Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category
North Korea’s Ministry of External Economic Affairs stresses business at economic development zones is gaining momentumFriday, October 10th, 2014
In a September 29, 2014 interview by the Choson Sinbo, Director of North Korea’s Ministry of External Economic Affairs, Oh Tae Bong, reported that business in North Korea’s newly established economic development zones (EDZ) is gradually being ramped up. In the interview, Oh mentioned the Jindo Export Processing Zone in Nampo City as an example where foreign investment capital is being prepared for the construction of substructure facilities such as piers and power plants and factories for heavy industry like cement and steel.
The Jindo Export Processing Zone carries out technology transfers and exports completed industrial products to foreign countries. Specifically, Secretary Oh emphasized, “Several countries have expressed great interest in the Jindo Export Processing Zone, and investment contracts have already been signed with a few targets such as Hong Kong.” If the Jindo Export Processing Zone succeeds, it is expected that more processing zones will be developed around the country. If development goes smoothly, the structure of primary export products, including underground resources, would change drastically and promote product diversification.
Secretary Oh also talked about the results achieved through economic cooperation with neighboring countries, saying, “Our nation is consulting with Russian governmental organizations regarding the cooperation issues experienced with railroad reconstruction and modernization.” He mentions that certain agreements have already been made in August 2014, and commented that “Relations between two countries have great effect on foreign economic activity, such as investments.” In other words, despite the US and UN imposed economic sanctions against North Korea, Russia has taken an active stance toward economic cooperation with North Korea.
With regards to the Ministry of External Economic Affairs (formerly the Ministry of Foreign Trade), Director Oh explained that the ministry was newly reorganized in June 2014 to expand the state’s foreign economic activities. According to Oh, the ministry will contribute to the strengthening of economic ties between nations, and take unified command over trade, joint ventures, attraction of foreign capital, and economic development zones.
More specifically, Secretary Oh stated that “Since the Ministry of Trade, the Joint Venture and Investment Commission, and State Economic Development Committee have all been combined into one body responsible for foreign economic enterprises, business complexity has disappeared and unity has been secured.” It is said that, first, the process procedures necessary in economic trade activities have been simplified. Second, the combining of various departments among the three committees into one single organization has improved work efficiency. Finally, the agency-centered system has disappeared, allowing for a much more efficient foreign economic industry.
According to the Daily NK:
Independently owned taxi services have emerged in South Pyongan Province, Daily NK has learned. This is the only other confirmed location of such a service in North Korea, outside of Pyongyang and Rasun.
A source in South Pyongan Province reported to Daily NK on September 11th, “Taxis have appeared in Pyungsung [Phyongsong] and Suncheon [Sunchon] Cities and are quickly gaining popularity,” adding that, “Privately owned taxis are emerging as a new way to make money and the donju [new affluent classes] are quick to invest in the opportunity.”
Taxis managed by the Daedong River Passenger Transport Service Company in Pyongyang are widespread in the capital city as well as Rasun [Rason], but the cabs operating in Pyungsung and Suncheon only require registration with the Transport Service Company, after which they and are free to operate independently.
Originally, Daedong River Passenger Transport Service Company had plans to expand its operations to other regions, but budget shortages stymied these efforts, and the source surmised this as cause for the organization to begin issuing operating licenses, for a fee, to individually owned taxis instead.
As these privately owned taxis become more prevalent in Pyongnam [South Phyongan Province], Pyongsung, and Suncheon, vehicle sales, automobile parts, and recruitment and hiring of drivers continues to rise. The source estimated approximately 18 privately owned taxis in Pyungsung currently, with at least 8-10 operating in Suncheon.
A report by the pro-North publication Choson Sinbo [run by The General Association of Korean Residents in Japan] proclaimed last year that there were 400 taxis operating in Pyongyang. A taxi dispatching service [known as “call taxis” in South Korea] were among the other purported features offered to customers by the Transport Company in the capital city.
“These independently-owned cabs are not part of a state-run enterprise; they are personal businesses,” he explained. “After being granted an operating license, the donju are keen to purchase vehicles to employ as taxis. Cars imported for use as taxis through official trading licenses are taxed at high rates, so most use smuggled cars instead.”
In Sinuiju City, the Kangsung Port sees high volumes of exports serving to procure foreign currency that funnels back into the Chosun Workers’ Party, in addition to highly active smuggling operations. Members of the donju usually request a vehicle to utilize as a cab through the appropriate trading company and receive it through the Kangsung Port.
New vehicles to service as taxis sold at Suncheon Market cost approximately $12,000, while used cars are priced in the region of $6,000-7,000 USD, with additional payments of $500 sellers who have the connections to throw in an accompanying license plate.
Even those who receive the license plate in the market must go through the proper channels to start offering their services. “Taxis purchased by individuals must be registered with the Daedong River Passenger Transport Company in Pyongyang,” he said, nothing it to be a fairly simple procedure, “After being issued an operating license and license plate, they pass through the “No. 10 Checkpoint and they are immediately able to begin business operations.”
According to the source, the majority of individuals purchasing taxis are female, while the drivers are procured from the Transport Company or personal connections. The taxi owners generally conduct personal interviews before hiring the drivers, who are mostly males in their 30s and 40s; it is fiercely competitive process–one must pass through a competition of 50:1 to secure the job.
Potential benefits of the position are enough to ensure no shortage of applicants. With the exception of those areas off limits without a special license, namely border regions and Pyongyang, it is within taxis’ rights to go to most areas. These taxis fetch approximately $100 USD [80,000 KPW] per day, excluding fuel expenses, and cab owners pay the driver roughly 50% of these profits [including gas] as a monthly salary.
The exact amount that individual taxi workers owe the transport company in Pyongyang cannot yet be verified, though the source reported that a monthly offering in the region of $500 USD, for “the sake of formality,” must be contributed to management officials there.
Taxi fees run about 15,000 KPW for a 4km ride; bus fees are approximately 2000 KPW to go the same distance. A Pyungsung-Suncheon trip costs the passenger in the region of 75,000 KPW–extremely expensive compared to the 10,000 KPW bus fee to make the same trip. However, for those doing a great deal of business and working against time, taxis are the easiest option, explaining the increase in those employing their services.
The source asserts that the North Korean authorities’ inability to expand taxi operations due to budget shortages will inevitably lead to the spread of these individually owned cab services through the North. The ease of and lack of restriction on running such an operation will also see them continue to spread, “Everyone doing business will start to use them,” he said. “There aren’t that many taxis at the moment, and the price is expensive, but as the number of those owning the vehicles increases, the price will drop, as will the cost of motorcycles and bicycles.”
Read the full story here:
Taxis Take Off in South Pyongan Province
Seol Song Ah
Pictured above (Google Earth) the relative locations of Rason and Zarubino Ports
According to Port Technology International:
China and Russia are to join forces and morph Russia’s Zarubino Port into one of the biggest ports in northeast Asia, according to the Chinese People’s Daily.
Zarubino Port is at the far south-eastern tip of Russia and a stones throw from North Korea, and only 18km from China.
North-east China’s Jilin province and Russia’s Summa Group reportedly signed a joint-agreement concerning the rejuvenation of the port at the fourth Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), in Shanghai in May, 2014.
It is planned that the Zarubino Port will have the ability to handle 60 million tonnes of cargo once construction is completed.
ECNS, an English-language Chinese news source, reported a Summa deputy president as stating the planned port will be multifunctional, and is intended to “hugely benefit China and Russia”.
The port will be used to serve as a key port in ensuring the security of food provisions.
Read more at Voice of America.
Zarubina port is only 80km (directly) north-east of Rason. It will be interesting to see what kind of effect this project will have on development at Rason.
Competition rises among factories and department stores in North Korea: Delivery services now availableFriday, September 5th, 2014
It appears that some factories and department stores in North Korea have begun to implement a delivery service in response to customer demand. This new customer-oriented service seems to have arisen out of the Kim Jong Un regime’s goal of increasing autonomy and competition among businesses.
According to the newest issue of “Choguk” [Joguk] (“Motherland”, September 2014), a media outlet associated with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, North Korea’s representative state-run department store Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 has been making efforts to diversify the services offered to its customers. The article specifically revealed a personal delivery service, saying, “Salespersons have responded to the public’s requests and have begun to deliver ordered products to sell directly to customers at their doorsteps.”
Salespersons from Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 have also been travelling to power plants, mining sites, textile mills, farms and other worksites to sell products directly to workers and farmers. Other businesses, such as the Potong River Shoe Factory, have also been diversifying customer services. For example, employees now visit customers’ homes to measure shoe size and satisfy other requests they may have when placing an order for shoes.
The Daedong River Passenger Transport Company in Pyongyang is currently offering a taxi dispatching service to customers who call in and request a pickup. Similar to the workings of South Korea’s taxi service, North Koreans may simply dial “186” to be connected to the closest dispatch office, which then sends out a taxi to pick up the customer.
On the other hand, North Korea has recognized the problem of the low-quality products and poor construction work and has emphasized that efforts must be made to remedy these areas. In the most recent issue of the quarterly academic journal, Kyongje Yongu [Economic Research] (2014, Issue 3), one article points out problems in the poor quality of North Korean-made products and construction, saying, “Neglect in quality growth is an outdated attitude.”
Specifically, the article mentions the problem of promising completion of construction according to deadlines: “Technical regulations and construction methods are disregarded when projects are rushed to be finished by their completion date, which is often decided in advance to coincide with a holiday or anniversary.”
Currently, North Korea has undertaken large-scale construction operations to finish the Kim Chaek University of Technology’s faculty apartments, the Pyongyang Orphanage and Nursery, the North Pyongan Chongchon River Power Plant and other projects spanning various fields. The goal is to complete these projects concurrently with the anniversary of the foundation of the Worker’s Party of Korea (October 10).
At construction sites around North Korea, it appears that all available resources are being mobilized to engage in a so-called “speed battle” with these construction deadlines. The side effect of this huge emphasis on speed has resulted in many instances of poor construction, like the collapse of the 23-floor apartment building in Pyongyang’s Ansan-1-dong back in May.
The article also points out, “Despite attempting to work toward self-sustainability, there are events where lower quality, alternative products are being used below the material requirements that are leading to lowered quality work.” Furthermore, the article emphasizes, “Production and circulation of faulty products or products which cause harm to the health or lifestyle of the people must be stopped.”
It has also been reported that corruption is taking place at factories and construction sites, with party officials or intermediary managers amassing riches by siphoning off materials and pocketing the money. This leads to further problems in product quality and defectiveness.
Due to the issues of poor construction and product quality, the article points out, “There are many areas in our material economic life that fall behind the global trend,” but “if the quality of products and buildings are improved, the need to consider products from other countries will wane.”
In order to solve these problems, the article suggests implementing product standardization and specialization and encourages research in industrial design.
According to the Daily NK:
The Ministry of Unification released its plans for the 2014 Inter-Korean Development Program on August 18th. 96 new enterprises are among the proposals stipulated in the report’s 30 articles.
The chief components of the plan include:
1. the establishment of a channel for consistent Inter-Korean dialogue
2. a solution for the Separated Families issue
3. provision of humanitarian aid geared towards North Korean citizens
4. adherence to international regulations through a cooperative exchange system
5. the restoration of national solidarity through sociocultural exchanges
6. expanding other ongoing inter-Korean economic collaboration projects
7. normalization of Kaesong Industrial Park operations and
8. tailoring refugee resettlement funds to individual defector needs.
In a statement about the plan, a Ministry of Unification official said, “There is much significance in the fact that this proposal was a government-wide effort; a total of 24 administrative bodies came together to formulate these ideas and strategies.”
The comprehensive program also included detailed plans for the repair and renovation of the Kaesong-Pyongyang Expressway and the Kaesong-Sinuiju Railway. The premise of the official Inter-Korean Development Program has always been to improve overall conditions in the North while fostering better relations between North and South, but this most recent plan is the first to delineate detailed plans for large-scale investments in infrastructure.
Expansion of other inter-Korean economic collaborations were also outlined, such as:
1. Kaesong-Sinuiju railroad and Kaesong-Pyongyang railroad repairs
2. Imjin River flood prevention business
3. Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] support of the North Korean fishing industry
4. proposals such as vitalization of inter-Korean shipping are included. In addition, depending on the situation, 5. they plan to gradually introduce reopening trade and commerce, resumption of basic economic cooperation and, launching of new businesses.
A continued dedication to improving human rights in North Korea was also announced, starting with continued pressure on lawmakers to overcome the impasse and pass the North Korean Human Rights Act. The proposed law first appeared in 2005 but has since stagnated in the National Assembly due to failure by ruling and opposition parties to reach a consensus. Additional plans to increase support to private organizations advocating human rights in North Korea as well as striving to implement the recent recommendations by the UN based on the Commission of Inquiry [COI] findings on human rights in North Korea.
The South Korean government expressed its intentions to improve the quality of life for North Korean residents by increasing humanitarian aid and support. Most notably, the South vowed to separate political and humanitarian issues, ensuring that vulnerable social groups receive the support they need, regardless of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Read the full story here:
Report: 2014 Inter-Korean Development Plans
Koo Jun Hoe
According to Xinhua:
The Chinese border city of Yanji in northeastern Jilin Province has opened a direct bus tour service to the neighboring Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), tourism authorities said Monday.
A total of 48 Chinese tourists and two Chinese guides ended their two-day tour to the city of Rason on Sunday completing the first batch of bus tours in Yanji, said Wang Yanbo, deputy chief of Yanji tourism bureau.
The group visited Rajin Port, greenhouses housing Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia, both flower species named after the late DPRK leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, the Korean Ethnic Cultural Park and the beachside of Pipa Island, said Lian Qinghua, general manager of Yanbian Northeast Asia Passenger Transport Group Co,. Ltd travel agency, operator of the tour.
The journey to the DPRK takes around four hours and will operate from Tuesday to Saturday, Lian said.P Compared with other travel methods to Rason, the nonstop trip avoids transfer processing at the China-DPRK border, he said.
Travel figures show about 10,000 Chinese tourists visit the DPRK annually.
Read the full story here:
Chinese border city opens bus tour to DPRK
According to KCNA:
Wharf No. 3 of Rajin Port Goes Operational
Rason, July 18, 2014 20:13 KST (KCNA) — Wharf No. 3 of Rajin Port has been built with success in the DPRK.
The building of the wharf pursuant to the plan for cooperation between the DPRK and Russia provided another foundation for making a positive contribution to boosting the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries and economic and trade relations among countries of Europe and Northeast Asia.
An inaugural ceremony took place in Rason City Friday.
Present there were Jon Kil Su, minister of Railways, officials concerned and working people in the city.
Also present there were Vladimir Yakunin, president of the Russian Railways Company, Yury Viktorovich Bochkarev, consul general of the Russian Federation in Chongjin, those concerned of railways and other Russian guests and staff members of foreign embassies in the DPRK.
Vladimir Yakunin in a speech said he was pleased with the completion of the wharf.
The wharf is capable of loading and unloading millions of tons of coal, he said, expressing belief that such joint work would not only develop the bilateral cooperation but promote friendship and mutual understanding between the two countries.
Jon Kil Su said in his speech that the successful reconstruction of the Rajin-Khasan railway section and the completion of Wharf No. 3 of Rajin Port are precious products of the vitality of the Moscow Declaration signed by leader Kim Jong Il and President V. V. Putin. He noted that the transport channel newly provided in the spirit of friendship and cooperation between the two peoples would satisfactorily play the role of a friendship bridge linking Europe and Northeast Asia and, through this, the international position of the Rason Economic and Trade Zone would be further enhanced.
Then followed congratulatory speeches.
A reception was given on the same day.
According to ITAR-TASS:
A new Russian-North Korean terminal was commissioned on Friday in Rajin, which is the major seaport of the North Korean Rason trade and economic zone located in the northeast of the republic. Thus, the pilot part of the project aimed at the reconstruction of the Trans-Korean railway from Russia’s Hasan to the seaport of Rajinis over. Relevant agreement of the heads of Russian, North and South Korean railway authorities was signed in Russia’s Siberian city of Irkutsk in 2006.
Russian Railways’ (RZD) subsidiary, RZD Trade House, and the Rajin port had established the joint venture Rason Con Trans in order to carry out the modernization process. The cargo traffic capacity of the new high-tech multi-purpose facility is about five million tonnes a year. The initial stage of the terminal operation envisions supplies of coal and other bulky goods towards the port. Alongside with cargo transshipment and storage, the terminal makes it possible to organize coal magnetic cleaning and coal separating.
“Today, we are eyeing the loading of the first ship with Russia-mined coal,” RZD President Vladimir Yakunin told the terminal commissioning ceremony. “We are interested in bigger amounts of cargoes in the terminal and higher number of vessels, which will represent the whole world. The launching of the terminal is expected to be fruitful and beneficial not only for the economy of North Korea, but also business communities of neighbor states.”
Jointly with representatives from Russia and North Korea, businessmen from South Korea were also attending the ceremony.
This Russian source had a good summary of events leading up to the opening (Translated by Google):
The official ceremony is scheduled for July 18 in Rajin, which is considered the main port of the SRE. Investment in the project is mainly carried out by the Russian side.The volume of transshipment terminal at the first stage is planned at 4-5 million tons, according to ITAR-TASS.
Initially, the terminal was planned for container transport, but in agreement with the leadership of North Korea until it will be used for the carriage of the Russian coal. In the future, is expected to increase traffic and expand the range of goods.
Agreement to begin the reconstruction of the railway line from the Russian station to Hassan and the port of Rajin as a pilot project to restore the Trans-Korean Railway was reached in 2006. The project started in October 2008, when an agreement was signed between the “Russian Railways” and the Ministry of Railway Transport of the DPRK to cooperate in its implementation. The project is implemented by the joint venture “RasonKonTrans”, created in the same year, with the share of JSC “RZD Trading House” (70%) and the port of Rajin (30%).
In October 2011, a team of machinists Far Eastern Railways of Russia led a demonstration container train in Rajin, opening cargo traffic between the two countries. To control the movement of trains on the line Hasan – Rajin, a special control center with the participation of specialists “RasonKonTrans” and North Korean shipping company “Donghae”.
34 specialists from the DPRK have been trained in the training centers of the Far Eastern Railway.
In the future, when the message will be set up all over trnskoreyskoy magitrali – from the South Korean port of Pusan through Korea to Russia, will be able to refocus on the Russian Trans-Siberian significant portion of goods that are currently going by sea from South Korea to Europe.
According to experts, these advantages have Rajin – ice-free port on the eastern coast of North Korea with the developed infrastructure, which uses Russian standard gauge with a high degree of security for shippers and benefits for entrepreneurs.
According to Yonhap:
Air passenger traffic between the North Korean capital and the neighboring Russian port city of Vladivostok surged more than 20 percent in the first half of 2014 from a year earlier, a news report said Wednesday, amid signs of closer ties between the two nations.
The number of passengers between Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang and Vladivostok International Airport in the Russian Far East shot up 22 percent on-year during the January-June period, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.
It cited data from the Vladivostok airport, which did not reveal the exact number of passengers and the reason for the jump.
However, RFA attributed the surge to increased bilateral exchanges and cooperation in economic, tourism and other fields.
The sharp increase compares with a 1.7 percent drop in the number of users of Vladivostok International Airport during the six-month period, which totaled 838,000, it said.
North Korea’s Air Koryo operates the Tupolev Tu-204 aircraft twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays, on the Pyongyang-Vladivostok route.
Read the whole story here:
Pyongyang-Vladivostok passengers up 22 pct in H1: report
Pictured Above (Google Earth): The Hunchun Bridge linking the DPRK and China
UPDATE 4 (2014-6-28): According to Xinhua, the bridge is to be replaced:
China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)agreed on Friday to jointly build, manage, and maintain a new border bridge between thetwo neighbors.
An agreement was signed by Chinese Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai and DPRKVice Foreign Minister Pak Myong Guk, the official KCNA news agency reported.
The Quanhe-Wonjong bridge over the Tumen River, which was built in the 1930s, hasbeen in a shabby condition.
UPDATE 3 (2011-9-7): A reader send in a photo of the road:
Click image to see lager version and source.
UPDATE 2 (2010-6-23): Hunchon Bridge opens. According to Kyodo (via Breitbart):
China has repaired a bridge in Hunchun at the Chinese and North Korean border, giving it a safer access to North Korea for use of Rajin port to ship coal to Shanghai, according to Jilin Province officials.
China paid 3.6 million yuan ($528,526) to repair the bridge over the Tumen River, a project jointly pursued with North Korea, the officials said Tuesday.
Work was completed June 14.
The bridge serves as a gateway to Pier No. 1 at Rajin port, which a Chinese company has obtained the right to use for 10 years.
In April, the Chinese government approved a plan to transport coal and other items produced in Jilin to Shanghai via Rajin in northeastern North Korea.
China and North Korea have been in talks about financing of a plan to build a 50-kilometer road leading to the port, the officials said.
UPDATE 1 (2010-6-6): DPRK border bridge to reopen this month, highway to border opens in October
By Michael Rank
A bridge on the Chinese-North Korean border that will take traffic to the North Korean port of Rajin is due to reopen at the end of this month, while a highway from the Jilin provincial capital of Changchun to the border city of Hunchun 珲春 will open in October, according to Chinese reports here and here.
As NKEW reported in April, the 70-year-old bridge over the Tumen river near Hunchun is being rebuilt as part of a reported $44 million plan to modernise the road from the border to Rajin. Built during the Japanese occupation in 1938, the bridge is 535 metres long and 6.6 metres wide, and joins the Chinese border post of Quanhe 圈河 with the North Korean town of Wonjeong 원정.
The highway will open on October 1, China’s national day, and will cut the journey time from Changchun to Hunchun from eight hours to five, the report said. But it indicated that the 60-km road from the border to Rajin, said to be mostly unpaved and prone to frequent accidents during rain, would not be ready by then.
A Chinese company, Chuangli Group, based in Dalian in Liaoning province, was reported in March to have signed a 10-year deal to lease a pier at Rajin (also known as Rasŏn or Rajin-Sŏnbong), giving China access to the Sea of Japan for the first time since the 19th century when the Qing imperial government signed treaties under duress from Japan and Russia.
ORIGINAL POST (2010-4-13): Bridge on China-North Korea border being renovated
By Michael Rank
A 70-year-old bridge on the Chinese-North Korean border is being renovated to improve transport to and from the North Korean port of Rajin 라진 (Rason [Raseon]/Rajin-Sonbong) which a Chinese company has taken over on a 10-year-lease, a Chinese website reports.
The bridge over the Tumen river near the city of Hunchun 珲春 in Jilin province will be reopened at the end of June after almost five months of work. Built during the Japanese occupation in 1938, the bridge is 535 metres long and 6.6 metres wide, and joins the Chinese border post of Quanhe 圈河 with the North Korean town of Wonjeong 원정. The report gave no details of costs but said it was being renovated under a deal between the cities of Hunchun and Rason 라선. It said the bridge would help to boost trade in both Hunchun and Rajin and in the region generally.
The refurbishment of the bridge is part of a reported $44 million plan to modernise the road from the border to Rajin.
Ahn Byung-min, an expert on North Korean infrastructure at the Korea Transport Institute, was quoted by the Korea Herald as saying a senior Chinese local government official had told him that the governor of Jilin had signed an agreement to invest 300 million yuan in expanding and paving the road to Rajin.
A Dalian-based company named Chuang Li agreed in 2008 to revamp the road in exchange for leasing a pier at Rajin. “Chuang Li isn’t a company big enough to afford the road construction, so the Jilin government took on the direct investment instead,” Ahn said.
1. The existing 60-km road is mostly unpaved and prone to frequent accidents during rain.
2. The coordinates of the new bridge are 42°34’4.45″N, 130°31’24.16″E. You can see it on Google Maps here. Thank you for the tip, Mr. Cha.
4. Photos of the construction opening ceremony are here.