Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

DPRK opens more secondary schools

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

According to RFA:

North Korea has once again increased the number of secondary schools for gifted students, making the institutions less selective and reducing their role as guaranteed shortcuts to elite universities in Pyongyang, sources in the country said.

Until recently, North Korea’s nine provinces and the capital Pyongyang each had just one advanced-track senior middle school, a type of combined middle and high school which runs on a more intensive curriculum than a regular secondary school.

Some provinces now run more than one senior middle school reserved for top-notch students, sources said.

“There are multiple gifted senior middle schools operating now in cities such as Chongjin and Hamhung,” one source told RFA’s Korean Service, referring to the capitals of North and South Hamgyong provinces respectively.

Students at such schools are groomed for university education, where they are exempted from military service and welcomed into the country’s elite.

Easier admissions

Before 2008, provinces had operated many of the advanced-track schools, but that year authorities returned to the original system of having one per province.

Now that there are more schools for gifted students, it has gotten easier for most students to gain admission to one, the same source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The difficulty of getting admission to these gifted schools has eased somewhat,” the source said.

However, for less privileged students, attending the schools has become even more difficult because some have gotten rid of their dormitories, he added.

No more guarantees

With more students on the advanced track, the schools are no longer a surefire way into university and out of military service, another source said.

“The schools for gifted students are given the highest admittance quotas from the prestigious universities in Pyongyang, as well as other provinces’ four-year universities. Thus attendance at a gifted school has been a shortcut to getting accepted to prestigious colleges.”

“Since the number of schools for gifted students has increased recently, students attending those schools are no longer guaranteed to be admitted to the prestigious four-year colleges,” the source said.

Getting exempted from military service upon admission to university used to be “one of the greatest perks” of attending a school for gifted students, he added.

North Korea first introduced the schools for gifted students in 1983, establishing one in each of the country’s nine provinces and in the capital.

By 1999, the number was greatly expanded to some 200 gifted students’ schools.

But in 2008, authorities returned to the original system of having just one school for gifted students in Pyongyang and each province, turning the others into regular schools.

Read the full story here:
North Korea Opens More Secondary Schools for Gifted Students
RFA
Joon-ho Kim
2014-4-16

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DPRK claims to send funds to Chongryun

Friday, April 11th, 2014

According to KCNA:

Kim Jong Un Sends Educational Aid Fund and Stipends to Children of Koreans in Japan

Pyongyang, April 11 (KCNA) — Supreme leader Kim Jong Un sent educational aid fund and stipends amounting to 207.8 million yen to the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan for the democratic national education of children of Koreans in Japan on the occasion of the 102nd birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung.

The educational aid fund and stipends sent by Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and Marshal Kim Jong Un in 160 installments total 47,331,150,390 yen.

Since the Mangyongbong-92 is no longer traveling the East Sea/Sea of Japan, I wonder how the funds will be transferred.

The Chongryun have seen bad financial news lately:

1. Chongryun headquarters in central Tokyo was recently auctioned off for debts incurred helping the DPRK get through the Arduous March.

2. Chongryon schools are not eligible for some Japanese education subsidies.

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New business and economics related majors established in top universities in North Korea

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-3-27

It has been confirmed that many major universities in North Korea, including Kim Il Sung University, have recently established new departments relating to business and economics. Under the Kim Jong Un regime’s national goal of constructing an economically powerful nation, the addition of these business-related departments can be interpreted as a move to develop and foster the training of individuals who will lead North Korean economic development.

The Choson Sinbo, a news outlet published by the pro-North Korean General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, introduced some of these newly established departments in an article on March 22, 2014, stating that steps are being taken to strengthen the nation’s higher education system.

According to the newspaper, a department for International Economics has been opened at Kim Il Sung University, and the Pyongyang Jang Chol Gu University of Commerce now offers newly established programs in Hotel Management and Hotel Services. Additionally, the Jong Jun Taek University of Economics (formerly known as the Wonsan University of Economics) has installed several new departments, such as Tourism Economics, Insurance Studies, Pricing Studies, and Economic Law.

The addition of these international business, hotel and tourism departments stands out as part of North Korea’s recent efforts to strengthen their economy through the attraction of foreign investments and the development of the tourism industry.

The Choson Sinbo also stated that universities in the rural areas have changed their names to better suit the different types of scientists and technicians that they are training. For example, Sinuiju Light Industry University is now known as the Pyongbuk Institute of Technology, and Haeju Light Industry University has changed its name to the Hwangnam Institute of Technology.

This can be interpreted as a movement to promote “balanced growth” by creating a focal point for the development of talented individuals not only in light industry, but across all fields and industries. It is expected that these individuals will take the lead in developing the economies of North Korea’s rural regions.

Other newly emerging departments include Computer Hardware Engineering and Intelligence Engineering Program at Pyongyang University of Computer Technology, Geothermal Engineering at Pyongsong Coal Industry College, and Forest Construction and Heating Systems at Hamhung Hydrographic and Power College. Other additional departments include the Industry of Fine Arts and Commercial Fine Arts at the Pyongyang University of Printing Engineering, and various medical schools have seen the creation of a Recovery Medicines department.

The addition of these departments is a reflection of North Korea’s recent emphasis on the development of renewable energy systems and industrial design, such as geothermal heat.

The Choson Sinbo added that North Korea has also expanded its distance learning system, utilizing their information network to establish cyber colleges at Kim Il Sung University, Pyongyang University of Architecture, and Wonsan University of Agriculture this past January. Additional departments for distance learning were also reported to have been established at the Kim Hyong Jik University of Education.

According to the newspaper, distance learning is being developed for all classes of workers, and it is expected to revitalize the industry by fostering the growth of talented individuals from many fields, including agriculture and construction.

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Changes made to North Korean education system

Monday, February 10th, 2014

At 6th session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly in September 2012, the government announced the creation of a new school year–raising the number of compulsory school years from 11 to 12.

You can read more at the link above, but here is how the new system compares with the old:

OLD:
Kindergarten (유치원): 1 year
Primary School (소학교): 4 years [formerly Primary School was called "People's School"]
Secondary/Middle School (고등중학교): 6 years
Total: 11 years

NEW:
Kindergarten (유치원): 1 year
Primary School (소학교):  5 years
Junior Secondary School (초급중학교): 3 years
Senior Seoncdary School (고급중학교): 3 years
Total: 12 years

The new naming convention has been applied to KCTV, which now regularly refers to 초급중학교 and 고급중학교.

However, it appears that there are also more substantive changes being made to curriculum and these still have a ways to go before they are completely implemented. KCNA has [superficially] discussed some of these in two articles this year. Here they are:

Preparations for 12-year Compulsory Education in Active Progress
Pyongyang, January 27 (KCNA) — Preparations for introducing the universal 12-year compulsory education system are progressing apace in the DPRK.

According to Kim Song Il, a department director of the Ministry of General Education under the Education Commission, the 12-year education system will begin in the country on April 1 this year and go into the full enforcement through a transition stage of three years.

New programs, drawn up in accordance with the 12-year education, will be given to kindergarteners (higher class) and first-year pupils of primary schools and junior and senior secondary schools this year.

The new educational system is aimed to train all schoolchildren to be talents equipped with ample knowledge, sound moral character and good health.

New subjects necessary for secondary schoolchildren will be added in the system. Textbooks are edited with emphasis on preserving the Juche character and national identity, and priority will be given to heuristic method in teaching.

Meanwhile, various kinds of courses for teachers are going on in all provinces, cities and counties to generalize the new teaching methods created in Pyongyang and other areas.

Also, efforts have been made on a nationwide scale to increase the number of teachers and provide school things and other conditions for enforcement of the new education system.

and…

Big Efforts Directed to Improving Education in DPRK
Pyongyang, January 30 (KCNA) — Officials of the Ministry of Higher Education under the Education Commission of the DPRK have striven to bring about a new turn in the education this year.

Attention was paid to improving the contents, methods, conditions and environment of education and measures taken to raise the quality of the heuristic teaching methods and introduce them into education.

The officials are now working to widely introduce the newly-developed simulation software and generalize good experiences throughout the country.

Meanwhile, big efforts have been channeled into reinforcing teachers and applying advanced foreign educational methods to local educational work.

The officials are stepping up the work to perfect educational system in some universities, including Pyongyang University of Architecture and put the university education on an IT basis.

They also channel efforts into renewing educational environment of universities, including Kim Il Sung University and Pyongyang Jang Chol Gu University of Commerce.

And they pay deep attention to supplying students with textbooks and reference books in good time.

Yonhap also reported on Changes being made to the DPRK education system (2014-2-2):

North Korea is promoting a double major system and other reform measures at its universities, a magazine reported Sunday, in what experts here said were efforts to boost students’ freedom and emulate schools in capitalist nations.

“In accordance with demands of the new year, projects to innovate the education systems are being pursued,” said an article published in the Jokuk monthly magazine obtained by Yonhap News Agency. The magazine, whose name means “My Nation” in Korean, is read by North Korean nationals residing in Japan.

“The second major system is being implemented and other reformative measures are also being taken in order to accomplish our education objective of spreading science and information,” said the article titled “How bright North Korean scientists are nurtured.”

The magazine also noted that universities are downsizing their curriculum as part of the education reform efforts.

The undergraduate-level diploma courses for liberal arts and social science at the North’s leading Kim Il-sung University used to be a five-year program, but they were shortened by six months in 2002. They now will be shortened further to a four-year program.

Experts here said such reform measures reflect influences from capitalist education systems, where the double major system is allowed under a four-year undergraduate diploma curriculum.

“North Korea’s push for greater student freedom as reflected in its adoption of the double major system seems to be in line with the development of a market economy in North Korea in which more individual autonomy is allowed,” said Lim Eul-chul, a research professor at Kyungnam University.

North Korea expanded its 11-year compulsory education system by one more year in 2013, matching the 12-year basic education plan used in South Korea.

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Protection services for the socially disadvantaged groups

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-2-6

Recently, North Korea is emphasizing the importance of protecting socially disadvantaged groups, including orphans and the elderly.

The Rodong Sinmun introduced the news about the Workers’ Party officials visiting orphans and the elderly in care homes in various regions on January 24, 2014.

According to the newspaper, “The party officials and organizations consider caring for orphans and seniors as one’s own children and parents as an important task and are actively engaging in organization and political activities in this area.”

Party officials of Jagang Province sent over 60 tons of coal, 200 square meters of firewood, pork, cooking oil, flour, seafood, undergarments, padded winter clothing and washing machines to various orphanages and nursing homes in the province.

Reportedly, the party officials in the Yanggang Province sent a hundred square meters of coal and firewood, washing machines, clothes, and shoes to orphanages and nursing homes last year. The newspaper described that there were “trails of vehicles” carrying goods to orphanages in North Hamgyong Province.

In Hamhung City (South Hamgyong Province), there are reports of 10 tons of fish delivered to orphanages and in South Hwanghae Province, orphanages and nursing homes received 300g of fish, 100g of meat and goat milk.

The news also reported in detail of Kim Jong Un’s onsite visit to the General Rear Service Department (GRSD) of the People’s Army on January 6 and that he inspected the newly built seafood refrigeration facilities and instructed regular distribution of seafood to be delivered to orphanages and nursing homes. Since then, specific measures are being established to regularly supply seafood to orphanages in Kangwon and South and North Pyongan Provinces.

Since the launch of the Kim Jong Un regime, special gifts consisting of food and clothing were sent to orphanages, nursing homes for the elderly and disabled on major state anniversaries and holidays across the nation.

Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported also on the same day on January 6, “Kim Jong Un recently instructed that nursery schools and kindergartens should be operated normally under all circumstances and the Cabinet should take the responsibility to guarantee lunch and heating in all children’s facilities.”

The recent movement in increased attention to orphans, children, elderly and disabled people is analyzed as an effort intended to consolidate Kim Jong Un’s power and draw the support from the North Korean people.

Some experts argue that this is a measure to resolved the number of kotjebi or homeless children and prevent social chaos.

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Chongryun education subsidies

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

 

Pictured above (Google Earth): (L) The Chongryon headquarters building in Tokyo. (R) The Chongryon’s Korea University

UPDATE 7 (2013-10-31): According to the Choson Ilbo, Yokohama has cut Chongryon education subsidies:

The Japanese city of Yokohama has decided to stop annual subsidies to pro-North Korean schools this year, citing North Korea’s nuclear test and other provocations, the Tokyo Shimbun daily reported Wednesday.

The schools are affiliated with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan or Chongryon, a Pyongyang mouthpiece.

The education committee in Yokohama informed three of the Chongryon schools in the city last week that they would not be receiving the subsidy of 2.5 million yen set aside in this year’s budget.

They include two primary and one secondary school.

Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi said she is halting the subsidies as long as the issues of “North Korea’s nuclear weapons development and abduction of Japanese citizens remain unresolved.”

Earlier in February, the Japanese government cut Chongryon schools out of federal subsidies. Seven regional governments, including Saitama and Hiroshima, have followed suit.

Read the full story here:
Yokohama Stops Subsidies for Chongryon Schools
Choson Ilbo
2013-10-31

UPDATE 6 (2013-6-15): The Economist follows up with a story on the state of the Chongryun schools in Japan:

Japan’s government excluded the schools from a scheme to waive tuition fees in other schools two years ago. Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, is now focusing on public funding. Tokyo has led the way, ending its 6m yen ($63,000) annual subsidy to this Korean high school. Local authorities around Japan are following suit. “We’ll survive, but many won’t,” laments the headmaster, Shin Gil-ung.

The funding assault is part of what may be the end-game in a low-level war between Japanese conservatives and the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, known as Chongryon. The organisation, which runs the schools, is North Korea’s de facto embassy and is suspected of involvement in the North’s bizarre abduction of over a dozen Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s. The Japanese want the surviving citizens returned. The North Koreans say they are all dead.

The schools and the community they serve are in deep trouble anyway. Thousands of Koreans are abandoning their ethnic identities to take Japanese citizenship. Enrolment at Mr Shin’s school has fallen to 600 students from a high of 2,300 when he attended in the late 1960s. Parents pay for 80% of the institution’s costs; cash from North Korea, once a lifeline, has dried up.

UPDATE 5 (2011-10-24): According to the Daily NK:

The network of schools in Japan operated by the General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, saw the overall scale of its government funding shrink by 27% in the year 2009-2010, according to a report today from Sankei Shimbun.

Documents reveal that in 2009, ‘Chosun Schools’ received 549.73 million Yen ($7.2 million) in support, but by 2010 this had shrunk by 147.29 million Yen ($1.9 million) to 424.3 million Yen ($5.5 million).

Chosun Schools have courted controversy in recent times with assertions that have angered the Japanese authorities, in particular stating in history textbooks that “The Japanese authorities are emphasizing the abductees issue to cultivate anti-Chosun discord,” but also by calling the 1987 Korean Air disaster a fabrication.

The greatest reductions in funding were felt in four places; Tokyo, Osaka, Saitama and Fukuoka. Two, Tokyo and Saitama, gave no funding at all during 2010, with Osaka authorities explaining their choice in terms of cutting links with Chongryon as an organization which places portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on the walls of classrooms.

Elsewhere, consistently falling student numbers have also reduced the applicability of central funding for the schools.

UPDATE 4 (2011-6-3): The Chongryun schools seem to have corrected a number of historical points to please the Japanese.  According to the Choson Ilbo:

Pro-North Korean high schools in Japan changed textbook entries about North Korea’s kidnapping of Japanese nationals and the bombing of Korean Air passenger plane in 1987 to receive local government funding, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Thursday.

Kanagawa Prefecture on Wednesday said pro-Pyongyang high schools in the prefecture removed from their modern history textbook the sentence “Japan exaggerated the kidnap issue,” and the entry claiming South Korea “fabricated” the bombing was amended to the bombing “occurred.”

The textbook is used in 10 pro-North Korean high schools in Japan. Kanagawa Prefecture added the modified version of the textbook was checked during a survey of high schools as part of a national tuition fee waiver program at the end of May.

Kanagawa Governor Yuji Kuroiwa said on Thursday, “We agreed to provide 63 million yen of funding to the schools as they promised to use the supplementary book that says North Korea ‘officially admitted’ the kidnapping, and reflect this when the textbook is revised in 2013. Whether we will continue to provide funding after next year depends on the teaching in these schools.”

Kanagawa Prefecture withheld financial assistance to five pro-Pyongyang primary, middle and high schools in the prefecture last year, and demanded modification of history textbooks and transparent management of schools.

Shin Kil-woong, who leads a group of head teachers at high schools run by the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Koreans in Japan or Chongryon, said, “We decided to remove the parts on the kidnapping issue to seek understanding from Japanese people.”

UPDATE 3 (3/8/2011): Congryun education subsidies in Japan appear to be on the wane again. According to Kyodo:

Students of a pro-Pyongyang high school in Tokyo called on the government Sunday to include their school in the national tuition waiver program.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government had planned for the program to cover pro-Pyongyang schools by the end of the current fiscal year through March, but Prime Minister Naoto Kan suspended procedures to expand the program in the wake of North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean island in November.

Pro-Pyongyang schools have close ties with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), which serves as the de facto government mission for North Korea in Japan because of the absence of diplomatic relations.

“We would like to study with the same rights as Japanese high school students,” said Pak Su Gi, 18, in a speech addressed to Kan at a graduation ceremony at the pro-Pyongyang school in Tokyo’s Kita Ward.

The students of the school have been collecting signatures for a petition and held a march in the past year.

“We feel frustrated because our voices have not reached the government,” said Om Ri Hwa, another 18-year-old graduate of the Tokyo school.

The government has since last April waived tuition fees for students attending public high schools in line with the ruling party’s pledge in the August 2009 general election.

UPDATE 2 (2/5/2011): Chongryon schools’ history spin hurt tuition waiver bid. According to the Japan Times:

Flipping through a copy of a recently obtained Korean history textbook used in pro-Pyongyang junior high schools in Japan, journalist Ryo Hagiwara points his finger to a section describing how North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il Sung, and his Korean People’s Revolutionary Army defeated the Japanese occupation forces in 1945 and drove them off the Korean Peninsula.

“Well, this reads as if Kim and his army single-handedly liberated the North, but this is not true. It’s a known historical fact that Kim was an officer of the Soviet army’s 88th Brigade at the time,” Hagiwara said.

According to outside historians, the KPRA was a North Korean propaganda term for what was actually the Second Army Corps of a Chinese communist-led force that Kim was a part of during the 1930s and early 1940s before he joined the Soviet army.

“It’s as if students are studying Kim’s biography, not real history,” Hagiwara said, explaining that out of the textbook’s 119 pages, 62 are dedicated to Kim Il Sung and his family.

The expert on North Korea is heading a group translating the textbook into Japanese to highlight its content for the Japanese public. He expects the group’s version to be published later this month.

Hagiwara is a proponent of abolishing all subsidies for these schools, which he claims are giving students distorted history lessons that glorify and instill loyalty to Kim Jong Il’s hermit regime, and have strong ties with an organization with direct links to the dictatorship — Chongryon, the Association of Korean Residents in Japan.

It appears his argument has been gaining ground in recent months following North Korea’s bombing of a South Korean island in November, which prompted the ruling Democratic Party of Japan to temporarily freeze procedures for including pro-Pyongyang schools in its high school tuition waiver program.

Under a law that took effect last April, students at public high schools are exempt from paying tuition. Private schools and other schools equivalent to high schools receive between ¥118,800 to ¥237,600 per student annually, depending on their household income.

Foreign schools and international schools are eligible for the tuition waiver program if they are considered equivalent to Japanese high schools after checks with their home countries, or if their curricula are accredited by international organizations.

But while the DPJ initially planned on including the pro-Pyongyang high schools, the increased tensions in the region in recent months have led Prime Minister Naoto Kan to apply the brakes.

Making things worse for these schools, the increased publicity has prompted several municipalities to review the annual grants they have been doling out to them for decades.

Reports from the education ministry and the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN) show that 27 prefectures have been handing out a total of around ¥800 million a year to pro-Pyongyang schools.

Based on the schools’ enrollment, they would get additional funding of around ¥200 million under the central government’s high school tuition waiver program.

According to the education ministry, 73 pro-Pyongyang schools with an estimated 8,300 students were operating in Japan as of 2009. Of these, 10 were high schools with around 1,800 students in total.

In late January, Osaka Prefecture decided against distributing the ¥200 million in subsidies it has budgeted for fiscal 2011 for the 10 pro-Pyongyang schools within its jurisdiction.

Osaka, which has been providing financial aid to pro-Pyongyang schools since 1974, cited the schools’ reluctance to respond to guidelines the prefecture had set under Gov. Toru Hashimoto as the reason behind the decision. The guidelines include severing ties with Chongryon and removing photographs of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il from classrooms.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which has been handing out approximately ¥24 million a year to 10 pro-Pyongyang schools, has also suspended grants for fiscal 2011.

“Municipal subsidies to pro-Pyongyang schools have been handed out for decades without ever being widely reported, but the controversy over the DPJ’s tuition waiver program dragged it into the spotlight,” said Ryuichiro Hirata, chief executive of NARKN, a nationwide nonprofit organization working to secure the return of people abducted by the North.

Hirata said history textbooks used in pro-Pyongyang schools nationwide are edited and carefully checked in Pyongyang, and he believes Japan would send the North the wrong message if it hands money to its schools while issuing various other sanctions.

According to “Modern Korean History — Level 3,” used in pro-Pyongyang high schools and translated into Japanese and published last year by Hagiwara and his organization, the Association of Experts Against Spending Tax Money on Pro-Pyongyang High Schools, South Korea and the United States were responsible for starting the Korean War.

This claim is contrary to common knowledge that the North Korean invasion of South Korea in 1950 was the direct catalyst.

The textbook also states that the 1987 bombing of Korean Air Flight 858 by two North Korean agents, which killed 115 people, was a conspiracy hatched in South Korea to help Roh Tae Woo win the presidential election.

Lee Young Hwa, an economics professor at Kansai University and a North Korea expert, said it is fundamentally wrong that subsidies are being given to pro-Pyongyang schools, which operate under the guidance of Kim Jong Il’s Korean Workers’ Party.

“Unless Japan is a dictatorship, it should not be spending public money to fund schools operated by the KWP,” Lee said, arguing that such schools should only be allowed to continue operations if they severe ties with the North and operate under the principles of democracy.

But there are many who oppose cutting off grants to such schools because of diplomatic tension, arguing it would violate the children’s right to an education and could foster ethnic discrimination.

Pro-Pyongyang schools have been operating in Japan since the 1950s by Koreans who remained here after being conscripted by the Japanese military during the war, or who came here to work or were brought over for forced labor.

Lee Ji Seon, a 27-year-old ethnic Korean resident of Japan, received his elementary, junior high and high school education at pro-Pyongyang schools in Shizuoka and Aichi prefectures. He now works at a Japanese television station after attending Beijing University and studying in the U.S.

Lee said he believes a healthy society should guarantee freedom of thought and belief, and cutting off subsidies to pro-Pyongyang schools would deprive children of their right to an education.

“What would these children think in the future about Japanese society if they are excluded” from receiving grants, Lee said.

He said that during Korean history lessons, he studied Kim Il Sung’s biography and his battle against the Japanese occupation forces, but said he didn’t feel pressured to assume loyalty to Pyongyang, nor did he feel “brainwashed,” as Hiroshi Nakai, former minister in charge of the North Korean abduction issue, once asserted.

“But what’s notable is that many classes were taught in Korean, aimed at nurturing ethnic consciousness,” he said, claiming that world and Japanese history classes were taught free of any propaganda.

Park Il, an economics professor at Osaka City University’s graduate school, is critical of Japan for its indifference toward international schools in general, and said it is “unbelievable” that municipalities such as Osaka are trying to meddle with the content of textbooks used in pro-Pyongyang schools.

“It’s like overseas Japanese schools being ordered by the respective local governments to revise sections in textbooks that mention the Imperial system,” he said.

“Furthermore, North Korea’s bombing of Yeonpyeong Island is unrelated to students studying in pro-Pyongyang schools — I believe it’s outrageous that public support of education could be cut off due to political friction,” he said.

With the March 31 end of fiscal 2010 and the deadline for granting subsidies for schools approaching, it appears certain the debate will intensify in the weeks to come.

Kim Myung Soo, a sociology professor at Kwansei Gakuin University, said it is likely pro-Pyongyang schools will sue the government if the subsidies for fiscal 2010 aren’t distributed.

Kim, who attended a pro-Pyongyang elementary school in Fukuoka Prefecture before switching over to a Japanese school, said it is essential that Japan work toward fighting racial discrimination and protecting foreign residents and minorities, rather than fostering ethnic divides.

“The government is acting emotionally and based on anti-North Korean sentiment. Cutting off subsidies will only send out the message that Japan doesn’t care about human rights,” he said.

UPDATE 1 (11/10/2010): Apparently Tokyo will not take the Chongryon school curricula into account in determining eligibility for subsidies. According to Japan Today:

The Liberal Democratic Party adopted a resolution Tuesday opposing the education ministry’s policy of not factoring in curricula when considering a tuition waiver for schools catering to pro-Pyongyang Korean residents of Japan.

Shigeru Yokota, whose daughter was abducted by North Korea in 1977 at age 13, also voiced opposition to the policy, saying, ‘‘Giving subsidies to (schools) that provide wrong education will cause trouble in the future.’‘

The main opposition party adopted the resolution at a joint meeting of intra-party panels on education and abduction issues. Yokota, 77, attended the gathering.

The government led by the Democratic Party of Japan has since April waived tuition for students who attend public senior high schools in line with the party’s pledge in the August 2009 general election.

Private and other schools equivalent to senior high schools also receive stipends for their students under the national program, but the pro-Pyongyang schools have so far been excluded, pending the establishment of criteria.

The ministry said Friday it has decided not to make the curricula of the pro-Pyongyang schools a factor in deciding whether they are eligible for subsidies under the tuition waiver program.

ORIGINAL POST (11/3/2010): According to the AP:

The Japanese education ministry has decided to ask pro- Pyongyang high schools in Japan to use Japanese textbooks of politics and economics when the government includes such high schools in its tuition waiver program, government sources said Tuesday.

The decision is apparently in response to concerns expressed by some lawmakers who have claimed that anti-Japan education is being conducted at these pro-Pyongyang ethnic schools for Korean residents in Japan.

The Japanese government is expected to formally approve a proposal by an education ministry panel to include pro-Pyongyang high schools in Japan in its tuition waiver program, possibly this week.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Yoshiaki Takaki appeared to have won the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s approval for the move at a meeting with DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada on Tuesday night, the sources said.

Given a law to respect the autonomy of individual schools’ education policies, including those of pro-Pyongyang schools, the Japanese government does not oblige the schools to purchase Japanese textbooks to benefit from the tuition waiver program, the sources said.

But given concerns about the inclusion of pro-Pyongyang schools in the tuition waiver program, the government will encourage students of these schools to use Japanese textbooks and learn the basics of Japanese society, such as the independence of legislative, administrative and judicial powers, they said.

Takaki is expected to require schools benefiting from the tuition waiver program to submit a document proving that money offered under the program was spent to cover students’ tuition, the sources said.

The government intends to formally decide on the inclusion of pro- Pyongyang schools in the tuition waiver program by the end of this year, and if it is decided, students will be eligible for the program, retroactive to April.

Under a law that took effect in April, senior high school students at Japanese public schools are exempt from tuition fees, while private and other schools equivalent to high schools receive between 118,800 yen to 237,600 yen annually per student depending on household income.

Foreign schools, such as international schools, are eligible for the tuition waiver program if they are recognized as equivalent to Japanese senior high schools after checks with their respective home countries, or if their curricula are accredited by international organizations.

But pro-Pyongyang schools have been excluded as, unlike other foreign schools, it could not be confirmed that they were equivalent to Japanese schools as Japan and North Korea do not have diplomatic ties.

The education ministry set up the panel to consider the eligibility criteria for the tuition waiver.

According to the education ministry, there are 10 pro-Pyongyang high schools in Japan, with an estimated 1,800 students.

Read the full stories here:
Pro-Pyongyang school wants tuitions waived
Kyodo News (via Japan Times)
3/8/2011

Recent tension, pro-North schools’ history spin hurt tuition waiver bid
The Japan Times
Alex Martin
2/5/2011

LDP opposes funding policy regarding pro-Pyongyang schools’ curricula
Japan Today
11/10/2010

Gov’t to ask pro-Pyongyang schools to buy Japanese text books
Associated Press (via Breitbart)
11/3/2010

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Kim Jong-un awarded honorary doctorate in economics

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

According to KCNA (2013-10-9):

Honorary Doctorate in Economics Awarded to Kim Jong Un in Malaysia

Pyongyang, October 9 (KCNA) — Supreme leader Kim Jong Un was awarded the degree of honorary doctor of economics from the Help University of Malaysia.

A ceremony for conveying the certificate and costume took place in Kuala Lumpur on October 3.

Present there were public figures of all social standings including the president of the university who is its establisher, the DPRK ambassador to the country and his embassy members.

The president said it is honor and historic event for his university to award the degree of honorary doctor to Kim Jong Un, who is the first foreign head of state to receive the degree by the university.

We decided to award the degree to Kim Jong Un who makes untiring efforts for the education of the country and the well-being of its people, the president said, adding that this is the pride of the university.

He hoped that the cooperation between the DPRK and Malaysia in the field of education would develop in the future.
The certificate and costume were handed over to the DPRK ambassador.

Foreign Policy follows up with helpful information.

 

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2013 DPRK aid update

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

According to Yonhap (via Global Post):

The Washington-based Voice of America said the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has set aside US$1.07 million this year for repairing 14 schools and kindergartens in the communist country, in addition to buying textbooks and school supplies for 350,000 North Korean children.

“Our school is 33 years old and has not had any large-scale renovations,” Ri Kyong-hui, a school principal in North Hwanghae Province, was quoted as saying. “Thanks to the new windows (supplied by UNICEF), our classrooms are 5 degrees warmer in the winter, which the students really appreciate.”

North Korea was slapped with tougher U.N. sanctions earlier this year for conducting a satellite launch in December and a nuclear test in February, stoking concerns that the move may affect relief efforts there.

Danish humanitarian group Mission East, however, said the health of 750 children at three orphanages in North Hwanghae Province has significantly improved following its food assistance program that began last summer.

Earlier this month, the German branch of the international Catholic relief group Caritas said it has vaccinated 430,000 North Korean children against Japanese encephalitis, with the French government weighing in with its own $500,000 aid this year.

Some humanitarian groups, however, reported roadblocks in carrying out relief efforts in the isolated country.

The World Food Program told Radio Free Asia earlier this week that a lack of donation has pushed it to scale down its food aid to North Korea by 85 percent. The U.N. food agency has halted operations in June at five of its 14 food factories in the North due to grain shortages.

Read the full story here:
Int’l community continues aid to N. Korea despite sanctions
Yonhap (via Global Post)
2013-7-17

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Pyongyang seeking to build 100,000 housing units [on hold]

Monday, July 1st, 2013

UPDATE 6 (2013-7-1): The Daily NK reports the effort to construct 100,000 homes in Pyongyang has come to a complete halt. According to the article:

A troubled prestige project to build 100,000 new homes in Pyongyang has been brought to a complete halt under the rule of Kim Jong Eun, and buildings in some areas have fallen into a state of disrepair.

A source from the North Korean capital revealed to Daily NK on July 1st, “The 100,000 homes project has been at a complete halt since Kim Jong Eun took power, and on the outskirts of the city some buildings are half-built and collapsing into a state of disrepair.”

“In this area, people were evacuated in October 2009 so that the construction could commence,” the source went on. “But in many areas those buildings that were begun at that time are still not above the first floor.”

Homes planned as part of the project, which, according to state propaganda, was to form part of celebrations for North Korea’s becoming a “strong and prosperous state” by the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth in April 2012, were expected to feature in propaganda vis-a-vis Kim Jong Eun’s greatness.

However, the project has been plagued by electricity and material shortages from the beginning, sources say, and ultimately could not be completed. In some areas, the construction that did go ahead was poorly done and buildings have subsequently collapsed, which has caused deaths.

The source commented, “From Kim Jong Eun’s perspective the project was promoted so that he could say he was improving the people’s lives. But there were no raw materials and no power, and this caused poor construction; so ultimately it has just been abandoned.”

The North Korean authorities are only genuinely concerned about projects that offer short-term opportunities for public propagation of results, such as water parks and exercise facilities in downtown Pyongyang, the source went on to claim.

Meanwhile, the direct suffering caused by the failed project is falling primarily on those who were moved out of their homes in order for construction to start back in 2009. “In a number of cases, the Party ordered families to move out and live with others temporarily, and here we are, four years on, with multiple families living under one roof,” the source said, adding that the indignity of this is being compounded by mobilization orders calling on people without homes of their own to take part in downtown beautification and cleaning schemes.

I have have posted quite a bit of material on construction in Pyongyang in recent years.  Here are some of the more relevant articles:

1. Mansudae Area Renovation No. 1

2. Mansudae Area Renovation No. 2 

3. Kumgang Street

Read the full story here:
100,000 Homes Project Stopped Dead
Daily NK
Lee Sang Yong
2013-7-1

UPDATE 5 (2011-11-03): The Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) reports on the status of Pyongyang’s residential construction effort.

North Korea Pushing Forward with the Project of Constructing 100,000 Housing Units in Pyongyang

In order to celebrate Kim Il Sung’s centennial birthday next year on April 15, 2012, the plan to build 100,000 private homes in Pyongyang is quickly underway. North Korea has announced its intension to upgrade Pyongyang into a city with over 100,000 homes. Pyongyang’s district of Mansudae is to build over one thousand units of high-rise apartments (77 stories), theaters, parks and other recreational facilities.

The KCNA reported on October 11, “For the next Day of the Sun, Pyongyang will be completely transformed.” The news added, “The construction of private homes has been in progress for five months and is at 70 percent completion. Mansudae District is rapidly changing with skyscrapers and high-rise apartments appearing throughout the city. Construction of theaters and service facilities are also in development.”

Facing Mansudae is [East] Pyongyang [area], another area in Pyongyang under enhancement and has secured over 17,400 square meters of land for multi-purpose service facilities and 9,660 square meters for a public outdoor ice rink. The KCNA elaborated, “The multi-purpose facilities encompass bathhouses, beauty salons, and other latest facilities of convenience. In the public outdoor ice rink, circular ice rink, bleachers and cultural recreational facilities will be built to provide necessary environment for people to enjoy various ice sports.”

Rungrado Recreation Ground is also reported to be rejuvenated with a variety of amusement rides and multipurpose water park. The water park will be equipped with wave pools, waterslides, and health pools.

In addition, Pyongyang is focusing on gardening and exterior beautification projects for private homes and public buildings, including installation of colorful tiles and paints as well as bright neon signs in the streets.

“The Development Project of 100,000 Housing Units in Pyongyang” went into effect since 2009 but talks of reducing the project to 20,000 homes surfaced when it was faced with funding difficulties. However, the original plan of building 100,000 homes has not faltered and appears to be in full swing.

Early this year on January 3, a public rally was held at the Kim Il Sung Square with over 100,000 people present. At that time, the homebuilding project of Pyongyang was announced in which “Pyongyang City will be equipped to enter the era of strong and prosperous nation in all sectors.”

In July 2008, the General Bureau of Capital Construction began a large-scale redevelopment project. Completed a year later on September 2009, 600 old homes mostly built in the 1960s were demolished and in their place an apartment complex with over 800 homes went up. This project received undivided attention from Kim Jong Il, Chang Sung-Thaek, administrative director of the Worker’s Party of Korea, among many other top officials of North Korea.

For North Korea, “The Development Project of 100,000 Housing Units in Pyongyang” has become a symbol of building a strong and prosperous nation.

Additional information:
1. Previous posts on the DPRK’s “2012 Kangsong Taeguk” policies can be found here.

2. Previous posts on “Construction” can be found here.

3. The Pyongyang’s university students are (mostly) involved in construction projects.

4. See photos of the construction by Ray Cunningham here.

UPDATE 4 (2011-7-23): Housing unit construction revised down?


Pictured above (Goole Earth): New housing construction in Rakrang-guyok

For several years, the DPRK has been touting that it will build 100,000 new housing units by 2012. See here, here, and here for background.

This week, many South Korean news outlets reported that the DPRK had significantly downsized that number.  According to Yonhap:

North Korea has dramatically cut its goal of building 100,000 houses by next year, a government source said Monday, amid the North being economically squeezed by the international community for its nuclear and missile programs for years.

After the North started the project in Pyongyang in 2009, as part of its plans to achieve a strong and prosperous country by 2012, the North cut the number of planned houses by 75 percent to 25,000. The year 2012 marks the centennial of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s late founder.

The North, however, is continuing to repair a towering bronze statue of Kim and renovate around the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, where his embalmed body lies, the source said on condition of anonymity, citing policy.

Kim is the father of current leader, Kim Jong-il. The Kims are the subject of a massive personality cult that pervades almost every aspect of North Korean society.

Still, the North has embarked on a project to demolish buildings and facilities in central Pyongyang to make room for high-rise apartments, a theater and a park for senior officials.

The North has begun interior work on one of its landmarks, the 105-story Ryukyong Hotel, which stood unfinished in downtown Pyongyang for nearly 20 years due to a lack of capital.

In 2008, the North resumed construction of the skyscraper, but it appears unlikely for the project to be completed next year. It is believed, however, that the North will finish some floors for use.

The last time that KCTV mentioned the 100,000 housing unit goal was on May 26, 2011…nearly a month ago.  I will keep up to see if it is ever mentioned again.  I would not hold my breath waiting for a lower number to be announced, however.

Using satellite imagery of Pyongyang, I can see appx 200 residential buildings under construction.  They are mostly concentrated in Hyongjesan-guyok.  On average, each of these buildings would have to contain 500 housing units to reach 100,000.  This is not possible given the dimensions of the buildings we can see. Additionally, most of these facilities are a long way from being completed.  With a goal of 25,000, that would mean new buildings on average would only need to contain 125 units…a much more reasonable number.

In terms of residential construction, the government now seems to be focusing its efforts primarily on completing the second phase of the Mansudae Street renovations in time for Kim Il-sung’s 100th birthday. See here and here.

The prestigious units (visited by Kim Jong-il) that have been completed are all in Pyongyang’s Central District: Near the Potong Gate (Google Maps), Near Haebang Hill (Google Maps), and behind the Central Market (Google Maps).  I should point out, however, that these are not the only buildings to be completed.  Other less-prestigious buildings have been completed and occupied.  Also, many villages (ri, 리) outside the capital are being upgraded and provided new facilities.  I am not sure what the procedure is for deciding which villages receive new homes, but it can’t be random.  Being located next to a major highway seems to be an important variable (keeping up appearances).  I am also unsure what the DPRK does with all of the displaced residents. Are they going somewhere else to live with their families?  Are they living in temporary shelters?

The Daily NK and Choson Ilbo also covered this story.

UPDATE 3 (2011 -7-5): Several days ago, Yonhap reported that the DPRK had quietly reduced its goal of building 100,000 housing units by 2012. So of the 200+ buildings that are currently under construction, which projects are priorities? Mansudae Part II for sure (see here and here).  But what else? There are many construction sites that were launched well before the second renovation of the Mansudae area was begun, and the deadline for completion is rapidly approaching.

Well North Korea recently broadcast a propaganda television show touting Pyongyang’s housing construction (along with quite a lot of singing).  I was able to match up this North Korean television footage with satellite imagery of Pyongyang construction sites to help answer this question.  Given the amount of propaganda being used to promote these particular developments, I would say the following three are also 2012 priorities:

Ryongsong-guyok, Chonggye-dong (룡성구역, 청계동)

Click on images for larger versions.  See in Google Maps here.

Hyongjesan-guyok, Sopho-2 Dong (형제산구역, 서포2동)

Click on images for larger versions.  See in Google Maps here.

Rakrang-guyok, Tongsan-dong (락랑구역, 동산동)

Click on images for larger versions.  See in Google Maps here.

The DPRK also recently hosted an architecture expo in Pyongyang. I have uploaded a video of the event to YouTube, and you can watch it here. I was able to match up some of the projects (though not all) with current satellite imagery. Aside from the renovation of the Ryugyong Hotel, there is no publicly available satellite imagery showing that these projects have been launched.

Hyoksin Area (혁신)

Ryugyong Area (류경)

Additional Informaiton

1. So Marcus Noland was right.  They want tall buildings.

2. For several years now I have been tracking construction in Pyongyang.  See hereherehere, herehereherehere, and here.

UPDATE 2(2010-7-28): According to the Daily NK the construction has come to a halt:

The construction of 100,000 homes in Pyongyang has been put on hold due to a lack of cement. According to a Daily NK source, the project is around 40 percent complete.

The year’s aim is to finish 35,000 households out of the total 100,000 planned for construction. Work is due for completion by 2012.

The North Korean authorities had planned to construct 20,000 houses along the railroad from the Ryongseong-district via Seopo in the Hyeongjesan-district to the Ryeokpo-district and 25,000 houses in the center of the city. The schedule for laying the foundations has been set for September this year with plastering and interior works running until the end of the year.

The frame work of the houses, expected to finish by September, have been suspended due to lack of cement and other materials. A source commented that, “It was planned that general construction of frame works would finish in September but exterior construction has been halted due to a lack of materials.”

The North’s authorities have attempted to supply materials through the Sangwon Cement Complex, the Chollima Steel Mill Complex and other factories across the country. Annual production of cement in North Korea amounts to 6.4 million tons, approximately 12 percent of South Korea’s. However this is not enough to fuel general construction of key facilities such as social infrastructure and military facilities.

Large scale power plant constructions such as the Heecheon Power Plant combined with the building of 100,000 houses in Pyongyang have meant the shortage of cement is particularly acute.

Last year the North established the Pyongkeon Development Investment Group, attracting 320 million dollars of foreign capital. According to the plan submitted by the Group, 300,000 tons of cement are needed for foundation work in March alone.

Chosun Shinbo, the publication of the Chongryon (General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan), reported the construction of 35,000 houses was started in September last year. Since then, old houses in the districts have been torn down and neighborhoods rezoned. In March, the foundations of the houses were laid and the exterior frame work was built but construction has made little progress throughout June due to low cement levels.

The 100,000 household construction project in Pyongyang has been led by Jang Sung Taek, Director of the Ministry of Administration of the Workers’ Party, later appointed as the Vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission earlier this year at the Supreme People’s Assembly.

A source reported that, “Jang Sung Taek ordered foreign currency earning organizations to procure cement and that even selling coal should be considered.”

North Korea launched the state project to construct 100,000 houses in Pyongyang as a symbol of completion of the strong and prosperous state as part of a three-year campaign. Additionally, this project has been advertised as an achievement of the successor, Kim Jong Eun. If the plan fails then it will be a blow to the succession. If construction is suspended completely in advance of the Delegates’ Conference, happening in September, the image of Kim Jong Eun could be damaged.

UPDATE 1 (2010-5-2): Pyongyang’s 2012 renovations

Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times correspondent and author of the very interesting and enjoyable Nothing to Envy, was the first western journalist to write about Pyongyang’s construction boom and the DPRK’s goal of achieving a strong and prosperous nation  by the time of Kim Il-sung’s 100th birthday in 2012.  The article is a bit dated, but I thought it would be fun to go back and point out all of the construction projects she mentioned in Pyongyang (plus a few more).

Below are some blurbs from Demick’s article supplemented with satellite imagery:

Blurb 1: “Yet these days, high-rise apartments in shades of pink are taking shape near the Pueblo, the American spy ship captured in 1968 and still anchored in the river. A tangle of construction cranes juts into the skyline near Pothong Gate, a re-creation of the old city wall. About 100,000 units are to be built over the next four years.”

I have already blogged about the new housing near the Potong Gate (see here).  Here is the housing near the Pueblo (click on images for larger versions):

pueblo-housing-4-6-2005.JPG  pueblo-housing-11-12-2006.JPG  pueblo-housing-1-28-2009.JPG

The dates of the pictures are 4/6/2005, 11/12/2006, 1/28/2009). The original Los Angeles Times story had a picture of the completed building but that does not appear to have been archived.  Kernbeisser got a photo of the building under construction.

Blurb 2: “But South Korean companies and individuals have mostly ignored the political chill. Among the biggest players here are a unit of the Hyundai conglomerate, which operates the resort where the shooting occurred, and companies affiliated with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church, which also runs a car assembly plant in North Korea [Pyonghwa Motors]. The church last year completed work on what it calls the World Peace Center, behind the Potonggang Hotel, also owned by church affiliates.”

You can see a satellite image of Pyonghwa Motors plant near Nampo here.

Here is an image of the Potonggang Hotel.

Here is the World Peace Center.

Blurb 3: A Chinese company, meanwhile, is renovating the No. 1 Department Store in the heart of downtown.

Here is an image of Department Store No. 1.

Blurb 4: The Taedonggang Hotel, where Soviet dignitaries stayed in the 1960s and which burned down in 2002, is being restored as a five-star hotel. The Pyongyang Grand Theater, which stages revolutionary operas, is under renovation. The oldest and most elegant of the city’s movie theaters, the Taedongmun Cinema, was restored over the summer and used for screenings at the Pyongyang International Film Festival, which opened here last week.

Here are satellite images of the Taedonggang Hotel reconstruction:

taedong-hotel-8-6-2005.JPG taedong-hotel-11-12-2006.JPG taedong-hotel-12-26-2006.JPGtaedong-hotel-1-28-2009.JPG

Kernbeisser offers a great visual contrast between the hotel’s past and future. Click the links for images.

Here is an image of the Pyongyang Grand Theater under renovation.

Of course these places only scratch the surface of construction work in the DPRK in the last few years. I started to make a list of construction and refurbishment projects, but it got very long very fast.  Since I have other things to do on this lovely Sunday afternoon you will have to wait for me to get around to it at a later date.

ORIGINAL POST (2009-10-20): According to KCNA:

General Secretary Kim Jong Il went round newly-built apartment houses in Mansudae Street.

Saying that the newly-built apartment houses of new styles in the street are the most modern ones which fully reflect the plan and intention of the Party to provide the people with the best living conditions, he added that those apartment houses in the street serve as a model and standard for building dwelling houses to be used by all the people in a great prosperous and powerful nation.

He said that it is necessary to build in Pyongyang modern flats for 100,000 families, houses similar to those apartment houses standing in Mansudae Street, in a matter of a few years as an immediate task.

He expressed great expectation and conviction that all builders of the capital city would create new “Pyongyang Speed” in the era of Songun in the construction of the capital city and usher in “an era of prosperity of Pyongyang” in the new century just as the people created the world-startling “Pyongyang Speed” in the 1950s by building a flat for a family in just 14 minutes true to the Party’s policy of prefabricated construction after the war and as the people in the 1970s and the 1980s opened up “an era of prosperity of Pyongyang” by building many modern streets and great monumental edifices in a matter of 15 years and thus demonstrate once again to the whole world the revolutionary spirit of the service persons and people of the DPRK, successors to the great history and tradition.

 

The goal of constructing 100,000 flats has been repeated in KCNA since then: December 5, 2009, January 22, 2010, February 6, 2010, March 18, 2010.  In KCNA they have been careful not to declare a specific deadline for completion, but (thanks to a reader) in the monthly magazine Korea they have set Kim Il-sung’s 100th birthday in 2012 as the date.

I have blogged about and mapped the construction on Mansudae Street.  You can see the inside and outside of these buildings here.

So where will all these flats be located, and what does the construction look like? Below I have posted a GeoEye satellite image from Google Earth which highlights the residential construction areas (in yellow).

 

100-thousand-housing-overview-thumb.jpg

Click image for larger version

So it looks like the majority of the residential construction will be located in Hyongjiesan-kuyok (형제산 구역) in the north and Rakrang-kuyok (락랑 구역) in the south.

According to the June 7, 2010 DPRK evening news, it looks like soldiers are involved in the construction.  No surprise there.  It is unclear how many are involved.  Based on the image below I will let the “professionsals” determine which brigades are involved in the work:

 

construction-worker-2010-6-7.jpg

According to the same evening news broadcast, it looks like the workers have reached the second floor of at least one of these construciton areas.

As with the post-explosion reconstruction of Ryongchon (see images here),  the North Korean government is tearing down traditional, single-family houses and building “modern” high-rises in their place.  At this point the status of the former residents is unclear. Have they been moved into temporary housing (assuming they will get new flats once they are completed) or have they been permanently relocated to make room for the 100,000 lucky families?  (This method of residential development reminds me of Ceauşescu’s Romania.)

4-10-2009-py-housing-thumb.jpg

12-20-2009-py-housing-thumb.jpg

Click images for larger versions.  Top: April, 10, 2009  Bottom: December 20, 2009

Looking at the urban geography of the area I get the feeling that Jane Jacobs would be very disappointed.

 

hyongjiesanhousing-2009-thumb.jpg

Click image for larger version (rotated 90 degrees  –  so “north” is on the right, “south” on the left)

It seems like the new residents of the northern part of Hyongjiesan will be de facto residents of Sopho even though the railway line makes them separately distinct neighborhoods.  Sopho offers the closest train station and market. Residents at the southern end of the Hyongjiesan housing project will need to use a smaller market near the Sopyong Train Repair Factory (See satellite image here) and the West Pyongyang Railway Station.  Although the railway line defines the eastern border of Hyongjiesan District as of today there are only two places where commuters may cross over the tracks—at the West Pyognyang and Sopho Railway Stations. The distance between these two railway crossings is 3 miles (4.82 kilometers).

As of now, it appears there is little industry and few schools this far out of the city, so it is probable that most of the residents will be commuting into town.  However, none of the new housing is metro accessible.  Sopho receives bus service and the West Pyongyang Station receives bus and tram service. However the bus from the West Pyongyang Station to the Sopho Station lies to the east of the new housing and is separated by three miles of railway.  Adding more bus stops between the two stations and providing more railway crossings from the east side to the west side of the tracks would be very helpful in reducing the amount of walking residents would need to take. Somehow, I do not think that will happen.

As for the buses, with only one line to service 100,000 families look for them to be crowded.  It is possible that a commuter rail-line could easily transport workers to the center of town (like in Hamhung), but that might be wishful thinking at this point.

And finally, although the 100,000 families that do end up living in these homes will theoretically enjoy newer, higher-quality housing, their movements in and out of the buildings can be more easily monitored by inminban (인민반) than those in the single-family homes. In the traditional single-family homes there are multiple avenues to enter and leave the neighborhood, but when everyone uses the same door to enter and leave, residents’ activities can be more easily monitored.

So why not build more high-rises in the center of town where people actually work? These kinds of planning snafus are reflected in most socialist cities and are (unfortunately) predictable. To learn more about the urban economics of planned cities, I recommend not just  Jane Jacobs but also “The Urban Dimension of the North Korean Economy: A Speculative Analysis” by Bertrand Renaud.  Read his full chapter here.  Lots of good stuff from them.

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2013 plenary meeting of WPK Central Committee and 7th session of Supreme People’s Assembly

Monday, April 1st, 2013

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.

Here is a video of Kim Jong-un’s speech:

Here is a transcript of the speech in English.

The strategy of pursuing both economic development and nuclear power was highlighted in both the DPRK and international media: Pyongyang Times, Joong Ang Ilbo, New York Times, Yonhap, Choson Ilbo.

Here is analysis from IFES:

Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea Stresses Development of Agricultural, Light, and Nuclear Industries
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2013-4-4

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.

Michael Madden does a great job summarizing the personnel changes made at the party and SPA in this 38 North piece.

The elevation of Pak Pong-ju received much attention in the west: Daily NK, Washington Post, Yonhap, Reuters,

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.

And…

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.

And…

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.

And…

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.

And…

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.

And…

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.

And…

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.

Additional information:
1. Here and here is KCTV footage of the SPA meeting.

2. Here is a link to all the info for the 6th session of the SPA. It contains links to sessions 1-5 as well.

3. On 5.31 news of economic adjustment measures announced during the meetings was published.

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