North Korea’s sole 3G network operator has managed to double its subscriber base in a little over a year and is about to hit 2 million users.
Koryolink launched service in the final days of 2008 and has become one of the most visible foreign partnership success stories in the country.
The network operator is jointly owned by Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding (OTMT) and North Korea’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. Orascom holds a 75 percent majority stake with the remainder in the hands of the government.
Before Koryolink’s service began, mobile phones were an unusual sight in Pyongyang, but that has changed in recent years. Visitors speak of seeing scores of citizens talking and texting from mobile handsets.
2 million subscribers is approximately 8.3% of the North Korean population. The majority of subscribers are likely to be in Pyongyang but we do not have any data on the internal distribution of subscriptions. All subscribers are paying in hard currency, though none of it has been repatriated from the DPRK.
After North Korea’s currency revaluation in 2009, North Korean currency is still unstable and North Korean markets near the DPRK-China border are reportedly filled with Chinese merchandise, with transactions being conducted mainly in Chinese yuan.
An online newspaper, the Daily NK, reported that markets in the city of Hyesan (Ryanggang Province) and surrounding areas are using Chinese yuan as the primary currency for transactions rather than local North Korean won. Rice prices are standard indicators of inflation in North Korea and even rice was reported to be exchanged in yuan. As the monetary value of domestic currency continues to fall, North Korea is experiencing hyperinflation and North Koreans are showing a preference for the more stable Chinese yuan over won.
With an exception of rice, vegetables, and seafood, manufactured goods including confectioneries, the daily necessities for sale in these markets are mostly from China. As well, some South Korean items such as instant noodles, Choco Pies, and butane gas are sold openly in the markets.
Border areas have a higher rate of Chinese yuan usage than inland areas, as for years traders have been buying Chinese goods with Chinese yuan to sell in the domestic markets. However, with the unstable domestic currency, more and more North Koreans have been using Chinese yuan over the last three years. Some report goods bought with North Korean won must be converted to the CNY exchange rate.
As of mid-April, the exchange rate of 100 CNY to KPW was 130,000. However, Pyongsong and Pyongyang cities used mainly US dollars and local won in equal rates.
A video recording obtained by the Daily NK unveiled the landscape of the marketplace and nearby alley markets of Hyesan and surrounding areas. Items for sale include jackets, mufflers, gloves, coats and other winter clothing as well as cosmetics, perfumes, toothpaste, toothbrushes and other daily goods. Transactions were being made in Chinese yuan.
North Korean authorities are waging a crackdown against the use of the yuan in the markets but merchants continue to use yuan in secret.
The high number of Chinese goods in North Korean markets can be attributed to the failed production system of the people’s economy of North Korea, which began to tumble in the late 1990s. As the regime began to invest excessively in its military sector, production in the manufacturing sector declined.
Although North Korean products appear in the markets, most people prefer Chinese goods due to their better quality.
A recent article in the official state economics journal of North Korea, Kyongje Yongu (Journal of Economic Research), criticized the “trade companies for focusing on only one or two countries,” expressing concerns that, “the whole nation may experience political and economic pressure from trade companies that restrict foreign trade to only one country.”
Kim Jong Un has also expressed official disapproval against “import syndrome” of the people and regarded it as an obstacle hindering the development of North Korea’s light industry.
Although no specific country was named, it is believed that China makes up over 80 percent of North Korea’s total foreign trade. North Korea continues to show vigilance against its rising dependence on China.
The new system has been implemented from the beginning of this year, a source in South Hamgyong province told RFA’s Korean Service.
Under the reforms, as part of agricultural liberalization in North Korea’s rigidly planned economy, farm workers may keep up to 30 percent of their unit’s produce and are allowed to sell them at market prices, sources said.
Authorities have divided up the traditional collective farms and allocated fields to smaller group units.
“The North Korean government has been dividing collective farmland up into small units since [the beginning of] 2013,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Some workers are hopeful that the changes could help ease the impoverished country’s food shortages, but others are unsure how much they will benefit, a source from South Pyongan province said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Some people are excited, expecting there will be enough rice in North Korea,” he said, adding that there was “optimism” that the system will help boost food production.
“But some are skeptical, with a strong distrust in the government which has been conducting everything unsuccessfully,” the source added.
Management structure unchanged
The move to liberalize the agriculture sector is believed to be a policy initiative of North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong Un, who took over after his father, Kim Jong Il, died in December 2011 after initiating some economic reforms that failed to take off.
No major public announcement of the new policy has been made so far.
Sources said that a key stumbling block to the farm reforms is the management structures of the collective farms which remain unchanged since the policy was implemented.
The lack of change in the leadership system leaves farm workers “uncertain” how much of that 30 percent will go into their own pockets, they said.
For example, it remains unclear whether farm managers will receive their share of harvests from the 70 percent allocated to the state or the up to 30 percent portion that goes to workers, they said.
One source in China, which is North Korea’s main diplomatic and trading partner, said the system would make little difference to workers without a guarantee on the division of profits.
“It seems like the North Korean government wants to boost the motivation to work, but there is not much difference between the previous system and the new system unless they guarantee the autonomy of workers,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Rice prices in North Korean markets have fallen dramatically after the authorities increased levels of food distribution in major urban areas like Pyongyang and Sinuiju, part of state policy of “normalizing” public distribution. Most people are undecided about the policy, but the reality is that grain has been provided by the state both last month and into this, and this is having an effect on market grain prices.
A Pyongyang source told Daily NK on the 21st, “There was five days of distribution in the first part of last month and ten days in the last part, then a further five days at the start of this month, so rice prices fell. The authorities are saying that they are going to give ten days of distribution per month until September, then normalize it completely after that.”
Ten days of distribution at North Korea’s own mandated levels means 4.5kg for workers and a further 2kg for dependent family members.
“When they first heard about [the policy of distribution normalization] they didn’t believe it, but after getting fifteen days distribution last month and another five days this, people are wondering whether this time it could be different,” the source said. “Even last month most people said ‘this will only last for this month,’ but now they have done it this month as well the number of expectant people is rising.”
The source also revealed data on the drop in market grain prices, saying that at one point the price of rice in Pyongyang had declined from 6500-7000won/kg, the approximate price point since the start of the year, to 4500won. “Although it has since climbed back up through the 5000won barrier, it is holding steady,” she added.
However, “From the middle part of April the price started slowly rising again,” she went on, conjecturing, “If distribution is achieved next month as well then it should stay below 6000won, perhaps even staying at around 4000-5000won.”
Aware that Pyongyang is a unique case in the North Korean context, Daily NK has also been checking conditions in other parts of the country, including along the Sino-North Korean border, and has learned that there has been distribution in the North Pyongan Province city of Sinuiju, the Yangkang Province city of Hyesan, and Heoiryeong and Chongjin in North Hamkyung Province, raising the possibility, which sources have echoed, that distribution is occurring nationwide. All the areas checked by Daily NK have also seen rice prices falling sharply thanks to the state distribution.
One Sinuiju-based source explained the situation there, saying, “As far as I know, the official policy of normalizing distribution is not just for our region but all other regions, too. They recently gave us ten days of rice here, so the price in the jangmadang (market) has fallen below 5000won.”
Sources report that between April 14 and 17 the price of rice has fallen to 5400won in Hyesan, 5100won in Hoiryeong, 5200won in Chongjin, and 5000won in Saebyeol County.
A source from Chongjin explained, “On or around April 10th it was selling for 4800won, but has since gone back over 5000won. They have given distribution but exchange rates are not falling, so if distribution ceases at any point, prices will have to rise again.” The same source noted, however, that in Hyesan prices fell, but when the authorities then stopped importing rice from China, they rose again, reaching 6400won. “Rumor has it that they will allow imports again,” the source noted, “but nobody knows when so prices remain high.”
Read the full story here:
Rice Prices Fall on State Distribution
Kim Yong Hun
Reuters offers a cautionary tale of investing in the DPRK:
Setting up a brewery in North Korea seemed like a good idea to Harry Kim and his Chinese friends two years ago. Everyone likes beer, even in one of the world’s most closed and least understood countries, they reckoned.
Kim and his partners even got the beer flowing after workers strapped equipment onto a truck in the Chinese border town of Tumen and drove it to the North Korean coastal city of Chongjin. Chinese engineers taught the locals how to brew. City officials loved the taste, he said.
But the small Chinese-North Korean venture ran aground within months after failing to get final approval from authorities in Pyongyang.
Kim’s experience is an illustration of both the challenge and the potential of doing business in North Korea, which has grabbed global attention in recent weeks with its threats to wage nuclear war on South Korea and the United States.
“It wasn’t rejected. We just waited. The central government didn’t come and say ‘no’, but the documents were just never issued and so we eventually gave up,” said Kim, a Chinese national of Korean descent living in Tumen in China’s northeastern Jilin province.
There is little public information on North Korea’s beer market but one thing seems clear – demand outstrips supply.
Troy Collings, a director at Young Pioneer Tours, a travel operator based in China which takes groups into North Korea and has organised brewery visits, said there were probably less than a dozen locally made beers available in the country.
In Pyongyang, two hotels concoct their own microbrews. The Rakwon department store creates its own eponymous beer, too, he said.
“They can’t produce enough for the domestic market,” said Collings.
The opportunity was clear – and reinforced for Kim when he saw the elite in Chongjin drinking a lot of Heineken and Corona.
So, in mid-2011, Kim and two friends joined up with a North Korean businessman to put the brewery plan in motion.
Approval from Chongjin city came easily, he said. The province, North Hamgyong, gave the green light too. And the first of three investments in equipment and supplies – the initial one worth about 200,000 yuan – was made.
Since North Korea has no system of credit and the risks of investing were high, Kim and his partners tied the beer project to seafood exports.
Before each investment was made, they were allowed to buy a cargo of North Korean seafood to sell in China. The first was about 50 tonnes of squid, he said.
It took about nine hours to drive from Tumen to Chongjin with the brewery equipment, including stops at customs.
The equipment was installed quickly and Chinese engineers showed the North Koreans how to brew. Soon, suds were flowing. The product was dubbed Wongang, or ‘river source’, beer.
On the first day of business the investors invited senior city and provincial leaders to the brewery for a sample. All approved, Kim said.
But the new brewery could not ramp up production without authorisation from Pyongyang, which never came despite months of waiting. There was never a response and the investors never got an explanation.
“If you push too hard it could raise suspicions,” Kim said.
It was a pity, because the North Koreans were good workers, he said, citing how the investors overcame the frequent power cuts which made it hard to use a computer to monitor the brewing process.
Instead, the investors stationed North Korean workers at each of the pressure gauges on the brewing equipment in 12-hour shifts. The workers were told if the dial reached a certain level they should turn a knob to let off pressure.
“They got chairs and sat there looking at the gauges, not sleeping all night, one person at each position,” said Kim.
Thanks to the squid hedge, the Chinese investors basically broke even. Kim now runs his restaurant in the space where the brewing equipment was stored before it was hauled to Chongjin.
Some day Pyongyang may give the green light, Kim says, but he is not holding his breath.
“As I was leaving they said ‘It’s not that we don’t want to do it, and it’s not that our senior leaders or the central government don’t want to do it, but we just don’t have practical experience with this kind of thing’.”
UPDATE: Simon notes in the comments:
There are not about a dozen locally brewed beers in the DPRK, there are literally dozens, if not many more. A great many restaurants and bars brew their own beer. The number quoted in the article isn’t close to the reality that small brewing set-ups are quite widespread in Pyongyang and other cities too.
Read the full story here:
Nuclear threats to squid hedges: it’s hard to get a beer in N.Korea Reuters
According to the data compiled by the Ministry of Unification and based on information provided by foreign institutions, there were minor improvements in grain production and electricity output, but the difference was minimal and may have actually fueled inequality.
“Personally, I see almost no change from a year earlier,” said a ministry official, who did not want to be identified.
The data was released to the press to coincide with the first anniversary of the North Korean leader having assumed the country’s top job. Kim inherited the communist country after the death of his father in late 2011, but became the first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea on April 11 of last year.
North Korea’s food production is estimated to have increased 10.5 percent on-year to 4.92 million tons in the 2012-2013 grain year, the official said, adding that this translates into a shortage of 210,000 tons, down from 300,000 tons from the previous year.
The official, however, said foreign data is based purely on information given by Pyongyang, and is not reliable.
“There may be a need to carefully look at the data on grain,” he said, hinting at the fact that there have been numerous cases over the years where official information was not supported by facts.
On power production, the recent opening of the Huichon power station has increased output by 21.1 billion kilowatts, but the benefits are mostly being felt by the elite in Pyongyang. Outside the capital city, other regions are still affected by power shortages, he claimed.
The official added that while Kim has been calling for the bolstering of its agriculture and light industries, funds earmarked for these sectors grew at a slower pace than the overall growth of the budget.
The latest data showed that consumer prices have generally been moving up since last year, potentially putting a greater burden on many people whose salaries have not changed in years, the official said.
Read the full story here:
N.K. economy remains unchanged under new leader: data Yonhap
Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party declared that North Korea has secured its position as a nuclear state, advancing the nation to concentrate on the economic construction, in an editorial last Friday.
This can be interpreted as North Korea’s intent to place more emphasis on investments towards economic development now that it has “made advancement in nuclear weapons capabilities to respond to any threats from the United States and South Korea.”
The editorial stated, “The tremendous mental and material potentials provided by the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the socialist system of Juche based on collectivism and rich experience made in the effort to build an economic power are precious assets for making a great leaping progress in economic construction.”
This is in line with last month’s plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee that reiterated the importance of parallel policy of economic construction and nuclear power to compete against the United States.
At the meeting, parallel policy of economy and defense were acclaimed to be superior in its war deterrence and defense capabilities without increasing the defense budget to provide support for economic construction and improve the lives of the people. In addition, agricultural and light industries were named as key sectors and called for improvements in the production of everyday goods for the people and reach the grain production target for this year.
On the other hand, Finance minister Choe Kwang Jin reported at the meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly on April 1 that 44.8 percent of the national budget was allocated for economic development and improvement of its citizen’s lives.
In addition, the news reported that 38.9 percent of the total expenditures were shifted to social cultural and people policies to implement free compulsory education, healthcare, social insurance and social security systems and secure the development of arts, literature and sports.
The minister added that the rest of the budget was allocated for national defense but no specific amount of defense budget was disclosed.
On March 31, KCNA reported on the recent plenary meeting of the Korean Worker’s Party:
The historic March, 2013 plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea took place at the building of the WPK Central Committee, supreme staff of the Korean revolution, on Sunday.
First Secretary of the WPK Kim Jong Un guided the meeting.
Present at the meeting were members and alternate members of the WPK Central Committee and members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK.
Present there as observers were senior officials of ministries, national institutions, provincial, city and county committees of the WPK, complexes, major munitions factories and enterprises.
The participants paid silent tribute to President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il.
Taken up for discussion at the meeting were the following agenda items “1. On tasks of our Party on bringing about a decisive turn in accomplishing revolutionary cause of Juche as required by the present situation and the developing revolution”, “2. On personnel affairs issue to be submitted to the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly” and “3. On organizational matter”.
Kim Jong Un made a report and concluding speech on the first agenda item.
The plenary meeting set forth a new strategic line on carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously under the prevailing situation and to meet the legitimate requirement of the developing revolution.
This line is a brilliant succession and development onto a new higher stage of the original line of simultaneously developing economy and national defence that was set forth and had been fully embodied by the great Generalissimos.
It was stressed at the meeting that the party’s new line is not a temporary countermeasure for coping with the rapidly changing situation but a strategic line to be always held fast to, in the supreme interests of the Korean revolution.
The nuclear weapons of Songun Korea are not goods for getting U.S. dollars and they are neither a political bargaining chip nor a thing for economic dealings to be presented to the place of dialogue or be put on the table of negotiations aimed at forcing the DPRK to disarm itself.
The DPRK’s nuclear armed forces represent the nation’s life which can never be abandoned as long as the imperialists and nuclear threats exist on earth. They are a treasure of a reunified country which can never be traded with billions of dollars.
Only when the nuclear shield for self-defence is held fast, will it be possible to shatter the U.S. imperialists’ ambition for annexing the Korean Peninsula by force and making the Korean people modern slaves, firmly defend our ideology, social system and all other socialist treasures won at the cost of blood and safeguard the nation’s right to existence and its time-honored history and brilliant culture.
When the party’s new line is thoroughly carried out, the DPRK will emerge as a great political, military and socialist economic power and a highly-civilized country which steers the era of independence.
The meeting set forth tasks for carrying out the new line and ways for doing so.
All the officials, party members and other people should wage bold offensive and all-people decisive battle with faith in sure victory and strong determination and thus make the flame of miracle and innovation sweep all fields of national economy.
The pilot fields of the national economy, the basic industrial fields should be drastically developed and production be increased to the maximum. Forces should be directed to agriculture and light industry, key fields in building an economic power to improve and put on a stable basis the people’s living standard at the earliest possible date.
The self-reliant nuclear power industry should be developed and the work for developing light water reactor be dynamically promoted to actively contribute to easing the strain on the electricity problem of the country.
Spurs should be given to the development of space science and technology and more advanced satellites including communications satellites be developed and launched.
The country’s economy should be shifted into knowledge-based economy and the foreign trade be made multilateral and diversified and investment be widely introduced.
The economic guidance shall be fundamentally improved as required by the new situation and Korean-style advantageous economic management methods be completed by embodying the Juche idea.
The DPRK’s possession of nukes should be fixed by law and the nuclear armed forces should be expanded and beefed up qualitatively and quantitatively until the denuclearization of the world is realized.
The People’s Army should perfect the war method and operation in the direction of raising the pivotal role of the nuclear armed forces in all aspects concerning the war deterrence and the war strategy, and the nuclear armed forces should always round off the combat posture.
As a responsible nuclear weapons state, the DPRK will make positive efforts to prevent the nuclear proliferation, ensure peace and security in Asia and the rest of the world and realize the denuclearization of the world.
Institutions in charge of security and safeguard, judicial and prosecution and people’s security and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces should resolutely foil the vicious moves of the imperialist reactionaries and class enemies, devotedly defend the party, social system and people and surely guarantee the new line of the party with arms and by law.
The party and working people’s organizations and power bodies should increase their militant function and role in every way in the struggle for implementing the party’s line.
The meeting entrusted the Presidium of the SPA and the Cabinet with the matters of taking legal, administrative and technical measures for implementing the tasks.
At the meeting a decision on the first agenda item “On carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously and thus bringing earlier the final victory in the cause of building a thriving socialist nation” was adopted with unanimous approval.
The second agenda item, personal affairs issue to be submitted to the 7th Session of the 12th SPA, was discussed and decided at the meeting.
The meeting also dealt with an organizational matter, its third agenda item.
Members of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee, members and alternate members of the Political Bureau were recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.
Pak Pong Ju was elected to fill a vacancy of a member of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee.
Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyok Sik and Choe Pu Il were elected to fill vacancies of alternate members of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee.
Members and alternate members of the WPK Central Committee were recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.
Upon authorization of Kim Jong Un, Paek Kye Ryong was appointed as director of the Light Industrial Department of the WPK Central Committee and Yun U Chol as editor-in-chief of Rodong Sinmun, organ of the WPK Central Committee.
Members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK were also recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.
Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea Stresses Development of Agricultural, Light, and Nuclear Industries
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on March 31 that a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea was held. At the meeting, a new strategic line was announced to have been set, which called for building a stronger economy and nuclear arsenal. This meeting is drawing attention as it is suspected that Pyongyang will pursue a new economic policy.
The news described the new strategic line as, “most revolutionary and people oriented policy for the construction of a powerful socialist nation by consolidating defense capacity through development of defensive nuclear weapons and economic construction.”
It stressed that this policy is significant as a “creative and parallel policy for defense and economy continuing the policies of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, which must be adopted as a permanent strategy.”
At the plenary meeting, the main agendas for the parallel policy of economy and defense were announced as: 1) Improvement of the production of people’s economy and capacity enhancement for agricultural and light industries to stabilize prices to improve the lives of the people; 2) development of self-reliant nuclear power industry and light water reactors; 3) development and launch of more satellites including communication satellites through advancement in space science and technology; 4) transition to knowledge economy and diversification of foreign trade to vitalize foreign investments; and 5) establish legislation to be recognized as a nuclear state and develop nuclear arsenal both in quantity and quality until denuclearization is realized worldwide.
At the plenary, the new parallel policy was commended, “The supremacy of the policy is demonstrated by expanding capability in war deterrence and national defense without increasing defense budget and enabled concentration on economic development and improvement of the lives of the people.”
The statement released by the KCNA stated that the plenary meeting’s emphasis on transition to knowledge economy and diversification of foreign trade as the main tasks and appears to be pursuing a “fundamental improvement in economic leadership.”
In addition, the plenary assigned the presidium of the Supreme Peoples’ Assembly and the Cabinet to serve as the economic control tower to oversee the future projects decided at the plenary meeting.
North Korea is continuing to place emphasis on light and agricultural industries. The Kim Jong Un regime entered its second year. The leader was reported to have attended the light industry conference, which was held for the first time in ten years and underscored the importance of concentrating on development of the capacity of light industry.
The new Korean line, 병진 (Pyongjin, Byungjin) is the simultaneous development of nuclear weapons and the economy. Learn more about it here.
Following the central committee plenary meeting, the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly was held. According to KCNA:
The Seventh Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK took place at the Mansudae Assembly Hall Monday.
Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, was present at the session.
Present there were deputies to the SPA.
Also present there as observers were officials of party, armed forces and power bodies, public organizations, ministries and national institutions and those in the fields of science, education, literature and art, public health and media.
All the participants observed a moment’s silence in memory of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il in humblest reverence.
The session decided the following agenda items of the Seventh Session of the 12th SPA of the DPRK:
1. On amending and supplementing some contents of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK
2. On adopting the DPRK Law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
3. On adopting the ordinance of the SPA of the DPRK “On Consolidating the Position of Nuclear Weapons State for Self-Defence”
4. On adopting the DPRK Law on Developing Space
5. On adopting the decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On Setting up the DPRK State Space Development Bureau”
6. On the work of the DPRK Cabinet for Juche 101 (2012) and its tasks for Juche 102 (2013)
7. On the review of the fulfillment of the DPRK’s state budget for Juche 101 (2012) and state budget for Juche 102 (2013)
8. Organizational matter
The session discussed the first and second agenda items.
Deputy Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA, made a report on amendment and supplement to some contents of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and on adopting the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
Then followed speeches on the first and second agenda items.
Deputy Kim Ki Nam, secretary of the WPK Central Committee, spoke on behalf of the WPK, Deputy Choe Ryong Hae, director of the General Political Bureau of the KPA, on behalf of the KPA and Deputy Jon Yong Nam, chairman of the C.C., the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, on behalf of the youth.
The speakers fully supported and approved of deliberation and adoption of the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at the current SPA session reflecting the unanimous feelings of all party members, service personnel and youth across the country.
The ordinances of the SPA of the DPRK “On Amending and Supplementing Some Contents of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK” and “On Adopting the DPRK Law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun” were adopted at the session with the approval of all deputies.
The session discussed the third, fourth and fifth agenda items.
The ordinances of the SPA of the DPRK “On Consolidating the Position of Nuclear Weapons State for Self-Defence” and “On Adopting the DPRK Law on Developing Space” and the decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On Setting Up the DPRK State Space Development Bureau” were adopted at the session with the approval of all deputies.
Deputy Choe Yong Rim, premier of the Cabinet, made a report on the sixth agenda item.
Deputy Choe Kwang Jin, minister of Finance, made a report on the seventh agenda item.
Then followed speeches on the sixth and seventh agenda items. Written speeches were presented at the session.
The speakers noted that the Cabinet work and the fulfillment of the state budget for last year were correctly reviewed and summed up, clear tasks of the Cabinet were set forth to meet the requirements of the general offensive to open an epochal phase in building an economic power at the final stage of the all-out action against the U.S. and the state budget was correctly shaped. They expressed full support and approval of them.
They expressed their determination to reenergize the overall economy of the country, step up the grand advance for improving the standard of people’s living to make loud shouts of hurrah for the Workers’ Party and socialism heard this year marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War, true to the historic New Year Address of Kim Jong Un and the decision of the March, 2013 plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee.
The decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On Approval of the Report on the Work of the DPRK Cabinet and the Review of the Fulfillment of the State Budget for Juche 101 (2012)” and the ordinance of the SPA of the DPRK “On the DPRK’s State Budget for Juche 102 (2013)” were adopted at the session with the approval of all deputies.
The session discussed the organizational matter.
At the session Deputy Choe Yong Rim was recalled from the post of premier of the DPRK Cabinet and Deputy Pak Pong Ju was elected premier of the DPRK Cabinet at the proposal of the WPK Central Committee.
Choe Yong Rim was elected honorary vice-president of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA.
Deputies Kim Jong Gak and Ri Myong Su were recalled from the posts of member of the DPRK National Defence Commission (NDC) due to the transfer to other jobs.
Deputies Kim Kyok Sik and Choe Pu Il were elected members of the DPRK NDC to fill vacancies at the proposal of the WPK Central Committee and the WPK Central Military Commission.
Deputy Thae Hyong Chol was recalled from the post of secretary general of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA and Deputy Hong Son Ok was elected secretary general of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA.
Some members of the Cabinet were relieved of their posts and appointed at the session.
Deputy Pak Pong Ju, premier of the DPRK Cabinet, took an oath at the SPA.
KCNA also issued several reports that stemmed from the SPA meeting:
Report on Adopting Draft Amendment and Supplement to Socialist Constitution and Law on Kumsusan Palace of Sun
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, made a report on adopting the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
According to the report, the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution and the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to be submitted to the session for discussion will legalize the plan and intention of the Workers’ Party of Korea to fix by law the shining achievements made in accomplishing the cause of perpetuating the memory of the leaders and complete it on a new higher stage.
To be supplemented to the preface of the Socialist Constitution is the sentence which says that the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il lie in state is a grand edifice for the immortality of the leaders, a symbol of the dignity of the whole Korean nation and its eternal sacred temple.
The law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun specifies that its noble mission is to preserve and glorify forever the palace, which is the supreme temple of Juche, as the eternal temple of the sun of the entire Korean nation.
The law stipulates that Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il will be held in high esteem forever as in their lifetime at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and that it is the obligation of all the Koreans to regard the Palace as a symbol of dignity and a great pride of the nation.
It also specifies the state duty to spruce up the Palace in a sublime and perfect way with the state, all-people and nationwide efforts and devotedly safeguard the Palace in every way so that no one can violate.
Also stipulated in the law are matters for carrying out the work of eternally preserving the Palace as the most important state work with consistency, organizing the committee for the eternal preservation of the Palace and preserving for photos, train coaches, cars, boat and other relics and orders which represent the noble lives of the great Generalissimos.
Orders were also set so that Korean people, overseas Koreans and foreigners can pay respects to the great Generalissimos at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
Also mentioned in the law are the matters of establishment of special sanctuary of the Palace for its protection and management as well as the management of buildings in the premise of the palace, park, arboretum, outdoor lighting and lighting facilities and orders concerning the operation of the plaza and the park of the Palace.
It was specified in the law that electricity, facilities, materials and other supplies needed for the Palace shall be planned separately and be provided without fail on a top priority basis. The law also set the duty to be fulfilled by relevant institutions to strictly supervise and control on a regular basis the work for safeguarding, eternally preserving and providing the conditions for the management and operation of the Palace.
The reporter said that the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is the unique code for the immortality of the leaders, adding that it is the biggest honor for the army and people of the DPRK to have the legal weapon for the immortality of the leaders.
The adoption of the law will serve as a historic occasion for defending and further glorifying the idea on perpetuating the memory of the leaders clarified by the dear respected Kim Jong Un, he stressed.
The reporter said that the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK submits the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution and the draft law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to the SPA session for discussion according to Article 95 of the Socialist Constitution.
DPRK’s Law on Kumsusan Palace of Sun Adopted
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — The DPRK’s Law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun was adopted.
The ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly on it was promulgated Monday.
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il lie in state is the
eternal temple of the sun of the whole Korean nation.
The ordinance says that the SPA decides to adopt this law to eternally preserve and glorify forever the
Kumsusan Palace of the Sun as a grand edifice for the immortality of the leaders symbolic of Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s Korea.
Law on Consolidating Position of Nuclear Weapons State Adopted
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — A law on consolidating the position of nuclear weapons state for self-defence was adopted in the DPRK.
An ordinance of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK in this regard was promulgated on Monday.
The ordinance said as follows:
The DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear weapons state capable of beating back any aggressor troops at one strike, firmly defending the socialist system and providing a sure guarantee for the happy life of the people.
Having an independent and just nuclear force, the DPRK put an end to the distress-torn history in which it was subject to outside forces’ aggression and interference and could emerge a socialist power of Juche which no one dares provoke.
The Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK decides to consolidate the position of the nuclear weapons state as follows:
1. The nuclear weapons of the DPRK are just means for defence as it was compelled to have access to them to cope with the ever-escalating hostile policy of the U.S. and nuclear threat.
2. They serve the purpose of deterring and repelling the aggression and attack of the enemy against the DPRK and dealing deadly retaliatory blows at the strongholds of aggression until the world is denuclearized.
3. The DPRK shall take practical steps to bolster up the nuclear deterrence and nuclear retaliatory strike power both in quality and quantity to cope with the gravity of the escalating danger of the hostile forces’ aggression and attack.
4. The nuclear weapons of the DPRK can be used only by a final order of the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army to repel invasion or attack from a hostile nuclear weapons state and make retaliatory strikes.
5. The DPRK shall neither use nukes against the non-nuclear states nor threaten them with those weapons unless they join a hostile nuclear weapons state in its invasion and attack on the DPRK.
6. The DPRK shall strictly observe the rules on safekeeping and management of nukes and ensuring the stability of nuclear tests.
7. The DPRK shall establish a mechanism and order for their safekeeping and management so that nukes and their technology, weapon-grade nuclear substance may not leak out illegally.
8. The DPRK shall cooperate in the international efforts for nuclear non-proliferation and safe management of nuclear substance on the principle of mutual respect and equality, depending on the improvement of relations with hostile nuclear weapons states.
9. The DPRK shall strive hard to defuse the danger of a nuclear war and finally build a world without nukes and fully support the international efforts for nuclear disarmament against nuclear arms race.
10. The related institutions shall take thorough practical steps for implementing this ordinance.
DPRK Law on Developing Space Adopted
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — The Law on Developing Space was adopted in the DPRK.
The ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly on it was promulgated Monday.
DPRK SPA Decides to Set Up State Space Development Bureau
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — The DPRK decided to set up the State Space Development Bureau.
The decision of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK promulgated on Monday said:
The DPRK is a full-fledged satellite manufacturer and launcher.
It is an invariable stand of the DPRK to develop the country into a world-class space power by exercising its legitimate right to space development for peaceful purposes.
To step up economic construction and improve the people’s standard of living by radically developing the space science and technology of the country and guide and manage all the space activities of the DPRK in a uniform way, the SPA decides as follows:
1. The DPRK State Space Development Bureau shall be set up.
2. The bureau is a state central institution which guides and manages the supervision and control over the working out of a space development program and its implementation and space development work in a uniform way.
3. The Cabinet of the DPRK and other institutions concerned shall take practical measures to implement this decision.
Work of Cabinet for Last Year and Tasks for This Year
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — At the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly held on Monday, Deputy and Premier Choe Yong Rim made a report on the last year’s work of the DPRK Cabinet and this year’s tasks.
According to the report, last year electricity and coal production and the volume of railway freight transport increased amid the endeavors to shore up the four pilot fields of the national economy. Increase was also made in the production of a variety of industrial goods, the report said, and went on:
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun was remodeled to be the supreme temple of Juche, the National Gifts Exhibition House, Pyongyang Folklore Park, Changjon Street, Rungna People’s Pleasure Park and other big edifices in the era of Songun have been built.
Big industrial projects such as the Huichon Power Station, Tanchon Port, Taedonggang Building Materials Factory were completed and technological updating and modernization of major factories and enterprises in the field of metal, machine, chemical and light industries have been pushed forward, consolidating the material and technological foundation of the national economy.
Satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 was successfully manufactured and launched and the third underground nuclear test by the use of smaller and lighter A-bomb of great explosive power was successfully conducted.
The bases for the production of cutting-edge technical goods were built and projects for the development of science and technology have been successfully carried out and the modernization of the information and communications field have been stepped up.
A law on the enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education was promulgated. This paved a wide avenue for consolidating the socialist education system and raising the quality of education.
In the field of health care, a telemedicine service has been successfully introduced. The DPRK’s players glorified the honor of the country at major international sports events including the 30th Olympic Games and other signal achievements were made in the field of cultural construction.
The reporter said that this year’s tasks are to realize at an early date the lifetime desire of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il, who devoted their whole lives to putting the country’s economy on the level of a prosperous and powerful country and to making the people live with no more to desire in the world.
According to the report, this year the Cabinet will organize the economic work with a main emphasis on solving issues arising in the people’s living by shoring up the pilot fields, the basic industrial field, consolidating the springboard for building an economic power and concentrating all efforts on agriculture and light industry while regarding coal industry and metal industry as key fields.
It is necessary to increase the production of coal.
Technological updating and modernization of iron works and steel works will be stepped up while improving the bases for the production of Juche iron which have already been built in the field of metal industry. Strict measures for supplying raw materials and fuel should be taken to increase the production of rolled steel more than 3.5 times as compared with last year and thus meet the need for steel.
The field of railway transport will ease strain on transport by consolidating the material and technical foundation of railways.
The grain production plan for this year should be carried out without condition.
The whole country should make efforts for the reclamation of Sepho Tideland and the construction of stock-breeding bases and thus complete the creation of grassland within this year.
The production should be put at a high rate at major chemical factories and the percentage of locally available raw materials should be significantly increased. The production at mines, factories and enterprises in Tanchon area should be increased and exports be boosted to ensure in a responsible manner funds for improving the people’s living standard.
Big efforts should be directed to the construction of dwelling houses. Wonsan area should turn into a world-level resort and tourist destination and living environment and conditions be improved in provinces, cities and counties.
The state investment in the field of science and technology should be increased and the flame of industrial revolution in the new century be raised so as to bring about a decisive turn in building an economic power by dint of science and technology.
Ultra-modern technological goods of high competitiveness should be massively researched and developed. Scientific and technological issues arising in the technological updating and modernization of the national economy should be satisfactorily solved.
The state investment will be increased in education and the preparations for enforcing the universal 12-year compulsory education system be rounded off within this year and fresh progress be made in education, public health, literature, arts, sports and all other fields of cultural construction.
All the fields and units of the national economy should build under a long-term plan export bases for producing second-stage and third-stage processed goods and finished goods of high competitiveness at international markets by relying on locally available resources and indigenous technology. Latest scientific and technological achievements should be positively introduced to increase the varieties of exports and remarkably raise their quality.
Trade should be made diversified and multilateral while conducting a variety of trade activities. The joint venture and collaboration should be actively promoted and the work for setting up economic development zones be pushed forward.
Review of Fulfillment of State Budget for Last Year and State Budget for This Year
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — Deputy Choe Kwang Jin, minister of Finance, made a report on the review of the fulfillment of state budget for last year and the state budget for this year at the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly held on Monday.
According to the report, the state budgetary revenue last year was over-fulfilled by 1.3 percent, an increase of 10.1 percent over the previous year.
The plan for local budgetary revenue was carried out at 113.8 percent.
The state budgetary expenditure was implemented at 99.6 percent, an increase of 9.7 percent over that in the previous year.
44.8 percent of the total state budgetary expenditure for the economic development and improvement of people’s living standard was used for funding the building of edifices to be presented to the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung, the consolidation of the material and technological foundation of Juche-based, modern and self-supporting economy and the work for face-lifting the country.
38.9 percent of total expenditure was spent for enforcing popular policies and measures for social culture under socialism such as the universal free compulsory education system, free healthcare, social insurance and social security, recuperation and relaxation systems as well as those for development of literature and art and building of a sports power.
Some of the total state budgetary expenditure went to national defence.
According to the report, this year’s state budgetary revenue and expenditure have been shaped in such a way as keeping the overall economy afloat and bringing about a decisive turn in stabilizing and improving the standard of people’s living.
The state budgetary revenue is expected to increase 4.1 percent over that last year.
Out of this, the transaction tax, main source of budgetary revenue, is expected to grow 3.5 percent, the revenue from the profits of state enterprises 6 percent, revenue from the profits of cooperative enterprises 5.3 percent, the revenue from the depreciation 2.8 percent and revenue from real estate rent 3.4 percent.
In the total state budgetary revenue, national budgetary revenue will account for 83 percent and local budgetary revenue 17 percent.
Provinces, cities and counties are envisaged to ensure expenditure with local import and put a huge amount of fund into national budget.
The state budgetary expenditure is expected to grow 5.9 percent over last year.
It was decided to increase expenditure in the field of coal, electricity, metal and railway transport 7.2 percent, the field of agriculture and light industry 5.1 percent, basic investment in capital construction and big overhaul 5.8 percent, the field of science and technology 6.7 percent, the field of education 6.8 percent, the field of public health 5.4 percent, the field of social insurance and security 3.7 percent, the field of sports 6.1 percent and the field of culture 2.2 percent.
Some of the total state budgetary expenditure will go for national defence.
A large amount of educational aid fund and stipends will be sent for the education of Korean children in Japan to promote the development of the democratic national education of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.
The reporter called for working hard to glorify this significant year marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War as a year of gigantic creation and innovations, in hearty response to the historic New Year Address by Kim Jong Un and the decision made at the March, 2013 plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee.
Here is what Yonhap had to say about the DPRK’s defense budget:
North Korea is expected to spend 16 percent of its budget on national defense in 2013, up 0.2 percentage point from the year before, the country’s state media said Tuesday.
According to the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, Finance Minister Choe Kwang-jin reported to a meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang on Monday that the money is needed to effectively cope with “indiscriminate” provocations by the United States and its followers.
The paper, however, did not disclose the exact size of the defense budget, although South Korea’s unification ministry speculated that last year’s military budget totaled US$910 million.
The proportion of the spending plan compared to the overall budget, is the highest tallied since 1998, according to South Korean analysts.
From 1998 through 2002, the North is estimated to have spent 14.4 percent to 14.5 percent of its annual budget on defense, with numbers going up and being fixed at 15.8 percent in the 2007-2012 period, they said.
1. Here and here is KCTV footage of the SPA meeting.
UPDATE 1 (2013-3-28):NK News reports that Kempinski has officially pulled out of the deal:
“Kempinski Hotels confirms that KEY International, its joint venture partner in China with Beijing Tourism Group (BTG), had initial discussions to operate a hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea, however no agreement has been signed since market entry is not currently possible”, Regional PR Director Hilary Philpott told NK NEWS by email.
ORIGINAL POST (2012-11-1): According to Bloomberg:
The 105-story, pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel, whose foundations were poured almost three decades ago, will open partially in July or August, Kempinski AG Chief Executive Officer Reto Wittwer said today at a forum in Seoul. The German luxury-hotel manager will be the first western hospitality company to operate in North Korea, he said.
“This pyramid monster hotel will monopolize all the business in the city,” Wittwer said. “I said to myself, we have to get this hotel if there is ever a chance, because this will become a money-printing machine if North Korea opens up.”
Kempinski, based in Munich, is handling management while Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media & Technology Holding SAE (OTMT) funds the hotel as part of a $400 million mobile-phone license it won from the North Korean government in 2008, he said. Cairo-based Orascom has spent $180 million on completing the hotel’s facade.
The top floors of the hotel will house guests in 150 of the originally planned 1,500 rooms, which “will be developed over time” to remodel the insufficiently designed spaces, Wittwer said. Shops, restaurants, a ballroom and Orascom’s offices on the ground and mezzanine floors will also open next year.
A much-appreciated colleague has sent me a PDF document published by the DPRK’s Committee for the Promotion of External Economic Cooperation in 2003. It that contains hundreds of pages of DPRK laws and regulations.