Archive for the ‘Worker’s Party’ Category

Farming Regions in State of Tension

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

According to the Daily NK:

This year, the North Korean authorities are once again emphasizing the need to strive for greater food production as the farming season begins, launching the annual 40-day total farm mobilization period with the words “Let’s mobilize the whole party, the whole nation and all the people to reach the grain production targets.”

Rodong Shinmun published editorials on the subject on both the 11th and again on the 12th, reflecting the emphasis being optimistically placed on solving food security issues in 2012. Kim Jong Eun also emphasized the same in his major statements on the 6th and 27th of last month, understandably so given that farm productivity has the potential to play such a decisive role in stabilizing the first full winter of his rule.

Inside sources say that the mobilization atmosphere is unusually intense this year in farming villages. Cadres and people alike are feeling the strain of Kim Jong Eun’s first season in charge, with the assumption being that this year could see severe punishments meted out for any wrongdoing.

A South Hamkyung Province explained to Daily NK yesterday, “The whole nation is out there supporting the farms, including enterprises affiliated with state agencies, upper middle school and college students and military bases. People are not allowed to be at home or in the streets. Restaurants are not open either. Everybody is out on the farms. It’s just like martial law, really brutal.”

“5 or 6 safety agents have set up a desk in the street and are stopping people passing by, confiscating their identifications and the bikes they are on and sending them to nearby farms,” he went on. “People can only pass if they have a confirmation slip from a cooperative farm management committee.”

“The markets are only allowed to open from 5PM to 8PM after farm work is done for the day, so excluding preparation and organizing time, there is only an hour or so that the market is open. Buyers and sellers are all super busy,” he added.

During the 40-day total mobilization period, school classes are halted and students sent off to farms for forty days carrying their food and bedding. Laborers, workers in administrative organs and members of the Union of Democratic Women all commute from home to local collective farms until the planting and seeding is done.

North Korea has had the policy in place since 2006. Prior to that, students still had to farm every day, but full-time workers and members of the Union of Democratic Women went out just twice or three times a month.

In 2006, five provincial Party cadres from North Hamkyung Province were caught enjoying a spa during the period. They were summarily kicked out of the Party and sent into internal exile with their families.

“Until last year we were able to get confirmation of attendance from farm management committee cadres by giving a bribe, but with this year being the first under Kim Jong Eun, those tricks are unlikely to work,” the source concluded.

Read full story here:

Farming Regions in State of Tension
Daily NK
Choi Song Min
2012-5-15

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Army Founding Day a source of stress

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

According tot he Daily NK:

The North Korean authorities have called on the people to provide supplies for care packages to be given to military units on People’s Army Foundation Day, which falls today. It is not a new burden, but is relatively larger this year, according to a source.

The source from Chongjin in North Hamkyung Province told the Daily NK yesterday, “The people feel seriously burdened by the project going on nationwide to gather support supplies ahead of the military holiday. Each household is required to offer up towels, soap, toothpaste, socks and underwear.”

“Usually they collect around 1,000 won from each family, but this year they told us to give 10,000 won,” the source went on. “Since even providing food for the family is not easy, many people are playing a waiting game on this.”

The source explained that societal organizations (the Union of Democratic Women, General Federation of Korean Trade Unions etc) have also been gathering care packages for delivery to local military units by ‘People’s Delegations’ consisting of municipal and county Party cadres.

“Middle school classes are also suspended while students prepare and perform ‘People’s Army Comfort Concerts’ at art centers and in military camps, and the Union of Democratic Women are preparing art performances,” she added.

Problematically, the various April holidays also mean that markets are closed more often than normal, and this is driving down household incomes.

For the Day of the Sun, the markets were closed from the 14th through the 17th. The markets are also closed today for Army Foundation Day today. Moreover, they were also closed on the day Kim Jong Eun was elevated to 1st Secretary and the day of the mass rally organized to denounce the Lee Myung Bak administration, to name but two.

As such, the source concluded, “April is a hectic month. Aside from the fact that the people are exhausted because of the pressure from the authorities their income has dropped by around half so many will likely end up in debt.”

Read the full story here:
Army Founding Day a Source of Stress
Daily NK
Choi Song Min
2012-04-25

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Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) 4th Delegates’ Conference

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Pictured Above: Kim Jong-un’s official party photo.

UPDATE 20 (2012-4-21): 38 North has posted three articles on the Party Conference and SPA meeting in Pyongyang.  Read the articles byJames ChurchAidan Foster-Carter, and Bruce Klinger.

UPDATE 19 (2012-4-19): Stephan Haggard, Luke Herman, and Jaesung Ryu on the Party conference.

UPDATE 18 (2012-4-11): In addition to honoring Kim Jong-il and promoting Kim Jong-un, KCNA also reported other party personnel changes:

Pyongyang, April 11 (KCNA) — Members of the party central guidance body were elected to fill vacancies, elected and appointed at the 4th Conference of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

Choe Ryong Hae was elected member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee, Kim Jong Gak, Jang Song Thaek, Pak To Chun, Hyon Chol Hae, Kim Won Hong and Ri Myong Su members of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee, Kwak Pom Gi, O Kuk Ryol, Ro Tu Chol, Ri Pyong Sam and Jo Yon Jun alternate members of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee to fill vacancies.

Kim Kyong Hui and Kwak Pom Gi were elected secretaries of the Party Central Committee.

Choe Ryong Hae was elected vice-chairman of the Party Central Military Commission and Hyon Chol Hae, Ri Myong Su and Kim Rak Gyom were elected members of the Party Central Military Commission to fill vacancies.

Members and alternate members of the Party Central Committee were elected to fill vacancies.

Kim Yong Chun, Kwak Pom Gi and Pak Pong Ju were appointed as department directors of the Party Central Committee.

Members of the Party Central Auditing Commission were elected to fill vacancies.

Previous posts on the party conference below…

(more…)

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Aidan Foster-Carter on the DPRK’s 2012

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Aidan Foster-Carter wrties in the Asia Times:

The first quarter of 2012 is almost over. Where did it go, so fast? And for those parts of the world where the calendar is marked by four distinct seasons – which doesn’t apply to much of Asia, but very much includes the Korean peninsula – spring has begun to arrive. Welcome warmth and relief, after the rigors of chilly winter: an especially harsh one in North Korea.

(more…)

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DPRK undergoing 2012 calendar recall

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

 

Pictured above (Google Earth): (L) Kumsong Youth Publishers (금성청년출판사), (R) Pyongyang General Printing Factory (평양종합인쇄공장). According to the Daily NK article below, both factories print calendars in the DPRK.

UPDATE 1 (2012-3-23): The Daily NK updates us on the DPRK’s 2012 calendars:

The slogan on the cover of the calendar has been edited from “The Great Leader President Kim Il-sung will always be with us” to “The Great President Kim Il-sung and the Great Leader Kim Jong-il Will always be with us”

The new calendar marks February 16th (Kim Jong-il’s official birthday) as “The Day of the Shining Star”. This same day is also celebrated as the day Kim Jong-il received the title “generalissimo”.

“The Day of the Sun” (April 15th–Kim Il-sung’s birthday) was always there, however, revised text about other dates has been added.

The May picture comes from the DPRK film Petition. The June image comes from The Blessed Land.

 

July – October calendar pages

December 17th 2012 commemorates “Juche 100″. December 17th is the day Kim Jong Il passed away.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-1-10): According to the Daily NK:

North Korea has recalled all 2012 calendars because they do not specify the date of Kim Jong Il’s death (December 17th), and is producing new ones.

A Shinuiju source confirmed for Daily NK on the 5th, “Pyongyang Combined [General] Printing and other printers are creating new calendars marking Kim Jong Il’s death.”

“An order was handed down through Party organs, enterprises and people’s units calling for the return of those calendars which had been distributed. Calendars stored by traders who were planning to go and distribute them outside of North Korea are also being recalled,” the source added.

However, most of those calendars which have already been exported, such as the one obtained by Daily NK [see picture here], will continue to circulate.

The absence of the date of death is not the only problem with the new calendar. There are also problematic messages such as ‘We hope for great leader comrade Kim Jong Il’s good health.’ As such, the new calendar will reportedly both include Kim Jong Il’s official date of death and the latest slogan, ‘Great leader comrade Kim Jong Il is with us forever.’

Official North Korean calendars are designed and published by a number of publishing houses including Keumsung Youth Publishing House and Agricultural Publishing Company on the authority of the Party Propaganda and Agitation Department. They are still distributed to all Party organs, enterprises and military bases, although due to economic and production limitations the paper quality has dropped in recent years, and even this measure has not been enough to stop distribution to households breaking down.

On this, one defector from North Hamkyung Province commented, “There are 28 households in a people’s unit, but only 10 calendars were given to us once.”

Other than the official calendar published for distribution, each of the authorized publishers produces a higher quality 7-page calendar for sale in places like the jangmadang. Some high-quality scroll calendars are also produced by People’s Army Publishing House, People’s Safety Ministry, and National Security Agency etc.

An additional point of interest for the reproduced calendars is whether Kim Jong Eun’s birthday (January 8th) will be made prominent. January 8th, 2012 is a Sunday and as such would typically be marked in red anyway, but usually to emphasize special days the numbers are printed in a bigger font.

Read the full story here:
North Korea in Mass Calendar Recall
Daily NK
Park Jun Hyeong
2012-01-10

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Workers’ Party conference scheduled for April: A turning point for building a powerful nation

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Pictured above (Rodong Sinmun): New propaganda to build awareness of the upcoming KWP conference.

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) (2012-3-7):

North Korea announced the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Conference would be held in mid-April. Regarding the conference, Rodong Sinmun released an editorial on February 29.

The newspaper editorial titled, “DPRK to Greet WPK Conference with High Political Enthusiasm” commented, “the Party conference is of particular significance in the party development and accomplishment of the Juche revolution as it will open at a historic juncture when a new century of Kim Il Sung’s Korea starts.”

The editorial goes on to elaborate on the significance of the party conference:

The WPK has marked a new historic turning point in its development.

Kim Jong Un is standing at the head of the WPK and revolution.

Under his guidance the Korean revolution is making more dynamic advances and registering signal achievements in the efforts to build a thriving nation.

The party and revolution have a rosier prospect as the bloodline of Mt. Paektu is given steady continuity generation after generation and the center of the leadership and unity remains unshakable.

With Kim Jong Un at the helm of the WPK, it is shedding its rays as a steel-strong party with the greatest dynamism, a revolutionary one with a strong sense of organization and firm unity and principle and as a great mother party genuinely serving the people, deeply rooted among them.

It is the immense pride that the revolutionary comrades-in-arms of Songun are united closer around the Central Committee of the WPK, sharing thought and intention with Kim Jong Un and keeping pace with him.

The forthcoming conference of the WPK will offer an opportunity of increasing its position and role as a powerful political staff for the Songun revolution, steadfast in monolithic ideology and leadership.

The newspaper highlighted the keywords for the upcoming conference will be Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un and the party.

The news also emphasized that teachings of Kim Jong Il, his ideology and achievements will be upheld as the sole principle of the party. In addition, the editorial articulated songun politics will be continued as a way to advance the defense industry with Kim Jong Un as the head of the Central Committee of the WPK.

Lastly, the editorial reiterated “under the leadership of the party, revolution and miracle can be created to improve the lives of the people and to complete the construction of powerful nation.”

The Daily NK also reports that security in Pyongyang has already been tightened.

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A North Korean Corleone

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Sheena Chestnut Greitens writes in the New York Times:

What kind of deal do you make with a 20-something who just inherited not only a country, but also the mantle of one of the world’s most sophisticated crime families? When Kim Jong-un, who is thought to be 28 or 29, became North Korea’s leader in December after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, he became the de facto head of a mafia state.

(more…)

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KWP forms 4.15 gift preparation committees

Monday, March 5th, 2012

According to the Daily NK:

The North Korean authorities have ordered the formation of ‘Day of the Sun Gift Preparation Committees’ at the provincial Party level and subordinate ‘Day of the Sun Gift Subcommittees’ at the city and county scale, Daily NK has learned.

A Yangkang [Ryanggang] Province source who spoke with Daily NK on the 6th explained, “The ‘Day of the Sun Gift Preparation Committee’ was formed at the start of this month by the provincial Party Committee to prepare for the Suryeong’s birthday, and groups of areas were banded together to form the ‘Day of the Sun Gift Subcommittees’.”

“There was no distribution for February 16th,” the source recalled. “Possibly because the central Party received reports of popular discontent about this and asked some searching questions of provincial cadres, now they are running around trying to get ready for April 15th holiday distribution.”

“Enterprise traders are mostly bringing in soy bean oil, soap and towels via Chinese customs. They are printing ‘Day of the Sun 100th Anniversary’ on the towels,” he added.

The formation of the committees has also reportedly had a noticeable influence on levels of public expectation of the April 15th festivities, representing as it does the first time that ‘Gift Preparation Committees’ have been formed since they disappeared without a trace in the mid 1990s.

“They are already saying that each household is going to receive a huge gift for this Day of the Sun, so people are really expecting a lot,” the source said, adding, “The rumor among jangmadang traders is that every house is going to get a DVD player made by Hana Electronics in Pyongyang.”

As the source noted, the move comes following significant public discontent at the lack of gifts on February 16th (Kim Jong Il’s birthday).

On February 21st, Daily NK reported new of that discontent, citing a Yangkang Province source as saying, “There was a flood of criticism about the total lack of holiday distribution for Gwangmyungsung Day, so they began telling every organ, enterprise and people’s unit meeting, ‘That is because we are close to the 100th anniversary of the Suryeong’s birth, and the Party is preparing big gifts for that.’”

North Korea began giving snacks, rice and other foodstuffs to the people every year on the birthdays of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, along with things like school uniforms and blankets every 5th and 10th year, in the 1970s. However, the system ceased to function in the 1990s as the country was gripped by famine and economic disintegration.

Meanwhile, sources also report that with the arrival of the early spring lean season, a time when many people on the Korean Peninsula have traditionally struggled to find sufficient sustenance, prices in the market are beginning to creep up.

According to the Yangkang Province source, “Until late last week the Yuan price was 607 won, but now it is up to 635 won. The price of rice has also gone from 3,300 won to 3,800 won.”

Read the full story here:
North Forms Party 4.15 ‘Gift Preparation Committees’
Daily NK
Lee Seok Young
2012-3-5

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Kwangbok Department Store

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

UPDATE 1 (2012-2-21): According to the Korea Times, this store is now providing people with a legal window to exchange local for hard currency:

North Korea is apparently allowing foreign currency to be exchanged at unofficial, black market rates at a newly-renovated department store in Pyongyang, according to a diplomatic source who recently visited the country, Tuesday.

The source said people could exchange euros, dollars and yuan at kiosks at Kwangbok Area Supermarket, which recently opened after refurbishment and is said to resemble department stores in the South. The North has long kept the value of its local currency artificially high.

Euros were being exchanged at the rate of one euro for 4,420 North Korean won, while the official rate is around 130 won per euro, the source said.

“They are exchanging hard currency at a rate that seems to be an unofficial rate,” the source told The Korea Times. “People can also shop at the department store using foreign currency by taking their receipts to the booths.”

The source added that the exchange rates were written on a board inside the kiosks.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-1-6): See the original post below.


 

Pictured Above: (L) The original facade of the “Kwangbok Department Store (광복백화점)”. (R) The new facade of the “Kwangbok Area Supermarket (광복지구상업중심)”

Here is KCNA coverage of the opening of the facility (Posted to YouTube):

Astute observers will notice the American beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon, featured prominently in the beer section.

Here is coverage of the opening in KCNA (2012-1-5):

Pyongyang, January 5 (KCNA) — The Kwangbok Area Supermarket was opened with due ceremony on Thursday.

All business service at the supermarket built as a commercial service center has been put on IT and digital basis. Customers can buy varieties of goods according to their taste and requirements in the sales rooms on each floor stacked with household appliances, electronic products, foodstuff, fibre, sundries and others.

Present there were officials concerned, officials of the Korea Taesong General Trading Corporation, officials and employees of the Kwangbok Area Supermarket, members of the Feihaimengxin Trading (Beijing) Co. Ltd. staying in the DPRK and the Chinese embassy here.

O Ryong Il, general president of the Corporation, said in his speech that the work to build the supermarket was successfully completed under the energetic leadership of leader Kim Jong Iland the dear respected Kim Jong Un and the positive efforts of the peoples of the two countries.

He expressed belief that the supermarket would help towards improving the people’s living standard and promoting the well-being of the two peoples through better service and management.

Xue Rifei, executive managing director of the Feihaimengxin Trading (Beijing) Co. Ltd., said in his speech that Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un gave field guidance to the supermarket on December 15, 2011 and named it the Kwangbok Area Supermarket.

He expressed the expectation that an effort will be made to reenergize the supermarket to win high appreciation for its best management, service and credit.

The Korea Taesong General Trading Corporation is a sanctioned organization, and according to the US Treasury, it is a “key node” in the illicit activity of Office 39. According to NK Leadership Watch:

One of the participants at the opening ceremony was Jon Il Chun (Chon Il-chun), deputy director of the Korean Workers’ Party’s Finance and Accounting Department and section chief of Office #39.  Mr. Jon accompanied Kim Jong Il on a visit to the Kwangpok store in mid-December 2011, which was KJI’s last reported public appearance before his death.

On a more casual note, the supermarket marks a point of administrative departure from the way department stores are typically managed in socialist countries. The Kwangbok Department Store (the former name) was one of Pyongyang’s premier formal retail outlets. For decades it operated in the same way as other socialist department stores: customers ended up standing in three lines before they were able to collect their merchandise (one line to order, another line to pay, and another line to pick up). The new Kwangbok Supermarket has adopted a market-style check out line. Though unnoticed by foreigners, this is the first such check out line I have seen in a North Korean department store.

This point was also highlighted in AP coverage:

A separate story in KCNA notes that the shop will sell both foreign and domestic goods:

The supermarket is supplied with home and foreign-made products which are in demand in the country.

Although I have not acquired data specific to this store, I believe it is reasonable (even rational) to assume that if the supermarket sells imported goods it will charge had currency for them. This opinion is based on the following assumptions: 1. The Chinese investors will not accept North Korean won under any circumstances. 2. The goal of Office 39 is to acquire hard currency for the Kim family. 3. North Korean retail outlets frequently post prices in multiple currencies so I don’t see any reason why it would be different here. Today a plurality of North Koreans can easily acquire foreign exchange.

Here is my working assumption of the business model: Chinese partner acquires merchandise and imports it to the DPRK. Sales in hard currency go towards allowing the Chinese supplier to recover its costs. Chinese partner either earns a profit from a markup it charges Kwangbok or it divides the profit with Office 39 along some agreed percentage.

If Chinese profits are earned from a cost-plus markup that it charges Kwangbop, then the partnership is closer to an exclusive supplier deal rather than a true joint equity deal. The North Koreans could cheat on this deal by finding cheaper suppliers and decreasing its purchases from the Chinese partner. If after-sales profits are split between the Chinese and Office 39, then both partners will need auditors on hand to make sure the books are accurate. The Chinese partner will also need a good relationship with the Chinese embassy if it runs into problems with the DPRK managers should they unilaterally change the terms of the contract (the split).

A Chinese firm reportedly tried to invest in the Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 several years ago. Not much seemed to happen, but maybe there is some more info here.

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Enlarged plenary meeting of Cabinet held

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Pictured above (Google Earth) is Changsong Town in North Pyongan Province. This town is the home of the Changsong Joint Conference which was held in August 1962.  This meeting was referenced in the DPRK’s most recent Cabinet plenary meeting on the DPRK economy.

According to KCNA (2012-1-22):

An enlarged Cabinet plenary meeting was held.

Present there were Premier Choe Yong Rim and cabinet members.

Attending the meeting as observers were senior officials of the organizations under direct control of the Cabinet, directors of management bureaus, chairpersons of provincial, city and county people’s committees, chairpersons of provincial rural economy committees, chairpersons of provincial planning committees, directors of provincial foodstuff and daily necessities management bureaus and managers of major factories and enterprises.

Prior to the meeting, the participants paid silent tribute to the memory of leader Kim Jong Il.

The meeting reviewed the fulfillment of last year’s national economic plan and discussed how to implement the decision of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, joint calls of the WPK Central Committee and the Central Military Commission and the militant task put forward in the joint New Year editorial.

Vice-Premier Ro Tu Chol made a report to be followed by speeches.

The enlarged meeting set it as a priority task for this year to direct efforts into developing light industry and agriculture to improve the people’s livelihood and successfully carrying out the WPK’s prosperity-oriented strategy in the pilot domains and basic industries of the national economy upholding the flames of South Hamgyong Province. It also indicated the tasks and ways for it.

Also discussed was an issue of raising higher the flames of great innovation of South Hamgyong Province in the light industrial and agricultural fields.

The meeting mentioned the need to produce quality consumer goods favored by the people in the field of light industry and effect a decisive turn in development of local industry this year marking the 50th anniversary of the historic Changsong joint conference.

It also stressed the need for ministries and national institutions to help Changsong County in its industrial development.

Also discussed at the meeting were such issues as fulfilling the assignments for grain production for 2012 both in lowland and mountainous areas, making the best use of modern stockbreeding and poultry bases and large fruit and fish farms as well as the tasks for ministries and national institutions to preferentially supply materials, equipment and electricity to farming processes.

The meeting drew attention to the tasks for the industrial fields of electric power, coal, metal, railways and machine and construction and building materials, etc.

The meeting tabled the tasks for all ministries, national institutions and provincial people’s committees to lay their own scientific and technological foundations for stepping up the work for turning the economy into one based on technology in a forward-looking manner as required by the industrial revolution in the new century.

It also discussed the tasks for the fields of education, literature and art, public health, sports, capital construction, land management and urban management.

The meeting stressed the need for all economic officials to preserve the socialist principle and ensure profitability in economic management, operate and manage the economic work on the basis of detailed calculation and science as well as the need for ministries, national institutions and industrial establishments to set up strict order regarding planning, financial dealings and administration.

Relevant decisions were made at the meeting.

As premier of the Cabinet Choe Yong-rim has made quite a few prominent appearances in the DPRK media in the last two years which highlight his official efforts to improve the North Korean economy. His most recent public appearance (January 12) is reported to have been at the Jenam Coal Mine.

Kim Jong-un, however, is not a member of the Cabinet, so he did not attend the meeting. To date his legitimacy is being established through his relationship to Kim Jong-il/Kim Il-sung and as a leader of the KPA—rather than as a leader in the government or even the party (at least so far).

As a result, Kim Jong-un’s guidance visits have consisted almost exclusively of visits to KPA units.  In this month alone, he has visited the 105 Tank Brigade, KPA Unit 169, KPA Unit 3870, KPA Unit 354, KPA Unit 671, and the KPA soldiers constructing the Pyongyang Folk Village on the outskirts of Pyongyang. Uriminzokkiri has also credited him with spearheading the DPRK’s nuclear tests.

UPDATE: Here is Yonhap coverage of the meeting.

“Changsong Joint Conference”
The KCNA article prompted me to look into the “Changsong Joint Conference”, a term that did not ring a bell. The most recent reference I can find to it is this blurb from a March 2011 article in Korea Magazine:

The Changsong Joint Conference of Local Party and Economic Officials was held in August 1962.

The conference marked the beginning of developing the local industry throughout the country.

In recent years the county has made strenuous efforts to carry out the plan of the Workers’ Party of Korea for the building of a thriving nation and achieved many successes.

Hundreds of hectares of forests of raw materials and timber forests including pine-nut, wild-walnut and larch forests have been newly created.

The Changsong Foodstuff Factory gathers in scores of kinds of wild fruits including acorns, wild grapes, fruits of Actinidia arguta and Crataegus pinnatifida every year in mountains.

Recently its officials and workers have modernized all production processes including wild fruit drinks and wines as required in the IT age to produce foodstuffs in time.

Wines made from the fermented juice of wild grapes, fruits of Actinidia arguta and other wild fruits, Crataegus pinnatifida, Rubus crataegifolius, carbonated Actinidia arguta and other fruit juices, dried bracken and sliced bracken and other wild vegetables preserved in soy sauce are in great demand for their peculiar flavour.

The Changsong Textile Mill which started operation with six housewives has been turned into a modern fabric producer. As a treasure mill, it makes a great contribution to the improvement of the people’s standard of living. It produces quality fabrics, woolen knitted goods and quilts and blankets with local raw materials.

The Changsong Paper Mill produces paper from ground pulp. It has streamlined the equipment to improve the qualities of goods.

Looking round the local-industry factories in Changsong County in November last year, Kim Jong Il kindled the flame of developing the local industry throughout the country after the model of Changsong.

Changsong County stands at the head of development of local industry. Now its people work harder to change further the looks of their home village.

Another blogger seems to have located a single page of a book on the Changsong Joint Conference. Fortunately, he typed out the introduction:

The great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung had made a farsighted plan for bridging the gap between town and country and between regions and raising equally the living standards of all the working people. For this Changsong County had been taken as a model.

The great leader who had long pushed preparations for rapid improvement in the livelihood of the mountain peasants, studied deeply the state of affairs in this part of the country, and through his several on-the-spot guidances, paved the shortest cut to establish a socialist paradise.

In August 1962, in order to spread the example of Changsong across the land he convened the historic Changsong Joint Conference of Local Party and Economic Functionaries. There he put forward a new policy and overall ways and means to enhance the role of the county and develop local industry and agriculture, so as to improve radically the people’s living conditions.

In 1974, our people erected in Changsong the historic monument to the on-the-spot guidance of the respected and beloved leader Comrade Kim Il Sung, out of their wish to retell throughout generations the profound care of the fatherly leader who had shown the bright future of mountain villages and transformed that area into a people’s paradise fine to live in.

Kim Jong-il last visited Changsong in November 2010 where he visited the Changsong Foodstuff Factory, Changsong Textile Mill, and Changsong House of Culture. The first two locations are the shining examples of the success of the Changsong Joint Conference.  The Changsong House of Culture is where the meeting was officially held in 1962.

But if the goal of the conference is to reduce the disparity in the DPRK’s living standards, Changsong is probably not the best place to start. Changsong is home to one of the North Korean leadership’s most well-known luxury retreats.  This is because it was was extensively photographed by Kenji Fujimoto while he was working as Kim Jong-il’s personal chef.   See a satellite image and Mr. Fujimoto’s pictures of the compound here. You can see the Taegwan leadership train station Kim used to visit the compound here.

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