Archive for the ‘Environmental protection’ Category

North Korea Google Earth

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

North Korea Uncovered v.16
Download it here

laurent-kabila.jpg

The most recent version of North Korea Uncovered (North Korea Google Earth) has been published.  Since being launched, this project has been continuously expanded and to date has been downloaded over 32,000 times.

Pictured to the left is a statue of Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  This statue, as well as many others identified in this version of the project, was built by the North Koreans. According to a visitor:

From the neck down, the Kabila monument looks strangely like Kim Jong Il: baggy uniform, creased pants, the raised arm, a little book in his left hand. From the neck up, the statue is the thick, grim bald mug of Laurent Kabila (his son Joseph is the current president). “The body was made in North Korea,” explains my driver Felix. In other words, the body is Kim Jong Il’s, but with a fat, scowling Kabila head simply welded on.

This is particularly interesting because there are no known pictures of a Kim Jong il statue.  The only KJI statue that is reported to exist is in front of the National Security Agency in Pyongyang.  If a Kim Jong il statue does in fact exist, it might look something like this.

Thanks again to the anonymous contributors, readers, and fans of this project for your helpful advice and location information. This project would not be successful without your contributions.

Version 16 contains the following additions: Rakwon Machine Complex, Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory, Manpo Restaurant, Worker’s Party No. 3 Building (including Central Committee and Guidance Dept.), Pukchang Aluminum Factory, Pusan-ri Aluminum Factory, Pukchung Machine Complex, Mirim Block Factory, Pyongyang General Textile Factory, Chonnae Cement Factory, Pyongsu Rx Joint Venture, Tongbong Cooperative Farm, Chusang Cooperative Farm, Hoeryong Essential Foodstuff Factory, Kim Ki-song Hoeryong First Middle School , Mirim War University, electricity grid expansion, Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground (TSLG)” is also known as the “Musudan-ri Launching Station,” rebuilt electricity grid, Kumchang-ri suspected underground nuclear site, Wangjaesan Grand Monument, Phothae Revolutionary Site, Naedong Revolutionary Site, Kunja Revolutionary Site, Junggang Revolutionary Site, Phophyong Revolutionary Site, Samdung Revolutionary Site, Phyongsan Granite Mine, Songjin Iron and Steel Complex (Kimchaek), Swedish, German and British embassy building, Taehongdan Potato Processing Factory, Pyongyang Muyseum of Film and Theatrical Arts, Overseas Monuments built by DPRK: Rice Museum (Muzium Padi) in Malaysia, Statue de Patrice Lumumba (Kinshasa, DR Congo), National Heroes Acre (Windhoek, Namibia), Derg Monument (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), National Heroes Acre (Harare, Zimbabwe), New State House (Windhoek, Namibia), Three Dikgosi (Chiefs) Monument (Gaborone, Botswana), 1st of May Square Statue of Agostinho Neto (Luanda, Angola), Momunment Heroinas Angolas (Luanda, Angola), Monument to the Martyrs of Kifangondo Battle (Luanda, Angola), Place de l’étoile rouge, (Porto Novo, Benin), Statue of King Béhanzin (Abomey, Benin), Monument to the African Renaissance (Dakar, Senegal), Monument to Laurent Kabila [pictured above] (Kinshasa, DR Congo).
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“Let’s plant more trees!”

Friday, March 6th, 2009

letsplantmoretrees.JPGAs regular Google Earth users are aware, the DPRK has experienced significant deforestation in recent decades from both private and state actors. The former have cleared land for fuel/heat and private food production. The latter have felled forests to export lumber. However, without private property rights over the lumber and corollary price signals, we have witnessed yet another “tragedy of the commons”–the over extraction of a common-pool resource. 

As can be seen in the image above, official reforestation campaigns have been launched several times.  According to Good Friends, the most recent was announced last September, shortly before the DPRK appointed a new forestry minister, Kim Kwang-yong.  According to the Yonhap article below, however, South Koreans and Europeans have been supporting reforestation projects in the DPRK for nearly ten years:

North Korean workers and students rolled up their sleeves Monday for Tree-planting Day, state-run media said, amid continuing aid from South Korea despite damaged political relations.

North Korea has a high deforestation rate, as residents have cut down trees for fuel. Deforestation is closely linked to the country’s chronic food shortages, as barren mountain slopes leave rice farms prone to severe flooding by summer monsoons, according to aid workers in Seoul.

The North Korean government has banned cutting trees and sought to make its country greener with aid from South Korea and some European governments.

“Covered with trees are mountains and fields of the country from the foot of Mount Paektu, the sacred mountain of the revolution, to the military demarcation line and from the eastern coast to the western coast,” the Korean Central News Agency said in an English-language report titled “Greening and Gardening Campaign Gets Brisk.”

“The tree-planting campaign is being briskly undertaken everywhere in the country … changing the appearance of the country beyond recognition day by day,” it said.

South Korean government and civic groups have been operating sapling fields in the North Korean cities of Kaesong and Pyongyang, as well as near the North’s scenic resort Mount Kumgang, providing seedlings, equipment and technology since 1999. The project has cost South Korea some 9 billion won (US$5.7 million), according to the Ministry of Unification.

Aid workers said the inter-Korean forestry project has continued even though Pyongyang cut off all government-level dialogue in response to Seoul’s hardline policy toward it that began last year.

Ahn Sun-kyong, an aid worker from Green One Korea, an umbrella group of over a dozen non-governmental organizations in Seoul, said it plans to build a seed preservation facility and an apple farm in Pyongyang as new projects this year.

“There may be certain limitations, but this non-governmental exchange project will continue,” Ahn said.

Hwang Jae-sung from the Korean Sharing Movement, which operates the Kaepung sapling field in Kaesong as a member of Green One Korea, said most trees are prematurely cut by residents, who also rake up fallen leaves for fuel.

“Deforestation is directly linked to the food problem,” Hwang, who last visited Kaesong in November, said. “We believe tree planting in North Korea is not only useful for preventing floods, but also can be another means of resolving the food shortages in the North.”

The aid groups say 16-18 percent of North Korean forests, or 1.5-1.6 million hectares out of the North’s 8.9 million hectares of forests, are believed to be deforested. About 80 percent of North Korea is covered by mountains.

Although the support offered by these groups is necessary to restore ecological health and productive power of the DPRK’s agricultural lands, an unfortunate consequence will likely be growing restrictions on private food production which will necessarily require the North Korean people to once again rely on the state for food distribution.

Read previous posts on forestry and environmental protection here.

Read the Yonhap story here:
N. Koreans work to make country green on Tree-planting Day: report
Yonhap
Kim Hyun
3/2/2009

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International Crane Foundation

Friday, February 27th, 2009

On my last visit to North Korea in 2005, fellow Atlanta native Ted Turner was also in Pyongyang (not at the Yangakdo unfortunatley, but the centrally-located Koryo Hotel) working to secure the DMZ as a crane reserve.  It turns out that this effort is fairly well organizaed and funded.  Below, I have attached some articles, names, and organizations involved in this movement:

The International Crane Foundation

Since 1974, ICF has been involved in conservation efforts for the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the three mile wide strip of land between the divided neighbors that provides a home during migration or winter for half of the world’s White-naped Cranes and a quarter of the world’s Red-crowned Cranes.

Conservation in Korea

“For more than three decades, I have been coming to Korea to see the cranes that spend the winter along the DMZ. About one-third of the world’s 2,500 Red-crowned Cranes depend on the DMZ and the nearby Civilian Controlled Zone (CCZ) as their only remaining sanctuary on the peninsula. The Cheorwon Basin in the central highlands has the greatest numbers of cranes, while smaller flocks live in the Yuen Cheon valley, the lower reaches of the Imjin River, and the tidal flats around Kangwha Island.

The Red-crowned Crane is an auspicious symbol of good luck and long life throughout the Orient and cranes worldwide are a symbol of peace. Now perhaps the Red-crowned Crane can be a flagship for the conservation of the DMZ.

I have always tried to help my Korean colleagues in their efforts to save that priceless strip of land that’s carpeted by a grasslands, wetlands, and forests restored by the creative forces of nature over more that a half-century. Although it has been exciting to see modernization sweep it’s magic wand over Korea, it is alarming that humans now have such power to transform landscapes so quickly.

If the remaining natural landscapes of the DMZ and the CCZ are to be saved for nature, Korean conservationists from all walks of life must join together in a united front to negotiate with those more interested in development. This is now possible through a movement started in 1996 by two Korean Americans, Dr. Ke Chung Kim (a scholar) and Mr. Seung-ho Lee (a businessman).

To promote the conservation of the DMZ, they created a non-governmental organization called the DMZ Forum. I am honored to serve on the Board of Directors.

Under the leadership of Mr. Hall Healy (an environmental planner), the DMZ has created a Coalition for the Conservation of the DMZ. Although this Coalition had its birth in the USA, its operation will be “Koreanized” with leadership from an effective and prestigious Korean citizen and supported by a coalition of individuals and organizations primarily from Korea, but also from other nations. Only through the power of partnership, can these treasures of nature from “The Land of the Morning Calm” be saved.”

Recently, ICF held an event.  Here is the email they sent out (h/t Mike):

For years, hundreds of the magnificent Red-crowned Cranes wintered in lowland wetlands and organically-maintained agricultural fields in the DPRK.  With the rise of chemical fertilization after the Korean War through its alliance with the USSR, crops were plentiful in the DPRK, and the field gleanings provided sustenance for the cranes.  With the collapse of the USSR, the cheap source of fertilizer dried up, and after two decades of chemical dependence the organic farming methods had been lost.  Hungry humans foraged for food where the cranes had once wintered.  The cranes moved south, in and around the DMZ and the Civilian Controlled Zone (CCZ).  These two zones, however, have been targeted by developers as potential sites for future cities.  The plan for the re-introduction of wintering cranes in the DPRK addresses teaching the local people organic farming methods anew and relies on using captive cranes to attract wild cranes during their autumn migration.

Through collaboration among colleagues of the Korean University in Tokyo, the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea), BirdLife International, the International Crane Foundation, and Pisan Cooperative Farm of the DPRK, work is underway to restore the Red-crowned Cranes as winter visitors on the Anbyon Plain located in DPRK.  The project began in the spring and summer of 2008, and it is hoped that it will lead to communication between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea on the conservation of red-crowned Cranes in both nations.

From the event’s web page:

Through collaboration among colleagues of the Korean University in Tokyo, the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea), BirdLife International, the International Crane Foundation, and Pisan Cooperative Farm of the DPRK, work is underway to restore the Red-crowned Cranes as winter visitors on the Anbyon Plain located in DPRK.  The project began in the spring and summer of 2008, and it is hoped that it will lead to communication between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea on the conservation of red-crowned Cranes in both nations.

For years, hundreds of the magnificent Red-crowned Cranes wintered in lowland wetlands and organically-maintained agricultural fields in the DPRK.  With the rise of chemical fertilization after the Korean War through its alliance with the USSR, crops were plentiful in the DPRK, and the field gleanings provided sustenance for the cranes.  With the collapse of the USSR, the cheap source of fertilizer dried up, and after two decades of chemical dependence the organic farming methods had been lost.  Hungry humans foraged for food where the cranes had once wintered.  The cranes moved south, in and around the DMZ and the Civilian Controlled Zone (CCZ).  These two zones, however, have been targeted by developers as potential sites for future cities.  The plan for the re-introduction of wintering cranes in the DPRK addresses teaching the local people organic faming methods anew and relies on using captive cranes to attract wild cranes during their autumn migration.

More links:
The DMZ Forum web page

DMZ Coalition

Media hits

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North Korean party delegation visits Britain amid hopes for restart of dialogue

Friday, January 30th, 2009

By Michael Rank

asha_centre.jpg

Pictured above on the left: Pak Kyong Son, Vice Department Director of the Korean Workers Party Central Committee.  Pictured on the right: Glyn Ford, Member of the European Parliament.
Photo by Irina kalashnikova, irinakalashnikova@yahoo.com
www.irinakalashnikova.com

LONDON – Britain is hosting the first ever delegation from the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) amid hopes that this will help to restart a dialogue between Pyongyang and the European Union on human rights, denuclearisation and other issues and lead to transfers of renewable energy technology to North Korea.

Labour Party member of the European Parliament (MEP) Glyn Ford, one of Europe’s top North Korea experts who has visited Pyongyang a dozen times, told NKEW that he was pressing the delegation to agree to reopen the dialogue that was broken off in 2005 after the EU sponsored a resolution at the United Nations in Geneva that was highly critical of North Korea’s human rights record.

He said it was hard to tell whether the four-member delegation would recommend reopening of the dialogue to decision-makers in Pyongyang. “It’s not the style of North Korea to make decisions on the spot,” Ford noted. He said he personally had opposed the resolution, which was supported by the US and Japan, because it was almost certain to result in suspension of the highly sensitive dialogue which had only just begun.

The four-man delegation is visiting Britain for a week and they are also going to Bristol and Cambridge. Ford accompanied the group to Bristol as this west of England city lies in his Euro-parliamentary constituency, and it is close to the possible site of a giant barrage across the river Severn which is currently being considered as a source of generating green electricity.

He said a deal on the nuclear issue and on reviving the human rights dialogue could result in the EU agreeing to provide wind, tidal and other renewable technology to North Korea, just as the EU has provided €500 million ($640 million) in humanitarian aid over the last eight years.

The delegation includes a scientist with a background in renewable energy, added Ford who has an MSc in marine earth science. He said the west coast of Korea has a tidal range of 11 metres (36 feet), which could make it highly suitable for an electricity-generating barrage. The Severn has a tidal range of 14 metres, the second highest in the world.

Tidal barrages are an attractive means of generating electricity because tides, unlike wind, are highly predictable, but the environmental cost of building a barrage over the Severn, up to 10 miles long, could be huge and there is considerable public opposition to the plan. But such factors are likely to loom less large in North Korea.

Ford said he had met three of the four-man delegation on previous visits to Pyongyang, and that he knew two of them fairly well. He is hoping to visit Pyongyang again with a European Socialist delegation at the end of March.

The group have already had a meeting with Foreign Office officials, who Ford said had presumably also pressed the North Koreans on human rights and the nuclear issue.

Apart from the North Korean visit to the UK, Britain’s Lord Alton, a veteran campaigner for human rights in North Korea, is due to visit Pyongyang early next month. Alton, a devout Catholic, is scheduled  to meet the chairman of Korean Religion Association and visit the Russian Orthodox church and the Jangchung Catholic church in Pyongyang. He will be one of the first Western visitors to the Russian Orthodox church, which opened in 2006 amid considerable official fanfare.

The WPK delegation’s visit to Britain has received little if any media attention so far. In fact hardly anyone would have known about it if the generally extraordinarily uninformative North Korean news agency KCNA had not announced on January 27 that “A delegation of the Workers’ Party of Korea led by Pak Kyong Son, vice department director of its Central Committee, left here today to visit the UK.”

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DPRK ministerial shakeup and SPA elections announced

Monday, January 5th, 2009

UPDATE 3: According to numerous media sources, Choe Sung Chol has been shot (h/t Marmot). Read more here: Bloomberg, Reuters, Korea Times.

UPDATE 2: According to the Joong Ang Daily:

North Korea’s point man on South Korea, who was earlier said to have been sacked for misjudgment, is said to be undergoing what sources called “severe” communist training at a chicken farm, sources here said yesterday.

Choe Sung-chol, once a vice chairman of the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, the North’s state organization handling inter-Korean affairs, was reported to have been dismissed in early 2008 for what sources called his lack of foresight on South Korea’s new conservative administration under President Lee Myung-bak.

Political dissidents in North Korea are said to often undergo training on the communist revolution. This includes hard labor in harsh environments, such as mines or in labor camps.

Choe, 52, became better known to South Korean officials and the public in 2007, when he escorted then-President Roh Moo-hyun throughout his visit to Pyongyang for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

He is also known to have played a key role in arranging the summit.

Officials in Seoul have acknowledged the dismissal of Choe, but could not confirm his whereabouts or why he was sacked.

“He has been undergoing training for about a year now, so it really is hard to tell whether he will be reinstated or not,” another source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

(UPDATE 1) Shortly after the DPRK’s ministerial and leadership changes were dscovered, the DPRK announced the Supreme People’s Assembly will be recomposed in March.  According to Reuters:

The reclusive North’s official media said in a two-sentence dispatch the election for deputies to its Supreme People’s Assembly would be held on March 8, without offering details.

North Korea wants to promote economic elite to the assembly to help lay the groundwork for the next generation of its leadership, a think tank affiliated with the South’s intelligence service said in a report in December, Yonhap news agency said.

However, analysts cautioned against reading too much into the leadership changes, saying Kim Jong-il and his inner circle hold the real power while ministers and other government officials have almost no influence in forming policy.

The assembly session that typically meets in April each year is a highly choreographed affair focused on budget matters where legislation is traditionally passed with unanimous approval.

North Koreans can vote only for the candidates selected by supreme leaders who allocate assembly seats to promote rank-and-file officials and purge those no longer in favor.

“Even if we know that someone was replaced, everything related to it is pure speculation because we have no clue as to the individual inclinations of these people,” said Andrei Lankov, an expert on the North at the South’s Kookmin University. (Reuters)

The Joong Ang Ilbo provides some additional facts:

The election is also a mere formality in the North because the candidates are hand-picked by the Workers’ Party and then approved by North leader Kim Jong-il.

The five-year terms of the 687 representatives, selected in 2003, were supposed to end last September. North Korea watchers have speculated that Kim’s health was linked to the election delay. According to intelligence sources in Seoul, Kim suffered a stroke in August.

North Korea watchers said Kim’s appearance at a polling station will put an end to speculation about his health. Kim had cast ballots in the 1998 and 2003 elections, according to past North Korean media reports.

With the upcoming election, Kim’s regime will enter its third term. The newly formed legislature will, on paper, form a cabinet, devise a national budget plan and conduct foreign policy.

Following former leader Kim Il Sung’s death in 1994, the Supreme People’s Assembly did not meet for four years. At that meeting, it elected the younger Kim as the National Defense Commission chairman and officially launched his regime. At the time, the legislature also amended the Constitution and undertook a dramatic cabinet shakeup.

ORIGINAL POST
According to the Joong Ang Daily:

Yu Yong-sun, a 68-year-old Buddhist leader, has become North Korea’s senior South Korea policy maker, a top Seoul official told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

Choe Sung-chol, deputy director of the United Front Department of the North Korean Workers’ Party, was in charge of Pyongyang’s South Korean affairs until early last year. After he lost the job, Yu, head of the Korean Buddhists Federation, was appointed to the post, the source said.

“Yu succeeded Choe in March last year,” the source said. “Choe was once deeply trusted by [North Korean] leader Kim Jong-il, but he stepped down because he had failed to accurately assess the outcome of the 2007 presidential election in the South, the Lee Myung-bak administration’s North Korea policy and the outlook for inter-Korean relations.”

The source also said corruption scandals involving the overseas North Korean assistance committee under the United Front Department played a role in Choe’s sacking.

Choe played a crucial role in arranging the second inter-Korean summit between the president of South Korea at the time, Roh Moo-hyun, and Kim in 2007.

Yu, the successor, is not an entirely new face in inter-Korean affairs. Since 2000, he represented the North in several rounds of inter-Korean ministerial talks. He has led the Buddhist group since May 2006.

“We’ve also obtained intelligence that Kwon Ho-ung, who used to be the chief negotiator for the inter-Korean ministerial talks, stepped down from the post and has been put under house arrest,” the source said.

The North reshuffled its cabinet recently, according to the South’s Unification Ministry. Ho Thaek, vice minister of the electric power industry, was promoted to minister. Other minister-level promotions also took place at the Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Forestry and Ministry of Foreign Trade. (Jeong Yong-soo, JoongAng Ilbo)

The Choson Ilbo reports on some more ministerial changes:

North Korea has reshuffled two cabinet ministers and appointed a new man to a key post in the Workers’ Party. North Korean state media reported that Kim Tae-bong was appointed new metal industry minister and Hur Tack new power industry minister. They replace Kim Sung-hyun and Pak Nam-chil. Kim Kyong-ok as newly-named first deputy director of the ruling party’s Organization Guidance Department that controls the party, Army and administration and is headed by leader Kim Jong-il.

It is rare for reshuffles to be announced separately. The new economic appointments may be related to the emphasis on “economic recovery” in a New Year’s statement released in the state media last week that is the closest the North has to an annual message from Kim Jong-il, a government official here speculated. The statement described the metal industry as the “pillar of the independent economy of socialism” and said the electricity, coal and railroad sectors “should take the lead in the people’s economic development through reforms.” Hence replacement of the metal and power industry ministers, according to the official. He admitted little is known about the newly appointed ministers.

The Organization and Guidance Department’s new first deputy director Kim Kyong-ok is reportedly in charge of regional party organizations.

“If the power succession is to move smoothly, the economy must be revived and control of the party organization is essential,” an intelligence officer here said. He predicted noticeable changes in the North’s power structure this year. A researcher at the Korea Institute of National Unification said North Korea “is going to take various steps in a bid to prevent Kim Jong-il’s authority from weakening due to ill health.”

And from Yonhap:

North Korea promoted industrial veterans to top posts in its latest Cabinet reshuffle, signaling Pyongyang’s stepped-up drive to rebuild the country’s frail economy, Seoul officials and analysts said Tuesday.

A reshuffle in the communist state is usually inferred when new faces appear in its media, as the country does not publicize such moves.

Five new names were mentioned as the North’s ministers of railways, forestry, electricity, agriculture and metal industry in the North’s New Year message and reports in October, Seoul’s Unification Ministry Spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun said.

“They are formerly vice ministers or those who climbed the ladder in each field. The reshuffle considered their on-spot experiences and expertise,” the spokesman said.

It was not clear when the reshuffle took place, he said.

North Korean media have been reporting a brisk campaign to rebuild the country’s ailing industrial infrastructure, following up on the New Year economic blueprint rolled out by leader Kim Jong-il. Kim called on citizens “to solve problems by our own efforts” and increase production in electricity, coal and daily equipment.

In the reshuffle, Jon Kil-su was named minister of railways; Kim Kwang-yong minister of forestry; Ho Taek minister of power industry; Kim Chang-sik minister of agriculture; Kim Tae-bong minister of metal industry.

Kim Kwang-yong and Kim Chang-sik were vice ministers and Jon held a senior post in their respective ministry. Ho was formerly a power plant chief, while little was known about Kim Tae-bong, Seoul officials said.

The shakeup was rumored to have affected more posts, but the Seoul spokesman could not officially confirm it.

Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea studies professor at Seoul’s Dongguk University, said the reshuffle is a sign that the North is shifting its focus to the economy from the military. In its New Year message, Pyongyang pledged to build a “prosperous and powerful nation” by 2012, the 100th anniversary of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung’s birth, he noted.

“The key word this year is the economy,” Koh said. “The reshuffle seems to suggest officials with technical expertise should take the initiative to develop the economy.”

Kim Young-yoon, a researcher with the Korea Institute for National Unification, said Pyongyang is turning to its natural resources amid suspension of South Korean aid. The Seoul government halted its customary aid of rice and fertilizer this past year as Pyongyang refused offers of dialogue.

“North Korea has no other way but turn to its own natural resources as long as inter-Korean relations and the nuclear issue are in limbo,” he said.

Read the full articles here:
Buddhist leader gets North’s South policy spot
JoongAng Daily
Jeong Yong-soo
1/5/2009

N.Korea Reshuffles Economic Posts
Choson Ilbo
1/5/2009

N. Korea promotes industry veterans in Cabinet reshuffle
Yonhap
Kim Hyun
1/6/2008

North Korea says to elect MPs in government shake-up
Reuters
1/6/2009

North to hold parliamentary election
Joong Ang Ilbo
Ser Myo-ja
1/8/2009

Top North official said to be getting re-educated
Joong Ang Daily
1/12/2009

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DPRK authorities reclaim plots for tree planting

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 08-11-18-1
11/18/2008

The South Korean civic organization ‘Good Friends’ recently reported that North Korean authorities have prohibited North Koreans from working private plots in the mountains which had been cleared and used for grain production, and have recently begun replanting trees in these areas.

A source for Good Friends stated, “The Central Party decreed last September 29th, ‘The Fatherland’s mountains and fields must be adorned with green so that not one single desolate plot exists by the year 2012.’” Accordingly, garden plots are already being reclaimed from individuals and planted with trees.

North Korea is declaring 2012, the year which marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung and the 70th birthday of Kim Jong Il, ‘The Year Opening the Gates to a Strong and Prosperous Nation’.

The source stated that local residents in Booryung, North Hamm planted corn, potatoes, beans, and millet on those plots, relying on them for between 3 and 6 months worth of food, and that with the new decree prohibiting farming, more people would die. 

*NKeconWatch: The DPRK just recently replaced its Minister of Forestry.  This is his first large-scale policy initiative. 

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North Korea on Google Earth

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

North Korea Uncovered: Version 12
Download it here

mayday.JPGAbout this Project: This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, energy infrastructure, political facilities, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, national parks, shipping, mining, and railway infrastructure. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the 12th version.

Additions include: Tongch’ang-dong launch facility overlay (thanks to Mr. Bermudez), Yongbyon overlay with destroyed cooling tower (thanks to Jung Min Noh), “The Barn” (where the Pueblo crew were kept), Kim Chaek Taehung Fishing Enterprise, Hamhung University of education, Haeju Zoo, Pyongyang: Kim il Sung Institute of Politics, Polish Embassy, Munsu Diplomatic Store, Munsu Gas Station, Munsu Friendship Restaurant, Mongolian Embassy, Nigerian Embassy, UN World Food Program Building, CONCERN House, Czech Republic Embassy, Rungnang Cinema, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, Pyongyang Number 3 Hospital, Electric Machines Facotry, Bonghuajinlyoso, Second National Academy of Sciences, Central Committee Building, Party Administration Building, Central Statistics Bureau, Willow Capital Food House, Thongounjong Pleasure Ground, Onpho spa, Phipa Resort Hotel, Sunoni Chemical Complex (east coast refinery), Ponghwa Chemical complex (west coast refinery), Songbon Port Revolutionary Monument, Hoeryong People’s Library, Pyongyang Monument to the anti Japanese martyrs, tideland reclamation project on Taegye Island. Additionally the electricity grid was expanded and the thermal power plants have been better organized. Additional thanks to Ryan for his pointers.

I hope this map will increase interest in North Korea. There is still plenty more to learn, and I look forward to receiving your contributions to this project.

Version 12 available: Download it here

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Download glitch fixed: North Korea Google Earth (version 11)

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

The most authoritative map of North Korea on Google Earth
Download it here

This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the eleventh version.

Additions include: Mt. Paegun’s Ryonghung Temple and resort homes, Pyongyang’s Chongryu Restaurant, Swiss Development Agency (former UNDP office), Iranian Embassy, White Tiger Art Studio, KITC Store, Kumgangsan Store, Pyongyang Fried Chicken Restaurant, Kilju’s Pulp Factory (Paper), Kim Chaek Steel Mill, Chongjin Munitions Factory, Poogin Coal Mine, Ryongwun-ri cooperative farm, Thonggun Pavilion (Uiju), Chinju Temple (Yongbyon), Kim il Sung Revolutionary Museum (Pyongsong), Hamhung Zoo, Rajin electrified perimeter fence, Pyongsong market (North Korea’s largest), Sakju Recreation Center, Hoeryong Maternity Hospital, Sariwon Suwon reservoir (alleged site of US massacre), Sinpyong Resting Place, 700 Ridges Pavilion, Academy of Science, Hamhung Museum of the Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung, South Hamgyong House of Culture, Hamhung Royal Villa, Pork Chop Hill, and Pyongyang’s Olympic torch route. Additional thanks go to Martyn Williams for expanding the electricity grid, particularly in Samjiyon, and various others who have contributed time improving this project since its launch.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.  Additionally, this file is getting large and may take some time to load.

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Interview with Ken Frost, CFO, Phoenix Commerical Ventures

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Interview Blog, Germany
(click here for all their North Korea-related interviews)

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd is a venture capital company that offers investors business and investment opportunities in the DPRK” – Interview with Ken Frost (CFO of Phoenix)

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Mr. Frost, you are member of the Board of Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd, a company that offers investors business and investment opportunities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) otherwise known as North Korea. Would you mind introducing yourself and your company as well to our readers?

Ken Frost: Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd is a venture capital company that offers investors business and investment opportunities in the DPRK, enabling them to take advantage of the economic reforms that are taking place there.

Phoenix is owned and run by four experienced professionals, who are based in London, Paris and the DPRK. The Board has between them many years of international business experience, and an invaluable network of well placed contacts. Phoenix offers a unique service, by being able to offer direct access to the DPRK.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd specialises in project finance in the DPRK. As is well known, the business environment is difficult, and the company targets very specific investment projects; these are small enough to manage and have the capacity to generate foreign currency, either through export or import substitution.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd maintains an office in Pyongyang, almost the only European company to do so, and operates with the following specific aims:

• Identify commercially viable investment projects in the DPRK, on a case by case basis
• Identify reliable local partners for all forms of business in the DPRK, either trade or investment
• Seek overseas investment sources for such projects
• Minimise the risk in such projects, by taking responsibility for supervision of the local set-up procedures and management of the projects

The Board of Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd consists of nationals of the UK, France and the DPRK. The European flavour is enhanced by the fact that most of the counterparties and suppliers in the various projects are also European, and the DPRK government views Phoenix Commercial Ventures as a prime conduit for European business and investment in the DPRK.

One of the directors of Phoenix Commercial Ventures is also General Manager and CEO of the Daedong Credit Bank, the only western-invested foreign bank in the DPRK. Based in Pyongyang, this is a 70-30 joint venture between a UK financial management company based in Hong Kong and the Korea Daesong Bank, one of the main DPRK banks.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures is unique in having this connection with a reliable, locally based financial institution. The synergy benefits include a wider exposure to local business contacts in differing fields; as well as an additional degree of control, made possible by the fact that the various joint venture projects have to maintain their accounts with the bank.

We have a number of projects within DPRK, including two 50/50 joint ventures:

– Hana Electronics JVC, a consumer electronics company now ranked as one of the top three best performing joint ventures in DPRK, as assessed by the Ministry of Finance.

– Sinji JVC, whose main areas of operations are retail, software and bonded processing.

Full details about our company can be found on our website www.pcvltd.com

I am the CFO of Phoenix and am a chartered accountant with over twenty years international experience of FMCG industries, consumer electronics, rough diamond distribution and the Internet. I have worked in KPMG, Philips Electronics, De Beers and run my own Internet company. I am also a Scholar on Gerson Lehrman Group Councils.

In November 2007 I reached the finals of Accountant of the Year held by the Association of International Accountants at the President’s Awards Dinner 2007. This award is designed to recognise organisations’ accountancy stars.

In January 2007 I was awarded, based on recommendations from fellow members of the ICAEW, a New Year’s Honour by AccountingWeb. The award was for my services to the accountancy profession in opposing the merger of the ICAEW with other accountancy bodies.

In November 2006 I was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Institute of Professional Financial Managers (IPFM), for my services to the accountancy profession.

In January 2006 Accountancy Age placed me on their Financial Power List for 2006. I was 11th on their list of the top 50 of “The Ones To Watch”. The list identified the “most influential names to look out for” in the world of finance for 2006.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: We read on your website “offers investors business and investment opportunities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), enabling them to take advantage of the economic reforms that are taking place there.” Can you tell us what kind of opportunities this could be?

Ken Frost:There are three main areas of investment opportunities open to investors, which we can facilitate within the DPRK:

1 Small scale investments ($500K or less) yielding good levels of return (20% or more).

These investment opportunities are in local production (consumer goods, bonded processing, software etc) for domestic market consumption and export. These utilise the advantages that DPRK has over all the other countries in the region namely:

– 99% literacy
– skilled/disciplined/hard working workforce
– well educated workforce, many speak a good level of English
– lowest wage rates in the region

Phoenix has a number of opportunities that it can offer investors in this area; eg bonded processing, consumer manufacturing, clothing manufacturing and software development.

2 Natural resources

DPRK has proven abundant natural resources worth several trillion dollars; eg coal, gold, copper, titanium, lead, zinc, nephelite, nickel, magnesia, graphite etc.

The investment required would be of a higher order than the small scale investments above, $1M plus. The money would be used to bring existing mines back to production, by pumping out flood water and renewing worn out capital equipment.

Phoenix has, via its working relationship with CPEEC, a number or opportunities in the natural resource sector that it can offer genuine investors.

3 Infrastructure development

Clearly investment in infrastructure is the costliest form of investment. However, given the dilapidated state of the roads, railways, ports, electricity grid etc it is necessary if the economy is to be revived.

DPRK also has a keen interest in infrastructure development focussed on green/renewable energy areas.

Phoenix has on it books a profitable renewable energy project that would suit a serious, well financed and experienced green energy investor.

The DPRK is the final economic frontier and is a “green field” site. Its primary advantages are:

– Location (physical position between Russia, South Korea, China and in AP)
– Location (historical, all the major players now want to move forward)
– Location (resources, it has abundant rich resources both mineral and human capital – high literacy, well educated etc)

Klaus-Martin Meyer: What are the main differences between your company and a conventional venture capital company that is investing for example in internet our biotech companies?

Ken Frost: Companies such as those you mention are industry-specific, whereas ours is location-specific. Our company is relevant to people who might want to invest in the DPRK.  We work in the DPRK and have a physical presence in the DPRK, other “conventional” venture capital companies do not.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Are there any differences to other investment companies?

Ken Frost: We apply the same principles to potential investments as any other professional investment company, we look at:

– the risk
– the returns
– the quality of the local management
– the quality of the business plan
– the size of investment
– the share offered for that investment etc

We also pay very close attention to corporate governance issues such as; financial reporting, management structure and ethics etc. We have a code of conduct which can be seen on our website.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd is committed to being a responsible corporate citizen and to the pursuit of a sustainable future, both economic and social.

Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd adheres to three fundamental ethical principles:

– Integrity
– Competence
– Courtesy

To this end Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd has developed a Code of Conduct, which sets out to ensure that these principles are followed in its operations. The Code of Conduct governs Phoenix’s business decisions and actions. The Code applies equally to corporate actions, and to the behaviour of individual employees when conducting business on behalf of Phoenix.

We work very hard with our local management teams and business partners to ensure that international standards re reporting, corporate governance and ethics are understood and followed.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: What are your plans for the company’s future? How do you see Phoenix Commercial Ventures in five years time?

We see the coming period for Phoenix as that of being continued growth.

In our view there will be a major upswing in economic relations between the DPRK and other countries over the coming months/years. Phoenix Commercial Ventures is uniquely placed to take advantage of, and to respond to, that upswing.

We are one of the very few organisations to have made successful joint ventures in the DPRK. We are also one of the very few organisations to have people with many years’ experience, and cultural sensitivity, actually on the ground in Pyongyang. You cannot run a business by email!

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North Korea looks to recycle toxic waste

Monday, June 30th, 2008

UPDATE 3 (2013-3-15): Michael Rank offers more information on the DPRK – Taiwan nuclear waste deal:

North Korean-Taiwan nuclear waste deal thwarted over export permit
By Michael Rank

A Taiwanese report says one reason the North Korean nuclear waste deal fell through was that Taipower didn’t obtain an export permit for the waste from the Taiwanese Atomic Energy Council (AEC).

It also says that Taipower claims no final deal was ever signed, so there is no question of the agreement being violated. It quotes Taipower official Huang Tien-huang as saying the North Koreans blocked them from viewing the processing site at Phyongsan (Pyeongsan, 평산, 平山), while the AEC also had procedural problems with the North Koreans, leading it to refuse an export permit.

North Korea has hired a (presumably Taiwanese) lawyer, Tsai Hui-ling, to plead its case, and is claiming NT$300 million (US$10 million) compensation. Tsai can be seen on this English-language video clip.

A PRC report quoting Taiwanese reports says the first stage of the deal worth US$75.66 million envisaged shipping 60,000 barrels of nuclear waste, and a further 14,000 barrels in the second stage, with a total value of $150 million and that the North Koreans were after the deal as a source of foreign exchange at the height of the famine. There have been ten rounds of negotiations to try to resolve the dispute, the report says, adding that Taiwan decided in 1999 that it would process the waste domestically.

As I reported in 2008, North Korea signed a deal with a Chinese company to recycle industrial waste that is so polluted that other countries have refused to handle it.

A slightly fuller Chinese report than the one I cited earlier names the Chinese company involved as Dalian-based Huatai Recycling Resources Co Ltd and says it has close links with the North Korean National Defence Commission, foreign ministry, environment ministry and foreign trade ministry.

It also says the North Koreans have four large recycling sites at Sinuiju and Nampo, two for lead batteries and two for electronic goods, and that they are able to recycle a wide array of equipment, from plastics to refrigerators as well as computers, phones and scanners, including goods that are banned for recycling in China.

It is not clear if the Chinese-North Korean deal was actually implemented.

UPDATE 2 (2013-3-2): The DPRK intends to sue Taiwan for breach of contract in its failure to begin the Taiwan – DPRK waste management project. According to the China Post (Taiwan):

North Korea is poised to sue Taiwan Power Co. (台電) for damages of NT$300 million, over an alleged breach of a contract signed more than 16 years ago, according to lawyers working on Pyongyang’s behalf.
Litigation will begin March 4, North Korea’s legal counsel said.

In 1996, Taipower allegedly committed to a contract with North Korea in which nuclear waste from Taiwan would be shipped and stored in the isolated communist nation, according to reports.

However, the plans were halted due to North Korea’s then-inadequate waste storage facilities and the sudden eruption of international uproar over the scheme, with Taiwan paying US$8.72 million to preserve a five-year option period in 1998, according to the lawyers, who added that North Korea continued to invest in its waste storage facilities under the assumption that the deal would be completed.

After over 10 rounds of negotiation over the past 15 years, North Korea is now accusing Taipower of complacency and negligence, citing a lack of communication and effort to fulfill the agreed-upon obligations.

In light of North Korea’s unexpected litigation, Taipower has said that such a dated case needs a comprehensive internal review before a response can be formulated.

The lawsuit marks a surprising development in the ongoing row over the proposed plan to construct a fourth nuclear power plant in Taiwan, as the ruling and opposition parties wrestle over the terms of the proposed referendum, which would decide the fate of the plant.

UPDATE 1 (2009-1-8): A Taiwanese official is under investigation for activities related to the Taiwan – DPRK waste management deal. According to the AFP (via Singapore’s Straits Times):

The Apple Daily reported on Thursday that prosecutors had begun investigating claims that Chen might have pocketed 300 million Taiwan dollars of financial aid in 2004 and 2005 in exchange for North Korea handling the island’s nuclear wastes.

The daily, which did not name its sources, alleged the cash would be given to a high-ranking North Korean official through a contact who promised to help Taipei set up a ‘direct communication channel’ with Mr Kim Jong-Il’s regime.

However, Taiwan did not establish any form of contact with North Korea nor send its nuclear waste to the communist state after the foreign ministry paid the money, the report said.

Self-ruled Taiwan is formally recognised by only 23 countries and does not have diplomatic ties with North Korea.

Read the full story here:
Funds were for N.Korea
AFP via Straits Times
1/8/2009

ORIGINAL POST (2008-6-30): According to Michael Rank in the Telegraph:

North Korea is planning to recycle waste that is so polluted other countries refuse to handle it.

Through a Chinese-language website (link here) the country is seeking supplies of plastic and electronic waste which “can be processed in [a North Korean port] but which other countries and territories are restricted from dealing in”, reflecting the country’s dire economic plight and its scant regard for international norms.

Isolated and desperately poor, North Korea is a beginner so far as toxic waste is concerned, although in 1996 it signed a deal with Taiwan to dispose of its nuclear waste from atomic power plants.

South Korea reacted furiously to the deal and Taiwan was eventually forced to back down and cancel the agreement.

North Korea also offered to recycle the North Sea Brent Spar oil storage platform, which Royal Dutch Shell had proposed dumping in the deep Atlantic in 1995.

This caused an environmental furore, with Greenpeace claiming that the structure was full of oil and burying it at sea would result in serious pollution.

An enterprising young North Korean official in London unexpectedly offered to come to the rescue, suggesting that his country could dispose of the structure, saving Shell and the British government from further embarrassment.

The offer was turned down as Shell didn’t want to be seen turning to a regime as dubious as North Korea, but Greenpeace’s own reputation took a serious knock when it was forced to admit that it had enormously over-estimated the amount of oil remaining in Brent Spar’s storage tanks.

North Korea’s waste recycling plans are part of a much bigger, £5 million ($10 million) project to enlarge a port on its west coast and develop it into an export base including a duty-free zone.

“There are no limits, any business taking advantage of [North] Korea’s low labour costs for intensive processing is welcome,” the website states.

Although the port is not named, it is almost certainly Nampo, which is close to the capital and is the largest harbour on North Korea’s west coast. The development covers 30,000 square metres (320,000 square feet) and is “expandable”.

The port currently accepts vessels of up to 10,000 tonnes but the plan is to increase this to 50,000 tonnes.

The project is pitched at Chinese companies, and interested parties are asked to contact a firm in the Chinese city of Dandong on the North Korean border.

A deal with China would help to counterbalance a recent agreement with state-owned Russian Railways to build a £50 million ($100million) container terminal on North Korea’s east coast as part of a £1.5 billion ($3 billion) plan to create a rail corridor linking South Korea with Europe via North Korea and Russia.

Russian Railways wants to turn the port of Rajin into a hub capable of handling 320,000 containers a year for shipment from South Korea to Europe.

Russia and China have fought bitterly over rights to refurbish Rajin. A few years ago China appeared to have won out when a 50-year deal was announced with the Chinese border city of Hunchun, but this came to nought and Russia was the ultimate winner in the battle to revitalise the north-eastern port and ultimately link it with Europe.

The original source, a Chinese language website, is here.

To read the full story click here:
North Korea in bid to recycle toxic waste
Telegraph
Michael Rank
6/30/2008

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