Chongjin Munitions Factory, Poogin Coal Mine, Ryongwun-ri cooperative farm, Thonggun Pavilion (Uiju), Chinju Temple (Yongbyon), Kim il Sung Revolutionary Museum (Pyongsong), Hamhung Zoo, Rajin electrified perimeter fence, Pyongsong market (North Korea’s largest), Sakju Recreation Center, Hoeryong Maternity Hospital, Sariwon Suwon reservoir (alleged site of US massacre), Sinpyong Resting Place, 700 Ridges Pavilion, Academy of Science, Hamhung Museum of the Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung, South Hamgyong House of Culture, Hamhung Royal Villa, Pork Chop Hill, and Pyongyang’s Olympic torch route. Additional thanks go to Martyn Williams for expanding the electricity grid, particularly in Samjiyon, and various others who have contributed time improving this project since its launch.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.  Additionally, this file is getting large and may take some time to load.

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Mongolia to hire North Korean workers

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

From Daily Business News Mongolia:

At the submission of the Government of Mongolia, the Parliament ratified Mongolia-North Korea Inter-governmental Agreement on exchanging work forces on the 20th of July, 2007. According to the Agreement, Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor of Mongolia is to negotiate in the near future with Foreign Trade Ministry on realizing the agreement and exchange of work force, especially number and need of work force, the minimum wage /by USD/, labor conditions /normal and abnormal/, social welfare /social insurance/ and therefore those interested in employing North Korean wok force in 2009 should formulate their TORs accurately as well as submit them to the MSWL within 23 July. Currently orders should be submitted on the basis of position vacancy since number of workers is not specified yet.

Read more here.

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