Archive for the ‘Automobiles’ Category

Bus transportation popular in DPRK

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Phyongsong-bus-station-2013-5-3

Pictured above (Google Earth): Phyongsong Bus Station (2013-5-3)

According to the Daily NK:

Not only are North Korean people able to buy and sell goods in markets using hard currency these days; US Dollars or Chinese Renminbi are also in use for the ubiquitous “servi-cha,” one of North Korea’s few reliable means of mass transit.

A source from North Hamkyung Province told Daily NK on the 11th, “Trains only run about once a week, and you’d be a fool if you believed that they would run on time. Demand has risen thanks to this state of affairs, so people are making good money from running servi-cha.”

“If you want to ride a servi-cha you can’t use Chosun currency, you have to use Chinese or American money,” the source went on to claim. “You can get anywhere in the country that you want for 200 Yuan.”

The source said that people in Hyesan opt to travel by servi-cha in part because the journey can take up to a week by train but only takes a day by servi-cha. The route from Pyongsung to Chongjin costs 100 Yuan, and a similar amount is required for the trip from the North Hamkyung Province county of Kilju to the border near Hyesan.

According to the source, the price of North Korean gasoline is currently 11 Yuan per kg, approximately two to three Yuan cheaper than the Chinese equivalent. Diesel trades at 6 Yuan. The source said, “There is no problem running a vehicle these days because there are fuel traders selling cheap North Korean gas alongside every road in the country that buses use.”

Many owners of servi-cha have purchased buses rather than utilizing trucks, as they used to do. Owners offer a portion of their income to local government agencies and enterprises, in effect forming the North Korean equivalent of a Chinese “red hat enterprise.”

These privately run buses are clean and popular, and the business itself is seen by operators as an easy way to earn good money. The servi-cha are mainly new vehicles from China or second-hand ones from Japan, and the average cost is in the vicinity of 12,000 USD (though size and type of vehicle both vary). A well run business can earn 3000 USD per month.

In theory, if a traveller wishes to visit a different region, prior to travel he or she must obtain a certificate authorizing the visit. The 2nd Department of his or her Provincial People’s Committee ordinarily issues these permits; however, corruption among Party officials means that these can also be bought illicitly.

According to the source, servi-cha owners deliver regular bribes to senior security service officials running No. 10 Checkpoints, which are in place on every major thoroughfare connecting regions for the purpose of checking transit papers. These payments ensure rapid transit for customers.

Read the full story here:
Servi-Cha Professionalizing for Kim Jong Eun Era
Daily NK
Seol Song Ah
2014-03-13

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The rise and fall of the Rakwon Chicken Specialty Restaurant (a case study in inter-Korean business)

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

UPDATE 4 (2014-2-18): Western tourists are still visiting the restaurant (meaning it has a contract with KITC). The restaurant still has the sign “Rakwon Chicken Specialty Restaurant”, though it is a different color than the original. See tourist video here and here.

UPDATE 3 (2014-2-17): The Hakyoreh updates us on the fate of the inter-Korean chicken restaurant:

In 2005, Choi made his first trip to North Korea to inquire about chicken imports. Soon he had changed plans: he would open his own restaurant there selling South Korean-style chicken. Acquaintances tried to talk him out of it, but he was determined. “I went to Pyongyang and I could see there was money in it,” he recalled. And with economic cooperation between South and North at an all time high, he didn’t see much of a political risk either.

He went back and forth to Pyongyang a few times looking for partners. Finally, in June 2007, he opened up the Rakwon Chicken Restaurant, selling South Korean-style chicken on Puksae Road in the Kaesonmun neighborhood of Moranbong District. His North Korean partner provided the building and staff; Choi was responsible for the interiors, ingredients, recipes, and management system. He reached a deal where he took 70% of profits with a total investment of 500 million won (US$470,000). The opening drew a lot of media attention at the time, with write-ups in the South Korean press and foreign outlets like the Washington Post and Japan’s NHK.

Early on, he did strong business selling at fairly steep prices – the equivalent of US$11.30 for a single bird. His clientele came mainly from the city’s upper class and Chinese visitors. Sales of 100 million won (US$94,000) a year looked to be in sight. “My plan was to open up 100 restaurants in the North,” Choi said.

But in 2008, less than a year after he opened the restaurant, Lee Myung-bak took office as South Korean President. Lee’s administration put a stop to the previous decade’s policies of engagement and cooperation with North Korea, opting for sanctions and containment instead.

“There was a promise between the two sides, and I never thought that would be rejected completely,”Choi said. “Suddenly, that was the reality.”

Bit by bit, exchange ground to a halt. A March 2008 shipment of ingredients through Nampo turned out to be Choi’s last interaction. He had not yet received a single share of revenue.

Then came the announcement of the so-called “May 24 measures” in 2010. Following the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan warship the preceding March, Seoul had called a complete halt to all exchange and economic cooperation with North Korea.

“All the May 24 measures did was drive it home,” Choi insisted. “Most of the economic cooperation had been choked off long before that.”

For the next four years, Choi wasn’t able to set foot in North Korea. Without his support, the restaurant lost its chicken focus and began selling ordinary cuisine. Choi’s other business began to suffer too.
“I’d put my house and buildings up as collateral to borrow the 500 million won to invest in the North,” he said. “Then, to top it all off, there was the US financial crisis. Things began to go downhill rapidly in South Korea, and my business started to fall apart.”

UPDATE 2 (2009-1-1): The BBC offers an update of the new chicken restaurant:

The governments may not be on the best of terms but a South Korean businessman seems to have found a way to North Koreans’ hearts: their stomachs.

Choi Won-ho, the owner of a fried chicken chain, was told he was doomed to fail when he opened his first branch in the impoverished North last year.

But encouraged by his progress so far, he is already preparing to open another one.

Mr Choi runs a fast food franchise in South Korea with a total of 70 stores.

He opened one more last year – no real challenge you might think – except this extension to his fried chicken empire is in the heart of one of the most secretive and business-unfriendly places on the planet.

But Mr Choi says the citizens of Pyongyang have been queuing in front of his shop which is taking around $1,000 a day.

He is now preparing to meet North Korean officials in January to finalise the approval for a second outlet.

His customers are almost certainly all members of North Korea’s elite, a country in which the World Food Programme says up to 9m people will face urgent food shortages this winter.

Relations between the two Korea’s have been at a low since the conservative government of President Lee Myung-bak came to power in the South in February.

North Korea has severed official contacts, stopped all cross-border tourism and restricted entry to a joint industrial zone built with southern money.

But despite the chill, Mr Choi’s fried chicken venture seems to be sizzling.

Read the full story here:
South Korea Chicken Success in NK
BBC
John Sudworth
2009-1-1

UPDATE 1 (2008-11-1): The restaurant is set to open in February 2008. According to Yonhap:

An inter-Korean joint-venture chicken franchise will open its first store in Pyongyang early next month, the head of the franchise’s South Korean partner said Friday.

The store set to open in early February will provide a food delivery service using motorbikes for the first time in the communist country, Choi Won-ho, president of the South Korean company said.

No North Korean restaurants offer food delivery service now, according to defectors from North Korea.

Fried, grilled and steamed chicken dishes as well as draft beer are available for delivery, he said, adding the food will be prepared in the North Korean style.

“I recently received a photo of the store’s interior design from our North Korean business partner, Rakwon General Trading Corporation, along with the offer to open the first store before the 66th birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il,” Choi told Yonhap News Agency by phone. “After opening, I will use radio and newspaper ads to promote the business.”

Kim’s birthday, which falls on Feb. 16, is the most festive holiday in the North.

The North Korean company will provide land, some 20 low-cost workers, chicken, and draft beer. The early-stage investment, equipment, cook and spicy chicken will come from the South Korean chicken franchise called “Matdaero Chondak,” Choi said.

The first “Rakwon” chicken restaurant in Pyongyang will have the capacity of seating about 200 people, he added.

The businessman said he will visit North Korea next week to discuss the opening of the store.

“I hope the business will thrive enough so that we can open store No. 10 in Pyongyang,” he added.

Read the full story here:
Inter-Korean joint venture chicken franchise to open first store in Pyongyang
Yonhap
1/11/2008

ORIGINAL POST (2007-11-3): A South Korean entrepreneur is investing in a new fried chicken restaurant in Pyongyang:

According to Reuters:

A South Korean businessman plans to begin a fried chicken delivery service in the North Korean capital, with the first foreign-run restaurant in a country that struggles to feed its own people.

Choi Won-ho, head of a fried chicken franchiser that has about 70 restaurants across South Korea, said Friday he is opening a 50-table restaurant in Pyongyang on Nov. 15. It will also deliver chicken and draft beer to homes.

“I have wanted to be the world’s best chicken brand,” Choi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

“But I thought it makes no sense to conquer the world without sharing food with our compatriots. That’s why I went there first,” he said. “I plan to get into the Chinese market via Pyongyang.”

He laughed off concerns his venture may be too risky in the impoverished and isolated country of 23 million, where the elite citizens of the capital are much better off than others.

“I don’t think that I’m going to lose money at all,” he said.

It will be the first foreign-run restaurant in North Korea, according South Korea’s Unification Ministry.

Choi, 48, who has been in the fried chicken business for 15 years, said he hired an ethnic Korean Chinese as the main cook for the Pyongyang outlet and taught him all his cooking know-how. About 20 North Koreans will also work at the restaurant and five scooters will be used for deliveries, he said.

Choi said he invested about 500 million won (US$551,339, ?382,264) in the joint venture with a North Korean trading firm that will take 30 percent of the profits from the business.

North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world and has relied on foreign food aid to feed the population for more than a decade since natural disasters and mismanagement devastated its economy.

Relations between the two Koreas have improved significantly since their first-ever summit in 2000, spurring a series of exchange projects between the Cold War rivals that fought the 1950-53 Korean War. That conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the two sides still technically at war.

According to the Joong Ang Ilbo:

South Koreans are making two very different attempts to improve the culinary life of impoverished North Koreans.

First, a South Korean fried chicken franchise will open the only foreign-run restaurant in North Korea, targeting family dining on special occasions.

Second, the labor union of a South Korean conglomerate has built a plant in Pyongyang to provide cheap corn noodles to northerners who suffer from food shortages.

Choi Won-ho, who runs Matdaero, a 70-store fried chicken franchise in the South, said yesterday he would open a restaurant in a joint venture with a North Korean state-run trading company, near the Arch of Triumph in central Pyongyang on Nov. 15.

The restaurant will both receive walk-in customers and deliver chicken and draft beer to homes. Such places are common in South Korea, but it will be the first chicken joint of its kind in North Korea.

Choi has invested 500 million won ($551,000) in the restaurant’s cooking facilities, interior decoration and delivery scooters. He will split the profit 70-30 with the North Korean firm.

Choi, 48, who has been a chicken entrepreneur for 15 years, said there should be sufficient demand despite North Korea being one of the world’s poorest countries, because he plans to offer lower prices to locals.

“I will charge about $3 for a whole chicken for North Koreans and at least $12, the same price as in South Korea, for tourists from the South and other countries,” Choi said yesterday by phone. “One whole chicken will be enough for a four-member family, so the price of $3 will not be too burdensome for special occasions.”

The store will hire about 20 North Koreans to take telephone orders, fry the birds and make home deliveries. It will have seating for 50.

Separately, the labor union of Hyundai Motor Company, Korea’s top automaker, said in a statement that it has completed an 1,800-square-meter corn-noodle plant in Pyongyang. The plant can produce two tons of corn noodles a day, it said.

Hyundai Motor’s 44,000 unionized workers agreed in August to help a South Korean humanitarian group build the noodle factory. Workers donated about 12,000 won each, 500 million won in total, for the facility.

“The plant will be a great help to relieve the food problems of North Koreans,” Chang Kyu-ho, a spokesman for the labor union, said. “Corn is a staple food for North Koreans.”

Read the full stories here:
Fried chicken franchise goes North
Joong Ang Daily
Moon So-young
11/3/2007

S Korean businessman to debut fried chicken at first foreign-run restaurant in North Korea
Reuters (Via DPRK Studies)
Jaesoon Chang
11/3/2007

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A new electronic entry system launched for the Kaesong Industrial Complex

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-2-6

A pilot operation of the new electronic entry system, or radio frequency identification system (RFID), to facilitate the travel to and from the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) was completed on January 15 and pilot operation began from January 28, 2014.

According to a Ministry of Unification (MOU) official, “The construction of the system began from December 11 last year and it was completed this month on the 15th. The trial operation period will begin from the 28th.”

The RFID system was agreed upon last September at the second meeting of the South-North Joint Committee for the Kaesong Industrial Complex in order to improve the South Korean companies’ access to the KIC.

The new RFID system will replace the paper document inspection with an electronic card system and personnel screening will be reduced to 5 seconds from 13 seconds while vehicle screening time will be reduced to 7 seconds from 15 seconds.

In particular, the reduced inspection time will facilitate the travel and ease the heavy traffic during Monday mornings and Friday afternoons: for personnel screenings, from 17 minutes to 5 minutes; for vehicle inspections, from 19 minutes to 8 minutes.

However, the existing personnel and vehicle access to the KIC which requires a 3-day advance notice still remains in effect, and the mobility of personnel and vehicles will still be strictly monitored and chaperoned by the North Korean military.

On the other hand, the fourth round of the sub-panel meeting was held on January 24 to discuss the operation of the RFID system, Internet connectivity, and simplification of customs process at the KIC.

In regards to the streamlining of the customs process, the two countries agreed to change it from ‘complete’ to ‘selective’ examination, but differences still remain over the ratio to be applied to the selective probe.

As for the issue of Internet connection, it is still in the infant stage and the two sides agreed to resume the negotiation on February 7.

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Economic gap between the two Koreas

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

According to Yonhap:

Trade and economic levels between South and North Korea remained quite wide last year, data showed Monday, pointing to prolonged lackluster business and economic conditions in the reclusive North.

According to the data by Statistics Korea, South Korea’s total trade volume stood at US$1.07 trillion as of 2012, which is 157 times larger than the North’s $6.8 billion. In particular, the South’s exports came to $547.9 billion, 188.9 times larger than those of the North.

The nominal gross national income (GNI) levels between the two Koreas also remained wide.

The GNI for the South was estimated at 1,279.5 trillion won ($1.21 trillion) last year, 38.2 times larger than the North, the data showed. On a per-capita basis, South Korea’s GNI was 18.7 times larger than that of the North.

South Korea also outperformed the North in infrastructure and other social overhead capital spending.

The South’s road network totaled 105,703 kilometers, which compared with the 26,114 km for the North, the data showed. The South had the power generating capacity of 81.8 million kilowatts a year, which is 11.3 times larger than the North.

The only category that the North outperformed the South was in coal production. It produced a total of 25.8 million tons of coal last year, about 10 times the amount of coal produced by the South, according to the data.

The two Koreas had a combined population of 74.4 million, with the South holding a population of about 50 million, the data showed.

The statistics agency has been providing such information on the North every year since 1995 as a way to provide a glimpse into the economic and industrial conditions of the reclusive country.

Read the full story here:
Trade, economic gaps between 2 Koreas remain wide: data
Yonhap
2013-12-23

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DPRK announces Kaesong “High-Tech Industrial Park” and international “Toll Road”

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

UPDATE 1 (2013-11-13): KCNA reports on a groundbreaking for the new “Latest Science and Technology Development Zone” in Kaesong:

Construction of Kaesong Latest Science, Technology Development Zone Starts

Kaesong, November 11 (KCNA) — The ground-breaking ceremony for building the Latest Science and Technology Development Zone was held in Kaesong City on Monday.

Present there were Jang Su Nam, representative of the Peace and Economy Development Group, officials concerned, builders, employees of the zone and foreign figures concerned and guests.

Jang said in his address that the construction of the zone would help promote the friendship and develop the cooperation among various countries.

He stressed that the DPRK provides foreign businesses with all conditions for investment.

He expressed belief that the construction of the zone would be completed as soon as possible thanks to the positive efforts of the builders and figures concerned.

Then foreign figures made speeches.

They expressed conviction that the construction of the zone would contribute to promoting the economic development in the region and improving the Korean people’s living standard.

They expressed hope that the figures concerned of various countries would support and encourage the successful construction of the zone.

KCNA also published these two articles (2013-10-13):

Building of High-Tech Industrial Park Will Be Conducive to South-South Cooperation: Diplomats

Pyongyang, November 13 (KCNA) — A ground-breaking ceremony for building a high-tech industrial park was held in Kaesong, the DPRK on Monday.

Addressing the ceremony, Diare Mamady, Guinean ambassador to China, said:

Promoting such a project will enhance the confidence building, the economical growth, the trade and other exchanges and improve the overall cooperation with all neighboring countries of the DPRK.

The project is opening a wide way to an integrated cooperation between Asian countries but not limited to that only, it is paving a new route for south-south cooperation, inspiring developing countries in their search of integrated economies to widen their narrow markets and transfer technologies to launch their development.

Shared growth should be the key philosophy of south-south cooperation, which has to be widespread by economical entities like “Peace Economic Development Group”, in view to cultivate and keep sustainable peace, necessary to the well being of nations.

I would like to express all our greetings and extend congratulations to the great leadership of DPRK, to seize this opportunity which is enlightening its constant and sustainable peace policy.

Making a speech at a press conference held at the end of the ground-breaking ceremony, Multi-Kamara Abubakarr, ambassador of Sierra Leone to China, extended his heart-felt congratulations to Kim Jong Un, supreme leader of the DPRK, for making the visionary decision behind the landmark project and accelerating the economic and social development for the country and people.

He continued:

In the light of my experience from 20 odd years-long service in UNDP and roving ambassadorial activities in over 10 Asian countries, I am convinced that the project is of great potential and that the establishment of the park will put an emphasis on promoting economic development in the region and improving the living-standards of the Korean people.

and…

High-Tech Industrial Park to Be Built in Kaesong, DPRK

Pyongyang, November 13 (KCNA) — The Peace Economic Development Group started the construction of a high-tech industrial park in Kaesong City, the DPRK, with a ground-breaking ceremony on Monday.

Present at the ceremony were Jang Su Nam, representative of the group, officials concerned, builders, employees of the park, foreigners concerned and other invitees.

The group is a consortium of China’s Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Middle East and Africa.

The park will have an IT center, hotel, dwelling houses, school and other buildings, as well as a power plant.

Heh Teck Siong, general manager of the group, told the ceremony that it was a great honor for the group to take part in the economic development of the DPRK.

He went on to say:

We are the developers of the high-tech industrial park in Kaesong.
The spirit of our group is to build up economic win-win cooperation with global partners and especially with Asian countries.

We believe that the park will contribute to the economic, confidence and security improvement in the region, and the quality of people’s life.

I am pleased to notify to the friends from the world that the park is kicking off.

Jang Su Nam said in his address that the DPRK government has shown deep care for the industrial park, providing all conditions for enterprises of different countries to invest in it.

The completion of the park will encourage the Korean people in the efforts for building a knowledge-based economic power and greatly contribute to deepening friendship and developing cooperative relations among different countries, he added.

He expressed belief that the construction of the park would be completed at an early date thanks to the energetic efforts of its builders and personages concerned.

Here is a link to one of the articles in Korean. The   “Peace Economic Development Group (평화경제개발그룹)” appears to be a different organization than the “Economic Development Commission/Association”. I am not sure how/if they are related.

Television footage of the groundbreaking ceremony can be found here.

ORIGINAL POST (2013-10-18): According to KCNA:

Consortium to Invest in DPRK

Pyongyang, October 17 (KCNA) — A consortium consisting of Jurong Consultants and OKP Holdings of Singapore, P&T Architects & Engineers Ltd. of Hong Kong, China and other well-known companies of the East Asia and the Middle East is taking part in developing projects in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The consortium agreed with the DPRK’s related organs on collaboration in building the Kaesong Hi-Tech Industrial Park and Highway Toll Road from Capital Airport to Pyongyang City.

The projects will soon begin.

North Korea Tech provides the following links: Jurong Consultants, OKP HoldingsP&T Architects and Engineers. P&T Showed up earlier at

According to AFP:

South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman said it had no official comment, but stressed the project had ‘nothing to do with the existing Kaesong zone’.

OKP Holdings said its involvement was “in the preliminary stages”, while Jurong and P&T both declined to comment.

The Kaesong Hi-Tech Industrial Park will be different from the Kaesong Industrial Park–which is rather low-tech by western standards. South Korean citizens, firms, and agencies are forbidden from making high-tech investments in the DPRK by the Wassenar Arrangement, which is why none of the participating firms listed by KCNA are from the ROK.

It is possible that the new Beijing Capital Airport – Pyongyang Toll Road could utilize the new Yalu/Amnok River Bridge.

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Hyesan – Jilin bridge reopened

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Hyesan-jilin-bridge-2013-6-22

Pictured above (Google Earth): The Hyesan – Jilin Bridge

According to Radio Free Asia:

A bridge across the Yalu River connecting northeastern North Korea with China has reopened after more than four months of repairs and reinforcement work, reviving trade and tourism in the area, sources in North Korea said.

Traders eager to sell their goods lined up on both sides of the bridge between Hyesan city in North Korea’s Ryanggang province and Changbai city in China’s Jilin province as traffic resumed on Thursday.

The 500-foot (150-meter) bridge, initially built in 1936 by the Japanese and renovated in 1985, has been reinforced to accommodate trucks weighing up to 30 tons, double the earlier limit.

It had been closed since May, blocking trade and sending prices of consumer goods soaring at local markets in Hyesan, a source in Ryanggang province said.

Thursday’s reopening of the bridge, one of at least three spanning the Yalu River, took place on the anniversary of the ruling North Korean Workers’ Party without much fanfare, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The Yalu River Friendship Bridge reopened officially at 10:00 a.m…. There was no special event or meeting for an opening ceremony,” the source told RFA’s Korean Service.

Another source in the province speaking on condition of anonymity said vehicles bound for China loaded with logs and minerals had lined up near the bridge early that morning in anticipation of a rumored reopening.

On the other side of the river in Changbai, trucks carrying Chinese food items and daily necessities had queued up to cross into North Korea, the source said.

The bridge is also a key gateway for Chinese tourists traveling to North Korea’s famed Mount Baekdu, a popular sightseeing destination.

During the bridge’s closure, local authorities in Ryanggang had lost valuable foreign exchange earnings because tours to the mountain had been limited and export of logs and minerals had stopped.

Sources said that although many locals were relieved that trade would be resumed with the bridge no longer closed, others were concerned about the possibility of a sudden outflow of exports of local resources and goods across to China.

A more popular bridge along the Yalu River lies between China’s Dandong city and North Korea’s Sinuiju city.

Annual trade between North Korea and China, its closest diplomatic and trade ally, is worth about U.S. $6 billion. China also supplies nearly all of North Korea’s energy needs.

Read the full story here:
Bridge Across China-North Korea Border River Reopened
Radio Free Asia
2013-10-14

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New Yalu/Amnok River bridge in south-west Dandong (UPDATED)

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

New-Dandong-bridge-2014-4-2

 

Pictured above (Google Earth): The new Yalu/Amnok River bridge under construction

UPDATE 12 (2014-10-31): Opening of new NK-China bridge delayed indefinitely. According to the Daily NK:

The planned opening of the bridge connecting Dandong in Liaoning Province, China with Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province in North Korea has been delayed indefinitely, according a report by China’s state-run Global Times on October 31st.

According to the report, North Korea has not followed the business plan stipulating that it construct access roads to the bridge, and as such, its opening remains on hold. North Korea was charged with construction on access roads for the bridge, but work at the site has yet to begin, in fact, the area continues to be nothing but swathes of farmland.

On the ground in Dandong, the report conveyed the disappointment by many in the area, “This new bridge that was going to be so magnificently built is finished on one side, and a vegetable plot on the North Korean end.” Many traders and people purchasing homes and opening stores in the area were anticipating to benefit from increased commerce between the two cities, which account for 70% of bilateral trade, after the bridge’s completion.

The construction of the new bridge over the Amrok [Yalu] River, to replace the aging “Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge,” was officially proposed by China’s former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wu Dawei, when he visited North Korea in 2007. However, it was not until October 2009 that former Premier Wen Jiabao visited North Korea to make the deal official, for which China agreed to take on the construction costs. The two countries then finalized plans for the project in February 2010, with China continually pushing for construction to begin in October, only to see them finally begin in December that year after a series of delays.

Over the past four years of construction, China accelerated efforts to build a four-lane highway and other advanced features amounting to 2.22 billion RMB [approximately 360 million USD].

As to why the project has not moved forward despite China’s completion of its end of the deal, “North Korea demanded more investment from China for the connecting roads and has done no construction,” the report stated.

Daily NK previously reported in July about the advanced construction efforts on the Chinese side and predicted delays in the bridge’s opening due to failure by North Korea to uphold its end of the contract.

The story is not completely accurate, however, because the North Koreans have at least begun the process of building a road to connect the bridge to Sinuiju. According to Google Earth satellite imagery dated 2014-6-9 we can see the beginning of road construction:

Yalu-river-bridge-road-2014-6-9

UPDATE 11 (2014-7-18): The Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) offers an explanation for the lack of progress on the DPRK side of the bridge:

New Amnok (Yalu) River Bridge – Present Conditions and Future Outlook

According to recent reports, the New Amnok (Yalu) River Bridge may not be finished by its projected date of September 2014 due to delays in the construction of roads and customs facilities.

The bridge, which will connect the North Korean city of Sinuiju with the Chinese city of Dandong in Liaoning Province, has advanced into the final stages of construction following the recent completion of the control tower and the bridge deck.

When the bridge is completed, the existing Amnok River Bridge (located approximately 10km away from the new bridge) will be restricted to railroad traffic only, and general road traffic to-and-from North Korea and China will be rerouted to the new bridge.

The existing Amnok River Bridge has been cited as a bottleneck for the blooming trade industry between North Korea and China for several reasons. The bridge, built in 1911, accommodates both a railway and roadway, but has only one lane. Furthermore, its old age has sparked safety concerns; trucks weighing over 20 tons have been prohibited from using the bridge.

Reportedly, China has begun construction on a new commerce zone costing 2 billion RMB (330 billion KRW) that will connect with the New Amnok River Bridge from the Chinese side.

The new commerce zone is set to be built on a 380 thousand square-meter plot of land and will include various services such as border checkpoints, customs, quarantine facilities, and immigration. Business facilities such as hotels, shopping centers and other residential and commercial buildings are also expected to be built in this area.

Once construction finishes and operations begin, China is expecting that the new area will accommodate for the passage of up to twenty thousand cars and fifty thousand people per day. It is also predicted that the new trade zone will be responsible for up to 60 percent of the total trade volume passing between the two countries.

However, on the North Korean side, it appears that construction has yet to begin on any of the necessary immigration facilities such as checkpoints and customs.

It has been reported that since construction of the New Amnok (Yalu) River Bridge began in 2010, abrupt changes in the state of affairs and weakening international ties between the two countries has left North Korea without a financier. North Korea had originally projected total construction and operation costs of 20 million USD (approx. 20 billion KRW), but has yet to secure the money from foreign investors.

In the past, the Chinese government persuaded North Korea into constructing the New Amnok (Yalu) River Bridge, but appears to have lost its previous fervor.

Back in 2007, China’s former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wu Dawei, proposed the construction of the new bridge under the condition that China will be responsible for the entirety of construction costs. In October 2009, former Premier Wen Jiabao visited North Korea and finalized the agreement.

From the outset, plans for the creation of the New Amnok River Bridge were not drawn up by North Korea, but rather strongly demanded by the regional governments in China’s Liaoning province and Dandong city. North Korea set its focus on the repair of the original existing Amnok River Bridge in order to set a fixed limit on the exchange of personnel and materials, citing regime stability as a reason. However, China persisted, promising to provide financial support for the construction of not only a new bridge, but also for customs facilities, immigration, and a highway connecting the bridge to Pyongyang.

At first, China was actively engaged in supplying North Korea with the financial resources necessary for construction. However, with the increase in nuclear tests, missile launches and increasingly negative internal public opinion, as well as the execution of Chinese ally Jang Song Thaek, China seems to have slowed the pace and now carefully monitors its involvement with North Korea.

In order to protect its domestic and foreign image, it is expected that China will complete construction of the infrastructure on their side of the New Amnok River Bridge within the year. China is also expected to offer less support to North Korea, showing an increasingly passive response.

According to recent reports, North Korea is currently in the process of preparing the customs and immigration facilities in Sinuiju—connected to the existing Amnok River Bridge—to handle procedures after construction of the new bridge is finished. The existing facilities are expected to be used due to North Korea’s inability to finish construction of the new immigration facilities and other connecting roads on time.

North Korea’s Central News Agency (KCNA) introduced the New Amnok River Bridge on a television program in August 2013, boasting that over 3,000 lorries and cargo ships will pass over and under the bridge per day. In the program, it is said that the bridge will be completed by September 2014

UPDATE 10 (2014-7-2): The bridge opening is likely to be delayed (again). According to the Daily NK:

The planned opening of a large new bridge across the Yalu River connecting Dandong in Liaoning Province with Sinuiju is likely to be delayed, Daily NK has learned. The cause of the delay is thought to be North Korea’s failure to make good on its contractual obligations.

“The Chosun side took on the job of constructing the roads, but they are making painfully slow work of it. Because the roads are still not finished, people are wondering whether their initial aim of increasing trade volumes is on its way down the drain,” a source close to the project told Daily NK on the 1st.

“China provided a lot of materials and machinery to the North, but there is a story that this machinery was sent for use on other projects rather than for the bridge construction. The Chinese traders who did harbor high hopes for [economic] opening brought on by the bridge are showing their disappointment more and more,” the source explained.

The partially complete New Amrok [Yalu] River Bridge is designed to connect Langtou new city with south Sinuiju at a total cost of 2.22 billion RMB (approximately 357 million USD). It lies 8 km downstream from the ageing “Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge” (formerly the Amrok [Yalu] River Bridge).

The old bridge is currently the only one that connects the two cities, but, built in 1943, it is wholly unfit for purpose. Trucks that weigh more than 20 tons are not allowed on it due to safety concerns, and it also has just one lane, which restricts trade volumes. Traders had hoped that the new bridge would speed up commerce between the two cities, which account for 70% of bilateral trade despite these structural limitations.

The construction of the new bridge was officially proposed by China’s former Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wu Dawei, when he visited North Korea in 2007. However, it was not until October 2009 that former Premier Wen Jiabao visited Pyongyang and sealed the deal, under which China agreed to foot the bill for construction. The two countries then finalized plans for the project in February 2010, and the groundbreaking ceremony was held in December that year.

The Chinese side has demonstrated its intent to see the completion of the four-lane bridge, with its accompanying management, security and inspection infrastructure.

“In accordance with the plan, China has already got a customs office in place to administer the flow of goods over the bridge,” the source revealed. “But the North has slowed right down, and the talk of trade expansion from before has gone away.”

This declining enthusiasm is tangible in the property market in Langtou, the region of Dandong that ought to benefit the most from bilateral economic activity across the new bridge. “Apartment prices remain where they were three years ago, at roughly 4000 Yuan per pyeong,” explained the source. Pyeong is a Korean unit of measuring area, and amounts to 3.305785m².

“The number of people wanting to learn Korean in Dandong is still the same,” he admitted, “but that’s only because they want to watch Korean dramas. They have already given up on the idea of booming trade with North Korea since they saw those who had been successful going to the wall after the execution of Jang Song Taek.”

In addition to problems with the bridge, Daily NK established in May that almost no progress has been made on the development of two Special Economic Zones in the Sinuiju area (see linked article).

UPDATE 9 (2014-1-14): Xinhua reports the bridge will open in 2014:

A new bridge over the river border between China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is expected to open this year, local authorities said on Tuesday.

About 80 percent of work on the Yalu River Bridge is complete, according to the Transport Department of northeast China’s Liaoning Province.

Construction began on the 3 km bridge at the end of 2010, and will cost 2.22 billion yuan (356 million U.S. dollars).

A joint project between the two countries, the bridge will have four two-way lanes upon completion, according to an agreement signed in February 2010. The new route is expected to boost communication and economic cooperation.

The only bridge connecting the nations was built in 1937. Trucks weighing more than 20 tonnes are not allowed on the one-way bridge, considerably restricting trade volume.

UPDATE 8 (2013-11-8): Yonhap releases a photo of the bridge nearing completion:

Yal-Amnok-2013-10-Yonhap

UPDATE 7 (2013-10-10): The Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) offers some new information:

The construction of the New Yalu River Bridge, the new suspension bridge over the Yalu River, connecting China’s Dandong city (Liaoning Province) and North Korea’s Sinuiju city (North Pyongan Province) is in its final stages.

Currently, the volume of trade between Sinuiju and Dandong is heavy, and the Yalu River Railway Bridge is saddled with transporting goods. It is hoped that the new bridge will help ease that burden. Several hundred workers are involved in its construction.

According to one Dandong resident, “Despite North Korea’s nuclear test and China’s decision to impose sanctions against the North, construction of the New Yalu River Bridge has been relentless.” The new bridge is considered as an important symbol of Sino-DPRK economic cooperation. Its construction is believed to be well on track.

The total project cost of the construction is estimated to be 2.22 billion CYN (about 390 billion KRW or 3.6 million USD). China is covering the bridge’s construction costs and has reportedly introduced a variety of new technologies to improve the precision and safety of the structure. Once completed, the bridge will be 3 km in length, with the height of its two pylons at 197 meters and the distance between pylons to be about 636 meters.

Travel from Pyongyang to Dandong currently takes 4 hours; that time is expected to be cut in half as the new suspension bridge is located 8 km downstream from the existing railway bridge.

If the construction progresses smoothly, the bridge should open for operation by July 2014. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on August 23 that the new bridge should accommodate over 3,000 55-tonne freight cars per day, and 3,000-tonne ships will be able to pass under the bridge.

Along with the new bridge, China and North Korea are also engaged in joint development of a new district in Dandong and the Hwanggumpyong Special Economic Zone (SEZ). Despite the lingering concerns over the development of these areas after the death of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the development has reportedly continued uninterrupted.

Despite the continued international and other sanctions against North Korea, the development of Hwanggumpyeong SEZ is speculated to pick up speed after the completion of the bridge. The Hwanggumpyeong SEZ is a project that North Korea put forth in response to the “May 24 Sanctions” imposed by the South Korean government after the sinking of ROKS Cheonan. These sanctions essentially had brought an end to all inter-Korean economic cooperation and exchanges (with the exception of the operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex).

Last September, a groundbreaking ceremony for the administrative building in the Hwanggumpyeong SEZ was held. Since then a customs building, security facilities, management office, street lights, and transport inspection office are reported to have been built or are currently under construction.

UPDATE 6 (2013-8-23): New KCTV footage of the bridge can be seen here:

UPDATE 5 (2013-6-4): I wrote an update on the construction of the bridge at NK News.

UPDATE 4 (2012-11-7): The China Daily’s English-language Dandong page reports on the status of the bridge:

Construction on the new bridge, with an investment of 2.22 billion yuan, began at the end of 2011. According to the Dandong government, the main structure of the bridge has been completed. It is expected to become operational in July 2014.

UPDATE 3 (2011-6-25): Adam Cathcart took some pictures of the new bridge construction–so it is progressing!

UPDATE 2 (2011-2-2): For some time I have been trying to track down the location of the proposed new Yalu River bridge which will connect the DPRK and China.  Thanks to a story in the Daily NK, I was able to map it out on Google Earth:

Pictured above: Location of the proposed Yalu Bridge (Google Earth) [UPDATE-The bridge was ultimately moved from this location]

According to the Daily NK:

According to someone inside the construction company responsible for the bridge’s development, “The development of Xinchengqu has been on the drawing board for two years. This time, the construction of the New River Yalu Bridge was confirmed between China and North Korea. This is a very good chance for us, from now on Xinchengqu will become the center of China-North Korea trade.

According to Dandong’s urban development plan, the bridge will connect Busan-Seoul-Pyongyang-Dandong and Beijing in the future, implying that future trade and cooperation between a reunited Korea and China is being taken into account.

China is providing the construction costs for the New Yalu River Bridge; an estimated one billion Yuan (approximately $145 million).

This particular location is interesting because it completely bypasses the city and county of Sinuiju–where earlier reports (below) described its location.  The bridge actually crosses from China into Sopuk-ri, Ryongchon County (서북리, 룡천군)—in the middle of nowhere.  There is absolutely no infrastructure at this location for administering trade between the DPRK, China, and prospectively South Korea, so it will all need to be built from scratch or moved from Sinuiju. Either way, this is bad news for Sinuiju which today benefits financially as both the capital of North Pyongan Province and as the gateway for the majority of trade between the DPRK and China.  It looks like Ryongchon may be taking some of their business!

In addition, the North Koreans have been widening  the Sinuiju highway and “beautifying” all of the surrounding residential areas in anticipation of greater loads of traffic coming from China.  See more about this here.  This could all be for naught if the Chinese end up building a trade artery south of all this construction!

UPDATE 1 (2010-12-31): (KCNA h/t Aidan Foster-Carter) The ceremony did take place to mark the launch of the bridge’s construction:

Pyongyang, December 31 (KCNA) — A ground-breaking ceremony for a DPRK-China bridge across the River Amnok took place in Dandong City, China, on Friday.

Present there from the DPRK side were its government delegation headed by Kim Chang Ryong, minister of Land and Environmental Conservation, and from the Chinese side Li Shenglin, minister of Transport, Hu Zhengyue, assistant to Foreign Minister, and Chen Zhenggao, governor of the Liaoning Provincial People’s Government, and other officials concerned of the central and local governments of China.

Speeches were made by Kim Chang Ryong, Kim Song Gi, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, and Choe Jong Gon, chairman of the North Phyongan Provincial People’s Committee, from the DPRK side and Li Shenglin, Hu Zhengyue, and Chen Zhenggao from the Chinese side.

They said that two rounds of General Secretary Kim Jong Il’s visit to China this year marked historic events of epoch-making significance in developing the DPRK-China friendship on a fresh high stage.

They expressed belief that the bridge would make a contribution to demonstrating once again the great vitality and invincible might of the DPRK-China friendship steadily growing stronger.

The bridge will be successfully built as a symbol of the DPRK-China friendship and a structure of the two peoples, they added.

Then followed a ceremony of the ground-breaking for the project.

The Ministry of Transport, the Liaoning Provincial Committee of the Communist Party and the Liaoning Provincial People’s Government of China arranged a reception in connection with the ceremony.

ORIGINAL POST (2010-12-28): According to Daily NK:

It was reported that there will be a ceremony to celebrate the start of construction of the New Yalu River Bridge linking Shinuiju and Dandong, China, before the end of the year.

Yonhap News yesterday quoted Shenyang and Dandong sources saying that both the North Korean and Chinese authorities decided to hold the ceremony this year and have started preparing for the event.

The source in Dandong said, “Instructions that the start of the bridge construction must not slip to next year were handed down from the Chinese government last week, so the governments of Dandong City and Liaoning Province urgently are trying to set a date. It will likely happen the 30th or 31st.”

The source also explained the reason why the Chinese government is hurrying to start the construction, which was supposed to start early next year. “Both China and North Korea intend to show observers domestically and internationally they have the will to construct the bridge.”

In Langtou, Dandong, where one end of the bridge will be built, a construction board has been set up and says the New Yalu River Bridge will connect to Jangseo in the southern part of Shinuiju.

China and North Korea agreed to construct the bridge in October 2009, and in February, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Korea, Pak Gil Yon, and Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Hailong signed the agreement in Dandong, China.

Dandong City had announced plans to start construction of the bridge in October, but it has been delayed for uncertain reasons. It was rumored there was conflict over the construction of the bridge because North Korea had requested additional aid from the Chinese government.

Researcher Jeon Byung Gon of the Korea Institute for National Unification said in a telephone interview with The Daily NK that, “The ceremonial ground-breaking will be a chance to promote the friendship between China and North Korea again.”

Researcher Jeon explained that, “So far, there have been several impediments to trade such as quotas, outdated facilities for transportation, both countries’ border management, etc. However, when the New Yalu River Bridge is constructed, such limitations can be resolved and trade between China and North Korea can be revitalized.”

He predicted, “Since they are trying to carry out the construction in a hurry, economic cooperation and friendship relations between two countries will be taken to the next level.”

Also, from the Choso Ilbo:

A source in Dandong said Wednesday that North Korea and China will start construction of the bridge as early as Friday. The two sides agreed to build the bridge during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to North Korea in October last year, with work expected to start this October.

China insists on having the bridge connect the newly renovated area of southern Dandong and southern Sinuiju, but North Korea wanted it to cross over Wihwa Island in Apnok River and connect Dandong with the old part of Sinuiju. The North claimed the route preferred by China would necessitate building a long embankment but in fact seems to have been nervous that a direct link to Pyongyang would cause security concerns like making it easier for North Koreans to flee.

But the North seems to have caved in. A source said construction will begin in March but a groundbreaking ceremony will be held before the end of this year.

Meanwhile, transport of goods and products has picked up via the Hunchun- Rajin-Sonbong route as part of an economic cooperation project. Around 500 truckloads of coal from China’s Jilin Province were shipped out of Rajin-Sonbong Port on Dec. 7 and are being transported to Shanghai across the East and South seas.

Read the full stories here:
New Yalu Bridge Groundbreaking This Year
Daily NK
Mok Yong Jae
12/28/2010

N.Korea’s Cross-Border Business with China Picking Up
Choson Ilbo
12/30/2010

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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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