Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 to provide local products catered to consumers
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
The manager of North Korea’s Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 has revealed the store’s ambition to provide domestic products suited to the demand and tastes of its customers. In an interview with the North Korean website ‘Naenara’ on July 14, 2015, Manager Chong Myong Ok said, “If customers buy and use products that they like, they will come to know the true value of domestic products better.”
According to manager Chong Myong Ok, the Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 product exhibition, which started in December of 2010 and is held twice every year, is selling products produced with the goal of “regional industries catching up with central industries and central industries producing internationally competitive products.”
In July 2011, Kim Jong Il attended the second Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 product exhibition and visited the oil stand as many as three times, instructing the store to sell more than five types of oils, including soybean oil, sesame oil, perilla oil, rapeseed oil and corn oil.
Also, as Kim Jong Un emphasized in his 2015 New Year’s address the need for quality consumer goods, school supplies and children’s food, the Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 reported that it goes to over two hundred factories to procure goods.
“The light industry factories, which have a strong material and technical foundation and are modernized to meet the demands of this new century, are widely praised by the people and are churning out internationally competitive, high quality products,” said manager Chong Myong Ok.
He also revealed his hope that “in the future we can continue setting up product procurement businesses suited to the people’s rising standard of living while prioritizing the interests of the people and making progress in all matters that arise in commercial services like manufacturers’ order contracts.”
North Korea, which has set the goal of taking the lead in the global market by producing outstanding products, is trying to shed its present reliance on imports through enhancing the quality of its own products. This is consistent with its overall goal of achieving ‘self-reliance’ and the localization of its economy by producing goods that can compete in the global economy.
Surge in local product sales at Kwangbok Area Supermarket
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
According to the Tongil Ilbo, there are now a number of local products sold at Pyongyang’s Kwangbok Area Supermarket, which was built in October 1991. “By achieving the informatization and computerization of all business activities, from warehousing to the sale of goods, the Kwangbok Area Supermarket guarantees accuracy and speed in its service. It is a commercial service center managed to guarantee the maximum convenience of its customers,” North Korea’s independent newspaper reported on July 11, 2015.
It explained that the Kwangbok Area Supermarket, which has a total floor area of 12,700 m2, sells household products, electronics, general textile products, and grocery products such as confectioneries on every floor. In addition, each North Korean brand is sold in the relevant department, including brands such as ‘Ryongmasan,’ ‘Kuryonggang,’ ‘Kumkop,’ ‘Hwawon,’ ‘Mirae,’ ‘Songchon,’ and ‘Bommaji.’
Located on the first floor, the grocery department displays local products produced by factories like the Pyongyang Flour Processing Factory, the Kumsong Food Factory, and the Kumkop General Foodstuff Factory for Sportspersons. “People like to purchase locally-produced products […] In the future public service networks like the Kwangbok Area Supermarket will emerge in other places as well,” the newspaper reported.
Kim Song Won, manager of the Kwangbok Area Supermarket, commented, “With the unprecedented growth of the country’s self-sustaining economic foundation, there is greater demand among the people for variety and quality in their products […] Accordingly, we are bringing in many domestic products and are working to provide services so that customers can purchase products that they like.”
The newspaper revealed that since many residents who live outside of Pyongyang also come to the Kwangbok Area Supermarket, for their convenience the store has prepared all sorts of food stands on the first floor in addition to the third floor restaurant. Manager Kim Song Won explained, “When you prioritize the convenience and well-being of the people, you receive their love […] We will continue to work hard to make the Kwangbok Area Supermarket a service center that customers enjoy coming to.”