Archive for the ‘DPRK Policies’ Category

May 30 Measures (5.30 Measures) [UPDATED]

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

UPDATE 7 (2015-2-24): The Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) has published a report on the “Socialist Enterprise Management System”:

“Socialist Enterprise Management System” under Full Implementation

According to the Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan, North Korea began to strengthen its economic reform measures by enhancing autonomy in industries from August 15, 2013.

The article entitled, “A Look to the Bright Prospects of Building a Powerful Economic Nation” was introduced. It covered a research forum held on February 11 in Japan in commemoration of the Day of the Shining Star.

The article quoted Professor Jae-Hoon Park of Choson University in Japan: “The new economic management method that was adopted into the industrial and agricultural industries from August 15, 2013 was recently formalized into the ‘Socialist Corporate Responsible Management System’ and specific measures were named to fully implement the measures.” He elaborated further on the achievements of the economic reform measures.

This is the first time to hear that a new economic reform measure went into effect in North Korea from August 15, 2013. Previously, North Korea had announced its plans to undergo new economic measures in June 28, 2012 and May 30, 2014.

The Choson Sinbo explained the ‘Socialist Corporate Responsible Management System’ is a new economic reform system in which, “business enterprises are granted certain rights to engage in business activities autonomously and elevate the will to labor through appropriately implementing the socialist distribution system.”

This measure emphasizes the autonomy of business enterprises and is seem to be an expansion of the previously mentioned June 28 and May 30 measures.

In addition, another participant at the forum, Professor Ho-il Moon, explained that “[Work Team] (pojon) responsibility system was introduced from 2013 nationwide. This system was developed to overcome the limitations of equalization of product distribution that goes against socialist distribution principles.”

This year North Korean state media is emphasizing the production in the agricultural industry, and touting the fruition of the pojon system. As a result, the Kim Jong Un regime’s agriculture reform with the pojon system at the core of the changed policy is expected to gain in strength.

According to the Rodong Sinmun, an article on February 6 introduced a successful case of pojon system in an article entitled, “Pojon Responsibility System that Produced Silver.” The article introduced the successes of a cooperative farm in Yongchon District in North Pyongan Province where it is reported to have reaped in more than one ton per chong (or 9,917 square meter) of crops from the previous year in 2013.

The pojon responsibility system reveals a reduction in size of work units working on cooperative farms (previously 10 to 15 people) to a smaller number (3 to 5 people per farm), with each group responsible for cultivating a portion of land. Speculation is that this measure by North Korea may be a precursor step before transitioning to a private farming system.

UPDATE 6 (2015-2-17): The Tongil-Ilbo claims to have a four-page document produced by the North Koreans to explain the 5.30 Measures to foreigners. They did not publish the four page document (why?), but they wrote about it on their web page. Here are some English translation notes from the article:

Could 1st Sec. Kim Jong-un become the North Korean Deng Xiaoping?

– On March 30th, 2013, North Korea adopted Byungjin (병진). Based on this strategy, for now, Kim Jong-un focuses more on economic construction. In 2015 New Year’s address, he emphasized enhancing the living standard of the people.

– Some say that Kim Il-sung tried to construct a political ideology for the nation through the Juche Idea. Kim Jong-il emphasized a “military power nation” based on nuclear power through its military first policy. Kim Jong-un is trying to be Deng Xiaoping in North Korea through economic development.

– Last year, Kim Jong-un proposed the direction of new economy policies through 5.30 Measures, and there is a strong likelihood that North Korea announces specific economic measure from the conception of policies this year marking the 70th anniversary of founding Workers’ Party.

Our Style Economic Management Methods
– 5.30 Measures (5.30담화), announced on May 30th last year with officials who are in charge of the party, state, and military organizations, are about establishing “Our Style Economic Management Methods” (우리식경제관리방법) according to the needs of the day for development.

– In these measures, Kim Jong-un said the methods should be established based on Byungjin (병진) in order to successfully realize the construction of a strong and prosperous socialist nation.

– Especially, Socialist Corporate Responsible Management System (사회주의기업책임관리제) allowed factories (공장), enterprises (기업소), and cooperative organizations (협동단제) to have practical management rights over the means of production based on socialistic ownership (사회주의적 소유), which makes laborers fulfill their responsibility for production and management and realize the principle of collectivism.

– Kim Jong-un urged in the New Year’s address this year that all the factories (공장) and enterprises (기업소) should reduce import dependence or get rid of imports (수입병: “import disease”, too much dependence on imports) and to try to localize materials and facilities [AKA import substitution].

Emphasis on Both ‘Principle’ (원칙) or ‘Actual Benefit’ (실리)? Where should we be more focused?
– As Kim Jong-un pointed out not just the socialistic principle, but also the achievement of actual economic benefits through objective economic principles and scientific logic, he practically focused on “actual benefits”.

– The 5.30 Measures also highlights scientific technology including the importance of scientification (과학화) in economic guidance (경제지도) and all the procedures and elements of production (생산) and enterprise management (기업관리).

– It urges enterprises (기업소) to actively develop new technologies (기술) and new products (신제품), and improve their quality by exercising the authority over product development (제품개발권), quality management (품질관리권) and human resource management (인재관리권), which elevate their competitiveness.

– More specifically, it recommends that factories (공장), enterprises (기업소), and cooperative farms (협동농장) implement Responsibility System (담당책임제) to use and manage national/cooperative property (국가적 협동적 소유) including machine facilities (기계설비), land (토지), and facilities (시설물).

– It is also provides that enterprises (기업소) should assess labor, and distribute in compliance with socialism so that workers receive (받다) fair/commensurate (공정한/일한것만큼) compensation.

– Kim Jong-un urged officials to learn advanced management knowledge and eventually to raise the level of management.

– In the 2015 New Year’s address he emphasized the importance of improving people’s standard of living and constructing an economically powerful and self-supporting economy (자립경제). He also proposed to diversify foreign economic relations (대외경제관계) and to actively carry on its economic special district development business (경제개발구개발사업).

Working-level Taskforce(실무 상무조) is a new generation, assembled for planning and implementation
– It seems that a taskforce (실무 상무조) that normally consists of executives (간부) of each ministry (성) and committee (위원회) was constructed around cabinet executive office (내각 사무국) and national planning committee (국가계획위원회), and it is making specific implementation plans, said Jung Chang-hyun, an adjunct professor of Kukmin University.

– It seems that the taskforce is composed of a younger generation staff, and unlike the 2002 7.1 Measures which were comprehensively implemented, the 5.30 Measures are likely to be implemented incrementally.

– This year, the 70th anniversary of independence, at the same time, for North Korea, the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Workers’ Party, there would be a great celebration on October 10th for the anniversary of founding the party in North Korea, and success or failure of the celebration would depend on economic development, especially, the improvement of living standard of the people that Kim Jong-un proposed at the New Year’s address.

UPDATE 5 (2015-2-9): A Chinese journal has published information on the May 30  Measures.

UPDATE 4 (2015-2-5): Andray Abrahamian at Choson Exchange writes about the May 30 Measures in the Wall Street Journal

UPDATE 3 (2015-2-5): A new report by the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) refers to a Choson Sinbo article and implies that financial reforms will also be part of the May 30 Measures:

New Economic Management Improvement Measures to Support Financial System Reform

North Korea has a new economic development goal with a target to draw the accumulated capital of North Korean people to promote economic development. Changes to the financial system are being introduced including development of various savings products and promotion of people’s credit card use.

The president of the Central Bank of the DPRK, Kim Chon Gyun, interviewed with Choson Sinbo (a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan) on February 3 and explained the role of the bank — responsibility for the state’s overall monetary distribution, financial leadership and management — and the recent changes taking place in the bank.

According to President Kim, “The country is trying to better circulate domestically hoarded money to meet the demand for cash in the country’s developing economy.” In this effort, the regime is developing various financial products as well as encouraging its people to use credit cards.

This is an indication that the regime is working on various measures via the development of a variety of banking products to attract more people to deposit money in the bank and use credit cards for purchases.

With increasing international sanctions against the country, North Korea is suffering from foreign capital shortages and is attempting to attract people’s private funds to the bank to fund economic development plans.

“With the establishment of our-style economic management methods, there are plans of improving the methods of financial and economic institutions and installing financial measures in accordance with the emergence of entrepreneurial activities,” said Kim.

This shows that the spread of the market economy is expanding the autonomy of enterprises and increasing the role of the bank in lending activities to provide funds for companies.

Accordingly, speculations are that financial reform is taking place to raise capital in relation to the recent announcement by Kim Jong Un of the May 30th measures, through expansion of individual’s disposition rights, autonomy of enterprises, and decentralization of power.

Meanwhile, the Rodong Sinmun reported on February 3 that “Choson [North Korea] has steadfastly entered the road to happiness.” The newspaper vaunted the achievements of the Kim Jong Un regime, listing as successes the construction of Pyongyang Nursery, Wisong (Satellite) Scientist Street, and Munsu Water Park.

The news reiterated that major changes are underway to resolve food shortages, expressing confidence in economic measures with significantly increased autonomy of economic units. This hints at how the autonomy and decentralization granted to economic agents is acting as an important engine for economic development.

I am still trying to track down a link to the original Choson Sinbo article, but I believe this is it. Here is additional coverage in the JoongAng Ilbo and KBS.

UPDATE 2 (2015-1-26): The Choson Sinbo published an article called “Construction of economy based on the parallel pursuit of economic development and nuclear armament /병진로선에 기초한 경제건설/사회과학원 연구사가 말하는 《현장의 변화》”. A respected colleague has translated the parts related to the “May 30 Measures” and the earlier “June 28 Agriculture Measures” below:

Professor Ri Ki-song [economic research laboratory of the Academy of Social Science] also mentioned that the “Our style economic management /우리 식 경제관리방법의 확립”, which is receiving attention from other countries, also promptly meets the needs of today in terms of North Korea’s earnest strive for economic revival in a peaceful environment.

“At the end of 2011, our supreme leader Kim Jong Un gave guidance on the direction of North Korea. Scholars and workers of the economic field have examined the improvement proposals and broadened its implementations after demonstrative introductions in some units. Last May, our supreme leader also clarified the principle problems concerning ‘Our style economic management methods’.”

According to the professor there are three “clarified principles”. First is accomplishing government’s unified guidance and strategic administration in the economy sector. Second, properly accomplishing responsibility management system of socialist companies in factories, corporations and collective organizations and lastly guaranteeing the party’s leadership in economic business while also firmly promoting political business.

In the meantime, the parliamentary cabinet system along with the parliamentary center system of North Korea has been strengthened and a series of rights (programming rights, organization of production rights, development of products rights, labor management rights, financial rights, joint cooperation rights, etc.) that enable all enterprises to actively and emergently lead business activities, have been readjusted.

During the past 2 years, production has increased in many business entities that accordingly brought on a rise in employees’ standard of living. There were many cases that guaranteed much higher living expanses than previous also in the suburban factories that Professor Ri had visited. There was significant increase especially in units that produced exports such as the Rakwon Machine Complex Enterprise.

In collective farms, a system within the work team management, which makes the farmers take responsibility for their assigned fields, interconnected with the farmers’ enthusiasm for produce and increase in grain production was seen as a result.

Professor Ri pointed out that “there are objective conditions that enable ‘the method that makes farmers take responsibility for the farming of their assigned field’ to be effective”.

“One is establishing a financial basis for agriculture. That is, the nationwide land readjustment program and organization of the natural flowing waterway that were realized in the 20th century by the order of our supreme leader Kim Jong Un. Other is the increase of national investments in the agriculture sector following the parallel pursuit of economic development and nuclear armament of the Kim Jong Un era.

Farmers in collective farms also received increased shares of agriculture produces according to the work done.

So this article sets up the narrative that Kim Jong-un launched the process for establishing new management measures in 2011.

UPDATE 1 (2015-1-15): According to the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES):

In a January 8, 2015 article publish by the Choson Sinbo (a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan), the North Korean economy was described as a “flexible collectivist system,” adding that “Choson’s (North Korea’s) socialist economy promotes the establishment of a collectivist system that can flexibly respond to the current development.”

The news article explicated that this system is “under the plan and unified guidance of the state which guarantees the socialist enterprises to achieve economic development through ensuring active and evolutionary actions.” This hints at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s plans to continually promote a somewhat relaxed socialist planned economy in the future.

Since Kim Jong Un came to power, his regime has taken action to change the management structure and expand the autonomy (and incentives) of enterprises and farms, inter alia. Such changes can be interpreted as North Korea’s moves to highlight the flexibility of the system and the independent actions of economic agents.

The Choson Sinbo article continued: “By adhering to socialist ownership and strictly following objective economic laws in economic guidance and management, rational and just economic space will be created.” It added that “the ultimate conclusion in the establishment of our-style of economic management system is the improvement of people’s living standards.”

According to the article, “Kim Jong Un announced a historic measure regarding the establishment of ‘our-style economic management method’ in May 2014.” This seems to confirm that the recent economic policy announced in North Korea was headed by Kim Jong Un. (Note that in his 2015 New Year Address, Kim Jong Un also emphasized the need for the Cabinet, state, and Party organizations to “make proactive efforts to establish the economic management method of our style,” suggesting it as an important task of 2015.)

Until now, there was only speculation that North Korea had plans to expand elements of the market economy and widen the scope of the policy target. The speculation was based on last year’s announced ‘May 30th Measures’, the details of which were vaguely known. However, this recent article by Choson Sinbo seems to support the certainty of this policy.

The newspaper further elaborated the importance of North Korea’s ‘parallel policy of nuclear and economic development’, but also emphasized the regime’s focus on improving people’s living standards through the “defense industry’s lead to develop the science and technology sector and introduce its achievements to the economic sector associated with people’s livelihoods.”

In regards to the recent US sanctions against the DPRK following the Sony Pictures hacking incident, the news article explained that North Korea was embarking on a variety of strategies — such as seeking multifarious development of foreign economic relations, realizing various trade transactions, increasing the ratio of domestic goods (versus imported goods) of raw materials and equipment — in order to minimize the impact of the US sanctions against the DPRK economy.

The news article concluded that North Korea is not likely to give up its current ‘parallel policy’, despite the foreign threats. Rather, in response to the threats, the DPRK is developing existing foundations of the self-supporting economy in order to be self-sufficient in raw materials and equipment and improve the ratio of domestic goods to imported goods.

ORIGINAL POST (2015-1-15): I was on holiday break when all of the discussion on the “May 30 Measures (5.30조치)” broke out on the internet, so I am getting a late start to this.

First there were two reports (both in Korean) that apparently discuss new “May 30 Measures”. One report is by the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) and the second is by the Hyundai Research Institute. I will see if I can get these translated (the key parts anyway).

In the meantime, here is a summary that appeared in Yonhap (2014-11-30):

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un regime may announce a new policy vision for politics and the economy next year as the country intensifies efforts to open up a new era of the new leader, a report by a local institute showed Sunday.

“There is a possibility that North Korea may propose a new set of governing norms and power structures as it opens up the era of Kim Jong-un next year, in which the three-year mourning period for (late leader) Chairman Kim Jong-il will have been ended,” said the report by the Institute for Eastern Studies at the Kyungnam University.

“(The country) could suggest a new power structure that suits the Kim Jong-un epoch as the National Defense Commission system was (introduced) for the Kim Jong-il era and the premier system for the Kim Il-sung era,” according to the report.

On the economic front, the North is expected to push to legalize a set of new economic measures the country has experimented with in recent years, the report said, adding homegrown market forces have been pressing for economic reform.

“North Korea’s efforts to lure in foreign investment to its special economic and economic development zones may continue into the (following years),” it noted.

Andrei Lankov commented on the new economic measures mentioned in the two reports–implying that these measures are built on the success of the June 28 (6.28) Measures–with management changes in store for the agricultural and enterprise sectors of the economy. Writing in Al Jazeera, he noted:

This time, the big news is indeed a decision, the so-called “May 30th Measures”, jointly issued early this year by the North Korean cabinet of ministers and the Central Committee of the Korean Worker’s Party. This decision was initially classified, but because it was supposed to be read by so many people, its contents have become public knowledge.

The contents are revolutionary. It seems that, at long last, North Korea has decided to begin Chinese-style reforms. Marshal Kim Jong-un is obviously inclined to do what his late father, Generalissimo Kim Jong Il, was too afraid to, that is, to attempt to transform his country into a developmental dictatorship, largely similar to present-day Vietnam or China.

This decision did not come out of the blue. Indeed, it agrees very well with what Kim Jong Un and his advisers have quietly been doing over the last three years – albeit the slow-motion transformation of the country has attracted little attention from outside world.

The first significant step was the introduction of the so-called “June 28th Measures”. These measures were introduced in 2012, but only became fully into force in 2013. While on paper, they did not look that ground-breaking, they represent a sweeping reform of agricultural management in the North.

The “June 28th Measures” allowed North Korean farmers to create their own production teams of five or six people. It was not explicitly stated, but it was a signal that individual households should register as “production teams”. Such teams were given a plot of land, the assumption being that they would toil the same area for several consecutive years. The land technically remained under the jurisdiction of the state-owned and state-managed “collective farm”, but the produce would henceforth be split 70:30 between the state and the production team (ie the family). Up until then, North Korean production teams had been much larger, and all produce had to be submitted to the state in exchange for a fixed daily grain ration that was allocated to every farmer.

Given the precedent in agriculture, the “May 30th Measures” are not quite as surprising as they may first appear, though they are indeed truly radical by the standards of North Korea before 2013.

According to these measures, from 2015, North Korean farming households (for ideological purposes still branded “production teams”) will be allocated not 30 percent but 60 percent of the total harvest.

Additionally, farming households will be given large plots of land – some 3,300sq m – to act as their kitchen gardens. Until now, North Korea, unlike nearly all other communist states, never tolerated private agriculture to any significant degree, and thus, for decades, kitchen gardens were limited to a meagre 100sq m.

The measures did not stop there, though. This time the North Korean leadership has set its sights on reforming the moribund and hollowed out state industrial sector. According to the reforms, directors of state factories will find themselves covered by a new “director responsibility system”. This system makes a director, hitherto state-appointed and carefully supervised representative of the party and state, into the approximate equivalent of a private businessman (factory managers in North Korea are almost always men). Under the new system, factory directors will have the freedom to decide how, when and where they purchase technologies, raw materials and spare parts necessary for their enterprises. They will also be allowed to decide who to sell to. They are also given the right to hire and fire workers, as well as to decide how much to pay for a particular job.

Under the new system, there is a tacit assumption that directors will be able to reward themselves generously for their own work – a feature that makes them virtually indistinguishable from private entrepreneurs in market economies. As a matter of fact, a few foreign delegations that recently visited North Korea were privately briefed about coming changes.

Lankov also wrote a similar article for the New York Times:

A new set of market-oriented reforms adopted by the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party and by the cabinet of ministers on May 30, 2014, appears to aim to liberalize the economy as a whole. The content of this classified economic policy document was first partially leaked to the South Korean daily Segye Ilbo in June. Later it was confirmed by many sources and is now widely discussed by Pyongyang watchers.

The “May 30 Measures,” as they’ve come to be known, envision the significant reduction of state control of the economy and a dismantling of central planning. Managers of state enterprises will be allowed to purchase items on a free market, making deals with other enterprises or even private businesses. They will be given the right to fire and hire workers, and pay them as much as they want.

At coal mines near the border with China, where the new “system of managerial responsibility” has been tested since late 2013, the best miners may now receive up to $70 a month, an exorbitant wage for the North.

Mr. Kim has also left untouched the unofficial private economy, which began to grow in the 1990s and now contributes significantly to North Korea’s tiny G.D.P., as much as 50 percent by some estimates. This economy of small businesses like food stalls, bicycle repair shops and truck deliveries, as well as larger ones like small coal mines and fishing companies, has never been explicitly accepted by the government. But since Mr. Kim’s ascension, officials have left this gray market alone.

The agricultural reforms are already bearing fruit. In 2013, the country enjoyed the best harvest in decades when — in a first since the 1980s — it produced nearly enough food to feed its population on a subsistence level.

Choson Exchange also offered some helpful comments from the Hyundai paper.

These items are probably also related:

1. Economic Management Improvement Measures – changes after one year (IFES, 2014-4-11)

2. North Korea’s ‘New Economic Management System’: Main Features and Problems (Korea Focus, Park Hyeong-jung)

3. Recent DPRK wage increases / economic management changes

4. Recent information on implementation of economic adjustment policies

5. “Securing economic profit,” fundamental to economic management (IFES 2014-10-31)

6. North Korea’s evaluation of its 2013 economic policy

7. Worker’s Party sets up Economy Department

8. North Korea making visible progress towards economic reforms

9. DPRK altering Commercial Distribution system

10. Kim Jong-un’s directions on improving economic management

11. Miners Fail to See Promised Salary Bump (Musan Mine)

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On the 349 slogans (not 310)–and the politburo meeting resolution

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Yesterday nearly every major media outlet reported that the DPRK had published 310 new slogans. This was inaccurate. The DPRK published 349 slogans. Here they are numbered in a PDF document. You might marvel that I would go and count them like this, but it was not that hard. Another friend told me there were 375, and he was also wrong.

Here is what Yonhap had to say about the slogans:

North Korea’s key governing party organs have released a set of campaign slogans calling for painstaking efforts to improve the livelihoods of its citizens, Pyongyang’s state media said Thursday.

The Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea announced the 310 slogans [ACTUALLY 349] to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the country from the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule as well as the founding of the governing party, according to the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA).

Noteworthy among the long list were calls to shore up the North Korean economy and enhance the livelihoods of the country’s citizens.

Among the slogans calling for livelihood enhancement was, “Make tireless efforts with an extraordinary determination to resolve the problems of the people’s living at any cost!,” according to the KCNA.

The slogans also stressed the regime’s willingness to mend ties with South Korea.

“It is a long-cherished desire of all the fellow countrymen and an urgent task of the nation to put an end to the tragedy of national division that has lasted 70 years,” one of the slogans read.

Lately, the North has shown signs of attempts to thaw long-standing tension with Seoul, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressing his desire to open inter-Korean talks during his New Year’s address earlier this year.

North Korea often announces such slogans encompassing all sectors of society on special occasions, hinting at the communist country’s policy direction going forward.

But more importantly, today (February 13th) KCNA announced a meeting and resolution of the KWP’s politburo:

On February 10, Juche 104 (2015), the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea met in Pyongyang, capital of the revolution.

Attending the meeting were members of the Presidium of, and members and alternate members of, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

The meeting adopted a resolution of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, titled, “On Greeting the 70th Anniversaries of the Founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the Liberation of the Country as Revolutionary, Auspicious Events of Songun Korea Which Is Prospering under the Leadership of the Great Party.”

The resolution stated that our Party, army and people will greet before long the 70th anniversaries of the founding of the glorious Workers’ Party of Korea and the liberation of the country in a meaningful way.

A grand celebration of the anniversaries will constitute an important occasion for exalting the brilliance of the immortal exploits performed by the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, who achieved the historic cause of national liberation, founded a revolutionary party of the Juche type and led our revolution along the road resplendent with victory, and for demonstrating the high prestige and militant might of our Party, which is adorning the new century of the Juche era with proud victories and prosperity.

Holding fast to the banner of independence, the great Comrade Kim Il Sung defeated the brigandish Japanese imperialists by fighting a bloody war for 20 years and thus achieved the historic cause of national liberation; and on the basis of the organizational and ideological groundwork of building a party and the glorious revolutionary traditions created in the flames of the anti-Japanese revolution, he founded a revolutionary party of the Juche type, the Workers’ Party of Korea.

By enhancing the leadership role of the Party in the revolution and construction, he led to victory the Fatherland Liberation War, postwar reconstruction and two stages of social revolution, built the people-centred socialist system of our own style, achieved socialist industrialization of our country from scratch, and turned it into a powerful socialist country, which is independent, self-supporting and self-reliant in national defence.

The great Comrade Kim Jong Il formulated ComradeKim Il Sung’s revolutionary ideology as Kimilsungism and developed our Party into an ideologically pure and organizationally integrated body in which monolithic ideological and leadership systems are firmly established, into a motherly party which has formed a harmonious whole with the masses and serves them, into a seasoned and experienced party which is possessed of a high level of leadership art, and into a promising party which has definitely been assured of the leadership being inherited.

In the days of the Arduous March and forced march, when our people and revolution faced the worst-ever hardships and trials, he developed our Party into the guiding force of the Songun revolution, firmly safeguarding the sovereignty of our country and nation, developing our motherland into a single-heartedly united politico-ideological power and into an invincible military giant, which no formidable enemy dares to provoke, and kindling the flames of the industrial revolution in the new century to lay a firm foundation on which we can effect a great leap forward, great innovations, in building our country into an economic giant.

The exploits of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, who laid an eternal cornerstone for the victorious advance of our country and revolution by leading the cause of building a party of the Juche type and a prosperous country along the road resplendent with victory, will shine for all ages to come.

It is the steadfast will of the respected Comrade Kim Jong Unto further develop our Party and our Republic, which were founded by Comrade Kim Il Sung and led by him and Comrade Kim Jong Il, into the party and state that will shine forever together with the ideas and august names of the great leaders.

By formulating Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism as the eternal guiding ideology of our Party and revolution, he has provided a fundamental guarantee for developing ours into the party of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and under the unfurled banner of modelling the whole society on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism, he is wisely leading to victory the showdown with the United States and the building of a thriving nation.

Under his outstanding and seasoned leadership, the prestige and authority of our Party are being raised remarkably, and the history and tradition of victory of heroic Korea are being carried forward to the hilt, and the cause of building a thriving nation is advancing full of vigour despite the incessant moves of the imperialist reactionaries to isolate and suffocate our country.

The respected Comrade Kim Jong Un said:

“We must hold up the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung andKim Jong Il as the eternal leaders of our Party and people, as the sun of Juche, and step up modelling the whole society on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism so as to build on this land a dignified, thriving socialist country, a powerful Paektusan nation, as wished by the great Generalissimos.”

All Party members, service personnel and people, rallied behind the Party ring after ring under the slogan “Let us all turn out in the general offensive to hasten final victory in the revolutionary spirit of Paektu!” must make greater efforts to create a new speed of the times, the speed of Korea, in building a thriving socialist country and demonstrate to the whole world the prestige and mettle of the prospering Songun Korea.

The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea has adopted a resolution on the measures aimed at greeting the 70th anniversaries of Party founding and national liberation as revolutionary, auspicious events of Songun Korea which is prospering under the leadership of the great Party by giving full play to the revolutionary spirit and mettle of Paektu. The resolution reads in the following vein:

First, we will hold the great Comrades Kim Il Sung andKim Jong Il in high esteem as the eternal leaders of our Party and people and add eternal brilliance to their immortal revolutionary exploits.

We will splendidly lay out the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the great Generalissimos are preserved in their lifetime appearances, as the eternal sanctuary of the sun and defend it to the death, and have their bronze and coloured statues set up at such important units as those visited by them.

We will renovate the Korean Revolution Museum as befits the storehouse of national treasures, where one can learn the revolutionary careers of the peerlessly great men of Mt Paektu and their immortal exploits in a comprehensive way, spruce up other bases for education in revolutionary traditions and intensify educational work through them.

Second, we will strengthen the Party and consolidate rock-solid the single-hearted unity of our Party and revolutionary ranks.

This is a decisive guarantee for carrying forward through the generations and accomplishing under the leadership of the respected Marshal Kim Jong Un the revolutionary cause of Juche and the revolutionary cause of Songun pioneered on Paektu.

We will establish stringent organizational discipline whereby the whole Party acts as one under the monolithic leadership of the respected Marshal, and consolidate the political and ideological position of our revolution by taking hold of public sentiments and uniting the masses of the people firmly around the Party.

Third, we will hold fast to the Party’s line of the Songun revolution so as to build up our national self-defence capability.

In order to achieve final victory in the showdown with the United States and speed up the building of a thriving socialist country, it is urgent to strengthen the People’s Army, the buttress and main force of the Songun revolution, develop defence industry and step up the work of arming all the people and fortifying the whole country on a high level.

We will establish the monolithic command system of the respected Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un more firmly across the People’s Army and press on with the movement of winning the titles of O Jung Hup-led 7th Regiment and Guards Unit, in order to develop the army into an invincible force of guards who are fully possessed of the spirit of defending their leader and country to the death, the strongest in idea and faith, and capable of winning all battles.

We will display the same spirit and mettle as we did in conquering outer space to manufacture larger numbers of powerful, cutting-edge military hardware of our own style that are of high precision, light, unmanned and intelligent, so that we can cope with modern warfare, and develop defence industry by relying on latest science and technology.

Fourth, we will raise a fierce wind and achieve a major leap forward on all the fronts where we are building a thriving socialist country, in order to usher in a great golden age of Songun Korea.

That all sectors and all units of the national economy accelerate the onward march to bring about an upsurge in the building of an economic giant is a sure guarantee for fully demonstrating the country’s might as a politico-ideological and military power and achieving a brilliant triumph in the struggle to build a thriving nation and defend socialism.

We will open up a shortcut to the building of the knowledge-based economy by developing science and technology and going beyond the cutting edge, and bring about a radical turn in improving the people’s standard of living by resolving the food problem of the people with crop cultivation, animal husbandry and fishing as the main thrusts and directing great efforts to developing light industry.

In particular, we will firmly take hold of agriculture as an area of major thrust, enlist and concentrate nationwide efforts for agricultural production, speed up the building of the livestock farming base in the Sepho area, and make a fresh turn in the development of animal husbandry.

We will open up a new era of “gold sea” and make the whole socialist country permeated with the fragrant smell of fish and other kinds of seafood by decisively bolstering up the fishing sector, and direct uninterrupted efforts to developing light industry so as to increase the production of consumer goods for the people.

We will thoroughly translate the Party’s Juche-oriented idea on architecture into reality and usher in a new golden age of construction by completing without fail and by the dates set by the Party such major projects as building the Sci-Tech Complex, Mirae Scientists Street, second-stage Wisong Scientists Dwelling District, Terminal 2 of Pyongyang International Airport, Building No 3 of Kim Il Sung University, Pyongyang University of Architecture and Secondary School No 1 and renovating the Central Zoo and Mangyongdae Schoolchildren’s Palace.

We will make a leap forward in the vanguard sectors, basic industries, including electric-power generation, coal mining, rail transport and metal, chemical and machine-building industries, and other major sectors of the national economy.

We will direct nationwide efforts especially to expediting the construction of the Paektusan Songun Youth Power Station, the multi-tier power stations on the Chongchon River and the Wonsan Army-People Power Station, and to stepping up modernization of factories and enterprises.

We will bring about a new turn in the fields of education, public health service, art and literature, mass media and sports and in conserving the cultural heritage of our nation and exalting their brilliance by putting spurs to the building of a civilized socialist nation.

We will enlist the whole Party, the entire army and all the people in restoring the forests of the country and improving the work of land administration so as to transform the appearance of the country’s land.

We will arouse the whole society to vigorously conduct mass-based movements like those of winning the titles of Forest of Socialist Patriotism and Model County in Afforestation, and push ahead with the work of covering the whole country with fruit and other trees and flowers on the strength of cooperation between the service personnel and people.

Fifth, we will make a vigorous effort to achieve the historic cause of national reunification and promote international solidarity with our revolution.

Holding aloft the slogan “Let the whole nation join efforts to open up a broad avenue to independent reunification in this year of the 70th anniversary of national liberation!” we will resolutely frustrate the anti-DPRK war moves and nuclear and human rights rackets by the US imperialists and the south Korean puppets and open up a broad avenue to independent reunification by uniting firmly all the fellow countrymen in the north, in the south and abroad under the banner of patriotism, under the ideal of By Our Nation Itself; we will also develop foreign relations in a multilateral and proactive way, and strengthen international solidarity with our revolution.

Sixth, we will organize and hold events in celebration of the 70th anniversaries of Party founding and national liberation as grand political festivals.

We will hold in grand style a parade of the service personnel of the ground, naval, air and anti-aircraft and strategic forces of the Korean People’s Army and a procession of Pyongyang citizens in celebration of the Party’s 70th anniversary so as to fully demonstrate at home and abroad the might of the service personnel and people united single-heartedly behind the respected Marshal.

We will also hold different political events in a meaningful way to mark these landmark anniversaries.

The resolution, in its last part, stressed the need for Party organizations and other political organs at all levels to thoroughly implement the tasks set forth in the resolution by scrupulously arranging organizational and political work to carry it out and regularly keeping up-to-date with the progress of the work, and for the Cabinet and other relevant organs to take administrative and practical measures to carry out these tasks.

Looking back with deep emotion upon the immortal revolutionary exploits the peerlessly great men of Mt Paektu performed for the development of the Party and the building of a prosperous country, our service personnel and people are now filled with a firm determination to work harder to achieve the final victory of the revolution under the leadership of the great Party.

Invincible is the cause of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the party of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, which is advancing under the leadership of the respected Comrade Kim Jong Un holding aloft the banner of independence and Songun, and certain is the final victory of the building of a thriving socialist nation, a powerful Paektusan nation.

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KCNA: Business success in store for foreign investors

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

According to the article:

A project to set up economic development parks has been steadily pushed forward in different parts of the DPRK, drawing attention of many foreign investors, says Ri Sun Hak, a department director of the Ministry of External Economic Relations.

He said the DPRK government has made all its efforts to create a legal environment favorable for the rights and interests of foreign investors.

The government encourages them to invest in the country on the principle of equality and mutual benefits, he said, and continued:

A series of laws on foreign investment, including the DPRK Law on Foreign Investment and the Law on Economic Development Parks, has been newly enacted, amended and supplemented to provide foreign investors with legal guarantee.

The DPRK government has already made the agreement on promotion and protection of mutual investment with 28 countries and agreement on prevention of double taxation with 13 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.

Rules and detailed regulations have been adopted one after another to introduce internationally recognized investment formulas in keeping with the actual circumstances of the country.

Now the DPRK government has been carried forward the cooperation with Russian companies in the fields of railway transportation and harbor express service, while establishing economic development parks and paying deep attention to different projects of cooperation with other countries in the field of investment.

Tourism is also gaining momentum with the development of Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang and Mt. Chilbo areas into fashionable tourist attractions.

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Master development plans [for EDZs] begin to work

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

According to the Pyongyang Times (2015-1-6):

The development of EDZs (economic development zones) is going full steam ahead in the country after the publication of decrees on the establishment of economic development zones in provinces by the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly on November 21 2013 and July 23 2014.

EDZ is a special economic zone in which preferential treatment is given to economic activities pursuant to the DPRK law on economic development zones.

After the publication of the decrees, provincial people’s committees began to work out master plans for economic development zones and create environment for investment.

As a result, master plans for such development zones have been approved by provincial people’s assemblies including the Amnokgang economic development zone in North Phyongan Province, Manpho economic and Wiwon industrial development zones in Jagang Province, Sinphyong tourism development and Songnim export processing zones in North Hwanghae Province, Hyondong industrial development zone in Kangwon Province, Hungnam industrial and Pukchong agricultural development zones in South Hamgyong Province, Chongjin economic, Orang agricultural and Onsong island tourism development zones in North Hamgyong Province, Hyesan economic development zone in Ryanggang Province, Waudo export processing zone in Nampho City, and Chongnam industrial and Sukchon agricultural development zones in South Phyongan Province.

Master plans for other development zones are being worked out at the final stage.

With master development plans approved, provincial people’s committees are now working to attract more foreign investors and developing businesses to cooperate with their projects.

In October last year the Russian minister of Development of Far East visited the Chongjin EDZ together with Russian businesspersons to check the state of development and discuss matters of investment and development with officials concerned of the North Hamgyong Provincial People’s Committee.

Cooperation is being stepped up with Chinese businesses in the Onsong island tourism development zone in the wake of the opening ceremony of tourism in the Chongsu tourism development zone in Sakju County, North Phyongan Province in October last year.

Governments of some Southeast Asian nations are showing particular interest in the investment in the Sukchon agricultural development zone in South Phyongan Province.

Preparations are expected to be made for receiving investment in the development zones and the EDZs offer preferential treatment to developing businesses and investors with independence in management.

Management agencies are being set up in EDZs, experts needed for the development of these areas trained in universities in Pyongyang and provinces and technical personnel dispatched to other countries for practice.

Brisk activities for the development of EDZs in provinces across the country are attracting growing interest of experts and investors in many countries of the world, especially Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asian nations.

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Supreme People’s Assembly adopts three EDZ-related regulations

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

Coinciding with the promotion of the nation’s economic development zones (EDZs), North Korea has recently decided to adopt three new regulations, including the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Operation Regulation of Economic Development Zone Management,” which opens up high-level positions in management organizations to foreigners within the various EDZs around the nation.

The three new regulations, including the “DPRK Operation Regulation of EDZ Management,” “DPRK EDZ Establishment Regulation” and the “DPRK EDZ Company Establishment Operation Regulation” were obtained and reported by the Maeil Business Newspaper on November 4, 2014 and were said to be adopted by the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly just two days later on November 6.

In May 2013, North Korea established the legislative basis for the creation of central-level EDZs (special economic zones, SEZs) and provincial-level economic development zones, and in October, the State Economic Development Board had its status elevated to the State Economic Development Committee and was given total control over business in EDZs. Then, on November 21, the Sinuiju Special Economic Zone (SEZ) was announced alongside thirteen other provincial-level EDZs. The following year, in June 2014, the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone was announced, followed by the July announcement about the designation of six additional economic development zones, including the Unjong Cutting-Edge Technological Development Zone.

It appears that these three new EDZ-related regulations are specific internal regulations in order to better implement the “Law on Economic Development Zones.” According to the first new regulation, the establishment of EDZs will “coincide with the state’s economic development strategy” and will have their establishment agendas written by the “Central Special Economic Zone Guidance Agency.” EDZs are said to be “advantageous to overseas economic cooperation and exchange,” and it was stipulated that EDZs are to be established in “areas of concentrated population,” as well as in “certain remote areas.”

With regards to the regulation on the operation of management agencies in EDZs, it was reported that “management operation at EDZs will be conducted by the EDZ’s Management Operation Association or Management Office (hereafter Management Agency).” Specifically, the regulation states, “Members of the Management Agency may be a person from [the DPRK] or another country who has extensive business experience and who possesses expert knowledge in their field,” showing that foreigners may now be entrusted with high-level positions such as chairman in North Korea’s economic development zones.

Furthermore, it was decided that “foreign and/or domestic experts may be invited to work full time or part time in their appropriate department according to the needs of the Management Agency,” stipulating that foreign experts outside of EDZ managerial positions may also be invited.

In terms of the regulation on the establishment and operation of corporations in EDZs, it was decided that “foreign corporations, individuals, economic organizations and overseas Koreans may invest in EDZs and establish and operate companies through joint ventures or individually.” The regulation also states, “Investment and economic activities are limited only to those who give knowledge to and promote the nation’s safety, the health of the people, a wholesome, socially moral lifestyle and environmental protection, and are prohibited to those who are lagging behind in terms of economic technology.” Instead, the regulation promotes the establishment of companies in the “infrastructure construction and cutting-edge technology sectors,” and has clearly stated that they will receive preferential treatment in the form of tax cuts, favorable land use conditions and other benefits.

Additionally, while the regulation did say that “companies must primarily employ labor from [the DPRK],” it held the door open for foreigners by saying that “a portion of management personnel, specific types of occupational experts and technicians may be employed from other countries.” The regulation also set specific standards for penalties should a company create problems. Businesses caught operating without a business registration or license will face charges between ten and fifteen thousand Euro, businesses who fail to report changes in their company registration will face fines between two thousand and five thousand Euro, and business founders who are caught pocketing investment money without lawful justification will suffer fines between ten and twenty thousand Euro.

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8.3 movement evolves in DPRK

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

According to the Daily NK:

The meaning of August 3rd has changed since the creation of the 8.3 Movement in the 1980s, taking on connotations of areas of previously unavailable liberty, at least in the workplace.

“The term ‘8.3’ used to just mean products that were not manufactured in factories,” a source in North Pyongan Province told Daily NK on August 4th. “Say it now, though, and a lot of people will interpret it as a sign of market influence.”

The 8.3 Movement was a state-led attempt to increase provision of consumer goods by having factories and enterprises source their own inputs, and production facilities produce commodities beyond the remit of central planners. The movement was named after the date Kim Jong Il ordered it, August 3rd, and goods manufactured under its rubric came to be known as “8.3 consumer goods.”

Consumers could not purchase 8.3 consumer goods in subsidised state shops; rather, they were sold directly at market prices. As the movement grew in scale and state-run enterprises pushed to increase productivity, so 8.3 Workers and even 8.3 Work Units were formed.

As factory production slumped in the 1990s, a situation that persisted into the 2000s, workers took to dodging their work duties and mass mobilization orders so as to engage in cottage industries: making their own goods to sell. A portion of their income went back to the state, a de facto tax, and this became known as 8.3 Money.

“As recently as a few years ago, the 8.3 Work Unit in a cement factory in South Pyongan Province would produce roof tiles and slates and sell them to construction firms at market prices,” the source said. “But now, doing private business to make 8.3 Money is getting to be more popular than working in the designated 8.3 Work Unit.”

According to the source, payments of 8.3 Money can be as little as 20,000 KPW per calendar month all the way up to 200,000 KPW, the equivalent of paying for 40kg of rice in a public market.

“8.3 Money sucks up about 5-10% of the earnings of a person working that way,” the source explained. “This means they could be earning up to 2,000,000 KPW per month.” People in this upper earnings bracket do things like trade bicycles or motorcycles, or sell hand-crafted furniture, she said.

Even organs of citizen control and regulation are influenced by 8.3 Money. The Korean Democratic Women’s Union [KDWU] is one such example. An organization dealing with family matters, the organization technically demands that all women over 30 be members; however, participation can be waived in exchange for a share of 8.3 Money.

“There are three tiers of 8.3 money contributors, dependent on their financial capabilities,” the source explained. “The ones that have complete freedom and are exempt from all duties pay the most. Then there are some who only participate in monthly studies and others who are only exempt from mobilization.”

This complete freedom comes at a price ranging from 240,000-480,000 KPW per quarter, but is seen as a worthwhile outlay. In effect, 8.3 Money marks out a certain type of class stratification.

“Workers who pay a lot of 8.3 money receive protection from [the Party] despite skipping mandatory self-criticism meetings. Those who don’t pay much have to attend all study sessions and mandatory meetings,” the source said.

“Factories are in competition to get the greatest amount of funds possible from workers, but workers want to move to factories where they have to pay the least 8.3 Money,” he added.

A North Korean friend once told me an 8.3 joke. If someone was “low-quality” they were personally referred to as “August 3rd” person. I wonder if 8.3 goods are still perceived as low-quality.

Read the full story here:
Culture of August 3rd Changing with the Times
Daily NK
Seol Song Ah
2014-8-5

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Kim Jong-un’s letter to participants in the National Conference of Agricultural Subworkteam Leaders

Friday, February 7th, 2014

UPDATE (2014-2-26): 38 North has posted an article on Kim’s agriculture speech here.

ORIGINAL POST (2014-2-7): You can download an English-language PDF of the letter here (copied directly from Rodong Sinmun). The bold/underlining was added by me as I read the article. Here is coverage by KCNA.

The speech does not really refer to any “paradigm-changes” in agricultural policy. As usual the emphasis is on raising output by increasing technology inputs and fortifying ideological strength. That being said, the letter does refer to a new policy intended to improve land management:

The subworkteam management system created by the President is an excellent form of production organization and a superior method of management, in that it encourages farmers to take part in production and management as befitting masters with the feeling of attachment to the collective economy. Its advantages have clearly been proved through practice.

By operating the system efficiently as required by the developing reality, the agricultural sector should bring the sense of responsibility and creative zeal of farmers into full play. It should give farmers clear-cut tasks related with soil management, farming operations and production plan and review their results in time and in a substantial way, thus encouraging them all to work in a responsible manner with consciousness and high enthusiasm as befitting masters. Recently a measure has been taken to introduce a field-responsibility-system within the framework of the subworkteam management system so as to inspire farmers with enthusiasm for production. By applying the system correctly in conformity with their actual conditions, cooperative farms should make it prove effective in agricultural production.

I am not the most qualified person to divine meaning from official pronouncements (particularly from the English translation) but this does seem to indicate that efforts have been made to introduce a new “field-responsibility-system”. This appears to be a change in the measurements by which members if a work team are evaluated. Rather than being rewarded for simple output quotas, there are now measurements for soil management and farming operations–coupled with timely and accurate measurement by work team leaders. There is no specific mention of reducing the number of individuals in a work team or other supposed policies associated with the nebulous 6.28 measures.

Interestingly in the very next paragraph, Kim Jong-un highlights one of the most persistent problems in socialist economics: poor labor incentives. He correctly notes that equal distributions to the workers irrespective of effort and quality will create unmotivated workers and production will fall. He notes that hard/effective work should be rewarded:

What is important in operating the subworkteam management system is to strictly abide by the socialist principle of distribution. Equalitarianism in distribution has nothing to do with the socialist principle of distribution and has a harmful effect of diminishing farmers’ enthusiasm for production. Subworkteams should assess the daily work-points of their members accurately and in good time according to the quantity and quality of the work they have done. And they should, as required by the socialist principle of distribution, share out their grain yields to their members mainly in kind according to their work-points after counting out the amounts set by the state. The state should define reasonable amounts of grains for compulsory delivery on the basis of accurate calculation of the country’s demand for grains, interests of farmers and their demands for living, thereby ensuring that they make redoubled efforts with confidence.

This, however, is basically a restatement of official policy. The state gets first claim on the output, the farmers fight for the leftovers….

Here is coverage in the Daily NK.

Addendum: Here is KCNA (2014-2-11) on the origins of subworkteam units:

Subworkteam Management System in DPRK

Pyongyang, February 11 (KCNA) — The national conference of subworkteam leaders in the agricultural sector was held successfully in the DPRK.

The conference underscored the need for the subworkteam leaders to bring into full play the advantages of the subworkteam management system, in order to carry out the theses on the socialist rural question in the country.

The subworkteam management system created by President Kim Il Sung is an excellent form of production organization and a good method of management which encourages farmers to take part in production and management in a responsible manner, attaching themselves to the collective economy.

One day in May Juche 54 (1965), Kim Il Sung went to Phochon-ri, Hoeyang County, Kangwon Province.

There he acquainted himself with farming, living conditions and management situation of workteams and subworkteams of the farm.

As workteam leaders had many people to deal with and many things to do, they were unable to properly manage manpower and production of their workteams.

Evaluation on labor was mostly done in an equal way, failing to enhance farmers’ production zeal.

That was the reason for low grain yield in the farm.

The same was true for other farms.

On the basis of deep analysis of the farm’s situation, he found out that the subworkteam management system was suitable for group’s working, instead of the workteam management system.

He saw to it that the subworkteam management system was introduced first in some co-op farms in Kangwon and other provinces.

Then, at the 12th Plenary Meeting of the 4th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea held in November Juche 54 (1965), he took measures to apply it to all other co-op farms throughout the country.

With the introduction of the system, the guidance and management system over the socialist rural communities was orderly established from grassroots units to state-level organs, which served as an impetus to bringing about upsurge in agricultural production.

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North Korean academic journal suggests conditions for attracting foreign capital

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-1-23

North Korea is promoting stable “political and military environment” as a necessary component to attract foreign investment and regional development through advancement in economic development zones (EDZs).

The Academy of Social Sciences’ newspaper (November 15, 2013 edition) published an article entitled “The Critical Issues in Advancement of Economic Development Zones to Construct a Powerful Economy.” Five major challenges were identified, which included the “creation of a favorable political and military environment.”

As the newspaper explained, “Investors take into consideration the political and military environment of the countries that they will invest in,” and “our fundamental objective is to ensure stability of investments through favorable political and military environment in the EDZs.” Other important issues raised in the article included the creation of a stable political situation, removal of the risk of war, and strengthening of military power.

This corroborates the reality that North Korea is faced with, as the country must create favorable political and military environment as the Kim Jong Un regime pursues its stated national goals of improving the lives of its people and the construction of a powerful economy.

In his New Year address, Kim Jong Un emphasized the need to improve inter-Korean relations and urged the South Korean government to positively respond to this effort. He also refrained from using confrontational remarks. North Korea seems to be demonstrating a willingness to manage the political atmosphere on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea is seeking to mollify the turmoil that followed the regime’s execution of Kim Jong Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, last month, and to encourage favorable atmosphere necessary for economic development.

In addition, the newspaper described the four other major tasks for the advancement of EDZs: infrastructure maintenance of railway, roads, airfields, ports, power plants, water and sewage, hotels, and postal services; enactment of EDZ laws that take into consideration the interests of the state and the investors; provisions for preferential treatment for foreign investors; and business management and operation that fully take into consideration regional characteristics.

In May 2013 North Korea enacted its new EDZ law and announced plans to install special economic zones across the country. In November 2013 the names of 13 EDZs were announced*, with each one said to be tailored to its own area’s local characteristics and environment.

*NKeconWatch: 14 zones were announced.

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North Korea’s ‘New Economic Management System’: Main Features and Problems

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Korea Focus
Park Hyeong-jung
Senior Research Fellow
Korea Institute for National Unification

Here is the summary/assessment:

The objective of the New Economic Management System in North Korea is the building of an “unplanned socialist economy,” or something similar to the “socialist commodity economy” China implemented between 1984 and 1992. Agricultural, industrial and financial measures that North Korea is trying to introduce along with the installation and expansion of special development zones under the New Economic Management System are mutually connected and therefore need to be simultaneously implemented.

North Korea has the conceptual blueprints for each economic measure and its leadership includes individuals who are interested in promoting the areas where they are specialized. However, the country apparently lacks the capabilities to create the proper economic and political conditions for these measures. Against this backdrop, production increase and overall economic growth cannot be expected and confusion would intensify.

North Korea had not made sufficient preparations economically and politically before the introduction of the New Economic Management System. Introduction of new measures inevitably affects the interests of those who had been active under the old system. Transitional imbalance may arise in the process of putting the new system into practice. Reserve resources are necessary to address such problems.

The sub-unit management system in the agricultural sector showed how the reform effort can be stymied. This new system spurs independent efforts of farmers and stimulates their motivation for production increase but it invited the resistance of agricultural bureaucrats. When the state and farmers begin to share products by a ratio of 7:3 instead of the previous ratio of 9:1, imbalance will emerge somewhere in the distribution of farm products. Reserve resources are necessary for such a sudden change. The same is expected of the industrial management system. Factory enterprises were given autonomous operation rights but the new system did not result in production increase. Reserve resources are needed here, too.

The new policy under the Kim Jong-un rule lacked consistency and often exposed zigzagging directions. Officials responsible for the implementation of the new policy were unable to win over dissenters and failed to secure reserve resources needed to overcome the material imbalance in the transition period.

Eventually, the management reform at factory enterprises and experiments with sub-units in farming areas were virtually abandoned. The sub-unit management failed because of resistance from agricultural bureaucrats, the authorities` unease about relaxation of peasant control and uncertainty about the food security for the privileged class. The sub-unit management system most seriously threatened the stockpiling of food grain for the military and the power elite. It is certain that the military was the biggest opponent to the new agricultural management system.

The New Economic Management System accompanied policies that reduced the privileged role of the military in the economy. Similar problems were certainly exposed in the reform of industrial and financial management, such as non-cooperation from the privileged group, concerns about loosening control of workers and managers, and lack of guarantees for special interests.

Yet, the sub-unit management in farms and increased autonomy of factory enterprises were not entirely meaningless. Interestingly, some in North Korea`s leadership believed that the sub-unit system with incentives to individual farmers was necessary despite many problems attached to the farmers` self-interests. Although it was not successfully implemented, it did help farmers gain more independence from state control.

The unavoidable trend of changes in the North calls for systemic reforms like the sub-unit management just as youths grow up to become adults and then to the middle age. The problem is how to operate the changed system to achieve production increase. To be successful, those in the North Korean leadership who advocate the New Economic Management System should be able to politically suppress those opposing it or win them over economically by assuring them of the distribution of surplus. What has happened to date shows that the new system has failed to make much progress in that direction.

Concerning the projects of building special economic development zones, similar problems have been detected. The Workers` Party Central Committee decided in a plenary meeting in March 2013 to take measures to diversify foreign trade, develop new tourist zones, and build special economic zones suitable for the specific conditions of each province. The Economic Zones Development Act was enacted in May and, as of October 2013, each province is boosting efforts to attract foreign investment and create new economic development zones.

The concept of special economic development zone can be defined as conforming to the “unplanned socialist economy” or the “socialist commodity economy.” But the success of special economic zones needs the three steps that were required to tackle the problems faced by the sub-unit farm management and the autonomous operations of factory enterprises as observed above.

MY NOTES:

This paper is the most comprehensive assessment of the origination and implementation of the DPRK’s “June 28″ policies.

The author classifies the June 28 policies as an attempt to transform the DPRK from a system composed of KWP rule + decentralized reform + state ownership of production means to KWP rule + coexistence of market and planned economies + state ownership of production means. This state is called “socialist commodity economy” or “unplanned socialist economy”. The transition involves moving management to enterprises and farms where production is carried out on the basis of contract and state planning.

The plan was carried out by a group under the cabinet led by Ro Tu-chol.

ENTERPRISE SECTOR:
* No more production quotas/Enterprises make own plans and profit distribution
* Raw materials are traded firm to firm via “direct supply centers” (intended to provide nominal state oversight of firm-to-firm transactions)
* Enterprise officials appointed/fired by KWP
*30% profit tax

AGRICULTURE SECTOR
*70/30 split of output (previously state took fixed share regardless of output)
*Smaller collective farm sub ubits
*Smaller private plots and kitchen gardens.

FOOD MANAGEMENT:
*PDS do be abolished but increased control of markets
*Government employees (teachers/doctors) to buy food at “food supply centers” (where all food producers sell supplies).
*military personnel are to buy food at subsidized/fixed price
*”Independent accounting enterprises” (August 3rd?) employees are to be paid in cash and buy food. Enterprises still controlled by state to get rations.

Stephan Haggard wrote about the paper here and here.

All posts on the June 28 policy can be found here.

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North Korea’s evaluation of its 2013 economic policy

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Institute for far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-1-3

North Korea concluded that despite international economic sanctions, its economic revitalization policy of 2013 was delivered as planned.

A report on the comprehensive evaluation of North Korean economy was featured in the Choson Sinbo, pro-North Korean newspaper based in Japan, on December 24. It pointed out that although DPRK-US relations worsened and resulted in tougher measures, “it provided the opportunity to mobilize the potential of the national economy.”

It reported that to be ready for a potential war, the farming process at cooperative farms was carried out early from the beginning of the year. In light industry and food industry, “stabilization of people’s lives” was championed as the main slogan in the drive to normalize raw material acquisition and production.

The news also reported, “factories, enterprises and cooperative farms are provided with conditions to conduct independent business activities,” and “economic management method was improved based on the principles that firmly adhere to the socialist economic system and the working mass as the owners of production activities to ensure the roles and responsibilities.”

In other words, the reinforcement of self-supporting system and introduction of a new method of operating a separate garden as a component of cooperative farms resulted in improved production and a 5 to 10 percent increase in the grain harvest per unit against the previous year.

In particular, the news emphasized that “this year is considered as the year of construction,” and boasted the construction of high-rise apartments and various cultural and sports facilities including horse riding tracks and water parks. Especially, Masikryong Ski Resort in Gangwon Province was announced to have gathered national and international attention.

Furthermore, the news recaptured the new policy of parallel “economic construction and nuclear arms development” announced in March 2013 and reported that “despite the hostile forces that concluded that the policy of parallel development was ‘infeasible’, the people are witnessing and feeling the changes taking place in the capital city through the new policy of parallel development that strengthened national defense with reduced cost to fully exert all efforts to rehabilitate the economy.”

In addition, the news also reported on the 13 economic development zones (EDZs) and analyzed that the EDZ policy “laid the foundation for foreign economic development that incorporated the changes in the international situation.”

Meanwhile, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on December 28 that an enlarged meeting for the plenary of the Cabinet was recently opened to discuss the issues of resolving the food crisis through improved agricultural production and new agricultural sector tasks for 2014. This is rare for a Cabinet plenary meeting to be held exclusively to discuss the agricultural issue, as all economic issues are normally handles at this meeting.

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