Archive for the ‘Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone’ Category

Financial complex and upscale hotel construction presses ahead in Wonsan

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

To develop the ‘Wonsan-Mount Kumgang International Tourist Zone’, plans have been put in place to build a General Financial Complex and five-star hotel in Wonsan.

Naenara (My Country), a North Korean propaganda website that targets an international audience, indicated that the goal of ‘Wonsan’s Chungdong General Land Development’ Investment Proposal released September 1, 2016 was to “develop Wonsan into a commercial and cultural exchange center, as well as a center for trade and financial transactions.”

According to the proposal, the target of investment is the Chungdong district and parts of the Sangdong district of Wonsan (Kangwon province) with a total area of 300,000 square kilometers. The total amount to be invested was set at USD 196,560,000.

In addition, the proposal sets out plans to first construct ten separate buildings, including 10 units of rental housing, a three-star hotel, an international finance complex, a department store, an indoor gym, and a restaurant for world cuisine.

The proposal adds: “in the surrounding area (of the center), world-class facilities including an ultra-luxurious five-star hotel called the Wonsan Hotel, a General Financial Complex, a General Office Complex, an International Exhibit, and a library are to be constructed.”

It also makes clear that existing housing, commercial facilities, offices and factories in the area will be demolished.

With respect to international investors, the proposals envisage that development will utilize the BOT (Built-Operate-Transfer) method. BOT is a method of funding infrastructure projects in which a contractor is given the right to operate a set of facilities for a prescribed period in order to recover both the initial investment and a profit, before control of the facilities reverts to the contracting party.

The website states that “the Committee to Promote the Development of the Wonsan-Mount Kumgang International Tourism Zone was chosen for the spill-over effects for both the Wonsan area and the zone as a whole.”

Moreover, the separate ‘General Finance Center Proposal’ was also released via Naenara on the same day– the building is set to be 15 stories high, with additional two basement floors.

The complex has a total area of 1,500 square meters, the actual building area of 800 square meters, and total floor of 12,000 square meters. The building will play host to banks, office space and restaurants.

The proposal emphasized that “the development of the Wonsan-Mount Kumgang Tourist Zone into a world-class tourist site reflects the firm will of our party and government . . . . The future tourist zone will radiate the light as the ‘East’s Pearl’ transformed into a renowned tourist destination both in East Asia and more broadly the entire world.”

Here is the text from the Naenara article (PDF).

 

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Foreign Trade report on Slovenian delegation

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

According to Foreign Trade (2016 v. 2, p.7):

News from DPRK Chamber of Commerce in 2015

The DPRK Chamber of Commerce invited a delegation of the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce headed by Yan Mishra, director of the external cooperation agency, to discuss the issues related with developing nongovernmental economic exchanges and trade and investment in the Wonsan-Mt Kumgang International Tourist Zone.

During their stay the delegation exchanged opinions about the practical issues arising in realizing economic exchanges and trade between the businesses of the two countries and agreed to develop bilateral relationship and cooperation to activate non-governmental economic exchanges.

And they discussed the issues about a possible visit to Pyongyang in 2016 by a delegation of the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce comprising businesses that wish economic exchanges and trade with the DPRK and its presentation of rolling stock and electric products like tractor, timber transporter and motor generator at the forthcoming Pyongyang International Trade Fair.

Another agenda item of discussion was a possible participation by the trade companies of the DPRK in the international trade fair to be held in Slovenia in 2016 and their visit to factories in the country.

The investment policy and environment in the DPRK and the work of economic development parks like the Wonsan-Mt Kumgang International Tourist Zone were introduced, and possibilities of investment and cooperation by businesses of the two countries in these parks were discussed.

In addition, the DPRK Chamber of Commerce arranged meetings between tens of local organs like the Korean Association for the Research and Development of Greening, Plant Import and Export Company, Kumsu Corporation, Korea Titanium Development and Trading Company, Central Imports Exchange Company and members of the Slovenian delegation so that they can exchange opinions on the matters of mutual concern.

DPRK Chamber of Commerce
Add: Central District, Pyongyang, DPR Korea
Tel: 0085-02-3815926
Fax: 0085-02-3814654

Screenshot of the article here.

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Friday fun with North Korea’s new slogans

Friday, February 19th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

What better way to start off the weekend than to go through North Korea’s latest batch of political slogans (“Joint calls/공동구호”)? These were issued collectively by the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission on Wednesday February 17th, and printed on the frontpage of Rodong Sinmun, as part of the run-up to the 7th Party Congress to be held later this year.

Below I have gathered those that relate to the economy, and a few other interesting ones, with brief annotation:

The calls underlined the need to make hurrah for the WPK and socialism resound far more loudly this year when the Seventh Congress of the WPK is to be held by staging an all-out death-defying struggle for building a thriving nation and improving the people’s living standard.

The Byungjin line is alive and well.

Let’s dynamically wage this year’s general advance in the same spirit as shown in succeeding in the H-bomb test!

Let’s build an economic giant as early as possible with the strength and the spirit of Korea and at the Korean speed!

Send more satellites of Juche Korea into space!

As often before, the satellite launch and the hydrogen bomb test are tied into the theme of economic development: both are technological advancements, showing the overall progress of the economy.

Produce more new-generation electric locomotives and passenger cars!

A shout-out to the domestic car industry?

Put the manufacture of Korean-style world-class underground trains on a serial basis!

The domestically manufactured subway cars haven’t been forgotten. One wonders if people living outside Pyongyang feel as strongly about them.

Step up the modernization of the mining industry and keep the production of nonferrous metal and non-metallic minerals going at a high rate!

Provide more resources for building an economic giant by channeling effort into prospecting underground resources!

At least now Jang Song-taek can’t touch them anymore.

Make the foreign trade multilateral and diverse!

This is interesting, and a clear statement about an important rationale for the SEZs: North Korea will remain politically and economically vulnerable as long as China continues to be its single largest trading partner by a large margin.

Let’s greet the 7th Party Congress with proud achievements in the improvement of the people’s living standard!

The people “will never have to tighten their belts again”, as Kim Jong-un said in his first public speech in 2012.

Achieve a great victory on the front of agriculture this year!

Which the regime has already claimed it did last year. The UN doesn’t agree.

Let’s give a decisive solution to the problem of consumer goods!

Let’s produce more world-competitive famous products and goods!

North Korean media has highlighted strides in consumer goods production several times this year.

Make Wonsan area an icon of city layout and build it into a world-level tourist city!

A shout-out to the Wonsan tourist zone, presumably.

Establish Korean-style economic management method guided by the Juche idea in a comprehensive manner!

Sounds like the management reforms, with greater autonomy for enterprises, are still on the table.

Let the entire party and army and all the people turn out in the forest restoration campaign!

And make sure they “properly conduct fertilizer management“. This is the only reference among the slogans to the forestry campaign, where the regime has publically acknowledged some crucial and systemic problems, but is yet to find a credible solution.

Put an end to proclivity to import!

Does this tell us something about North Korea’s trade balance that the numbers aren’t showing?

The Korean People’s Internal Security Forces should sharpen the sword for defending their leader, system and people!

Note that “people” comes after both “leader” and “system”.

Let us thoroughly implement our Party’s policy of putting all the people under arms and turning the whole country into a fortress!

Enhance the fighting capacity of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards by intensifying their drills as the anti-Japanese guerillas did in Mt. Paektu!

Develop and produce a greater number of various means of military strike of our own style that are capable of overwhelming the enemy!

Enhance the fighting capacity of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards by intensifying their drills as the anti-Japanese guerillas did in Mt. Paektu!

These four slogans seem to be saying that the Four Military Guidelines, adopted in 1962 by the Central Committee, are still very much in play: 1) arming the population, 2) fortifying the country, 3) establishing a cadre-based army, and 4) modernizing military equipment. Mao would probably have been happy to know that his People’s War Doctrine lives on in North Korea.

The whole list of slogans is very long, and saying that policy areas need to improve, or that production in a certain area needs to go up, isn’t much of a policy line. Still, it’s interesting to see what areas are highlighted.

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Naenara reports on Wonsan SEZs

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Naenara carried an interview with Choe Yong Dok, Director of the Economic Zone Development of Kangwon Provincial People’s Committee.

In the interview, Director Choe commented on the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone and the Hyondong Industrial Development Zone.

I tried copying the text here, but was not successful. Here is the PDF.

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Wonsan Kalma Airport imagery (UPDATED)

Monday, August 17th, 2015

UPDATE 1 (2015-8-17): Kim Jong-un visited the Wonsan Airport (Kalma Airport) for an air force demonstration reported in Rodong Sinmun on July 30. You can see a video of that event here. A second official video claims that the demonstration took place on July 28. A satellite image of the facility was taken just the day before (July 27) and we can see some of the new facilities and preparation for Kim Jong-un’s arrival. I have already reported on most of this material at Radio Free Asia (새단장 갈마비행장…활주로에 광고도).

First, Google Earth imagery shows thousands of soldiers on the new runway practicing for Kim Jong-un’s arrival at the observation building. They can also be seen in the official images:

Wonsan-runway-soldiers-2015-7-27

wonsan-runway-soldiers-2015-7-30

We can also see the completed (on the outside) Wonsan Airport terminal building:

Wonsan-terminal-2015-7-27

Also unveiled is the new logo for the airport which reminds visitors that (despite the heavy military presence) the new airport welcomes civilian vacation travelers. We can see this design at both ends of the runway:

Wonsan-Kalma-airport-logo

We can also see what appears to be a (fifth!) runway for Kim Jong-un. This runway contains similar facilities to the new Kim Jong-il runway built in Taesong District for use of the individuals that live in the Kim Family’s Ryongsong Complex:

Kalma-kim-jong-un-runway

Pictured above: The probable Kim Jong-un light aircraft runway at the Wonsan Kalma Airport

Taesong-Kim-Jong-un-runway

Pictured above: Kim Jong-un’s runway in Taesong district of Pyongyang which bears a close resemblance to the facilities at the Wonsan Kalma Airport.

ORIGINAL POST (2015-5-1): New Google Earth imagery shows continued development of the new civilian airport in Wonsan. The airport is presumably intended to support the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone.

2015-3-26 (Google Earth)

Wonsan-Airport-2015-3-26

2015-2-10 (Google Earth)

Wonsan-Airport-2015-2-10

2014-12-25 (Google Earth)

Wonsan-Airport-2014-12-25

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Wonsan City seeing new construction area

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Kalma-street-construction

Pictured above (Google Earth): Site of the new Kalma Street construction site in Wonsan

According to KCNA (2015-5-20):

Ground-breaking Ceremony of Construction in Wonsan Area Held

Wonsan, May 20 (KCNA) — The Wonsan area will turn into a world-famous tourist city under the plan of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).

A ground-breaking ceremony took place in Kalma Street on Wednesday.

Present there were Vice-Premier Kim Yong Jin, officials concerned, builders and citizens of Wonsan.

A reporter and speakers said it was the lifetime wishes and behests of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il to spruce up Wonsan area.

Marshal Kim Jong Un launched a big operation for building Wonsan area into a world famous tourist city, model of city formation, with noble intention to bring about a fresh turn in building a highly civilized socialist nation and dynamically aroused the whole party and country to the drive for doing so, they said.

They called for launching vigorous campaigns to carry out the behests of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and defending the party’s policies to powerfully demonstrate the might of Songun Korea in construction once again.

At the end of the ceremony they started projects including dwelling houses at the entrance of Kalma Street in Wonsan City.

Here is coverage by the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES):

Wonsan: Start of Construction as ‘Global Tourist City’

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has reported that the groundbreaking ceremony for the Wonsan region took place on May 20, 2015 on Wonsan city’s Kalma Street.

The KCNA explained that “in accordance with the plans of the Korean Workers’ Party, the Wonsan region will be vigorously transformed into a global tourist city.” It also reported that Vice Premier of the Cabinet Kim Yong Jin was in attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony.

According to attendees at the ceremony, “The proper management of the Wonsan region is the will of Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il as well as their earnest dying injunction.” They also stressed that “Comrade Kim Jong Un is committed to bringing about a new change in the construction of a civilized socialist state and has unfolded a magnanimous strategy for managing the Wonsan region as a model of city development and global tourist cities.”

The KCNA reported that after the ceremony ended construction was started on private homes near the entrance to Kalma Street.

The ‘Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region’ was announced as a central-level Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on June 11, 2014 by way of an ordinance by the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA). It is part of the large-scale tourism belt that includes Wonsan district, the Masikryong Ski Resort, Ullim Falls, and the Sogwansa, Tongchon, and Kumgangsan districts.

The KCNA confirmed that the Wonsan development was the “will” and “dying injunction” of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, offering as evidence the fact that Kim Jong Il made the development of the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region a recent priority of North Korea’s foreign economic sector.

In his 2015 New Year’s address, Kim Jong Un proclaimed to the people, “We need to multilaterally develop foreign economic relations and actively push forward the development of economic development zones like the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region.” Also, in February 2015, the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee and Central Military Commission presented ‘joint slogans’ for the 70th year anniversary of the country’s liberation and the Party’s founding. Among those presented was the slogan, “Let’s actively push forward the economic development of the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region!”

In May 2015, North Korea took the ‘18th Pyongyang Spring International Product Exhibition’ as an opportunity to hold an investment briefing session regarding the development of the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region. Another on-site investment briefing at Kumgangsan is slated for six days beginning May 25, 2015.

Regarding the upcoming briefing, O Ung Gil, general manager of the Wonsan Area Development Corporation, said, “At the investment briefing, topics such as the favorability of the development zone (which has abundant tourist attractions), the legal environment, its current state, and the overall development plan will be revealed. […] All entrepreneurs and businessmen who have an interest in development in the region are welcome to attend.”

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‘Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region’ investment briefing

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

UPDATE 6 (2015-7-23):  KCNA issues another report on the Wonsan – Mt. Kumgang Tourist Zone:

The DPRK’s project for developing the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang international tourist zone (ITZ) is attracting deeper international attention as the days go by.

In this regard, O Ung Gil, vice-chairman of the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang ITZ Development Committee, told KCNA:

After the briefing on investment in the tourist zone held in Mt. Kumgang in May, the number of foreign companies and investors, who are willing to take part in the project, is on the increase.

Many companies in Asian and European countries showed a disposition to cooperate with the DPRK in the fields of designing, IT, building materials, foodstuffs, passenger service and so on. Some of them have already made contracts.

Many businessmen are hoping for the briefing on investment in the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang ITZ to be held on a larger scale.

The construction for turning the Wonsan area into a world famous tourist destination, a model of city formation is being pushed forward. And a large number of local and foreign tourists have continued to visit the Mt. Kumgang area.

It has been also expected to let tourists enjoy various forms of tourism like mountain marathon and cycling.

The DPRK government has taken a series of measures to offer such preferences as recommending favorable projects ahead of others and discounting land rent to investors, who will agree upon the terms of advance investment and deferred compensation or the method of comprehensive development of land not later than 2017.

UPDATE 5 (2015-6-4): Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) has issued a report on the conference. ‘Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region’ investment briefing held

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the ‘Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region’ investment briefing was held at Mt. Kumgang on May 27, 2015.

According to the news agency, various parties were in attendance at the meeting, including embassy officials, the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region Development Committee Chairman Yun Yong Sok, and a number of Chinese companies including the Dalian Branch of the World Overseas Korean International Trade Association, China’s Onyongbuksadal Group, Ltd., the Liaoning Province Hubei Store, the Liaoning Northeast Asia Association for Promoting Economic Culture, and China’s Hong Kong Global Industry Investment Group.

At the meeting Chairman Yun Yong Sok revealed, “In order to develop the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region in a short period of time, the government is creating a prospective overall plan and completing detailed plans by district accordingly.” He also explained, “Before long this region will be transformed into a world-wide tourist hub and a sphere of economic cultural exchange.”

Regarding the briefing, Hong Kong Global Industry Investment Group, Ltd. manager Ho Tung remarked, “We found out about the impressive results they are achieving in economic growth and improving the people’s quality of life […] By cooperating with world-renowned investors, Mt. Kumgang will become a global tourist destination in the future.”

A video introducing the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region was screened at the briefing, and various topics were discussed including ‘Regarding the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region Development Prospects,’ ‘Regarding the Mt. Kumgang International Special Tourist Zone Prospects,’ ‘Regarding the Legal Environment of the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region,’ and ‘Regarding the Lake Sijung Area Development Prospects.’

According to the KCNA, “The briefing, which captured the interest of overseas Korean businessmen and investors and professionals from various countries, served as an important opportunity to provide investment opportunities and deepen understanding regarding the development prospects of the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region.”

The briefing session started on May 25, 2015 and lasted for six days on-site at Mt. Kumgang. Throughout the event participants toured the areas of Haegumgang, Kuryongyon, and Samilpo and also attended a business conference. Authorities used the ‘18th Pyongyang Spring International Product Exhibition’ on May 11, 2015 as an opportunity to also hold this investment briefing on the development of the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region.

Prior to the briefing, O Ung Gil, general manager of the Wonsan Area Development Corporation, spoke about the upcoming event: “At the investment briefing, topics such as the favorability of the development zone (which has abundant tourist attractions), the legal environment, its current state, and the overall development plan will be revealed. […] All entrepreneurs and businessmen who have an interest in development in the region are welcome to attend.”

This tourist region was announced as a central-level ‘economic development zone’ (EDZ) on June 11, 2014 by ordinance of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly. It is part of the large-scale tourism belt that includes Wonsan district, the Masikryong Ski Resort, Ullim Falls, and the Sogwansa, Tongchon and Mt. Kumgang districts. In his 2015 New Year’s address, Kim Jong Un proclaimed to the people, “We need to multilaterally develop foreign economic relations and actively push forward the development of economic development zones like the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region.”

UPDATE 4 (2015-6-3): The North Koreans produced this video of the event.

UPDATE 3 (2015-5-30): KCNA reports on some of the other participants leaving the event:

Foreign delegations left here on Saturday after taking part in the 2015 seminar on investment in Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang international tourist zone.

They included a delegation of the Dalian Branch of the World Trade Association of Overseas Koreans, a delegation of the Chinese Liaoning Beisida Group Co. Ltd., a delegation of the Chinese Liaoning Provincial Hubei Commerce Chamber and a delegation of the Liaoning Northeast Asia Society for Promoting Economy and Culture.

UPDATE 2 (2015-5-27): KCNA reports (again) on the briefing:

The 2015 Seminar on Investment in Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone took place in the Mt. Kumgang, on Wednesday.

Present at the briefing were members of the Committee for the Promotion of Development of Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone including its Chairman Yun Yong Sok, a delegation of the Dalian Branch of the World Trade Association of Overseas Koreans, a delegation of the Chinese Liaoning Beisida Group Co. Ltd., a delegation of the Chinese Liaoning Provincial Hubei Commerce Chamber, a delegation of the Liaoning Northeast Asia Society for Promoting Economy and Culture and a delegation of the Global Businessmen’s Group Co. Ltd. for Investment of Hong Kong, China, Swedish and other foreign guests and foreign embassy officials here.

Congratulatory speeches were made there.

Yun Yong Sok said that the DPRK government worked out a long-term master plan for developing the tourist zone in a brief span of time and is in the process of rounding off detailed plans for different areas. This zone will turn into a world tourist destination and a hub for economic and cultural exchanges before long, he added.

The general manager of the Global Businessmen’s Group Co. Ltd. for Investment of Hong Kong, China said that staying in the DPRK, he clearly learned that the Korean people have achieved successes in developing economy and improving the people’s living standard.

He expressed the belief that Mt. Kumgang will be developed into a world famous tourist destination thanks to the cooperation of famous investors of the world.

The participants watched a video introducing the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone and listened to speeches introducing it.

UPDATE 1 (2015-5-27): KCNA reports on the briefing:

The 2015 Seminar on Investment in Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone took place at the Mt. Kumgang on May 27.

The seminar briefed on a plan for the development of tourist zone, its geographical conditions and legal guarantee for investment.

Ho Ji Hwan, head of the Yantai Branch of the World Trade Association of Overseas Koreans, told KCNA:

The scenery of the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang international tourist zone is very beautiful. The investment in this zone will bring about good results. And it is expected to be a promising tourist destination. I know that there are some projects for its development and, therefore, will make a positive cooperation in materializing them.

Michael P. Spavor, consultant of the Paektu Culture Exchange in Britain, said:

The environment and conditions in the zone are great to be one of international tourist destinations. I looked round the Masikryong Ski Resort and Songdowon beach which are very excellent.

I am willing to take part in the work for attracting investment.

The Paektu Cultural Exchange website is here. Here is the Facebook Page.

ORIGINAL POST (2015-5-26): KCNA reports that foreign delegations have arrived to participate in the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region investment briefing:

Foreign delegations arrived here on Monday to take part in the 2015 briefing on investment in Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang international tourist zone.

They included a delegation of the Dalian Branch of the World Trade Association of Overseas Koreans, a delegation of the Chinese Liaoning Beisida Group Co. Ltd., a delegation of the Chinese Liaoning Provincial Hubei Commerce Chamber, a delegation of the Liaoning Northeast Asia Society for Promoting Economy and Culture and a delegation of the Global Businessmen’s Group Co. Ltd. for Investment of Hong Kong, China.

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18th Pyongyang Spring Internaitonal Trade Fair

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

KCNA reports that the 18th Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair has opened (2015-5-11):

The 18th Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair opened with due ceremony at the Three-Revolution Exhibition House Monday.

Displayed at the venue of the fair are products presented by companies of the DPRK, New Zealand, Germany, Russia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Switzerland, Singapore, China, Cambodia, France, Poland, Australia, Italy, Indonesia, Viet Nam and Taipei of China.

Present at the ceremony were Vice-Premier Ro Tu Chol, Ri Ryong Nam, minister of External Economic Relations, officials concerned, delegations of different countries and regions, diplomatic envoys of different countries and embassy officials here.

An opening address was made by Pak Ung Sik, director of the Korean International Exhibition Corporation, to be followed by a congratulatory speech by O Ryong Chol, vice-minister of External Economic Relations.

The speakers said the fair is developing as an international economic event for boosting the economic and trade relations among different countries of the world and regions and promoting economic development.

They noted that during the fair the participants would witness for themselves achievements made by the Korean people in building a economic power and conduct multilateral scientific and technical exchange in various fields.

The participants will steadily boost cooperation in economy and trade on the principle of equality and mutual benefit in the days ahead, they noted.

The fair will last till May 14.

There was a side conference on the Wonsan – Mt. Kumgang Tourist Zone.

“Paekok”-trademarked Koryo Medicines were also on display.

KCNA also played up Russian involvement:

The 18th Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair goes on in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with attendance of many home and foreign businesses.

Businessmen from various countries, including Russia, New Zealand, Germany and Malaysia, have expressed their will to strengthen the economic cooperation with the DPRK.

Boris Stupnitsky, president of the Primorsky Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Zaytsev Dmitry of the Export Development Center of Primorsky Territory and Igor Agafonov, deputy representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, told KCNA at the fair:

We attach weight significance to the international trade fair in Pyongyang.

That’s why we are here at this fair with an unprecedentedly big delegation. Among the delegation are firms engaged in meat processing, construction and bean production.

Their intention is to develop Russia’s commercial relations with the DPRK through detailed survey of its trade situation.

We realized, through the autumn trade fair held here last year, that the DPRK has great potentials.

We have a long-term plan for economic cooperation with the DPRK and this vast plan will be carried into practice without fail. Next year more businessmen will come here from Russia.

The city of Pyongyang has undergone a radical change. The development speed of Pyongyang, beautiful and covered with green foliage, took us by surprise. This would have been unthinkable without the guidance of the leader of the DPRK, we dare say.

Here are two videos of the trade fair.

Here is coverage in NK News.

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North Korea Spurring Development of Various Special Tourist Zones

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2015-4-30

North Korea is expediting the development of various ‘Special Tourist Zones’. North Korea is diversifying its tour packages, and have designated Mt. Kumgang (Kumgangsan) and Mt. Paektu (Paektusan) as International Special Tourist Zones. A Special Tourist Zone on the riverside near the Amrok (Yalu) River Bridge is also under construction. This zone is designed to attract foreign tourists including Chinese tourists.

In addition, North Korea and China are pushing forward with the ‘Onsong-Tumen Border Culture and Tourism Cooperation Zone.’ This is intended to be a cooperation zone that integrates tourism, cultural performances, duty-free shopping and serves as a distribution center of tourism products for both countries.

North Korea has also revealed outlines of its plans for the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang Tourist Region and is pushing ahead with an on-site briefing session scheduled for May 2015. While North Korea repairs and expands the existing road network connecting each tourist site (focusing first on Wonsan), authorities have decided to construct a transportation network by establishing a high-speed railroad between Pyongyang and Wonsan, as well as opening passenger routes between Wonsan Harbor and Rason, and Wonsan Harbor and Vladivostok. They also plan to introduce a series of measures for attracting tourists, including a no-visa system, currently under consideration.

In addition, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has announced an era of full-fledged international tourism in Mt. Paektu. On April 23, 2015, KCNA revealed that the Mubong International Special Tourist Zone will be built in part of Samjiyon County’s Mubong Workers’ District near Mt. Paektu. The Mubong Workers’ District is 35km away from Mt. Paektu, 60km away from Samjiyon, and 70km away from Taehongdan. Thus, it is considered eligible for designation as a special district.

This location is considered to be relatively well-equipped with tourism infrastructure compared to other regions, and expected to perform favorably in attracting outside investment. KCNA reported that this region has a number of amenities and attractions as a Special Tourist Zone.

For example, two decades ago North Korea prepared to host the 1995 Asian Winter Games in Samjiyon until those preparations came to a halt. However, construction resumed in the 2000s, and since then North Korea has constructed a large-scale winter athlete’s village equipped with facilities such as a ski resort and ice rink. Also, Mubong lies in the middle of Samjiyon, Mt. Paektu, and Taehongdan. From Mubong one can go climb Mt. Paektu and view the entire Samjiyon area, or go to Taehongdan and see the large potato-growing districts.

Since the Kim Jong Il era, potato fields were planted in Taehongdan as a tourist attraction. In Mubong, North Korea built large-scale blueberry production complexes, which have become well-known for their blueberry wine. There are also customs offices in Ssangdubong, making the entry process for foreigners presumably less difficult.

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Outline for development of Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region revealed

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

North Korea has recently revealed an outline of its plans for the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region. In May an information session regarding the development of this project will be held on-site in Kumgangsan.

The Chinese newspaper Liaoning Daily reported on March 21, 2015: “North Korea recently held a briefing session regarding its development plans for the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Region at the Grand Metropark Hotel in Shenyang. The meeting was attended by professionals, scholars and businesspeople from several neighboring Northeast Asian countries.”

According to the newspaper, at the event North Korea revealed development plans for a tourist region of approximately 430 square km in area. It also revealed that there will be six major scenic spots throughout the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region, namely, Wonsan, Tongchon, Mount Kumgang, Sogwangsa, Masikryong Ski Resort and Ullim Falls.

North Korean authorities explained, “This year the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region development project is considered the most important element of our country’s international economic development efforts. The region is being designed at the government level as a world scenic spot that combines the beauty of the ocean, lake, and city.”

The authorities went on to explain that “Geographically, the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region is situated on the eastern part of the Asian continent and the central part of the Choson [Korean] Peninsula. Within a 3-hour flight of that region there are a total of 40 cities with populations exceeding 1 million people […] The region contains a total of approximately 670 tourist sites, 140 historical sites, 10 sand beaches, 4 mineral springs, 10 natural lakes, and 3 million tons of muds that are highly effective in the treatment of neuralgia and enteritis of the small and large intestines.”

While North Korea repairs and expands the existing road network connecting each tourist site (focusing first on Wonsan), North Korean authorities have decided to construct a transportation network by establishing a high-speed railroad between Pyongyang and Wonsan, as well as opening passenger routes between Wonsan Harbor and Rason and Wonsan Harbor and Vladivostok. They will also introduce a series of measures for attracting tourists, including a no-visa system, which is currently being studied.

The authorities also explained that North Korea “guarantees the free economic activity of investors and will offer fixed, regular benefits in areas such as land use, labor employment, and taxes.”

“Tourism, manufacturing, and service businesses will be exempt from corporate income taxes for four years, three years, and one year respectively. Meanwhile, real estate businesses that invest in infrastructure will be exempted from land use taxes for ten years, and those that invest in other areas will be exempt for five years.”

The Liaoning Daily reported that at the information session, O Ung Gil, president of North Korea’s Wonsan District Development General Corporation, said, “I hope that by participating this May at Mount Kumgang in the international seminar regarding the development of the Wonsan-Kumgangsan Tourist Region, everyone will have the opportunity to witness and experience Mount Kumgang first-hand. […] North Korea’s door is always open and investors are welcome any time.”

Various Chinese companies and private organizations hosted the information session. Approximately 50 Chinese professionals and business people, who were invited beforehand, attended the program. Only a few Chinese and Japanese media outlets that were chosen by the organizers were permitted to cover the event.

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