Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
Recently the benefits of unmanned factories that do not require much manual labor are being largely advertised in North Korea. The propaganda for automated factories are analyzed to have strengthened from this year.
The Kim Jong Un regime has continuously emphasized the need for factory automation to achieve economic results and is actively publicizing that it is improving the working life for the workers.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on November 19 that the full automation of the production process of bread and confectionaries manufatured at the KPA Food Factory No. 354 was accomplished. It stressed, “The results of the modernization of production plants brought the cost of labor and production down while enhancing the quality of production efficiency and the quality of the products.”
In particular, it boasted “The work experience for female workers without hand labor is bringing them joy and merry tunes.”
On November 16, another North Korean media reported that Kim Jong Un had made an onsite inspection to this factory and commented, “What I find most pleasing is that by automating all production process, hand labor was eliminated and liberated the workers from hard labor.”
The Rodong Sinmun, official newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Korea, reported on November 19 about the productivity of the Sinuiju Knitting Factory and described that, “through mechanized work processes of hand labor, it is contributing to the improvement in quality and productivity.”
Then on November 12th, the Rodong Sinmun also reported on Kim Jong Un’s onsite inspection to the 11. 2 Factory that supply food items to soldiers and he is reported to have instructed to make the production processes computerized and automated.
In March this year, Kim Jong Un delivered a speech at the State Light Industry Convention where he mentioned to incorporate CNC (computer numerical control) into production and machine equipment and stressed the automation process. He recognized Pyongyang Essential Foodstuff Factory as an exemplary factory for its achievements in automation.
The added emphasis on the factory automation reflects the Kim Jong Un regime’s aspirations in science and technology achievements.
In the Kim Jong Un regime, knowledge economy era places higher importance on knowledge, information, science and technology than physical labor. The current effort in promoting the state-of-the-art technology, including computers, in the unmanned factories demonstrates this point.
In addition, the automation of factories is analyzed to be associated with the new economic improvement measures.
The North Korean media’s coverage on the advantages of the automated factories are named as improved production costs and production efficiency and these concepts are an important market economy components used with the intention of dissemination competition in economic units.