The Chosun-Shinbo reports (via the Daily NK) “North Korea can produce instant noodles again” because construction has been completed on Pyongyang’s newest (and largest) noodle factory, the Pyongyang Wheat Flour Factory.
“Starting this year, domestically produced instant noodles will likely be supplied to people on a large scale.”(Daily NK)
…signaling that the DPRK government still seems intent on re-launcing the collapsed Public Distribution System (which has floundered many times).
[The] Pyongyang Wheat Flour Factory is located in Samheong-dong of Mankyungdae District, in Pyongyang, and mainly produces wheat flour, cookie, noodle, and yeast. North Korea built its first noodle factory, Daedong River Instant Noodle Factory, with foreign capital in August 2000 along the Daedong River in Pyongyang.(Daily NK)
Last October Yonhap, reported that Hyundai’s 44,000-strong union donated US$553,800, appx. $13 per worker, to help finance a corn noodle factory in Pyongyang. This is likely the “older” Daedong River Instant Noodle Factory. If this is the case, then Pyongyang has two noodle factories coming on line at about the same time.
The rest of the story:
Although the DPRK government is a newcomer to the noodle business, noodle production and consumption have been burgeoning in North Korea’s private economy, and there is supportive journalistic evidence that the business now suports those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder (see here, here, here, and here). Small scale noodle production requires little capital, so it is a natural fit for those who have nothing but have taken to supporting themselves.
The opening of new government-operated food processing plants is tantamount to a “re-nationalization” of a “privatized” industry in the DPRK. Past reports claim that noodle sales earned private vendors between 900 to 1,600 won. Now these vendors, who operate at the fringes of North Korea’s semi-legal private economy, will at a minimum, be forced to compete with “free” or heavily subsidized government operators.
What will be the result? On the pessimistic side, we could claim that the DPRK government is attempting to monopolize the food supply to control the population (as it has in the past). On the other hand, their ambitions might be more modest and they are only looking to establish some form of carrot they can point to as legitimization of the government’s leadership.
From an economic reform perspective, however, North Korea needs fewer government-run noodle factories and a better business environment for noodle entrepreneurs.
The full stories can be found here:
North Korea Can Produce Instant Noodles Again
Park Hyun Min
Hyundai Motor union leaders visit N. Korea for noodle project