Archive for the ‘Electricity’ Category

DPRK’s 2015 drought (UPDATED)

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Lake-Yonphung-2014-4-7

Lake-Yonphung-2014-9-12

Pictured above in Google Earth: (Top) Lake Yongphung 2014-4-7 (Bottom) Lake Yongphung 2014-9-12

UPDATE 27 (2015-8-13): Reliefweb reports CERF aid to the DPRK for drought relief:

Central Emergency Response Fund allocates US$6.3 million for Drought Response in DPR Korea

A long period of abnormally dry weather affecting DPR Korea has resulted in drought, impacting agricultural production, reducing access to water and leading to a deterioration of health, nutrition and sanitary conditions. Approximately 18 million people, dependent on Public Distribution System rations are affected and at risk of food insecurity, malnutrition and waterborne diseases.

As the United Nations and humanitarian partners step up their support to national relief efforts in the lead up to the peak of the lean season, US$6.3 million was allocated from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to respond to urgent needs. This funding enables UN agencies to rapidly scale up response operations and provide 1.3 million people, including 790,000 women and children, with life-saving assistance in four of the most affected provinces of South Hwanghae, North Hwanghae, South Pyongan and South Hamgyong.

“The availability of CERF funds allows us to kick-start life-saving response to communities affected by drought”, said the United Nations Resident Coordinator to the DPR Korea, Mr. Tapan Mishra. “The critical funds will help reduce incidence of diarrhoea and other non-communicable diseases, caused by a lack of access to safe water. The funds will also be used to combat malnutrition exacerbated by a lack of access to food, water and the increase incidence of waterborne diseases.”

CERF funds are insufficient to meet the urgent needs of all the affected communities, particularly where chronic humanitarian needs are exacerbated by the drought. DPR Korea remains critically underfunded, with only 36 per cent of funding received for humanitarian programmes in 2015.

“Additional funding sources continue to be urgently required as humanitarian operations in DPR Korea remain underfunded,” emphasized Mr. Mishra. “Humanitarian and political issues must be kept separate in order to ensure we can respond to the needs of the most vulnerable, especially women and children.”

Xinhua also reported on this (2015-8-19):

The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has 6.3 million U.S. dollars for drought response in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and UN agencies and humanitarian partners are stepping up their support to national relief efforts in the lead up to the peak of the lean season, a UN spokesperson told reporters here Tuesday.

“The resident and humanitarian coordinator for the DPRK, Tapan Mishra, said that a long period of abnormally dry weather affecting the country has resulted in drought, impacting agricultural production, reducing access to water and leading to a deterioration of health, nutrition and sanitary conditions,” UN associate spokesperson Vannina Maestracci said at a daily news briefing.

“An estimated 18 million people, dependent on Public Distribution System rations, have been affected and are at risk of food insecurity, malnutrition and waterborne diseases,” she said.

Rainfall figures and information from humanitarian agencies and the government indicated that parts of the DPRK are already facing serious drought. North Hwanghae, South Hamgyong and South Hwanghae are most affected provinces by the decline in rainfall, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in early July.

UNICEF officials have recently met with local health officials in affected provinces who confirm reports of significant increases in diarrhea among children, as the absence of rain threatens access to safe water and sanitation.

“Lack of rain reduces access to clean water and undermines effective hygiene, putting children’s lives at risk,” said UNICEF Regional Director Daniel Toole. “The UNICEF has already received reports that the incidence of diarrhea, globally a leading cause of death among young children — has increased seriously in the first six months of 2015 in the drought-affected provinces.”

The UNICEF has released prepositioned emergency supplies to help those in the worst-affected provinces, including water purification tablets, water storage containers and health supplies for children with severe acute malnutrition. Training on how to treat children with severe acute malnutrition has also been stepped up.

The UN agency will take time to ensure life-saving water. Hygiene, medical supplies, and the expertise to use them, are available at the levels required should the drought continue.

The drought-affected provinces are key sources of DPRK staple food crops. The UNICEF warned if the main harvest fails in those provinces food may become scarce across the country, which could dramatically increase the numbers of children at serious risk.

An earlier report indicated that CERF had delivered US$2m to the DPRK in the first half of 2015. According to VOA (2015-1-26):

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos has allocated about $100 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to boost relief work in 12 countries, including North Korea.

But only about $2 million will be given to the communist country for the first half of this year, a 70 percent plunge from the beginning of last year.

The decrease comes as the need for emergency assistance has risen sharply in Syria and surrounding countries.

UPDATE 26 (2015-8-11): Reliefweb (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) has published an update on the status of the 2015 drought:

For the last eighteen months, a long period of abnormally dry weather has affected DPR Korea (DPRK) affecting agricultural production, reducing access to water and leading to a deterioration of health, nutrition and sanitary conditions.

According to official meteorological data, all provinces in DPRK have experienced less rainfall than the average, however the difference in the level of rainfall was most severe in May and June. In May 2015, total rainfall was 57% below the average. A partial failure of the early harvest of 18% is expected. If weather conditions persist, the main crop harvest (September/October) is also likely to be severely impacted.

Provinces produce specific crops, with some producing more than provincial requirements and some with less. Provinces then import or export depending on their production levels which is then complemented by the Government food ration provided through the Public Distribution System (PDS). As the drought has severely affected the major food producing provinces this has impacted the whole country.

You can download the full report (PDF) here.

UPDATE 25 (2015-7-15): Writing in 38 North, Randall Ireson asks if the drought is over…

After a month of concern, DPRK farmers have received substantial rains in the last few days, which will at the very least break the current drought. Except for Sinuiju on the Chinese border, weather stations in the western farming region have reported between 3.5 and 7.5 inches of rain between July 10 and 14, with similar amounts falling in Kangwon province.

This is very good news, and will provide adequate moisture for the main crops for the immediate future. The next week is expected to be dry, but another smaller weather system is expected over the weekend. If rainfall for the remainder of the year is at or near normal amounts, adverse effects of the recent dry months will be limited. But July rainfall is still less than half of normal, and crops will need substantial rain into August to insure normal development.

Read the full story here.

UPDATE 24 (2015-7-14): According to Marcus Noland:

Well, the rains came and it appears that the worst will be avoided. According to the Ministry of Unification, after May rains only reached 55 percent of their normal levels, precipitation picked up in June, reaching 90 percent of the norm. While the fall harvest may be adversely affected, the normal June-July monsoon type rains are most critical for most crops (see figure 1 of the GIEWS Update if you’re really into it).

This doesn’t mean North Korea is completely out of the woods or some might not suffer. UNICEF is reporting an upsurge in children’s diarrhea, a leading cause of death among children worldwide. According to UNICEF Regional Director Daniel Toole, “Lack of rain reduces access to clean water and undermines effective hygiene, putting children’s lives at risk.” The agency reports increases in childhood diarrhea: a 71 percent increase in North Hwanghae province; a 34 percent increase in South Hamgyong province; and a 140 percent increase in South Hwanghae province for the first six months of the year. As I observed in an earlier post, the sensitivity of the population to such shocks is heightened by the pre-existing poor nutritional status of many children in North Korea.

To make matters worse, the FAO reported last week that authorities had cut the July distributions through the public distribution system (PDS) to “310 grams per person per day, a 25 percent decrease from the previous month. Between January and June 2015, the average food ration was 410 grams per person per day.” This isn’t good news, but not clear how bad this news is either: the PDS had become largely irrelevant for much of the population, particularly the most vulnerable groups which have more or less operated outside of it for 20 years. Nevertheless, even though most North Korean households do not rely on the PDS for most of their consumption needs, a cut in rations does hurt at the margin, and could be propagated throughout the society if those who do get food via the PDS turn to the market, putting upward pressure on prices there.

UPDATE 23 (2015-7-10): In an IFES report, the DPRK asserts that food production has increased over the last few years due to agricultural adjustment policies like the 6.28 Measures or the 5.30 Measures.

Despite Drought Last Year, Food Production Increased Due to Field Responsibility System

North Korea experienced its biggest drought in 100 years last year. However, North Korea claims that this did not affect its food production. North Korean authorities are claiming the main factor behind the increased food production is the will of farmers to produce more after the expansion of the “field management system,” or pojon tamdangje.

In an interview with the weekly newspaper, Tongil Sinbo, Chi Myong Su, director of the Agricultural Research Institute of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the DPRK commented, “the effectiveness of field management system (pojon) from cooperative farm production unit system (bunjo) is noticeable and succeeded in increasing grain production despite the adverse weather conditions.”

The field management system under the bunjo management system or the subworkteam management system divides the work unit consisting of 10-25 people into smaller units of 3-5 people, responsible for farming a smaller unit of a field. This is a measure to increase the “responsibility and ownership of farmers.”

From the July 1st Economic Management Improvement Measures enforced in 2002, the autonomy of cooperative farms and enterprises expanded. The “field management system” was piloted from early 2004 in Suan, North Hwanghae Province and Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province, but was suspended soon afterward. However, this system is reported to have been implemented widely after the first National Conference of Subworkteam Leaders in the Agricultural Sector was held in Pyongyang in February 2014.

Economic principles behind the field responsibility system are stated as, “under the sub-work team structure, a smaller subworkteam consisting of 2 to 3 families or 3 to 4 people depending on the scale and means of production, is responsible for a specific field or plot (pojon) from planting to harvest stage to inspire farmers with enthusiasm for production by distributing the shares of production in accordance with the output of production planning.”

The newspaper added, “Despite the adverse weather conditions last year, the high grain yield was possible due to implementation of scientific farming methods and field management system to increase enthusiasm of farmers,” and “based on this experience, many cooperative farms across the country will expand subworkteam management system to field management system.”

Director Chi stated, “Since the field management system was implemented, farmers’ labor capacity increased to 95 percent. The planting time for corn and rice that took 20 to 30 days in the past is shortened to 10 to 15 days. In the autumn season, grain threshing that took 50 days is now only taking 10 days. This is changing the farming landscape.”

In addition, the distribution shares for farmers increased as well as the state’s procurement last year. This is attributed to “socialist distribution principles that distributed grains produced to farmers in-kind based on their efforts after excluding a specified amount of grain procured by the state.”

He added, “There are quite a number of farming households that received several decades worth of distribution after a year of farming. There is an increasing number of families with growing patriotism to increase the amount of grain procurement to the state.”

UPDATE 22 (2015-7-10): The South Korean Ministry of Unification reports that the drought has eased. According to Yonhap:

The Unification Ministry said Friday that a severe drought that hit North Korea appears to have considerably eased since June as rainfall has almost reached last year’s level in many areas.

North Korea has been grappling with what it called the worst drought in 100 years, sparking concerns about food shortages. South Korea earlier predicted that the North’s crop production could fall by as much as 20 percent if the lack of rain continues into early July.

The ministry said the dry spell seems to have eased in North Korea though several areas in the northeast and midwest provinces are still suffering from the drought.

“North Korea had suffered from severe drought across the nation until May. But it seemed that since July, the situation has considerably eased,” Jeong Joon-hee, ministry spokesman, said in a press briefing.

“But some provinces such as Hwanghae and Hamgyeong provinces are still grappling with prolonged drought, which warrants a close watch,” he added.

The ministry said that the average precipitation in May reached 54.5 percent of that recorded a year earlier. But in June, the rainfall increased to hit almost 90 percent of the level recorded in the same period last year.

Seoul earlier said that it is willing to provide support for North Korea in coping with the drought if the country makes a formal request. There has been no request from Pyongyang.

“Currently, the South government is not considering providing food aid to the North,” said a ministry official, asking not to be named.

UPDATE 21 (2015-7-10): VOA reports that food rations have been cut:

Drought-hit North Korea has reduced food distribution, an official of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Thursday.

Cristina Coslet, FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System officer in charge of Far East Asia, told VOA the North Korean government informed the agency that the country’s food ration for July was 310 grams per person per day, a 25 percent decrease from the previous month. Between January and June 2015, the average food ration was 410 grams per person per day.

Coslet said a severe drought is affecting the country’s crop production.

“We assume that this is mainly because early planted crops – wheat, barley, potato – decreased considerably,” said Coslet in a phone interview with VOA.

Coslet expected this year’s production of potatoes and winter wheat to drop by more than 20 percent from the previous year.

The FAO official said the early season harvest is relatively small, but it is an important food source for North Koreans.

“Spring crops are vital for food security, being an important food source for the lean season, which stretches from May to September,” said Coslet.

Coslet added, however, that it is still too early to estimate the final harvest, as rainfall in the coming weeks is crucial.

Despite the dismal forecast, the communist country is not known to have sought food assistance from U.N. agencies or Western countries.

UPDATE 20 (2015-7-9): Stephan Haggard offers analysis here.

UPDATE 19 (2015-7-9): UNICEF is worried about the impact of drought. According to the AFP:

A serious drought in North Korea requires urgent action to prevent the deaths of children already weakened by widespread malnutrition, the U.N. children’s fund, UNICEF, warned Thursday.

“The situation is urgent. But if we act now — by providing urgently needed expertise and pre-positioning supplies — we can save lives,” said UNICEF East Asia Regional Director Daniel Toole.

“If we delay until we are certain of crop failures, it may well be too late to save the most vulnerable children,” Toole said in a statement.

North Korea is currently suffering what its official media described last month as the “worst drought in 100 years.” It has severely impacted main rice-growing areas.

According to the U.N. World Food Program, early-harvest crops, mainly wheat and barley, have already been affected.

UNICEF said its personnel had recently met with local health officials in affected provinces who confirmed reports of significant increases in diarrhoea among children.

“Lack of rain reduces access to clean water and undermines effective hygiene, putting children’s lives at risk,” Toole said.

Concern about the impact of the drought is heightened by the existing poor nutritional status of many children in North Korea.

A 2012 study showed one-quarter of all North Korean children had symptoms of chronic malnutrition — a condition usually caused by a combination of unsafe water and poor sanitation, low food intake, and inadequate access to health services.

Toole said responding to the current drought crisis was difficult given North Korea’s isolation and the lack of funding for children-focused programs in the country.

But UNICEF has released pre-positioned emergency supplies to help those in the worst-affected provinces, including water purification tablets, water storage containers and health supplies for children with acute malnutrition.

UPDATE 18 (2015-7-9): A visitor to North Korea has sent this third drought poster. This poster was never published in Rodong Sinmun or KCNA. I have worked to translate it as best as possible, but still not quite there:

z2015-Drought-poster-3z

물절약형농법=An Agricultural Methods to Save Water
밍른봉 얕은갈이=Shallow tillage in early spring
영양알모재배 (?)=Cultivation methodology?
물원전학보관리 (?)=Management of water resources?
간단물대기=Simple irrigation
농업생산에서 일대 전환을!=A complete change/shift through agricultural production!

UPDATE 17 (2015-7-3): Associated Press covers drought in Unpha.

UPDATE 16 (2015-7-1): UN OCHA posts this document on the drought.

UPDATE 15 (2016-6-26): Associated Press covers drought in Hwangju County:

The protracted drought is heightening worries about North Korea’s ability to feed its people. Two-thirds of North Korea’s 24 million people faced chronic food shortages, the United Nations said earlier this month while asking donors for $198 million in humanitarian aid for the country.

Even in South Phyongan and North and South Hwanghae provinces, which are traditionally North Korea’s “breadbasket,” thousands of hectares (acres) of crops are withering away despite good irrigation systems, local officials said.

Reservoirs are drying up, creating irrigation problems for farmers, said Ri Sun Pom, chairman of the Rural Economy Committee of Hwangju County.

A group of female soldiers with yellow towels tied around their heads fanned out across a farm in Kohyon-ri, Hwangju county, North Hwanghae province, with buckets to help water the fields. An ox pulled a cart loaded with a barrel of water while fire engines and oil tankers were mobilized to help transport water.

The North Korean villages of Kohyon-ri and Ryongchon-ri were among several areas that journalists from The Associated Press visited in recent days.

Pak Tok Gwan, management board chairman of the Ryongchon Cooperative Farm in North Korea, said late last week that the farm could lose half its corn without early rain.

Mountainous North Korea, where less than 20 percent of the land is arable, has relied on outside food aid to help make up for a chronic shortage since natural disasters and outmoded agricultural practices led to a famine in the 1990s. North Korean farmers still face shortages of fuel, tractors, quality seeds and fertilizer, the U.N. said in a report earlier this month. Many irrigation systems rely on electrically powered pumping stations in a country with unstable power supplies, the report noted.

On Tuesday, North Korean state media reported record-high temperatures in Pyongyang and other cities in the southwest.

UPDATE 14 (2015-6-25): Yonhap offers a comprehensive story on the drought:

N. Korea claims worst drought in 100 years

SEOUL (Yonhap) — North Korea has claimed again it is suffering from the worst drought in 100 years, while some foreign experts expressed skepticism, saying that the North may be exaggerating the situation in hopes of getting international aid.

The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on June 16 the worst drought in 100 years continues in the country, causing great damage to its agricultural fields.

The KCNA said rice-transplanting has been finished in more than 441,560 hectares of paddies across the country as of June 8, but at least 136,200 hectares of them are becoming parched.

The granaries in North and South Hwanghae provinces and South Pyongan and South Hamgyong provinces have been badly damaged, it claimed.

“Drought dries up rice-seedlings in nearly 80 percent and 58 percent of paddy fields in South and North Hwanghae provinces,” the North’s mouthpiece said, adding that the water level of reservoirs is at its lowest, while rivers and streams are getting dry.

North Korea experts expect the country’s grain production this year to drop substantially if the drought continues through July, which could deal a further blow to its chronic food shortage problem.

A severe drought may reduce North Korea’s rice harvest by 12 percent this year from a year earlier, a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. showed on June 20, warning of the worsening food shortage in the impoverished country.

The latest FAO report put North Korea’s rice production at an estimated 2.3 million tons for this year, compared with the country’s rice harvest of 2.6 million tons a year earlier.

The estimated production may be less than the average amount of rice produced annually over the past five years, it added.

About one-fourth of North Korea’s total 544,000 hectares of rice paddies are being affected by the drought, the report also noted.

The drought may also eat into the country’s production of double crop products, like potatoes, wheat and barley, according to the report, which put the estimated amount at 277,000 tons this year.

North Korea’s North Hwanghae Province, which accounts for a majority of crop production, is sustaining severe damage from the drought, the report said.

North Korea is also reported to be suffering from severe electricity shortages as power generation in hydro power plants, which account for more than 60 percent of the North’s electricity generation, has been hit hard by the drought.

Reuters reported on May 30 that many hydro power plants in North Korea have suspended operation, reducing the nation’s power generation by half.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, North Korea’s electricity generation stood at 19 billion kilowatts in 2012, less than 5 percent of South Korea’s electricity generation in the same year.

There are also reports that North Korea’s claim of the “worst drought in 100 years” was exaggerated.

The drought now gripping North Korea is not yet a “catastrophe,” a U.S. agricultural expert said on June 18, suggesting that the socialist country may be exaggerating the situation.

The report came days after the South’s unification ministry forecast that the North’s grain production will likely drop by up to 20 percent this year from 2014 if a shortage of rainfall continues until early July.

“We need to be a bit cautious before anticipating a new disaster,” said Randall Ireson in an article carried by the website 38 North, citing previous examples in which the North warned of a disaster, but the situation later improved.

“Early last year, the DPRK government also warned about a drought crisis, but later rains allowed a recovery — while rice production fell about 10 percent from 2013, maize production hit a new high,” he said.

In 2012, the North also claimed another “worst drought in a century,” but ultimately a harvest of 4.92 million tons of grain equivalent, which is consistent with the surrounding years, ensued, the expert said.

“The KCNA article claims that no rain has fallen in South and North Hwanghae provinces. That is hyperbole,” he said, adding that precipitation data show a total of 181 millimeters at Haeju and 102 mm at Sariwon since March.

“While substantially below the historical average (330 mm for Haeju, unavailable at Sariwon), it is hardly ‘no rain,'” he said.

Rain has also fallen in the last few days in what could be the beginning of an annual monsoon season, he said.

“So while one has a right to be concerned, it’s not yet a catastrophe. If the rains of the last few days presage the arrival of the monsoon, then all may turn out fine. If there’s no change in the next couple of weeks, then we should start to worry,” he said.

The U.S. State Department also has ruled out a plan to give aid to North Korea in relation with the current drought.

The Voice of America reported on June 3, quoting a department spokesman, that the department has no plan to offer aid to North Korea at present and North Korea has not asked the U.S. for help yet.

Meanwhile, South Korea said it is ready to support North Korea, Seoul’s pointman on inter-Korean affairs has said.

Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said on June 24 that Seoul is willing to offer the necessary support to the North if the North’s situation deteriorates, but added that the South will wait for Pyongyang’s request.

“At a time when the two Koreas are coping with drought, I think that this situation can be a chance to promote cooperation,” Hong said in a meeting with a group of reporters. “If North Korea faces tougher situations, South Korea is willing to provide the necessary support to North Korea.”

He did not elaborate on the kinds of support.

Seoul, however, does not have any immediate plans to make such a proposal to the North pre-emptively, he said, hinting that Seoul needs Pyongyang’s request for help.

“The South is carefully reviewing how to approach this matter,” he added.

In 2014, the North reported its lowest amount of rainfall in 15 years and the United Nations has warned that North Korea is likely to suffer from serious food shortages this year.

The North has relied on international handouts since 1995 to help feed its people in the face of chronic food shortages.

A U.N. report showed that about 70 percent of North Korea’s 24.6 million people suffer from food shortages and 1.8 million, including children and pregnant women, are in need of nutrition.

Meanwhile, Hong expressed regret over the North’s boycott of the upcoming Summer Universiade in South Korea due to political reasons, saying that the sports competition could be a good chance for dialogue.

The North issued a rare statement on June 15 that it is ready to hold dialogue with Seoul if certain conditions are met, including the suspension of the South’s joint military drills with the United States. North Korea, however, took tough measures less than 10 days after the dialogue proposal, including the boycott of the Universiade and sentencing two South Koreans it has detained to lifetime compulsory labor, accusing them of spying for South Korea’s intelligence agency.

UPDATE 13 (2015-6-23): Associated Press publishes images of drought in Nampho.

UPDATE 12 (2015-6-22): Anna Fifield reports in the Washington Post that the chances of a famine returning are slim.

UPDATE 11 (2015-6-22): Marcus Noland offers analysis here.

UPDATE 10 (2015-6-20): Drought may cut N. Korea’s 2015 rice harvest by 12 pct: FAO. According to Yonhap:

A severe drought may reduce North Korea’s rice harvest by 12 percent this year from a year earlier, a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. showed Saturday, warning of the worsening food shortage in the communist country.

The recent FAO report put North Korea’s rice production at an estimated 2.3 million tons for this year, compared with the country’s rice harvest of 2.6 million tons a year earlier.

The estimated production may be less than the average amount of rice produced annually over the past five years, it added.

About one-fourth of North Korea’s total 544,000 hectares of rice paddies are being affected by the drought, the report also noted.

The drought may also eat into the country’s production of double crop products, like potato, wheat and barley, according to the report, which put the estimated amount to 277,000 tons this year.

North Korea’s North Hwanghae province, which accounts for a majority of crop production, is sustaining severe damage from the drought, the report said.

UPDATE 9 (2015-6-19): The Daily NK is reporting in an article price information that is different than its exchange rate/rice price table. Here is a small table that shows the difference:

DailyNK-price-discrepancy-2015-6-19

The exchange rate and rice price differences are not all that significant, and could be related to variations in when they were collected. However, the article text implies that potatoes are the only crop seeing more significant price increases at the moment (and only in Hyesan):

 

According to an inside source, the cost of potatoes in Yangkang Province’s Hyesan Agricultural Market is approximately 2,000 KPW per kg. This represents a massive 1,300 KPW rise when compared to last year’s prices. It’s quite rare to see the cost of potatoes shoot up to the 2,000 KPW mark. This has sent residents into a minor panic. For the same price, it would have been possible to buy about three times as many potatoes this same time last year. This is putting a strain on many residents’ ability to put together a nutritious meal. At the Hyesan jangmadang, corn is selling for 1,800 KPW per kg. Next to that figure, it’s plain to see that the relative cost of potatoes is exorbitantly high. Residents can protest, but at the end of the day, they don’t have any better options.

The article lists other prices, but does not explain any price changes, so I do not know if they have significnatly increased:

Moving along, the cost of 1 kg of corn was 2,400 KPW in Pyongyang and Sinuiju and 2,600 KPW in Hyesan. One kg of pork was selling at 14,000 KPW in Pyongyang, 14,300 KPW in Sinuiju, and 15,000 KPW in Hyesan. Gasoline was trading at 9,450 KPW per kg in Pyongyang and Sinuiju and at 8,450 KPW per kg in Hyesan. Finally, 1 kg of diesel fuel was selling at 5,100 KPW in Pyongyang and 5,200 KPW in Sinuiju and Hyesan. This has been a weekly rundown on North Korea’s latest market prices.

And if you noticed in the above two quotes, the article gives two prices for the price of corn in Hyesan (1,800 and 2,600), so I am not sure what to make of that.

UPDATE 8 (2015-6-18): Marcus Noland offers analysis here and here.

UPDATE 7 (2015-6-18): China Says it is willing to help drought-hit North Korea (Reuters):

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the government was willing to help drought-stricken North Korea, after the isolated country said it was suffering its worst drought in a century.

“Our sympathy goes out to the People’s Republic of Korea that is suffering from extremely serious drought, and it is our hope that the government and people will overcome the disaster as soon as possible,” spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing, using North Korea’s official name.

“China is willing to provide the aid that is needed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” he added, without providing details.

The US says it has no plans to assist the DPRK in the event of a drought. According to Yonhap:

The United States said Wednesday it has no plans to provide food aid to North Korea amid concern food shortages in the impoverished communist nation could significantly worsen due to what the country calls the worst drought in a century.

“I’ve seen the reports about the drought. I don’t have any specific information about the validity of the drought,” U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a regular briefing in response to a question about the North’s report.

Asked if the U.S. would consider providing food aid, Kirby said, “I’m not aware of any such plans. No.”

UPDATE 6 (2015-6-18): In 38 North, Randall Ireson reports we should take a care when assessing the impact of North Korea’s drought.

The KCNA article claims that no rain has fallen in South and North Hwanghae provinces. That is hyperbole. Precipitation data show a total of 181 mm at Haeju and 102 mm at Sariwon since March. While substantially below the historical average (330 mm for Haeju, unavailable at Sariwon), it is hardly “no rain.” In both locations there were substantial rains in the last several days (61 mm in Haeju, 48 mm in Sariwon). Other locations show a similar pattern of sharply lower rainfall than average, but a recent uptick: Pyongyang has had 143 mm since March, 27 mm in the last week, compared to a March-June average of 230 mm. Anju reported 202 mm since March, 78 mm last week, against a March-June average of 320 mm.[7] So while one has a right to be concerned, it’s not yet a catastrophe. If the rains of the last few days presage the arrival of the monsoon, then all may turn out fine. If there’s no change in the next couple of weeks, then we should start to worry.

Read the full report here.

UPDATE 5 (2015-6-18): The Daily NK reports that the price of rice is basically constant in Pyongyang and Sinuiju this year, though the price shows significant variation in Hyesan:

 Daily-NK-2015-food-prices

UPDATE 4 (2015-6-16): KCNA reports drought this year:

The worst drought in 100 years continues in the DPRK, causing great damage to its agricultural field.

According to data available, rice-transplanting has been finished in over 441 560 hectares of paddy fields across the country as of June 8, but at least 136 200 hectares of them are parching up.

The granaries including North and South Hwanghae provinces and South Phyongan and South Hamgyong provinces have been badly damaged.

Drought dries up rice-seedlings in nearly 80 percent and 58 percent of paddy fields in South and North Hwanghae provinces.

According to the State Hydro-meteorological Administration, no rainfall has been witnessed in North and South Hwanghae provinces.

Water level of reservoirs stands at the lowest, while rivers and streams getting dry.

Other crops are planted in paddy fields of drought-stricken areas as part of the campaign to reduce damage.

UPDATE 3 (2015-6-11): WFP on standby for possible N. Korea drought. According to Yonhap:

The United Nations food agency is closely monitoring the weather conditions in North Korea in order to send emergency assistance there in case of a protracted dry spell, the agency’s regional director in Asia said Wednesday.

South Korea said a day earlier that food production in North Korea may fall by 20 percent on-year if the current drought continues until early July.

“The concern is going to grow week by week until we get closer to the traditional July harvest,” David Kaatrud of the World Food Program (WFP) told Yonhap News Agency in an interview. “So our role is to not only be vigilant … but also stand ready should assistance be required to change our operation toward relief related to any type of food insecurity.”

Last month, North Korea received less than 60 percent of the average monthly rainfall recorded between 1981 and 2010. Precipitation reached a 15-year low last year, with the U.N. warning of severe food shortages should the dry weather there continue.

The WFP has mainly focused on providing nutrition to the most vulnerable, or about 2.4 million children and women, for the past two years.

It recently extended the two-year project, slated to end this month, through the end of 2015.

“We need enough time to refine the intervention we’re doing now,” he said. “The broad contours of what we will be doing next would be very similar to what you see now — it will continue to be focused on a targeted nutrition intervention because that’s what’s required there.”

He reiterated that the WFP was ready to shift its targeted intervention to a more widespread one in case of a severe food crisis.

“But we don’t have any indications (of that) yet,” he said.

The North has relied on international assistance since 1995 to help feed its people in the face of chronic food shortages.

About 70 percent of its people lack food and 1.8 million, including children and pregnant women, are malnourished, according to U.N. data.

The WFP is the U.N.’s largest humanitarian aid arm, accounting for more than 60 percent of the world’s food assistance.

South Korea’s contributions to WFP operations globally reached US$31 million last year.

The two sides held their first annual consultations Wednesday, cementing their commitment for the Zero Hunger Challenge pioneered by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The challenge aims to ensure that every person has a right to adequate food.

UPDATE 2 (2015-6-9): N. Korea’s crop production may fall 20% in drought. According to Yonhap:

North Korea is likely to see its food production fall by up to 20 percent this year from 2014 if a shortage of rainfall continues until early July, a Unification Ministry official said Tuesday.

In May, precipitation in North Korea reached 57 percent of the average rainfall recorded between 1981 and 2010, according to the official.

In 2014, the North reported its smallest rainfall in 15 years and the United Nations has warned that North Korea is likely to suffer from serious food shortages this year due to drought.

North Korea’s crop production could decline by 15 to 20 percent this year compared to last year if it continues to see a rainfall shortage until early July, the official said.

The North is expected to see its food production fall by only 5 to 10 percent if the lack of rainfall continues into early June. In that case, North Korea is believed to be focusing on producing maize as an alternative to rice.

“This year, the supply of fertilizer is not smooth, compared with last year,” said the official, asking not to be named.

The North has relied on international handouts since 1995 to help feed its people in the face of chronic food shortages.

A U.N. report showed that about 70 percent of North Korea’s 24.6 million people suffer from food shortages and 1.8 million, including children and pregnant women, are in need of nutrition.

Last year, the North suffered from a severe drought in the spring, but managed to produce crops at a level similar to that of 2013 due mainly to the use of preserved water.

The official said that the North’s agricultural reforms might have helped it maintain the food production last year, but this year’s situation may bode ill, given that fertilizer availability is worse.

In 2012, the North announced the so-called “6.28 measures” that centered on allowing farmers to keep 30 percent of their production quota plus any excess over the quota. Last year, it unveiled a new set of reforms that call for raising the farmers’ portion to 60 percent.

UPDATE 1 (2015-6-3): KCNA reports that two posters have been produced to instruct/motivate people to overcome hardships brought on by drought:

KCNA-2015-6-3-Drought-posters

According to Anna Fifield at the Washington Post, the posters say  “Everybody fight against the drought!” and “Let’s all fight powerfully against the drought!”.

ORIGINAL POST (2015-5-31): On 2015-5-11 I reported in Radio Free Asia that many of North Korea’s reservoirs have shown a fall in water levels from 2012 to 2014. This was more evidence of a drought that had struck the country in 2014, and that if it continued, it could affect food and electricity production.

On May 30, Reuters reports that the UN is warning of another drought:

A drought in North Korea could lead to huge food shortages this year, the top U.N. official in the country told Reuters in an interview.

Rainfall in 2014, the lowest in records going back 30 years, was 40-60 percent below 2013 levels, and reservoirs are very low, said Ghulam Isaczai, the U.N. resident coordinator.

“We’re extremely concerned with the impact of drought which will affect the crop this year severely. And we might be faced with another major incident of food availability or even hunger,” said Isaczai. “It is going to create a huge deficit between the needs and what is available.”

If El Nino weather conditions bring more drought this year, the situation in 2016 could be even worse, he warned.

“This is currently the rice-planting season. Normally they submerge the land almost a week or two in advance. But this year, I’ve seen it myself – they’re doing it in the dry, actually planting rice. So what we’re hearing right now is that they’re switching to maize and corn because that requires less water.”

Some farmers, already struggling with a shortage of fuel and equipment, have resorted to using buckets to water seedlings, he said. The effect of North Korea’s lack of agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation systems was visible on the border, where “dry and harsh” North Korean land met green fields in China.

A famine in the 1990s killed as many as 1 million North Koreans but recently many international donors have been reluctant to help because of Pyongyang’s restrictions on humanitarian workers and international concerns over its nuclear ambitions.

“Let’s not make aid political,” Isaczai said.

ELECTRICITY HIT

The United Nations provides nutritional supplements to schools and hospitals but does not have the funds to supply rice for North Korea’s 24.6 million population, 70 percent of whom are already classed as “food insecure”.

“How are they going to fill this gap? I think they have reached out to some countries – to India, to China, to Russia,” Isaczai said.

The lack of water has dried up rivers and streams and has also hit electricity supply, which was at its worst in winter when hydroelectric power was restricted to reserve water for the rice-planting season.

“What the government confirmed to me is that they’re operating at 50 percent of capacity in terms of power generation. A lot of it is now related to water,” the U.N. official added.

Blackouts in Pyongyang last anything from 8-9 hours to a whole 24 hours and many hospitals are unable to operate.

Isaczai said he thought the food situation would not be as bad as in previous major droughts, since communities were now more resilient and might have some reserves.

New farming rules – which allow smaller, family-sized teams to run farms – meant more efficiency and ownership, he said, with families allowed to keep livestock and farmers able to keep surplus crops.

“Also there are small markets emerging in rural areas, like kind of farmers’ markets where people can barter or trade or sell things.”

Some people were also selling food on the street, which might be a few eggs or apples, enabling families to supplement the food they get from the national ration system.

The reforms may not be fast or widespread, Isaczai said, and the impact may take three to five years to be felt.

The government also set a target last year of building 20,000 greenhouses, he said, which would make more vegetables available and diversify diets, but the country needs help to build them.

Read the full story here:
U.N. warns of coming hunger in North Korea
Reuters
Tom Miles
2015-5-30

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DPRK looks to boost energy supply

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

According to the Associated Press:

North Korea is racing to boost its electricity supply by up to 50 percent with the completion of several generating stations by the end of the year and is pushing alternative resources like solar — already used extensively in the countryside — to ease its chronic shortages, a government expert told the Associated Press in Pyongyang.

In an unusually high-profile campaign, the North has mobilized legions of shock brigades to complete two large hydropower projects by Oct. 10. As is common with major North Korean construction efforts, the deadline is a date of national significance: the 70th anniversary of its ruling party.

Officials hope a noticeable increase will provide tangible proof that the party is working to improve the impoverished and heavily sanctioned nation’s standard of living. Kim Kyong Il, a senior researcher at Pyongyang’s Academy of Social Sciences, said the goal is a 20 to 50 percent increase in power compared with the 2014 level.

How effective its latest ‘‘speed campaign’’ will be is an open question.

Even achieving its target would leave North Korea with a small fraction of what it needs to fuel a vibrant economy or even meet some basic needs of its population. Experts stress the North needs more than just new power stations — it must improve its infrastructure to get the electricity where it is needed, secure spare parts and conduct sustained maintenance to keep the plants themselves going.

Supplying its industries and 24 million citizens with even a bare minimum of electricity has long been one of North Korea’s biggest problems, particularly after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Since then, the international community has offered to help the North expand its power grid, if it agrees to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, but to no avail.

North Korea’s total, nationwide electricity output is believed to be about 15 terawatt hours per year, give or take 10 or 20 percent. That would only be about enough to power Seoul, the South Korean capital of 10 million, for less than four months.

It’s been estimated — though never confirmed by Pyongyang — that about one-fifth of North Korea’s electricity is diverted to its 1 million-person military. Moreover, a disproportionate amount of the nation’s power is used to light up Pyongyang, where less than one-tenth of the population resides.

Kim, the government expert, said the North is shifting its focus in line with leader Kim Jong Un’s promise to improve the lives of the North Korean people and invigorate its economy.

He said North Korea is exploring wind and tidal power sources and added that solar already provides as much as half of the electricity in some rural areas. Small solar panels, seen by outside experts as a grassroots coping mechanism where state-provided energy is woefully lacking, are a common sight on apartment balconies and some countryside farms.

‘‘Our country regards electricity as the engine of the national economy, so the state is increasing investment in this field,’’ he said. He added that a major portion of the 2015 national budget that didn’t go to defense has been earmarked for investment in the power sector, though he refused to give precise figures.

Kim said two major projects — Mount Paektu Songun Youth Power Station units No. 1 and No. 2 and Huichon Power Station units 5, 8, 9 and 10 along the Chongchon River — are expected to be completed in time for the anniversary. The hydropower station on Mount Paektu, near the Chinese border, was started under Kim Jong Un’s father, the late Kim Jong Il, but had been plagued by delays.

State media in the North, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, have portrayed the race to complete the megaprojects as a heroic demonstration of national will.

‘‘The young people of the DPRK have gone through thick and thin in hearty response to the call of the party to flatten even mountains, empty seas and conquer space,’’ the ruling party’s newspaper said in a recent editorial. ‘‘Now is the time for them to powerfully demonstrate their courage, unity and fighting capability before the world.’’

But Kim acknowledged it’s hard to predict how much power the units will actually produce.

‘‘If the power stations now under construction are completed, tens of thousands of kilowatts will be generated,’’ he said. ‘‘But this is only the capacity of the power stations. Actual output differs, so we will have to wait and see how much it comes out to.’’

Kim said North Korea relies on hydropower for 60 percent of its power grid, and on coal-fired thermal power for most of the rest. Both are vulnerable: hydropower to droughts and freezing, coal to supply and quality problems.

Kim said a ‘‘once in a century’’ drought last year caused a 10 percent drop in the output of hydropower stations, which he said was largely offset by increased coal power output. Not surprisingly, rural areas, which are low on the priority list for energy allocations, except at rice harvest time, were hardest hit by shortages.

David von Hippel, senior associate with the Nautilus Institute think tank, which has done extensive research on North Korea’s energy situation, said he doesn’t believe the 20-50 percent boost is plausible.

He said the additional electricity from the plants could be ‘‘potentially very significant to the surrounding area, or to whatever area of electricity demand the plant is connected to,’’ but not very significant on the national scale.

Still, he added, assessing the North’s capacities, and even its needs, is complicated because Pyongyang makes so little information public. North Koreans also long ago adjusted their lifestyles to the realities of scarcity — for example, by not buying appliances or equipment that require electricity.

‘‘The country has lived under a shortfall for so many years that it’s difficult to know what demand would be if there were enough power,’’ he said.

I also wrote an article in 38 North on a new coal power plant being constructed in Kangdong County.

Read the full story here:
North Korea in rush to boost electricity supply
Associated Press
Eric Talmadge
2015-6-3

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Ten power plants on Chongchon River under construction to increase power supply to Pyongyang

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

Japan-based pro-North Korea media outlet Choson Sinbo reported on December 11 that ten hydroelectric dams were being constructed along the Chongchon River stretching over a hundred kilometers.

According to the news, Chongchon River (217 km long) is one of the largest rivers in North Korea’s central region, and derives its name from its crystal clear water.

Multi-tiered power plants are being constructed, a project which runs across Jagang, North and South Pyongan Provinces, spanning approximately 77km. The project consists of ten small and medium-sized power plants of varying generating capacity.

The construction of the dams on the Chongchon River began in January 2013 and is considered as a second phase construction following the completion of the Huichon Power Station (in Jagang Province) in April 2012.

Huichon Power Station 1 and 2 were built in the first phase. The ten plants currently under construction can somewhat be considered as Huichon Power Stations No. 3 to 12.

The Huichon Power Stations 1 and 2 have a maximum power generation capacity of 300,000 kilowatts (KW). Stations 3 to 12 are expected to generate about 120,000 KW. Like the Huichon Power Stations No. 1 and No. 2, the new power plants are expected to provide power to Pyongyang City through direct transmission lines. It is expected that this will address the power shortage problem in Pyongyang.

The city, provincial, and central government agencies are overseeing the construction of the power plants and about 14,000 people have been mobilized for this project. The news reported that “young women’s shock brigades” were seen at the construction sites.

The news reported that many slogan banners are posted across the construction sites that read, “Once Determined, Korea (Choson) Will Accomplish!”, “All towards the Creation of Choson Speed”, and “Let Us Take Charge of Pyongyang’s Night lights.”

The Chongchon River power plants are expected to be completed by next October on the occasion of celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

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DPRK building new coal-powered plant in Pyongyang

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Kangdong-plant-2014-3-20

Pictured above is the new plant. Learn more about it on this new article at 38 North.

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Electricity consumption in the summer

Friday, August 8th, 2014

According to the Daily NK:

“The authorities began to provide us with about five hours of electricity per day when the rainy season came; but they also began to take usage charges on it,” a source in the region told Daily NK on August 7th. “It resulted in verbal clashes between residents and the officers dispatched by the Urban Management Office to gather the fees.”

According to sources inside North Korea, the summer rainy season usually brings improved electricity provision: from 1-2hrs per day up to as much as 4-5hrs, as the country’s key hydroelectric turbines are able to operate at a higher capacity. Consumption is charged at a subsidized sum, approximately 80-100 KPW per month; although families with television sets, VCRs or DVD players, fans, rice cookers, etc. pay a surcharge of 100 KPW per device.

Though pleased with the boost in supply, residents are resentful at calls from the revenue collectors. The “we gave it to you, and now you should pay” approach of the authorities is annoying for people who are accustomed to getting by without power the majority of the time.

At the same time, electricity supplies to enterprises and households in North Korea often depend upon bribery; one must give to the local department that oversees the supply in order to get more of the power. The homes of key Party officials are themselves bribed into overlooking this with an unrestricted supply.

Moreover, even in periods where electricity is not going to residential homes, it is possible to bribe the Land Management Office or local enterprises for power, but this is something that only private businesspersons and affluent families are likely to do. A middleman system has emerged, where residents who are able may pay third parties to get a larger share.

The source explained that it all means you can easily pick out the districts where Chosun Workers’ Party officials reside, as they are the ones with well-lit apartments. “The annoyance you feel when you’ve gone through your life without much electricity and you watch them use it late into the night is indescribable,” she said.

“We have no use for electricity in the middle of the night, either, and find it irksome when the lights suddenly come on,” she also added.  “They don’t think about the people who are having a hard time surviving, and while they are trading the nation’s electricity supply, only the wealth of officials and the donju is growing; and only they can use it,” the source pointed out.

And yet, “The paradox is that without this system, the nation would probably be devoid of any kind of electricity provision at all,” she concluded. “Transformers are on sale in the market [at 150,000 KPW average, with larger models costing up to 1,500,000 KPW] but even the cheapest ones are beyond the lower classes.”

Read the full story here:
More Electricity Leads to Growing Aggravation
Daily NK
Seol Song Ah
2014-8-8

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North Korea encourages completion of large-scale projects to coincide with 2015 Party Foundation Day

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-6-12

North Korea is attempting to complete the construction of a large scale stockbreeding base and a power plant as symbols of “self-rehabilitation” by October 10, 2015 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK). Adorned with these economic achievements, next year’s Party Foundation Day will seek to inspire confidence in the North Korean people and strengthen the foundation of the Kim Jong Un regime.

The Choson Sinbo, a news affiliate of the pro-North Korean General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, published an article on June 2, 2014 which introduces the Sepho County area of Kangwon Province and the current situation of construction at the stockbreeding complex, reporting that “all construction is planned to be completed by next year’s Party Foundation Day.” Sepho Tableland Construction Company, which began construction of the Sepho County stockbreeding complex toward the end of 2012, is a national company propagandized by Kim Jong Un as the “Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature.”

The construction of the North Pyongan Chongchon River Power Plant, another one of North Korea’s large scale projects, began in January 2013 and is also projected to be finished by next year’s anniversary. Secretary of the Worker’s Party of Korea Kim Ki Nam was quoted at an April 10, 2014 Pyongyang mass rally, saying, “We must magnificently complete the Chongchon River Power Plant and Sepho County Stockbreeding Base by the Party’s 70th anniversary as a proud gift to our motherland.”

The Chongchon River Power Plant and the Sepho Tableland have been chosen as the two main tasks to be completed in celebration of next year’s anniversary of the foundation of the WPK. The news outlet of the Worker’s Party, the Rodong Sinmun, pointed out in a May 11, 2014 article that the Chongchon River Power Plant will help alleviate the nation’s electricity shortage and stand as a symbol for the nation’s “self-rehabilitation spirit.”

In the past, North Korea has revealed new buildings and symbolic structures before and after major anniversaries in order to brighten the public mood; however, the Kim Jong Un regime’s decision to undertake two large-scale construction projects and finish them both by the anniversary date is worthy of attention.

North Korea is expected to raise their agricultural production goals based on the successful completion of the Sepho Tableland and Chongchon River Power Plant. In his letter to the National Conference of Agricultural Subworkteam Leaders in February 2014, Kim Jong Un stated, “From the year 2015, when we will greet the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea, [the agricultural sector] must hit higher grain production targets.”

Coinciding with the projected agricultural increase, the Choson Sinbo reported that production of livestock will also increase with the completion of the Sepho Tableland: “Annual meat production is expected to increase in stages, from five thousand tons in 2017 to ten thousand tons annually by the year 2020.” Provided that these two large-scale projects can be completed according to plan and produce successful results, it is expected that Kim Jong Un’s position within the Party will be strengthened considerably.

As much as the Sepho Tableland and Chongchon River Power Plant give confidence to the North Korean people that their food shortage problem is being solved, it is also assumed that Kim Jong Un will use the success of these projects in order to begin a legacy of his own “achievements.”

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An Updated Summary of Energy Supply and Demand in the Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea (DPRK)

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

The Nautilus Institute has published a report on energy supply in the DPRK by David F. von Hippel and Peter Hayes. You can read it here.

Here is a small section of the paper:

Overall energy use per capita in the DPRK as of 1990 was relatively high, primarily due to inefficient use of fuels and reliance on coal. Coal is more difficult to use with high efficiency than oil products or gas. Based on our estimates, primary commercial energy[19] use in the DPRK in 1990 was approximately 70 GJ per capita, approximately three times the per capita commercial energy use in China in 1990, and somewhat over 50 percent of the 1990 per capita energy consumption in Japan (where 1990 GDP per-capita was some ten to twenty times higher than the DPRK). This sub-section provides a brief sketch of the DPRK energy sector, and some of its problems. Much more detailed reviews/estimates of energy demand and supply in the DPRK in 1990, 1996, and particularly in 2000, 2005, and 2008 through 2010, are provided in later chapters of this report.

The industrial sector is the largest consumer of all commercial fuels—particularly coal—in the DPRK. The transport sector consumes a substantial fraction of the oil products used in the country. Most transport energy use is for freight transport; the use of personal transport in the DPRK is very limited. The residential sector is a large user of coal and (in rural areas, though more recently, reportedly, in urban and peri-urban areas as well) biomass fuels. The military sector (by our estimates) consumes an important share of the refined oil products used in the country. The public/commercial and services sectors in the DPRK consume much smaller shares of fuels supplies in the DPRK than they do in industrialized countries, due primarily to the minimal development of the commercial sector in North Korea. Wood and crop wastes are used as fuels in the agricultural sector, and probably in some industrial subsectors as well.

Key energy-sector problems in the DPRK include:

*Inefficient and/or decaying infrastructure: Much of the energy-using infrastructure in the DPRK is reportedly (and visibly, to visitors to the country) antiquated and/or poorly maintained. Buildings apparently lack significant, and often any, insulation, and the heating circuits in residential and other buildings for the most part apparently cannot be controlled by residents. Industrial facilities are likewise either aging or based on outdated technology, and often (particularly in recent years) are operated at less-than-optimal capacities (from an energy-efficiency point of view).

*Suppressed and latent demand for energy services: Lack of fuels in many sectors of the DPRK economy has apparently caused demand for energy services to go unmet. Electricity outages are one obvious source of unmet demand, but there are also reports, for example, that portions of the DPRK fishing fleet have been idled for lack of diesel fuel. Residential heating is reportedly restricted in the winter (and some observers report that some public-sector and residential buildings have not received heat at all in recent years) to conserve fuel, resulting in uncomfortably cool inside temperatures.

The problem posed by suppressed and latent demand for energy services is that when and if supply constraints are removed there is likely to be a surge in energy (probably particularly electricity) use, as residents, industries, and other consumers of fuels increase their use of energy services toward desired levels. (This is a further argument, as elaborated later in this report, for making every effort to improve the efficiency of energy use in all sectors of the DPRK economy as restraints on energy supplies are reduced.)

*Lack of energy product markets: Compounding the risk of a surge in the use of energy services is the virtual lack of energy product markets in the DPRK. Without fuel pricing reforms, there will be few incentives for households and other energy users to adopt energy efficiency measures or otherwise control their fuels consumption. Recent years have seen limited attempts by the DPRK government to reform markets for energy products. Some private markets exist for local products like firewood, and some commercial fuels have in recent years reportedly been traded “unofficially” (on the black market), but for the most part, energy commodity markets in the DPRK essentially do not exist[20]. Energy consumers are also unlikely, without a massive and well-coordinated program of education about energy use and energy efficiency, to have the technical know-how to choose and make good use of energy efficiency technologies, even when and if such technologies are made available.

The DPRK’s energy sector needs are vast, and at the same time, as indicated by the only partial listing of problems many of these needs are sufficiently interconnected as to be particularly daunting to address. The DPRK’s energy sector needs include rebuilding/replacement of many of its power generation and almost all of its substation equipment, repair, replacement, and/or improvement of coal mine production equipment and safety systems, updating of oil refineries, improvement or replacement of most if its energy-using equipment, including coal-fired boilers, electric motors and drives, transport systems, and many other items, modernization of energy use throughout the country, rebuilding of the DPRK forest stocks, and a host of other needs. As one example of the interrelations of energy problems in the DPRK, renovating the DPRK’s coal mining sector is made more difficult because coal mines lack electricity due to electricity sector problems, and electricity generators in some cases have insufficient coal to supply power demand because of coal mine problems and problems with transporting coal to power plants.

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North Korea to utilize science and technology to overcome its energy crisis

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-4-3

In order to solve the nation’s chronic energy shortage, North Korea has been focusing on the development and utilization of science and technology as much as possible. Recent technological advancements are being reported one after another, and further development of alternative energy sources has resulted in technology that will reduce the nation’s oil and fossil fuel consumption.

The Choson Sinbo, a news outlet published by the pro-North Korean General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, reported on March 22 that the research staff of North Korea’s National Academy of Sciences contributed to a reduction in coal consumption by successfully developing and implementing the use of compressed biomass fuel in several factories in Pyongyang. The article also reported the invention of a new navigation program at Pyongyang Machinery College that searches for and displays the shortest possible routes between destinations. Transportation facilities in Pyongyang are said to have seen a 5 to 10 percent savings in fuel consumption since the introduction of the program.

Earlier this month, the Choson Sinbo also reported that the urban management division at the Central Heating Research Institute developed a new, more efficient solar heating system that has already been installed in homes along Pyongyang’s Kwangbok Street. The new system utilizes the leftover water heated during the day to provide warmth for homes at night, and, unlike the previously used system, can do so without consuming electricity.

Such efforts to mobilize domestic natural resources can be interpreted as an earnest attempt at solving the nation’s chronic energy shortage. In his new year’s address, Kim Jong Un emphasized the need to more effectively utilize domestic natural resources such as wind, geothermal, solar, and especially hydro power to remedy the nation’s electricity shortage.

He also stressed the need to endure the struggle to save energy with strength and resolve, calling on all sectors of the economy to conserve each and every watt of electricity, gram of coal, and drop of water where possible. Although North Korean efforts to solve the nation’s energy shortage have been ongoing for some time, the regime seems to be putting additional weight on the role of science and technology.

This call for technological development, with particular regard to alternative energy, is directly connected to Kim Jong Un’s preferential policy toward scientists and technicians. The best example of this can be seen in the construction of Unha Scientists’ Street, a housing complex built in September of last year specifically for personnel who have contributed to missile and nuclear tests and additional construction has begun for Satellite Scientists’ Street which will serve as a residential and research complex for the scientists of North Korea’s national satellite program. The construction of these sites shows that the regime understands the importance of science and technology in raising the efficiency of not only the energy sector, but also the North Korean economy. Furthermore, this move stems not only from the preferential policy toward scientists and technicians, but from the larger context of reforming the nation’s educational system.

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More measurement of the importance of markets in the DPRK: residential and public sector energy consumption

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

According to Yonhap (via the Korea Herald):

A fuel ration system in North Korea seems to have been dismantled due to a chronic fuel shortage, a report said Monday.

The report by the state-run Korea Energy Economics Institute (KEEI) said a majority of households in North Korea secure their fuel for heating and cooking on the black market or by themselves, hinting that the country’s fuel ration system might have been scrapped.

The report was made on the basis of data compiled from a poll of 350 North Korean defectors who fled the country after 2011.

According to the report, 51.1 percent of the North’s households bought their heating and cooking fuel on the market, with 42 percent gathering their fuel, such as firewood, by themselves.

Only 6.8 percent of them were provided with fuel for heating and cooking through the country’s fuel ration channel.

The energy consumption of a North Korean household was estimated at 0.291 tons of oil equivalent (TOE) as of 2011. The TOE is a unit of energy which is equivalent to the amount of energy released by burning one ton of crude oil.

The consumption of energy gaining from coal briquettes accounted for 36.8 percent of the total, reaching 0.107 TOE, followed by wood with 0.069 TOE, electricity with 0.038 TOE, oil products with 0.025 TOE and propane gas with 0.023 TOE.

The energy consumption for heating took up 50.9 percent of the total, amounting to 0.148 TOE.

The KEEI said a program for fuel aid to North Korea should be mapped out on the basis of exact data on the energy consumption in the North’s private sector.

You can download the full report here in Korean (PDF). Here is the web page for the Korea Energy Economics Institute.

Read the full story here:
Fuel ration seems to have been dismantled in N. Korea: report
Yonhap
2014-2-3

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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.

4. The Choson Ilbo and Yonhap report on the new cabinet members.

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