Archive for the ‘Ministry of Power and Coal’ Category

The New Huichon Power Station providing electricity to Pyongyang

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2012-10-11

Completed in April, Huichon Power Station is confirmed to be supplying electricity to the capital of Pyongyang. The No. 1 and No.2 hydro powerplants of Huichon are located on the upper reaches of Chongchon River with power generation capacity amounting to 300,000 kilowatts.

According to Choson Sinbo, Japan’s pro-North Korean news agency, Huichon Power Plant will be the main supplier of power to Pyongyang. Prior to its construction, Pyongyang Thermal Power Plant, East Pyongyang Thermal Power Plant, and Bukchang Thermal Power Plants provided electricity to the capital.

In the article, Kim, Myung-chul, DPRK official from the Ministry of Electric Power Industry stated, “Huichon Power Plant is helping the power supply of Pyongyang to a considerable extent. It is offering quality supply of electricity to the citizens.”

He also added, “In the past, power supply was unsatisfactory compared to the demand. Now, through a newly installed transmission lines, power can be supplied to the residents of Pyongyang with stable frequency and voltage.”

In recent years, the number of new apartments and other commercial and cultural facilities has drastically increased in Pyongyang and consequently, there is a growing demand for stable power supply. The news reported, ten additional small-to-medium power stations are expected to be constructed on the banks of Chongchon River.

Construction of Huichon Power Plant started in March 2009 as an initiative of Kim Jong Il, to solve the power shortage problem in Pyongyang. The plant originally began construction in 2001 but, Kim Jong Il pushed for swift completion by 2012, in time for the celebration of a strong and prosperous nation by 2012.

Kim Jong Il visited the construction site of Huichon over eight times from 2009 to 2011, and inspected Huichon as his first official activity of 2010, revealing the significance attached to the power plant.

North Koreans are branding the Huichon Power Station as a “monumental creation” and even included in the highly regarded, Arirang Mass Games program this year.

North Korea suffered from a widespread lack of electricity and has turned to hydoelectric power to supplement diminishing supplies of coal. The hydro powerplant of Huichon is expected not only solve the electricity shortage but also protect the farms and cities nearby from frequent flooding.

*Previous posts on the Huichon Power Stations here and here.

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KCNA: 20-day industrial output value increases over Jan 2011

Friday, January 27th, 2012

According to KCNA (2012-1-25):

The gross industrial output value grew 1.2 times for twenty days of January this year as against the same period last year.

This is the result of the high-pitched drive waged by all the workers of the country since the first day of this year after receiving with excitement the joint calls of the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the joint New Year editorial for this year and the letter of the working people in South Hamgyong Province.

In the period, the Ministry of Light Industry increased the production 1.4 times and the Ministry of Food and Daily Necessities sharply boosted the production.

Thermal and hydropower stations have increased the ratio of operating the generating equipment.

Much effort is being concentrated on supplying coal to the thermal power plants and chemical and metal plants and developing more coal beds.

The Ministry of Coal Industry produced 12,000 more tons of coal than planned for the 20 days.

Iron mills and steelworks also increased the production.

The freight transport volume increased by 12 percent from the same period last year.

Innovations were made in the production of vinalon and fertilizer by the industrial establishments in the field of chemical industry and in the production of custom built equipment and mining machines by the industrial enterprises of the field of machine industry.

The forestry stations and pit wood stations increased the timber production.

Progress has been reported on a daily basis from the important projects including the building of apartments in Mansudae areas and the Paektusan Songun Youth Power Station.

For the uninitiated, this is about as close as the DPRK gets to releasing economic statistics. Note there are no base numbers–only [some] % increases. Also, despite the measure being officially named “output value”, it is really just a claim of increased physical production.  There is no value (prices) or mention of “services” included in these measures.

Unfortunately without more solid numbers, and the proclivity to ascribe productivity gains to effective propaganda, these reports cannot be taken seriously.

Although we all talk about the DPRK’s GDP and per capita income as if the numbers are solid, the reality is quite the opposite.  In addition to the general lack of information, there are all sorts of methodological problems with assessing the value of the DPRK’s economy.  Here are some helpful sources if you want to learn more:

1. DPRK Economic Statistics Report

2. G. Warren Nutter papers:

- (JSTOR) “Soviet Industrial Growth”, Source: Science, New Series, Vol. 130, No. 3370 (Jul. 31, 1959), pp. 252-255

-(JSTOR) “Industrial Growth in the Soviet Union”, The American Economic Review , Vol. 48, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Seventieth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (May, 1958), pp. 398-411

-(JSTOR) Some Observations on Soviet Industrial Growth”, The American Economic Review , Vol. 47, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Sixty-eighth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (May, 1957), pp. 618-630

3. The North Korean Economy by Nicholas Eberstadt

4. Assessing the economic performance of North Korea, 1954–1989: Estimates and growth accounting analysis

5. Bank of Korea’s assessment fo the DPRK economy in 2010.

6. My North Korean Economic Statistics Page

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DPRK military strenghtens hold on economic interests

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

UPDATE: IFES has contacted us with an update to this report:

“North Korea exports between 2-3 million tons of coal, collecting approximately 200 million USD.”

Original Post:
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 09-6-9-1
6/9/2009   

The North Korean military, which has recently taken a hard-line position internationally with rocket launches, a nuclear test and inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch preparation, appears to be strengthening its position domestically, as well. It has reportedly taken charge of coal exports, previously the responsibility of the Cabinet, and other key economic interests.

According to sources inside North Korea, authority to export anthracite, the North’s most valuable export item, was transferred from a trading company under the control of the Cabinet to a military trading company earlier this year. North Korea exports between 200-300 tons of coal each year, collecting approximately two billion USD in foreign currency. Previously, this was shared among branches of the government, with the military, the Korean Workers’ Party and the Cabinet all similar export quotas.

One source stated, “Recently, China’s trade minister signed a contract for 60,000 tons of coal from a military-run trading company, and delivered one million USD-worth of corn as payment,” noting, “previously, North Korea’s trade partner [with China] was the Cabinet-controlled trade company.” The same source went on to note that it was “exceptional that as North Korea suffers from foreign capital shortages, it demands payment not in cash, but in corn…it looks like it is measure for military use.”

Other sources reported that, as of this year, the military has also taken control of the Bukchang Thermoelectric Power Plant, the country’s largest steam-powered electrical station. The Bukchang plant, built with Soviet supplies in 1968, can produce up to 2 million kW of electricity. It was formerly operated by the Ministry of Electric Power Industry, which is under the control of the Cabinet, but at the beginning of year, some authorities were purged on charges of bribe-taking and providing power designated for government facilities to foreign capital enterprises and other businesses. Since then, the military has run the plant.

The increased number of economic assets in control of the military reflects the military’s recently-strengthened position within the regime. The North Korean economy can be divided into several sectors: Kim Jong Il’s private fund, managed by Party operations; the military-industrial ‘second economy’; and the official economy, under the control of the Cabinet. The military’s increasing control over the official economy appears to be a move to completely implement ‘Military-first Politics.’

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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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North Korean minister sacked over Kim jibe: report

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

The Nation
1/18/2007

North Korea’s energy minister has been fired because he suggested that the power supply to leader Kim Jong-Il’s guesthouse should be diverted for public use, a Japanese newspaper said Thursday.

Ju Tong-il, minister of power and coal industries, was fired late last year by the leaders of the impoverished Communist state, the evening edition of the Mainichi Shimbun daily said in a story from Beijing.

“Our country’s energy situation is extremely severe,” Ju told a meeting of energy-related officials last spring, according to the daily, quoting unnamed sources close to the North Korean government.

“Or better yet, why don’t we get back electricity fed to the guesthouses of our general?” Ju reportedly suggesting, referring to Kim.

Ju later excused his remarks, saying: “I just wanted to express the fact that our domestic electricity condition is paralyzed.”

But he came under fire from leaders of the ruling Workers Party and was then dismissed, the daily said.

Agence France Presse

Golden Villas, Let’s Share Electricity!
Daily NK
Yang Jung A
1/19/2007

While North Korea’s electrical power supply worsens, North Korea’s Premier Park Bong Ju pushes for the expansion of energy supply and civil electrical support only to receive a personal punishment from authorities or in actual, his position changed.

“As a result of energy and other issues, Ju Dong Il, the Minister of the Electricity and Coal Industry was removed from his position” a Japanese newspaper “Mainichi” reported on the 18th, citing a source related to the North Korean government.

The Minister Ju was known for his proposal on energy made at a policy meeting early 2005 where a comment was made “The electricity situation in our country is seriously grave” and suggested “How about we redirect the electricity from our leader’s personal residence and use that.”

This proposal suggested that the electricity crisis be partly solved by redistributing some of the electricity supplying Kim Jong Il’s numerous personal villas throughout the nation, to much needed industries and homes.

As the Minister Ju realized his comments had set a predicament, he tried to justify himself stating “I simply wanted to express that the country’s electricity is in an immobilized state” but was known to have been reprimanded by the central authorities and his position changed. Since last October, the Ministry of the Electricity and Coal Industry had been separated to the Ministry of Electrical Industry and the Ministry of Coal Industry.

In the same month, Premier Park expressed his concerns on the export of coal to China at a trade conference saying “If this situation continues, our country will be faced with serious implications from the energy crisis. The people will be unable to use their central heating and industries will stop. It would be better to refrain from further exports.” The newspaper also mentioned that Premier Park had gone to the extent of submitting a proposal and that the ministry had even settled on the suspension of coal exports.

However, following the nuclear experiment, the National Defense Commission asserted that the acquirement of foreign currency was an absolute necessity in strengthening the military and strongly urged for the resumption of exports. In the end, the ministry’s decision was overturned and exports recommenced.

Though Premier Park has not yet been replaced, under the orders of authorities, he is known to be spending his time in self-discipline as “for now, revision is necessary.” Though Premier Park’s name is listed on the roll of honors, he has not been seen in the presence of Kim Jong Il. 

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Electricity Production Goes Up

Monday, January 15th, 2007

KCNA
1/15/2007

Officials of the Ministry of Power Industry, with a sense of responsibility for a pilot in the building of an economic power, are working hard to make an epochal turn in the power production from the outset of the year. Pak Nam Chil, minister of the Power Industry, told KCNA:

The ministry is concentrating all the forces on operating the already repaired generating equipment at full capacity, while considerably raising the existing capacities of the thermal- and hydro-power stations across the country.

In particular, it is gearing up preparations for the general overhaul of facilities at the power stations with main emphasis on putting production of the Pukchang Thermal-power Complex and the Pyongyang Thermal-power Complex on normal track.

The workers of the hydropower stations are successfully carrying on the repair of hydraulic power structures, managing water well and operating them in a scientific and technical way. Great efforts are channeled to manufacturing highly efficient turbines so as to boost the turbine efficiency.

Along with this, they are taking various measures to make best use of the produced electricity. They are readjusting the power transmission system to reduce the line loss and distributing electricity in a rational way.

Officials, workers and technicians of power stations in different parts of the country including the Chongjin Thermal-power Plant have turned out in the increased production of electricity, solving the needed materials and equipment components with their own efforts.

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