Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

New Pyongyang – Phyongsong Road

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Naenara offers news of a rare DPRK international public tender:

Invitation for International Public Tender

The Ministry of Land and Environment Protection of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea plans to build a new road between Pyongyang and Phyongsong in order to facilitate public transportation in the western region of the country, including Pyongyang.

To this end, the ministry is going to purchase equipment and materials necessary for the project through international public tender. It also intends to employ international consultation services for technical assistance.

The international consultancy services will include road design, building operations and technical supervision (land fill, sand and gravel bedding, cement stability, paving, bridge construction, construction of small structures and protective guard and installation of road signs) and use of equipment and machines for road construction.

The equipment and materials to be purchased are as follows:

Hydraulic excavator, cement truck, self-propelled road liner, measuring equipment, bus, bulldozer, fuel truck, concrete cutter, geological testing equipment, cement, grader, trailer, voltage regulator, examination equipment, round steel, loader, sprinkler, water pumping equipment, drilling equipment, angle iron, Macadam roller, crane truck, dredger, printer, steel pipe, Dandem roller, stone crushing plant, horizontal vehicle for bridge construction, plotter, iron sheet, composite roller, mobile compressor, guniting machine, laptops, timber, tired roller, hammer drill, welder, laser surveyor’s rod (LEICA TCA 2003), asphalt, concrete paver (with the framed rails), rock-driller, electric generator, digital theodolite (SOKKIA DT 610S), fuel, concrete mixing station, asphaltic emulsion truck, pressure pump, automatic leveling instrument (SOKKIA C32II), aluminum sheet, asphalt mixing station, automatic truck, vibratory pile hammer, fork-lifter, luminous paper, mixture truck, asphalt paver, pressure pump, light reflection sign, and car.

Letters of tender invitation will be issued early in July 2013.

For more details, please contact:
International Implementing Office for Road Construction Project
Add: Pothonggang-dong No.1, Pothonggang District, Pyongyang, DPR Korea
Fax: 850-2-381-4416/4410

UPDATE 1 (2013-6-22): The Institute for Far Eastern Studies wrote about this tender:

North Korea to Acquire Road Equipment and Materials via International Auction
2013-6-22

North Korea has revealed plans to acquire equipment and materials for new road construction through an international auction.

In the May 29 economic news section of ‘Naenara,’ a website run by North Korea, it was reported that a new road is being built between Pyongyang and Pyungsung, South Pyongan Province. It announced that “with regards to the construction, the Ministry of Land and Environment Protection will purchase the necessary equipment and material through an internationally competitive auction.”

Naenara speculates that the ministry will purchase hydraulic excavators, buses, cement, and transformers, among fifty other items, with the auction invitation to be issued this July.  Naenara also announced that the construction and technological management of the roads will receive voluntary international consulting.

It is uncommon for North Korean media to publicize plans for receiving goods via an international auction. Whereas North Korea has usually made direct contact with foreign companies based in China, it has recently diversified its reception of foreign capital.

As the international society’s trust in North Korea is low, North Korea is pursuing changes in its methods of acquiring capital through avenues like international auctions. This can be interpreted as an intentional effort to show that North Korean liberalization and development policies are following international norms. Furthermore, in addition to adopting the law on economic development zones, North Korea is starting to focus more on developing a ‘special zone’, with construction of the ‘Sinuiju Special Zone’ scheduled to start soon.

At first, the ‘Sinuiju Special Zone’ was intended to develop by sections, receiving capital from not only Chinese companies but also Korean companies. However, due to faltering relations between the North and South, China has emerged as the sole partner of North Korea to co-develop the special zone.

Also, following the 12.1 Policy from last year, an umbrella organization will be set up to comprehensively manage the economic development zones pursued by the thirteen cities and provinces, and the two hundred twenty districts. While the North Korean Joint Venture Committee (Chaired by Lee Kwang-keun) was in charge of securing foreign investments for the development of the special zones, the new organization will manage not only all the specialized zones but also all the development zones.

Furthermore, there are plans to link Sinuiju, Pyongyang, and Kaesong via highway and high speed rail, an investment which is expected to cost 14.1 trillion KRW. The highway is expected to cost 4.7 trillion won and the high speed rail carries an anticipated price tag of 9.4 trillion won. In order to secure funding, North Korea plans to sell underground resources and secure sources of private investment. In terms of financing procurement methods, North Korea is considering BOT (build-own-transfer), BTL (build-transfer-lease), resources development rights as collateral, etc.

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China-North Korea railway links to undergo upgrade

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Tumen-namyang-rail-2011-9-23

Pictured Above (Google Earth): The Namyang (DPRK) – Tumen (PRC) rail and bridge crossings. I suspect that this is the specific area that will see renovation

According to the Global Times:

The government of northeast China’s Jilin Province announced Tuesday plans to upgrade railways links to neighboring North Korea, aiming to boost cross-border economic and trade ties.

The China Tumen-North Korea Rajin Railway and China Tumen-North Korea Chongjin Railway will be upgraded under the Jilin government plan. A special highway passenger line linking Tumen to North Korea is also set to be opened in coming years.

The plan aims to improve the industrial cooperation between China and North Korea’s Rason and push the development of the Tumen Korean Industrial Park to a higher level.

Jin Qiangyi, director of the Asia Research Center of Yanbian University, told the Global Times that the industrial cooperation between China and North Korea has been going on for many years and does not breach international sanctions against Pyongyang.

Such cooperation could improve employment in border areas of both countries and contribute to development and stability in the area amid heightening tensions, said Jin.

Read the full story here:
China-North Korea railway links to undergo upgrade
Global Times
2013-3-27

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Nuke test does not deter China’s economic interests in the DPRK

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

According to Reuters:

While Beijing has not made clear whether the test would disrupt its investment plans for the Rason economic zone, an official at the zone’s joint management office told Reuters that all previously announced Chinese projects for the zone remain on track, including a power line from China to ease acute electricity shortages there.

“All the people of the management office are still here working as usual… If there is any major impact (from the nuclear test), do you think we would still be here?” he said by phone from Rason, which lies near where North Korea, China and Russia converge. “All works are proceeding as planned.”

There are about 60 Chinese and North Korean people working at the management office, and the number may grow with the launch of more projects, said the official, who declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

China and North Korea jointly set up the Rason management committee in October to handle the planning, construction and development of the zone, also known as Ranjin-Songbong, one of the country’s highest profile economic projects.

“China has normal relations with North Korea. We will conduct normal trade and economic exchanges with North Korea,” Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, said when asked whether China would continue to work with North Korea to develop its special economic zones after the nuclear test.

Led by China’s commerce ministry, Chinese firms, including State Grid Corp, Jilin Yatai (Group) and China Railway Construction Group and other state enterprises, have indicated interest in investing in power, building materials, transport and agriculture projects in the zone.

Yatai, a Shanghai-listed cement and coal producer, signed a framework agreement last year with the North Korean government to construct a 500,000-square-metre building materials industrial park, including a cement plant, in Rason.

State Grid finished the final review of the feasibility study of the 97.8-kilometre power line early this year, but has not started construction as it has not yet won all approvals, the official and a source close to the plan said.

The planned line would cut through a Siberian tiger natural reserve, and State Grid is awaiting a green light from China’s National Development and Reform Commission and coordinating with various other authorities, the source told Reuters.

There is no timetable for the project as State Grid is unsure when it would receive government approvals, he added. State Grid was not immediately available for comment.

Jilin Yatai may delay its cement project in Rason — which is critical to the construction of other projects such as the railway there — due to “issues on the North Korean side,” said an official at Yatai’s securities office.

But the likely delay of the project was not related to the nuclear test, the official said by phone from Changchun, capital city of Northeast China’s Jilin province, which borders North Korea. He declined further comment.

In a filing with the Shanghai bourse in August, Yatai said it planned to complete the construction of its first cement plant in North Korea by September this year only if there is sufficient power capacity available.

Read the full story here:
China moves ahead with North Korea trade zone despite nuclear test
Reuters
2013-2-28

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Unification Church to sell Pyeonghwa (Pyonghwa) Motors?

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Pictured Above (Google Earth): Pyeonghwa Motors Factory in Nampho. Recent additions highlighted in Yellow.

UPDATE 1 (2013-1-22): In a later interview, the head of Pyeonghwa Motors revealed more information on his compan’y relinquishment of Pyeonghwa Motors, and described their future ambitions.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-12-3): According to Yonhap (via Korea Times):

The source said, “As far as I know, Pyeonghwa Motors is seeking to sell its factory in Nampo for about US$20 million in order to end its auto business.”

“The (South Korean) president of the auto firm appears to be eyeing the distribution sector” in North Korea, an official at the foundation said, adding the president may move to a new industry after liquidating the auto business. “But nothing has been determined so far,” the official said.

Pyeonghwa Motors president Park Sang-Kwon is widely expected to hold discussions with the North over the business shift during a North Korean visit scheduled for mid-December, to mark the first anniversary of the death of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who died on Dec. 17.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

The North Korean government is a 30% partner in the car manufacturer.

A unit from the church’s business arm spent about $55 million to build the Pyeonghwa factory in Nampo, a port city on North Korea’s west coast about an hour or so outside of the capital Pyongyang. After the factory was completed in 2002, workers there completed partially built cars, in a form called knockdown kits, that were imported from manufacturers in Italy and China.

But the company appears to have rarely been profitable. In 2009, the firm earned about $700,000 from the sale of 650 cars. About $500,000 of that was remitted to its parent operation in South Korea. The South Korean government noted then that it was the first time a South Korea-based company repatriated profits from North Korea.

The Pyeonghwa Motors web page does not contain any information on this development.  You can view the web page here (english). The last published press release was on 2011-1-11:

The web page does have production and sales data (if you choose to believe it):

No revenue or profit numbers are given on the web page, but it does mention that the factory’s capacity is 10,000 units per year. If these numbers are correct, in 2011 (the most productive year in terms of output) the factory was only running at approximately 19% capacity.

The Pyeonghwa Motors web page also offers a grand vision of the factory’s future (100,000 unit capacity):

However, as Google Earth satellite imagery shows, this plan has yet to come to fruition.

Previous posts on Pyeonghwa Motors here.

Read the full stories here:
Unification Church to wind up auto venture in NK
Yonhap (via Korea Times)
2012-11-28

End of the Road for North Korean Auto Maker?
Wall Street Journal Korea Real Time
Evan Ramstad
2012-11-27

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Rajin-Wonjong Road Opened to Traffic

Friday, October 26th, 2012

 

Pictured Above (KCNA): Photos of the official opening of the renovated road

According to KCNA (2012-10-26):

Rajin-Wonjong Road Opened to Traffic

Pyongyang, October 26 (KCNA) — A ceremony took place in Rason City of the DPRK on Friday to open to traffic the Rajin-Wonjong road in the Rason Economic and Trade Zone jointly developed and operated by the DPRK and China.

Attending it from the DPRK side were Jo Jong Ho, chairman of the Rason City People’s Committee, officials concerned and people of the city and from the Chinese side were Zhang Anshun, secretary of the Yanbian Autonomous Region, Jilin Province, Committee of the Communist Party of China, Chen Weigen, vice-governor of the Jilin Provincial People’s Government, Tian Baozhen, consul-general to Chongjin, and other officials concerned.

Congratulatory speeches were made at the ceremony.

Hwang Chol Nam, vice-chairman of the Rason City People’s Committee, said it is very glad that the road has been opened to traffic amid great expectation and interest of the peoples of the two countries at the historic time when the traditional bilateral friendship is growing stronger.

The whole course of the road project served as an occasion in deepening the friendly relations of the DPRK and China and displaying the validity and vitality of their joint development and operation of the Rason Economic and Trade Zone, Hwang added.

The road helps increase the cargo traffic and transport of freight from northeastern China to Rajin Port and promote the development of economic relations between the two regions, including tourism, he said.

Zhang Anshun warmly welcomed the opening of the road on behalf of the Jilin Provincial Party Committee and Government, saying that it is a good start for the progress of the zone to be jointly developed and operated by the two countries.

Zhang hoped that the two countries would develop the economy and their peoples would enjoy happiness under the guidance of the Communist Party of China headed by Hu Jintao and the Workers’ Party of Korea headed by Kim Jong Un.

Members of the platform cut the tape to declare the opening of the road. Then vehicles passed along the road amid display of fireworks.

Here are Previous posts on the bridge:

1. Bridge on China-North Korea border being renovated (2010-4-13)

2. Recent articles on Rason’s future (2011-5-4)

3. Rason’s Chinese investor tour (2011-4-4)

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Promotion of Foreign Investments into Hwanggumpyong and Other Special Economic Zones

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Institute for Far Eastern Studies

North Korea is exerting efforts in pulling Chinese investments into its special economic zones (SEZs).

On September 7, the 8th Jilin, China-Northeast Asia Investment and Trade Expo was held in Changchun, China as well as the 6th high-level forum for Northeast Asian economic and trade joint venture to promote the joint investment projects of Rason and Hwanggumpyong special economic zones.

At the event, North Korean officials focused on explaining the advantages and favorable conditions for foreign investors, including the joint management committee to be operated by both countries and laws and regulations installed for investment protection.

In the past, North Korea mainly focused on Rason SEZ but this time around, the spotlight was turned to Hwanggumpyong. Chinese officials went on to explain the details of 14.4 square-kilometer Hwanggumpyong SEZ, where five major industries – textiles, modern agriculture, electronics and communications, culture and industrial and trade services – with industry, culture, and service serving as the three major functions of Hwanggumpyong.

Furthermore, the tariff, tax and other benefits will be provided to various industries. The processing trade industry will be exempt from tariffs, and those companies operating for more than ten years will be granted tax exemptions, while those companies contributing to the infrastructure construction, tourism and hotels will be given priority and other favorable conditions. Last year, North Korea only centered its attention to Rason SEZ, with no mentioning of Hwanggumpyong.

Out of the thirty companies that participated at the North Korean exhibit, were from Rason SEZ. These companies represent the successful cases of Rason, recognized for abundant seafood, processed foods, and textile production.

One company from Rason stated, “repair and expansion project for the road connecting Hunchun with Rason will be completed by the end of this year, which will stabilize power supply that can attract more foreign investment from China.” According to a North Korean businessperson, there are 216 companies currently operating in Rason and over 80 percent are joint venture through foreign capital.

Since January 2010, the city of Rason received the designation as the metropolitan city and has improved the business conditions. Foreign companies inviting their business partners from home to Rason became easier, where visas were processed efficiently, as quickly as a day.

There are plans of more briefing sessions for North Korean SEZs to be held in Beijing, later this month. It is planned to be held from September 26 to 27 with over 30 state managed companies and over 100 representatives participating to explain 50 new investment projects.

The invitation of this event reiterated, the purpose of this briefing session was to attract Chinese investment for North Korean companies, for the contribution of economic development and improvement of people’s lives in North Korea.”

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The Unification Church in the DPRK

Monday, September 10th, 2012

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon was born between what is now Wonbong-ri and Osong-ri in Jongju City (정주시).

 

Pictured above (R) is a satellite image of the exact building the DPRK and the Unification Church claim was the birthplace of Rev. Moon. I first blogged about this  in 2009. The Google Earth coordinates are  39.683728°, 125.291145°, and you can see a ground level photo of the site here (taken by Unification Church delegation).

The Rev. Moon’s Church, the Unification Church, has made substantial investments in the DPRK.

The Unification Church built the Pothonggang Hotel and Pyongyang Peace Embassy (Google Earth:  39.020134°, 125.717641°) in Phyongchon-guyok, Pyongyang:

See photos of the Pothonggang Hotel and Peace Embassy on the Pyeonghwa Motors web page.

The Unification Church also launched Pyeonghwa Motors in the DPRK.

Pyeonghwa Motors was the first firm allowed to put up billboard advertisements in the DPRK. Here are links to images of most of the billboards: Link 1 (Images also say where they are located), Link 2Link 3Link 4Link 5.

Pyeonghwa Motors has several assets in the DPRK, the status of which remains a bit unknown:

There is of course the Pyeonghwa Motors Assembly Factory in Nampho, which I first identified on Google Earth years ago. It has seen some minor expansion between 2009 and 2011:

 

You can see a Pyeonghwa Motors advert here which features the factory:

Pyeonghwa Motors also built a gas/petrol station in Pyongyang:

The Google Earth coordinates are  38.996068°, 125.712410°, and you can see photos of the Pyeonghwa Motors Petrol Station here.

Pyeonghwa Motors also has a showroom on Kwangbok Street in Mangyongdae-guyok:

The Google Earth coordinates are  39.026709°, 125.682252°, and you can see photos of the Pyeonghwa showroom here.

The Pyeonghwa Motors web page also advertises an accessory shop in Pyongyang:

 

The Google Earth coordinates for this shop are  39.039590°, 125.743704°, and you can see photos of the Pyeonghwa Motors Accessories Shop here.

Although this facility is listed as operational on the Pyeonghwa Motors web page, recent tourist video shows that at some point before April 2012 this building has become a humble flower shop (꽃상점):

The shop’s entrance can be seen at the 2:00 mark.

However, according to this photo taken on June 6, 2012, the Peonghwa Motors logo still appears on the top of the building. So I am unsure of the actual status of this facility.

It is unclear if the accessory shop has moved or if it has permanently closed down.

Previous posts on Pyeonghwa Motors here.

If there are any Unification Church assets that I have not mentioned in this post, please let me know.

Read more on the history of the Unification Church in the DPRK here.

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Fewer Japanese cars reported on DPRK roads

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

According to the Daily NK:

Japanese-made vehicles are disappearing from the streets of North Korea, six years after Kim Jong Il decreed that it should happen. Indeed, just two years ago it seemed that a majority of the vehicles on the streets were still those made by Toyota, Nissan and Mitsubishi, but this is no longer the case.

According to a Chongjin source who spoke with Daily NK yesterday, “In accordance with a 2010 National Defense Commission order saying that all Japanese cars had to be off the streets by last December, now you can hardly see any Japanese private cars or vans in the entire country.”

The NDC order reportedly pertained to private cars and vans of 1.5T or less, although the source said that trucks of Japanese origin are also meant to be phased out over the next couple of years as well.

The move is said to relate to a decree issued by Kim Jong Il in 2006 in which he demanded that all Japanese cars had to be gotten rid of. He apparently issued it after watching unhappily as a Japanese car overtook his own on the Pyongyang-Wonsan highway.

Another case is instructive in showing the degree of official dislike. In 2008, Namkang Trading Co. had already been importing second hand Japanese cars through Rasun for some time. However, a provincial Party secretary received a report on the removal of Japanese cars, and as a result more than 300 such cars were gathered in a local stadium and turned into scrap metal using fork cranes as cadres watched on.

But it was not really until four years after Kim’s original decree that implementation hit its stride, because it took some time to secure sufficient replacement vehicles. Pyongyang municipal, Party, state and security organs were the first to lose theirs in 2010, followed in 2011 by factories, enterprises and foreign currency earning units.

According to the source, “At the time, there were more than 100 perfectly good vehicles taken from North Hamkyung Provincial Party Committee alone.” The transportation head in the province apparently commented that “tens of thousands of perfectly sound vehicles have been gotten rid of nationwide.”

However, in October, 2010, Kim Jong Il delivered cars as gifts to key individuals and organizations. There were nationwide events held to celebrate receipt of the vehicles. Cadres at provincial Party departmental head and above received Chinese vehicles, while local Party secretaries and people’s committee chairmen received Russian ones. Factories and enterprises were subsequently ordered to purchase vehicles produced domestically in Nampo by ‘Pyeonghwa Motors’, a joint venture with the Seoul-based Unification Church, but this didn’t always happen.

The relative popularity of Japanese vehicles in North Korea stems in part from their build quality, which allows them to traverse the often sketchy North Korean roads, and in part from the fact that they used to represent a good trading opportunity in the 1980s and 90s. At that time, such vehicles could be imported from Japan and sold on to Chinese businesses at a profit margin of up to 400%. Domestic popularity was one of the inevitable side-effects of this trade.

Previous posts on this topic here (2007-7-11) and here (2007-7-27).

Read the full story here:
Japanese Cars Crashing Out
Daily NK
Choi Song Min
2012-5-31

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Visa-free Rason tourism for Chinese citizens

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

According to Choson Exchange:

Chinese tourists will have visa free access to the border regions linking Yanbian Autonomous Region, Rason Special Economic Zone and Russia, according to a report originating with Jilin Radio that surfaced in South Korean media today.

The report doesn’t give an date for implementation, but does state that the previous tourism agreement governing the border region (signed in 2010) will be streamlined. It still takes 10 days for a Chinese traveler to get permission to visit Rason. This process will drop to 2-3 days.

If accurate, this could go a long way towards boosting tourism in the SEZ. After all, a Beijinger or Shanghaiian might well be more willing to spend the money to visit the region if they can get two countries in the same trip. At the risk of overgeneralizing, Asian tourists seem eager maximize passport stamps above all else on international tours. This desire could be effectively exploited if Rason and Russia’s Primorsky Krai province coordinate their marketing.

Also, now that the road to Rason is paved, the ease with which Chinese gamblers can reach the Emperor Casino and Hotel greatly increases and arguably makes the destination seem more normal and therefore attractive. One wonders if the casino’s fleet of crimson humvees, once needed to whisk high-rollers along the laborious dirt road from, will now be replaced by Mercedes or Lexuses. (Lexi?)

Last year, the SEZ experimented with self-drive tours for Chinese citizens, though there has yet to be any follow-up on it.

For westerner tourists thinking of visiting Rason, we recommend Krahun, a company that has had a presence in Rason for over a decade and know the region exceptionally well.

Read the full story here:
Visa Free Rason Tourism for Chinese Citizens
Choson Exchange
Andray Abrahamian
2012-5-29

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North-South Korea and Chinese trade

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

The Joongang Ilbo reports some recent statistics from, the Kaesong Industrial Zone and some trade statistics between the two Koreas and China.

Inter-Korean and China trade (Joongang Ilbo):

Exactly two years ago, on May 24, 2010, in the aftermath of the deadly sinking of the Cheonan warship, the Lee Myung-bak administration imposed sanctions against North Korea that forbade all inter-Korean trade and South Korean investments in the North.

[...]

Statistics from the Korea International Trade Association show that the volume of inter-Korea trade in 2011 dropped by 10.4 percent, falling to about $1.7 billion from $1.9 billion in 2010. The Kaesong Industrial Complex, which was exempted from the sanctions, accounted for most of the inter-Korean trade.

In contrast, the volume of trade between North Korea and China surged by 62.4 percent in 2011, from $3.4 billion in 2010 to $5.6 billion.

“After stopping trade with South Korea, factories in Pyongyang and Nampo cities turned to Chinese companies and now work for them,” a South Korean businessman said on condition of anonymity. “It took so much time and money for us to teach North Korean employees and now Chinese companies enjoy the fruits of our labor.”

The North Korean government responded to the South Korean sanctions:

As talks between the two authorities have been halted, North Korea has unilaterally decided to raise taxes on income and management of the complex.

In fact, the North Korean regime earns significant money from the complex. South Korean firms pay the North Korean government an average of $126.4 per month for each North Korean worker. The government then distributes 5,000 won of North Korean currency and some food coupons to each employee per month. This wage is desirable compared to other worker payments in the North.

Analysts calculate that the regime is holding at least $50 million from the $77.8 million of the North Korean employees’ annual income.

At current black market rates, there are appx 4,450 DPRK won to for US$1.

The article notes, however, that the Kaesong Industrial Zone continues to grow:

Located only three kilometers away from the Military Demarcation Line, the inter-Korean complex has 123 South Korean companies and about 51,000 North Korean employees.

Currently, the South Korean government is implementing a scheme to build more roads and infrastructure for South Koreans crossing the border to commute to the complex (see here and here).

“Although Kim Yong-chol, former head of the policy planning office of the North’s powerful National Defense Commission, who has exerted a huge influence on operating the Kaesong complex, repeatedly threatened to shut down the complex since the May 24 sanctions, he’s recently been more cooperative, saying ‘Let’s make it better,’” a high-ranking government source told the JoongAng Ilbo.

Unlike the frosty inter-Korean relations, the sales performance of the joint industrial complex is positive. For the past three years, 55 South Korean firms additionally moved into the complex and the annual output value surpassed $400 million in 2011, jumping from $180 million in 2007.

Last year’s volume is 30 times that of the $14.91 million in 2005, when the complex made its first yearly outputs. The total output value since 2005 has accumulated to $1.5 billion.

[...]

Currently, roughly 160,000 people are living in Kaesong city and approximately one out of three are working in the complex

The article also reports on additional DPRK-China projects that are not necessarily a result of higher barriers to commerce between the two Koreas (dredging, mining, labor mobility, and SEZs):

“A Chinese firm based in Yanji is now implementing a 60-kilometer-long (37-mile) dredging project in the Tumen river bed,” a government-affiliated research official said.

“It’s not simple dredging work, but a plan to mine the iron ore buried nearby.”

“In the river bed, about 30 percent of the sand contains iron ore,” the official said.

The regime also exports their labor forces to their closest ally.

“Most of the local people left for South Korea to get a decent job and the average wage for a Chinese worker is increasing,” a Chinese factory manager in Yanji said. “So we are planning to hire North Korean workers instead.”

Pyongyang and Beijing are also focusing on developing the two special economic zones, Rason and Hwanggumpyong in northeastern North Korea.

When Chen Deming, the Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce of China, and South Korean Trade Minister Park Tae-ho had a bilateral meeting on May 2 to start negotiations on the Korea-China free trade deal, they included a provision stating the two countries will allow preferential tariffs on goods produced in designated zones.

“Hwanggumpyong is like a Kaesong Industrial Complex to China,” a South Korean authority said. “The Hwanggumpyong zone has the same function as Kaesong, composed of China’s capital and technology and North Korea’s land and labor forces.”

In the Rason Economic Zone, China has finished construction paving the 53-kilometer-long road connecting the Rason zone and a local tax office in Wonjong-ri, a North Korean village close to China.

The Chinese government also arranged a harbor near the Rason area, constructing a pier that can accept a three million-ton ship and building a bus route between an express bus terminal in China and the zone.

“If China uses the Rason harbor, they can save $10 per metric ton,” Jo Bong-hyeon, a senior official at the Industrial Bank of Korea, said. “It’s really good business for China, enough to invest money on building infrastructure in the zone.”

Read the full story here:
Kaesong complex running well despite sanctions
JoongAng Ilbo
2012-05-23

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