South Korea agreed Wednesday to take part in a Russian-led rail and port development project in North Korea that could help reduce tensions with Pyongyang and open up a new logistics link between East Asia and Europe in line with President Park Geun-hye’s “Eurasian initiative.”
The memorandum of understanding was the most tangible outcome from Park’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It calls for steel giant POSCO, Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. and Korea Railroad Corp. to participate in the Rajin-Khasan development project.
The project was designed to develop North Korea’s ice-free northeastern port of Rajin into a logistics hub connected to Russia’s Trans Siberian Railway. In September, a 54-kilometer, double-track rail link reopened between Rajin and the nearby Russian town of Khasan after years of renovation.
Once the project to modernize the port of Rajin is completed, the rail-connected port can be used as a hub for sending cargo by rail from East Asia to as far as Europe. South Korean firms can also ship exports first to Rajin and transport them elsewhere via Russian railways.
North Korea and Russia launched the US$340 million project in 2008.
“The two sides agreed to encourage the rail and port cooperation project that companies of the two sides are pushing for so that it can move smoothly forward,” said a joint statement issued after the summit.
The project fits into Park’s “Eurasian initiative,” which calls for binding Eurasian nations closely together by linking roads and railways to realize what she called the “Silk Road Express” running from South Korea to Europe via North Korea, Russia and China.
Wednesday’s agreement was seen as a first step toward the ambitious vision.
“We, the two leaders, agreed to combine South Korea’s policy of strengthening Eurasian cooperation and Russia’s policy of highly regarding the Asia-Pacific region to realize our mutual potential at the maximum level and move relations between the two countries forward,” Park said during a joint press conference.
“South Korea and Russia will join hands to build a new Eurasian era for the future,” she said.
The Korean consortium plans to buy a stake in RasonKonTrans, the Russian-North Korean joint venture carrying out the rail and port renovation project. A final decision on the planned purchase will be made after a due diligence study in the first half of next year, officials said.
State monopoly Russian Railways has a 70 percent stake in the joint venture, with the North holding the remaining 30 percent. News reports have said that the Korean consortium plans to buy about half the Russian stake.
The purchase could be in conflict with Seoul’s ban on new investments in North Korea, though it is an indirect investment via Russia. The ban is part of sanctions Seoul imposed on Pyongyang after the North torpedoed and sank a South Korean warship near their Yellow Sea border in 2010.
The project could pave the way for similar indirect investments in the North and help reduce tensions on the divided peninsula. Inter-Korean relations, which had shown signs of a thaw following months of high tensions, chilled again after Pyongyang unilaterally canceled reunions for separated families in September.
Putin arrived in South Korea from Vietnam earlier Wednesday on a one-day visit for his second summit with Park. They first met in September on the sidelines of a Group of 20 major economies meeting in Russia’s second-largest city of Saint Petersburg.
In Wednesday’s summit, the two leaders also signed an MOU to enhance cooperation in shipbuilding. Officials said the deal laid the groundwork for South Korea to win orders of at least 13 liquefied natural gas tankers from Russia on the condition of technology transfer.
Also discussed was a long-discussed project to link railways of the two countries via North Korea and through to Europe. The two sides signed an MOU on rail cooperation and agreed to study the project as a long-term venture. The rail project has been talked about for many years, but little headway has been made due to security tensions.
In total, the summit produced 17 cooperation agreement, including a visa-exemption pact calling for allowing Koreans and Russians to visit each other’s nation without a visa for up to 60 days, as well as an accord to set up cultural centers in each other’s nation.
Other topics for the meeting included regional and global security issues, such as the North Korean nuclear standoff. Russia is a member of the six-party talks aimed at ending Pyongyang’s nuclear program and is also one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
“The two sides confirmed they cannot accept Pyongyang’s policy of building independent nuclear and missile capabilities … and stressed that North Korea cannot have the status of a nuclear state,” the joint statement said.
They also emphasized the North should abide by international denuclearization obligations and commitments, and agreed to work together to create the right conditions for restarting the long-stalled six-party talks on ending Pyongyang’s nuclear program, the statement said.
In an apparent swipe at Japan, the statement said that the sides shared a concern that the strong cooperation potential in Northeast Asia has not been realized due to obstacles created by recent “retrograde acts and words on history.”
Putin’s visit to Seoul is the first by a leader from the four major powers that also includes the United States, Japan and China since Park came into office. The Russian president is also the sixth foreign leader to visit South Korea under the Park administration.
The ministry, in charge of all inter-Korean relations, said plans by a South Korean consortium to buy a stake in RasonKonTrans, the Russian-North Korean joint venture, can strengthen ties between South Korea and Russia and create greater opportunities for all sides. The project, first launched in 2008, cost Pyongyang and Moscow US$340 million.
It said the memorandum of understanding, signed on the sidelines of summit meeting between South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in the day, did not mean Seoul was abandoning its so-called May 24 blanket ban that prohibits all economic and personnel exchanges with the North.
The ban has been in place since 2010, after Seoul accused Pyongyang of sinking one of its warships near the sea border in the Yellow Sea. Seoul at present only permits humanitarian assistance exempt from the sanctions rule.
“This project is special, and efforts will be made to assist visits by South Koreans who have to go to the North to carry out due diligence,” said a ministry official who declined to be identified.
He added that while an investment does conflict to some extent with Seoul’s ban, it is slightly different, since companies will be buying stakes in the Russian company.
“It will be an indirect form of investment and not the direct kind that has been banned so far,” the source said. However, he conceded the move marks the first time that investments into a North Korean project have been authorized.
South Korean businessmen from steelmaker POSCO, Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. and Korea Railroad Corp. are expected to go on fact-finding missions to Rajin and check the rail line linking the port city with the Russian town of Khasan.
Under the project, aimed at utilizing North Korea’s ice-free port, Russia aims to transform Rajin into a logistics base linked to its Trans Siberian Railway (TSR). If the project makes headway, Rajin can be used by South Korean companies to send cargo by rail to Europe using the TSR.
On the controversy that may arise from “bending” the rules, the ministry official said the government is willing to review other indirect forms of investments involving other countries if proposed.
“If a proposal is submitted, it will be judged in terms of the nature of the project, the effect it will have on cross-border relations and North Korean attitude,” he stressed.
North Korea has revised a law to help the isolated country expand railway cargo cooperation with foreign countries and attract investment, a report said Wednesday.
According to the report by the Korea Transport Institute (KOTI), Pyongyang changed its international railroad cargo law in December 2011 that regulates contracts, damage claims, fares, restrictions and dispute settlements.
The North had created its first railway law in 1987, but this revision marks the first related to cooperation with foreign countries, it said.
“The changes in particular are noteworthy because it outlines investment protection and pledges that the government will legally uphold the rights of investors and their interests,” the transportation institute said.
Pyongyang will take administrative and legal actions against people who obstruct international rail traffic, and promises to take disputes that cannot be settled through negotiations to court or through a binding arbitration process, it added.
The think tank, meanwhile, said that the changes were primarily made to transform the port of Rajin near the Chinese and Russian borders into a regional logistics hub.
Last month the North announced the reopening of a railway service linking Rajin with the Russian city of Khasan. Work on the railway line took five years to complete.
In addition to the railway law, KOTI said Pyongyang has shown interest in attracting foreign investors who will carry out so-called built-operate-transfer contracts, aimed at modernizing the country’s dilapidated infrastructure.
“The move by the North to emphasize profitability reflects signs that the country is becoming more open to the outside world compared to the past,” said Chang Yong-seok, senior researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University.
He said such changes aim to entice much needed foreign investment by offering actual profits.
Pictured above (Google Earth): A map of the Khasan-Rajin Port rail service.
UPDATE 13 (2013-11-13): The Russians and South Koreans recently discussed and signed a MOU on investment in the Rajin-Russia railway link and port. Read the full story here.
UPDATE 12 (2013-9-23): Rajin-Khasan Railway Section Opens for Service. According to KCNA:
The Rajin-Khasan railway section has been successfully rebuilt in line with the DPRK-Russia Moscow Declaration, signed in August 2001. The section was opened for service on Sunday.
Its opening serves as a landmark in promoting the friendly and cooperative relations between the DPRK and Russia, strengthening the economic and cultural ties in the Asia-Pacific region and ensuring the common prosperity of regional countries.
In the first year of the new century, historic meeting and talks were held between Kim Jong Il, leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and V.V. Putin, president of the Russian Federation, resulting in the adoption of the DPRK-Russia Moscow Declaration.
The declaration expressed the will of the two countries to make every possible effort to carry into practice a plan for opening railway transit linking the DPRK, Russia and Europe. Such plan was the first phase for wide-ranging cooperation between the two countries, which came under spotlight of the world.
At that time some forces criticized the plan as a “daydream”, displeased with significant cooperation between the two countries as well as peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula.
However, the project plan went into practice in October 2008 on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic relations thanks to the unshakable will of the two countries and the active cooperation of their railway workers.
At the ground-breaking ceremony for the project, which was held in front of the DPRK-Russia Friendship Pavilion in the area of Tumangang Railway Station in Rason City, V. I. Yakunin, president of the Russian Railways Company, said that the world would soon witness the longest railway transit, extending more than 10 000 km, through which 100 000 containers would be transported annually from 2013.
At last, the Rajin-Khasan railway section has been successfully rebuilt this year marking the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relation between the DPRK and Russia. This would bring a large-scale cooperation project between the two countries into practice, ensuring their and regional development and interests.
The railway section from Rajin to Khasan will be helpful to the economy, transport service and people’s wellbeing of the two countries. It can also develop into an international transit between Asia and Europe.
The facts show the vitality of cooperation documents of the two countries, including the DPRK-Russia Moscow Declaration, and the noble idea carried in them.
The friendly and cooperative relationship between the DPRK and Russia will grow stronger with the geopolitical importance of Northeast Asia.
UPDATE 11 (2013-9-22): It appears that Russia – Rajin rail service has been launched (again). According to KCNA:
Rajin-Khasan railway section has been successfully rebuilt and opened for service with due ceremony in Rajin on Sunday.
The opening of the section will greatly contribute to developing the friendly and cooperative relations between Russia and the DPRK.
Present at the ceremony from the DPRK side were Jon Kil Su, minister of Railways, O Ryong Chol, vice-minister of Foreign Trade, Ri Chol Sok, vice-chairman of the State Commission for Economic Development, Jo Jong Ho, chairman of the Rason City People’s Committee, Im Chon Il, consul general of the DPRK to Nakhodka, officials in the field of railways and people in Rason City.
Present there from the Russian side were V. I. Yakunin, president of the “Russian Railways” Company, Alexei Tsijenov, vice-minister of Transport, Sergey Sidorov, first vice-governor of the Maritime Territory Administration, Alexandr Timonin, Russian ambassador to the DPRK, Vyacheslav Tsupikov, consul general of Russia to Chongjin, and Russians including those concerned with the railways.
Diplomatic envoys to the DPRK also attended.
V. I. Yakunin in the opening ceremony said the section has opened for service under Russia-DPRK Moscow Declaration signed by the top leaders of the two countries in 2001.
To press for the renovation of the railways running through the land of Korea will be of great contribution to the development of economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region in the future, he stressed.
Minister of Railways of the DPRK in his speech said that the plan of linking DPRK-Russia railways serves as a model of wide-ranging bilateral cooperation which meets the common progress and interests of the two peoples.
He expressed the conviction that the operation of the opened railways section will be successful as it was made on the principle of mutual respect and cooperation between the railway transportation fields of the two countries.
There were congratulatory speeches.
The ceremony ended with the playing of national anthems of the two countries. It was followed by a reception.
After years of work to directly connect railway tracks between Russia and North Korea, a 54-kilometer section linking border areas of the two countries reopened Sunday with a ceremony in Rason, a special economic zone in northeastern North Korea.
A special train carrying a group of reporters arrived at Rajin Port in Rason from Khasan in the Russian Far East, making it the first train to travel between the two countries without changing bogies at the border.
Trains had traveled on the section since the Soviet era. But given differences in track width between the Russian side and the North Korean side, workers had to change bogies every time a train crossed the border.
With the end of overhaul work, North Korea appears poised to promote the development of its special economic zone, while Russia seeks to revitalize the Trans-Siberian Railway by linking it, in the future, to a railway system that would run through the Korean Peninsula.
In 2008, the two countries started work to lay Russia-sized railway tracks from the Russian border area to Rajin Port after Russian President Vladimir Putin and then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il agreed in August 2001 to directly connect the two railway systems.
Moscow shoulders 70 percent of 8.3 billion ruble, or 25.8 billion yen, in costs to lay the new tracks and build the North Korean port, while Pyongyang covers the remainder.
The two countries conducted a trial run on the section using a freight train in October 2011. They initially planned to launch commercial runs in autumn last year, but the plan was delayed until now.
Initially, the 54-kilometer (33-mile) line will transport Russian coal to markets in the Asia-Pacific region, OAO Russian Railways Chief Executive Officer Vladimir Yakunin said at the ceremony in Rajin. The second phase of the project will involve the construction of a container-handling facility and potentially an oil terminal at the North Korean site, he said.
“Our common objective is for this link and port to be a pilot scheme for the restoration of a single transport system in North and South Korea that would link the peninsula to countries that gravitate to this region, to Europe via Russia,” Yakunin said. The CEO said he hopes the plan will help promote peace between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war following the conflict 1950-53 that divided the countries.
The route is part of a larger project, dubbed the Iron Silk Road, that would connect Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway to South Korea via the North for an overland route cutting transportation costs to Europe. Success depends on improved ties between South Korea and its isolated Communist neighbor.
Practical implementation of the project began in 2008, when RZD and North Korea’s Ministry of Railways signed a cooperation agreement. In October of that year, Tumangan station saw the ceremonial laying of the first link of the rails and sleepers that marked the beginning of the reconstruction of the Khasan – Rajin railway section.
In 2009, a joint venture, RasonKonTrans, was set up by Russian Railways Trading House, a subsidiary of RZD, and the port of Rajin, in order to implement the project. RasonKonTrans has in turn concluded a 49-year leasing arrangement of the railway line between Tumen – Rajin with the Donghae company of North Korea’s Ministry of Railways. The work was financed from RasonKonTrans’ share capital, as well as by funds the joint venture was able to borrow based on the project’s business plan. More than 5.5 billion roubles had been invested in the reconstruction of the Khasan – Rajin railway line and 3.5 billion roubles in the port terminal.
The final construction phase to create a universal intermodal exchange terminal at the port of Rajin has now begun, including a range of measures ranging from dredging, building a new quay wall and equipping storage yards, through the construction of industrial and office buildings and facilities to laying railway lines within the terminal itself. Yakunin continued:
“The port is designed to handle transhipment volumes of 4 million tonnes of cargo, but that is not the limit. We are confident that the cargo base will expand and that containers will be shipped through the port. The construction of the port terminal is almost complete, and we are already seeing interest from international customers and partners.”
Officials from both countries say they are working together to finalise the timetable and the joint regulations which will govern the movement of trains on this section. To ensure the interoperability of the new line with both North Korea’s railway network and the Russian rail network, there are plans to create a single control centre with the participation of experts from the RasonKonTrans joint venture and the Donghae transport company of North Korea’s Ministry of Railways.
UPDATE 10 (2013-6-25): It appears that regular rail service never materialized. According to Siberian Times:
Talks in Moscow between Vladimir Yakunin, President of Russian Railways, and Jeong Gil Soo, North Korea’s Minister of Railways (MOR) agreed the final details on the Khasas-Rajin link.
The project is being implemented in accordance with agreements reached in 2000 by Russian President Vladimir Putin and then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. It is linked to cooperation between the two countries and forms part of a project to restore traffic on the entire Trans-Korean Main Line.
‘Over the long term, this will allow most traffic between South Korea, Europe, Russia and the CIS countries to be sent by rail by the Trans-Siberian Railway,’ said one report.
The new agreement allows for a single control centre ‘with the participation of experts from the joint ventures RasonKonTrans and ZHTK Donghae MOR from North Korea to handle traffic management and facilitate collaboration with the entire railway network in North Korea. The parties also agreed to develop instructions for the movement of trains and a train timetable’, stated RIA Oreanda.
The project involves reconnecting the combined dual-track railway with 1520 mm and 1435 mm gauges on the stretch from the Russian border to the port of Rajin in North Korea, a distance of 54 km. This includes the reconstruction of three tunnels, the repair a border railway bridge and construction of a freight terminal with an annual capacity of 4 million tons at Port Rajin.
The report continued:’The project is being implemented by the joint venture RasonKonTrans, which was specially set up in 2008 and is owned by OAO RZD Trading House and the port of Rajin.
‘The stretch between Rajin and Tuman stations is estimated at 99.8% complete. Work on commissioning the signalling, centralisation and blocking equipment has been completed along the entire section with the exception of Rajin station.
‘The tunnels are now fully ready. As of mid-May 2013, all the work to replace the timber on the Korean border bridge ‘Friendship’ has been carried out. Currently, work is underway to finish the bridge and install the railing.
‘At the port of Rajin, concrete is being laid and building foundations are being installed at the administrative and amenity building, repair shop and spare parts warehouse, work has begun on laying and ballasting the railway lines within the terminals and utility lines are being laid.
‘Equipment continues to be installed at the harbour wall. Work on installing outdoor lighting and fencing the port terminal’s territory is also ongoing’.
UPDATE 9 (2012-4-2) : DPRK and Russia to start cross-border freight train service in October. According to KCNA:
Rajin-Khassan Cargo Train Service to Begin in October
Pyongyang, April 2 (KCNA) — A Rajin-Khassan cargo train service will run from October this year.
Kim Chang Sik, a department director of the DPRK Ministry of Railways, told KCNA that the laying of railroad and renovation of railway stations, tunnels and communications facilities are now under way in the section.
The railway project was highlighted in the historic DPRK-Russia Moscow Declaration, which was signed in August 2001, he said, adding:
In line with the declaration, a cooperation agreement between the DPRK Ministry of Railways and the Russia Railway Holding Corporation was concluded in April 2008 to be followed by an agreement on joint venture between Rajin Port and the Corporation.
A contract on the lease of the Rajin-Tumangang railway was made between the Ministry’s Eastern Railway Ryonun Company and the Rason International Joint Venture Container Terminal, under which the 54 km-section has been rebuilt into a mixed track from October 2008.
A trial train service took place in October 2011 between Rajin of the DPRK and Khassan of Russia.
At least 100,000 containers will be yearly carried along the line.
This section will serve as an international railway container transport line linking Northeast Asia with Europe.
North Korea and Russia will start a cross-border cargo train service in October, Pyongyang’s state media reported Monday, in a move that could make a North Korean port a regional hub for Europe-bound shipments.
The announcement came more than three years after the two countries launched a project to rebuild two rail lines between Russia’s Far Eastern border town of Khasan and North Korea’s northeastern port city of Rajin.
The North designated Rason, which includes the Rajin port, as a special economic zone in 1991 and has since striven to develop it into a regional logistics hub close to both China and Russia.
In October, North Korea and Russia held a test run on the 54-kilometer-long railway line.
The proposed cargo service can handle 100,000 shipping containers each year, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said in a dispatch.
The renovation project, if completed, will offer a new route of container transportation between Northeast Asia and Europe, the dispatch said, and could significantly reduce shipping time and costs.
The freight service could also help boost relations between North Korea and Russia, including their economic cooperation, the dispatch said.
The trade volume between North Korea and Russia stood at US$110 million in 2010, the latest year for which statistics are available, according to South Korea’s state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.
Russia maintains friendly ties with North Korea, though its leader Dmitry Medvedev has strongly denounced North Korea’s rocket launch set for sometime between April 12 and 16.
Medvedev made the remarks during summit talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Seoul last month on the sidelines of an international nuclear summit, according to Lee’s office.
After North Korea’s launch of a long-range rocket in December 2012 and third nuclear test in February 2013, China endorsed UN sanctions against North Korea. Consequently, North Korea appears to be increasing its economic cooperation with Mongolia and Russia.
On September 6, the 7th annual Northeast Asia joint high-level forum was held in Changchun (Jilin Province), China. Ku Bon Tae of the DPRK Ministry of Trade is reported to have been present and to have delivered a presentation on North Korea’s recent economic cooperation activities.
Ku stated, “Currently, cooperation between North Korea and Mongolia is making positive progress,” and “the international freight transport coordination issue and Mongolian corporate investments, telecommunications and other cooperation issues at the Rason Special Economic Zone are at the final stages of agreement.”
He added, “We hope more Northeast Asian nations will actively take part in the Rason Special Economic Zone.”
As for economic cooperation with Russia, the Khassan–Rajin railway — part of an international container rail transport line connecting Russia and North Korea and linking Northeast Asia to Europe — has its opening ceremony scheduled for this month after having received extensive reconstruction. Russia also has a long-term lease on Rajin Port’s pier No. 3. Russia has been renovating the pier, and renovations are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
North Korea and Russia plan to develop Khassan–Rajin rail line and Rajin Port in order to transport cargo from Asia to Europe: as containers arrive at Rajin Port, they are moved to the Khassan-Rajin railway and then transferred to the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR), headed for Europe.
Ku further added, “After the projects are completely finished friendly cooperation between Russia and North Korea and international transport pathway will be opened connecting Asia to Europe through the development of economic and trade relations between the two countries.”
In Ku’s speech, the public economic cooperation with regards to China was covered briefly, and exclude the recent progress made. He commented only on the establishment of Joint Management Committees in Rason and Hwanggeumpyeong economic zones and that banks of the two countries are in the process of negotiating the usage of Chinese renminbi as the currency of trade.
Ku emphasized, “As with our past, our Republic hopes to promote independence, peace and friendship between Northeast Asian countries in the future, based on our foreign policy and will make every effort to further develop and expand this friendly cooperative relationship.”
The 9th China–Northeast Asia Expo opening ceremony was also held (in Changchun) on the same day as the forum. Political and business leaders from China, South and North Korea, Russia, Japan, and Mongolia were present at the event.
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:
North Korea to Acquire Road Equipment and Materials via International Auction
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.
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.
On a vast construction site outside this northeastern Chinese city, engineers are working around the clock on a project that could transform the economic—and geopolitical—dynamics of the region: a 223-mile, high-speed rail link to the North Korean border.
The $6.3 billion project is one of three planned high-speed railways designed to bring North Korea closer into China’s economic orbit, even as Beijing supports sanctions aimed at Pyongyang. China is also sinking millions of dollars into new highways and bridges in the area, and the first cross-border power cable.
China’s vision for closer economic integration with North Korea runs counter to a U.S. strategy aimed at piling pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear-weapons program and refrain from further threats.
Last week the Daily NK reported that the DPRK had been distributing enough rice to lower the price. It is still unclear if this practice will continue. This week the Daily NK reports that the DPRK has stepped up travel restrictions along the Chinese border:
The North Korean authorities are operating enhanced controls on transit through the region of the country closest to China, including close checks on the documentation of travellers passing through in the direction of the Sino-North Korean border.
Part of the process means it has become more difficult to obtain travel permits. Although the issuance of such permits was recently resumed following months of combat mobilization and other activities that limited movement, the process of traveling through the border is making life difficulties.
A North Hamkyung Province source told Daily NK on the 26th, “The issuance of travel permits resumed on the 21st of last month, but the procedure when moving in the border region has gotten more demanding than ever. Travel permits need to be approved with not just the signature but also the seal of a person’s local PSM (Ministry of People’s Safety), relevant security agency and workplace, and if the trip is for a traditional ceremonial occasion such as a funeral then they must get a further confirmation letter saying so.”
“In the past, they did not ask for the confirmation letter, or the seal of the local security forces and NSA (National Security Agency, the state security organ) for that matter. But now they are asking for this and that certificate; it’s as if travellers are criminals,” the source said, recalling, “We used to be able to easily get travel permits by bribing people or having close associates in certain positions.”
Even for those with a permit there are still multiple layers of security and checks on the way to the border.
“Even after you get a travel permit by paying bribes, there are still the PSM agents on the trains and railway staff doing hourly checks,” the source said. “People say it is worse than the customs checks on the border.”
“Stations are being locked down by soldiers and then intensive body and baggage checks are taking place at Gomusan (the station before Musan and Hoiryeong on the Musan Line (train 9-10) and Sariwon-Rajin Line (train 113-114)) and at Huchang (the station before Rajin on the Pyongyang-Tumen River Line (train 7-8)),” the source noted. “They even have magnetic detectors for the body checks.”
Travellers ensnared by the checks are supposed to be detained locally until a security agent from his or her area of residence arrives to deal with the case. However, payments of 50,000 to 100,000 Won are apparently sufficient to attain release for those who simply don’t have the right transit permits. The only ones whose release cannot be obtained so easily are those caught with South Korean materials in their baggage; they face re-education or labor camp sentences, sources say.
Read the full story here:
Strain on the Border Trains Daily NK
Choi Song Min
UPDATE 2 (2013-4-25):Yonhap reports on the DPRK’s plans for the Tanchon Port:
North Korea is scurrying to develop the resources-rich city of Tanchon on the east coast as part of the country’s efforts to make it a source of foreign currency income, recent news reports from the North showed.
Tanchon will become a key transit point in shipping goods to and from Russia’s Siberia, the northeastern part of China and Mongolia, said the Wednesday issue of the Choson Sinbo, a Korean language newspaper published by North Korean nationals in Japan.
The newspaper, a mouthpiece of North Korea, said the port city of Tanchon should become the source of finance for the country’s broader policy line of pursuing both economic development and nuclear capacities.
In a bid to boost exports, the country completed the construction of a port in May last year in the city with rich reserves of magnesite, zinc and other mineral resources, which sits about in the middle of the country’s east coast line. the Choson Sinbo said the city has about 5.4 billion tons of magnesite deposit, possibly the third biggest reserve in the world.
The news outlet also highlighted the country’s planned ways to increase earnings in the resources-rich city from which the country used to export mineral resources to China for meager profits.
“North Korea will move to manufacture processed magnesite goods in order to make high-value added goods,” the Choson Sinbo noted. “To that end, many plants will be built in the Tanchon region and the areas will become a new industrial zone.”
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has also underlined the country’s plan to boost profits from the Tanchon development, saying in a national meeting of light industrial workers last month that profits from Tanchon development should be exclusively used to prop up the livelihood of North Korean people.
UPDATE 1 (2012-5-3): KCNA announces the completion of the Tanchon Port:
A modern trading port made its appearance in the area of Tanchon in South Hamgyong Province on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of President Kim Il Sung’s birth.
The construction of the port with a cargo traffic capacity of millions of tons provides a guarantee for greatly contributing to developing the nation’s foreign trade and improving the people’s living standard.
A ceremony for the completion of the construction was held on the spot Thursday.
Present there were Choe Yong Rim, Kwak Pom Gi, Ro Tu Chol and other officials concerned, officials of the Ministry of Land and Marine Transport, builders and working people of industrial establishments in Tanchon City.
Read out there was a joint congratulatory message sent by the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the Cabinet of the DPRK to the officials and members of shock brigades who performed labor feats in the construction of the port.
The message highly praised them for successfully building another giant structure in the era of Songun greatly conducive to building an economic power true to the life-time desires and last instructions of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il.
It expressed belief that they would perform greater feats in the efforts for the country’s prosperity united close around the WPK Central Committee headed by the dear respected Kim Jong Un.
Minister of Land and Marine Transport Kang Jong Gwan, in his speech made for the occasion, said the construction of the port was a brilliant fruition of the wise leadership of Kim Jong Il who initiated the construction of the port and worked heart and soul to translate the desire of the President into a reality till the last moments of his revolutionary life and the clear-sighted guidance and meticulous care of Kim Jong Un.
Speakers at the ceremony pledged themselves to carry out their tasks including dredging in a short span of time in the same spirit as displayed in the construction of the port.
At the end of the ceremony the participants looked round different places of the port.
Just a few days ago, the Choson Sinbo reported the following (via Yonhap):
The North is estimated to have 15 billion tons of anthracite coal, a key mineral Pyongyang uses to produce steel, the Choson Sinbo newspaper said.
The North also has an estimated 5.4 billion tons of magnesite in Tanchon, a home to mines in South Hamgyong province, and other areas, according to the newspaper.
North Korea is set to open Tanchon as a modern trade port, the newspaper said, without giving any specific time frame for the opening.
ORIGINAL POST (2010-12-9): On December 2, KCNA announced that Kim Jong-il visited the port in Tanchon County, South Hamgyong County (40.412522°, 128.917731°) where he gave guidance on the port’s reconstruction.
Judging by the satellite imagery of the area on Google Earth, it appears that the project had already begun by May 13, 2009, where we can see concrete blocks ready to be used to extend the jettys (breakwaters). I have outlined the proposed port project on Google Earth imagery below and provided a picture of the completed project from KCTV:
After the jettys are extended, the major construction work and dredging can begin. Below are images of the port’s main construction site as it appears on Google Earth and a prediction of the project’s conclusion from KCNA:
It appears from the picture that the port will be connected to the railway system—likely via the nearby Tanchon Smeltery and Magnesia Plant (both recently renovated) whose products will probably be exported from the port.
Tanchon is also home to the DPRK’s Komdok and Taehung Youth Hero Mines (among others). As is well known to readers, raw materials exports are the DPRK’s most significant (legal and transparent) source of hard currency. According to Yonhap’s North Korea Handbook 2002:
Geomdeok [Komdok] Mine is a special company in Bonsan-dong, Dancheon, South Hamgyeon Province, and is very famous for about 300 million tons of deposited leads and zincs. This mine annually produces 52,000 tons of lead, 124,000 tons of zinc, both of which account for 47% of total production in North Korea, and more than twice as much as the production of Eunpa Mine, North Korea’s second largest mine, in Eunpa-gun North Hwanghae Province. Concentrates of lead and zinc produced from Geomdeok Mine are processed into electric zinc at Dancheon refinery. Opened in 1932, this mine produces 14,200 tons of raw ore annually with three ore dressing plants. Annual production capacity can reach up to 11 million tons. The first dressing plant was completed in July 1953, near the end of the Korean War. It now processes a million tons of ore a year. The second dressing plant was opened with a production capacity of 3,200 tons of ore. The third one constructed in September 1983 can process 10 million tons of ore.
On March 31, KCNA reported on the recent plenary meeting of the Korean Worker’s Party:
The historic March, 2013 plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea took place at the building of the WPK Central Committee, supreme staff of the Korean revolution, on Sunday.
First Secretary of the WPK Kim Jong Un guided the meeting.
Present at the meeting were members and alternate members of the WPK Central Committee and members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK.
Present there as observers were senior officials of ministries, national institutions, provincial, city and county committees of the WPK, complexes, major munitions factories and enterprises.
The participants paid silent tribute to President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il.
Taken up for discussion at the meeting were the following agenda items “1. On tasks of our Party on bringing about a decisive turn in accomplishing revolutionary cause of Juche as required by the present situation and the developing revolution”, “2. On personnel affairs issue to be submitted to the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly” and “3. On organizational matter”.
Kim Jong Un made a report and concluding speech on the first agenda item.
The plenary meeting set forth a new strategic line on carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously under the prevailing situation and to meet the legitimate requirement of the developing revolution.
This line is a brilliant succession and development onto a new higher stage of the original line of simultaneously developing economy and national defence that was set forth and had been fully embodied by the great Generalissimos.
It was stressed at the meeting that the party’s new line is not a temporary countermeasure for coping with the rapidly changing situation but a strategic line to be always held fast to, in the supreme interests of the Korean revolution.
The nuclear weapons of Songun Korea are not goods for getting U.S. dollars and they are neither a political bargaining chip nor a thing for economic dealings to be presented to the place of dialogue or be put on the table of negotiations aimed at forcing the DPRK to disarm itself.
The DPRK’s nuclear armed forces represent the nation’s life which can never be abandoned as long as the imperialists and nuclear threats exist on earth. They are a treasure of a reunified country which can never be traded with billions of dollars.
Only when the nuclear shield for self-defence is held fast, will it be possible to shatter the U.S. imperialists’ ambition for annexing the Korean Peninsula by force and making the Korean people modern slaves, firmly defend our ideology, social system and all other socialist treasures won at the cost of blood and safeguard the nation’s right to existence and its time-honored history and brilliant culture.
When the party’s new line is thoroughly carried out, the DPRK will emerge as a great political, military and socialist economic power and a highly-civilized country which steers the era of independence.
The meeting set forth tasks for carrying out the new line and ways for doing so.
All the officials, party members and other people should wage bold offensive and all-people decisive battle with faith in sure victory and strong determination and thus make the flame of miracle and innovation sweep all fields of national economy.
The pilot fields of the national economy, the basic industrial fields should be drastically developed and production be increased to the maximum. Forces should be directed to agriculture and light industry, key fields in building an economic power to improve and put on a stable basis the people’s living standard at the earliest possible date.
The self-reliant nuclear power industry should be developed and the work for developing light water reactor be dynamically promoted to actively contribute to easing the strain on the electricity problem of the country.
Spurs should be given to the development of space science and technology and more advanced satellites including communications satellites be developed and launched.
The country’s economy should be shifted into knowledge-based economy and the foreign trade be made multilateral and diversified and investment be widely introduced.
The economic guidance shall be fundamentally improved as required by the new situation and Korean-style advantageous economic management methods be completed by embodying the Juche idea.
The DPRK’s possession of nukes should be fixed by law and the nuclear armed forces should be expanded and beefed up qualitatively and quantitatively until the denuclearization of the world is realized.
The People’s Army should perfect the war method and operation in the direction of raising the pivotal role of the nuclear armed forces in all aspects concerning the war deterrence and the war strategy, and the nuclear armed forces should always round off the combat posture.
As a responsible nuclear weapons state, the DPRK will make positive efforts to prevent the nuclear proliferation, ensure peace and security in Asia and the rest of the world and realize the denuclearization of the world.
Institutions in charge of security and safeguard, judicial and prosecution and people’s security and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces should resolutely foil the vicious moves of the imperialist reactionaries and class enemies, devotedly defend the party, social system and people and surely guarantee the new line of the party with arms and by law.
The party and working people’s organizations and power bodies should increase their militant function and role in every way in the struggle for implementing the party’s line.
The meeting entrusted the Presidium of the SPA and the Cabinet with the matters of taking legal, administrative and technical measures for implementing the tasks.
At the meeting a decision on the first agenda item “On carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously and thus bringing earlier the final victory in the cause of building a thriving socialist nation” was adopted with unanimous approval.
The second agenda item, personal affairs issue to be submitted to the 7th Session of the 12th SPA, was discussed and decided at the meeting.
The meeting also dealt with an organizational matter, its third agenda item.
Members of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee, members and alternate members of the Political Bureau were recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.
Pak Pong Ju was elected to fill a vacancy of a member of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee.
Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyok Sik and Choe Pu Il were elected to fill vacancies of alternate members of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee.
Members and alternate members of the WPK Central Committee were recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.
Upon authorization of Kim Jong Un, Paek Kye Ryong was appointed as director of the Light Industrial Department of the WPK Central Committee and Yun U Chol as editor-in-chief of Rodong Sinmun, organ of the WPK Central Committee.
Members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK were also recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.
Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea Stresses Development of Agricultural, Light, and Nuclear Industries
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on March 31 that a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea was held. At the meeting, a new strategic line was announced to have been set, which called for building a stronger economy and nuclear arsenal. This meeting is drawing attention as it is suspected that Pyongyang will pursue a new economic policy.
The news described the new strategic line as, “most revolutionary and people oriented policy for the construction of a powerful socialist nation by consolidating defense capacity through development of defensive nuclear weapons and economic construction.”
It stressed that this policy is significant as a “creative and parallel policy for defense and economy continuing the policies of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, which must be adopted as a permanent strategy.”
At the plenary meeting, the main agendas for the parallel policy of economy and defense were announced as: 1) Improvement of the production of people’s economy and capacity enhancement for agricultural and light industries to stabilize prices to improve the lives of the people; 2) development of self-reliant nuclear power industry and light water reactors; 3) development and launch of more satellites including communication satellites through advancement in space science and technology; 4) transition to knowledge economy and diversification of foreign trade to vitalize foreign investments; and 5) establish legislation to be recognized as a nuclear state and develop nuclear arsenal both in quantity and quality until denuclearization is realized worldwide.
At the plenary, the new parallel policy was commended, “The supremacy of the policy is demonstrated by expanding capability in war deterrence and national defense without increasing defense budget and enabled concentration on economic development and improvement of the lives of the people.”
The statement released by the KCNA stated that the plenary meeting’s emphasis on transition to knowledge economy and diversification of foreign trade as the main tasks and appears to be pursuing a “fundamental improvement in economic leadership.”
In addition, the plenary assigned the presidium of the Supreme Peoples’ Assembly and the Cabinet to serve as the economic control tower to oversee the future projects decided at the plenary meeting.
North Korea is continuing to place emphasis on light and agricultural industries. The Kim Jong Un regime entered its second year. The leader was reported to have attended the light industry conference, which was held for the first time in ten years and underscored the importance of concentrating on development of the capacity of light industry.
The new Korean line, 병진 (Pyongjin, Byungjin) is the simultaneous development of nuclear weapons and the economy. Learn more about it here.
Following the central committee plenary meeting, the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly was held. According to KCNA:
The Seventh Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK took place at the Mansudae Assembly Hall Monday.
Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, was present at the session.
Present there were deputies to the SPA.
Also present there as observers were officials of party, armed forces and power bodies, public organizations, ministries and national institutions and those in the fields of science, education, literature and art, public health and media.
All the participants observed a moment’s silence in memory of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il in humblest reverence.
The session decided the following agenda items of the Seventh Session of the 12th SPA of the DPRK:
1. On amending and supplementing some contents of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK
2. On adopting the DPRK Law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
3. On adopting the ordinance of the SPA of the DPRK “On Consolidating the Position of Nuclear Weapons State for Self-Defence”
4. On adopting the DPRK Law on Developing Space
5. On adopting the decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On Setting up the DPRK State Space Development Bureau”
6. On the work of the DPRK Cabinet for Juche 101 (2012) and its tasks for Juche 102 (2013)
7. On the review of the fulfillment of the DPRK’s state budget for Juche 101 (2012) and state budget for Juche 102 (2013)
8. Organizational matter
The session discussed the first and second agenda items.
Deputy Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA, made a report on amendment and supplement to some contents of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and on adopting the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
Then followed speeches on the first and second agenda items.
Deputy Kim Ki Nam, secretary of the WPK Central Committee, spoke on behalf of the WPK, Deputy Choe Ryong Hae, director of the General Political Bureau of the KPA, on behalf of the KPA and Deputy Jon Yong Nam, chairman of the C.C., the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, on behalf of the youth.
The speakers fully supported and approved of deliberation and adoption of the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at the current SPA session reflecting the unanimous feelings of all party members, service personnel and youth across the country.
The ordinances of the SPA of the DPRK “On Amending and Supplementing Some Contents of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK” and “On Adopting the DPRK Law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun” were adopted at the session with the approval of all deputies.
The session discussed the third, fourth and fifth agenda items.
The ordinances of the SPA of the DPRK “On Consolidating the Position of Nuclear Weapons State for Self-Defence” and “On Adopting the DPRK Law on Developing Space” and the decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On Setting Up the DPRK State Space Development Bureau” were adopted at the session with the approval of all deputies.
Deputy Choe Yong Rim, premier of the Cabinet, made a report on the sixth agenda item.
Deputy Choe Kwang Jin, minister of Finance, made a report on the seventh agenda item.
Then followed speeches on the sixth and seventh agenda items. Written speeches were presented at the session.
The speakers noted that the Cabinet work and the fulfillment of the state budget for last year were correctly reviewed and summed up, clear tasks of the Cabinet were set forth to meet the requirements of the general offensive to open an epochal phase in building an economic power at the final stage of the all-out action against the U.S. and the state budget was correctly shaped. They expressed full support and approval of them.
They expressed their determination to reenergize the overall economy of the country, step up the grand advance for improving the standard of people’s living to make loud shouts of hurrah for the Workers’ Party and socialism heard this year marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War, true to the historic New Year Address of Kim Jong Un and the decision of the March, 2013 plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee.
The decision of the SPA of the DPRK “On Approval of the Report on the Work of the DPRK Cabinet and the Review of the Fulfillment of the State Budget for Juche 101 (2012)” and the ordinance of the SPA of the DPRK “On the DPRK’s State Budget for Juche 102 (2013)” were adopted at the session with the approval of all deputies.
The session discussed the organizational matter.
At the session Deputy Choe Yong Rim was recalled from the post of premier of the DPRK Cabinet and Deputy Pak Pong Ju was elected premier of the DPRK Cabinet at the proposal of the WPK Central Committee.
Choe Yong Rim was elected honorary vice-president of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA.
Deputies Kim Jong Gak and Ri Myong Su were recalled from the posts of member of the DPRK National Defence Commission (NDC) due to the transfer to other jobs.
Deputies Kim Kyok Sik and Choe Pu Il were elected members of the DPRK NDC to fill vacancies at the proposal of the WPK Central Committee and the WPK Central Military Commission.
Deputy Thae Hyong Chol was recalled from the post of secretary general of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA and Deputy Hong Son Ok was elected secretary general of the Presidium of the DPRK SPA.
Some members of the Cabinet were relieved of their posts and appointed at the session.
Deputy Pak Pong Ju, premier of the DPRK Cabinet, took an oath at the SPA.
KCNA also issued several reports that stemmed from the SPA meeting:
Report on Adopting Draft Amendment and Supplement to Socialist Constitution and Law on Kumsusan Palace of Sun
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, made a report on adopting the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK and the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
According to the report, the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution and the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to be submitted to the session for discussion will legalize the plan and intention of the Workers’ Party of Korea to fix by law the shining achievements made in accomplishing the cause of perpetuating the memory of the leaders and complete it on a new higher stage.
To be supplemented to the preface of the Socialist Constitution is the sentence which says that the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il lie in state is a grand edifice for the immortality of the leaders, a symbol of the dignity of the whole Korean nation and its eternal sacred temple.
The law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun specifies that its noble mission is to preserve and glorify forever the palace, which is the supreme temple of Juche, as the eternal temple of the sun of the entire Korean nation.
The law stipulates that Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il will be held in high esteem forever as in their lifetime at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and that it is the obligation of all the Koreans to regard the Palace as a symbol of dignity and a great pride of the nation.
It also specifies the state duty to spruce up the Palace in a sublime and perfect way with the state, all-people and nationwide efforts and devotedly safeguard the Palace in every way so that no one can violate.
Also stipulated in the law are matters for carrying out the work of eternally preserving the Palace as the most important state work with consistency, organizing the committee for the eternal preservation of the Palace and preserving for photos, train coaches, cars, boat and other relics and orders which represent the noble lives of the great Generalissimos.
Orders were also set so that Korean people, overseas Koreans and foreigners can pay respects to the great Generalissimos at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
Also mentioned in the law are the matters of establishment of special sanctuary of the Palace for its protection and management as well as the management of buildings in the premise of the palace, park, arboretum, outdoor lighting and lighting facilities and orders concerning the operation of the plaza and the park of the Palace.
It was specified in the law that electricity, facilities, materials and other supplies needed for the Palace shall be planned separately and be provided without fail on a top priority basis. The law also set the duty to be fulfilled by relevant institutions to strictly supervise and control on a regular basis the work for safeguarding, eternally preserving and providing the conditions for the management and operation of the Palace.
The reporter said that the law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is the unique code for the immortality of the leaders, adding that it is the biggest honor for the army and people of the DPRK to have the legal weapon for the immortality of the leaders.
The adoption of the law will serve as a historic occasion for defending and further glorifying the idea on perpetuating the memory of the leaders clarified by the dear respected Kim Jong Un, he stressed.
The reporter said that the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK submits the draft amendment and supplement to the Socialist Constitution and the draft law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to the SPA session for discussion according to Article 95 of the Socialist Constitution.
DPRK’s Law on Kumsusan Palace of Sun Adopted
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — The DPRK’s Law on the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun was adopted.
The ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly on it was promulgated Monday.
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il lie in state is the
eternal temple of the sun of the whole Korean nation.
The ordinance says that the SPA decides to adopt this law to eternally preserve and glorify forever the
Kumsusan Palace of the Sun as a grand edifice for the immortality of the leaders symbolic of Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s Korea.
Law on Consolidating Position of Nuclear Weapons State Adopted
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — A law on consolidating the position of nuclear weapons state for self-defence was adopted in the DPRK.
An ordinance of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK in this regard was promulgated on Monday.
The ordinance said as follows:
The DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear weapons state capable of beating back any aggressor troops at one strike, firmly defending the socialist system and providing a sure guarantee for the happy life of the people.
Having an independent and just nuclear force, the DPRK put an end to the distress-torn history in which it was subject to outside forces’ aggression and interference and could emerge a socialist power of Juche which no one dares provoke.
The Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK decides to consolidate the position of the nuclear weapons state as follows:
1. The nuclear weapons of the DPRK are just means for defence as it was compelled to have access to them to cope with the ever-escalating hostile policy of the U.S. and nuclear threat.
2. They serve the purpose of deterring and repelling the aggression and attack of the enemy against the DPRK and dealing deadly retaliatory blows at the strongholds of aggression until the world is denuclearized.
3. The DPRK shall take practical steps to bolster up the nuclear deterrence and nuclear retaliatory strike power both in quality and quantity to cope with the gravity of the escalating danger of the hostile forces’ aggression and attack.
4. The nuclear weapons of the DPRK can be used only by a final order of the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army to repel invasion or attack from a hostile nuclear weapons state and make retaliatory strikes.
5. The DPRK shall neither use nukes against the non-nuclear states nor threaten them with those weapons unless they join a hostile nuclear weapons state in its invasion and attack on the DPRK.
6. The DPRK shall strictly observe the rules on safekeeping and management of nukes and ensuring the stability of nuclear tests.
7. The DPRK shall establish a mechanism and order for their safekeeping and management so that nukes and their technology, weapon-grade nuclear substance may not leak out illegally.
8. The DPRK shall cooperate in the international efforts for nuclear non-proliferation and safe management of nuclear substance on the principle of mutual respect and equality, depending on the improvement of relations with hostile nuclear weapons states.
9. The DPRK shall strive hard to defuse the danger of a nuclear war and finally build a world without nukes and fully support the international efforts for nuclear disarmament against nuclear arms race.
10. The related institutions shall take thorough practical steps for implementing this ordinance.
DPRK Law on Developing Space Adopted
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — The Law on Developing Space was adopted in the DPRK.
The ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly on it was promulgated Monday.
DPRK SPA Decides to Set Up State Space Development Bureau
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — The DPRK decided to set up the State Space Development Bureau.
The decision of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK promulgated on Monday said:
The DPRK is a full-fledged satellite manufacturer and launcher.
It is an invariable stand of the DPRK to develop the country into a world-class space power by exercising its legitimate right to space development for peaceful purposes.
To step up economic construction and improve the people’s standard of living by radically developing the space science and technology of the country and guide and manage all the space activities of the DPRK in a uniform way, the SPA decides as follows:
1. The DPRK State Space Development Bureau shall be set up.
2. The bureau is a state central institution which guides and manages the supervision and control over the working out of a space development program and its implementation and space development work in a uniform way.
3. The Cabinet of the DPRK and other institutions concerned shall take practical measures to implement this decision.
Work of Cabinet for Last Year and Tasks for This Year
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — At the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly held on Monday, Deputy and Premier Choe Yong Rim made a report on the last year’s work of the DPRK Cabinet and this year’s tasks.
According to the report, last year electricity and coal production and the volume of railway freight transport increased amid the endeavors to shore up the four pilot fields of the national economy. Increase was also made in the production of a variety of industrial goods, the report said, and went on:
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun was remodeled to be the supreme temple of Juche, the National Gifts Exhibition House, Pyongyang Folklore Park, Changjon Street, Rungna People’s Pleasure Park and other big edifices in the era of Songun have been built.
Big industrial projects such as the Huichon Power Station, Tanchon Port, Taedonggang Building Materials Factory were completed and technological updating and modernization of major factories and enterprises in the field of metal, machine, chemical and light industries have been pushed forward, consolidating the material and technological foundation of the national economy.
Satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 was successfully manufactured and launched and the third underground nuclear test by the use of smaller and lighter A-bomb of great explosive power was successfully conducted.
The bases for the production of cutting-edge technical goods were built and projects for the development of science and technology have been successfully carried out and the modernization of the information and communications field have been stepped up.
A law on the enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education was promulgated. This paved a wide avenue for consolidating the socialist education system and raising the quality of education.
In the field of health care, a telemedicine service has been successfully introduced. The DPRK’s players glorified the honor of the country at major international sports events including the 30th Olympic Games and other signal achievements were made in the field of cultural construction.
The reporter said that this year’s tasks are to realize at an early date the lifetime desire of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il, who devoted their whole lives to putting the country’s economy on the level of a prosperous and powerful country and to making the people live with no more to desire in the world.
According to the report, this year the Cabinet will organize the economic work with a main emphasis on solving issues arising in the people’s living by shoring up the pilot fields, the basic industrial field, consolidating the springboard for building an economic power and concentrating all efforts on agriculture and light industry while regarding coal industry and metal industry as key fields.
It is necessary to increase the production of coal.
Technological updating and modernization of iron works and steel works will be stepped up while improving the bases for the production of Juche iron which have already been built in the field of metal industry. Strict measures for supplying raw materials and fuel should be taken to increase the production of rolled steel more than 3.5 times as compared with last year and thus meet the need for steel.
The field of railway transport will ease strain on transport by consolidating the material and technical foundation of railways.
The grain production plan for this year should be carried out without condition.
The whole country should make efforts for the reclamation of Sepho Tideland and the construction of stock-breeding bases and thus complete the creation of grassland within this year.
The production should be put at a high rate at major chemical factories and the percentage of locally available raw materials should be significantly increased. The production at mines, factories and enterprises in Tanchon area should be increased and exports be boosted to ensure in a responsible manner funds for improving the people’s living standard.
Big efforts should be directed to the construction of dwelling houses. Wonsan area should turn into a world-level resort and tourist destination and living environment and conditions be improved in provinces, cities and counties.
The state investment in the field of science and technology should be increased and the flame of industrial revolution in the new century be raised so as to bring about a decisive turn in building an economic power by dint of science and technology.
Ultra-modern technological goods of high competitiveness should be massively researched and developed. Scientific and technological issues arising in the technological updating and modernization of the national economy should be satisfactorily solved.
The state investment will be increased in education and the preparations for enforcing the universal 12-year compulsory education system be rounded off within this year and fresh progress be made in education, public health, literature, arts, sports and all other fields of cultural construction.
All the fields and units of the national economy should build under a long-term plan export bases for producing second-stage and third-stage processed goods and finished goods of high competitiveness at international markets by relying on locally available resources and indigenous technology. Latest scientific and technological achievements should be positively introduced to increase the varieties of exports and remarkably raise their quality.
Trade should be made diversified and multilateral while conducting a variety of trade activities. The joint venture and collaboration should be actively promoted and the work for setting up economic development zones be pushed forward.
Review of Fulfillment of State Budget for Last Year and State Budget for This Year
Pyongyang, April 1 (KCNA) — Deputy Choe Kwang Jin, minister of Finance, made a report on the review of the fulfillment of state budget for last year and the state budget for this year at the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly held on Monday.
According to the report, the state budgetary revenue last year was over-fulfilled by 1.3 percent, an increase of 10.1 percent over the previous year.
The plan for local budgetary revenue was carried out at 113.8 percent.
The state budgetary expenditure was implemented at 99.6 percent, an increase of 9.7 percent over that in the previous year.
44.8 percent of the total state budgetary expenditure for the economic development and improvement of people’s living standard was used for funding the building of edifices to be presented to the 100th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung, the consolidation of the material and technological foundation of Juche-based, modern and self-supporting economy and the work for face-lifting the country.
38.9 percent of total expenditure was spent for enforcing popular policies and measures for social culture under socialism such as the universal free compulsory education system, free healthcare, social insurance and social security, recuperation and relaxation systems as well as those for development of literature and art and building of a sports power.
Some of the total state budgetary expenditure went to national defence.
According to the report, this year’s state budgetary revenue and expenditure have been shaped in such a way as keeping the overall economy afloat and bringing about a decisive turn in stabilizing and improving the standard of people’s living.
The state budgetary revenue is expected to increase 4.1 percent over that last year.
Out of this, the transaction tax, main source of budgetary revenue, is expected to grow 3.5 percent, the revenue from the profits of state enterprises 6 percent, revenue from the profits of cooperative enterprises 5.3 percent, the revenue from the depreciation 2.8 percent and revenue from real estate rent 3.4 percent.
In the total state budgetary revenue, national budgetary revenue will account for 83 percent and local budgetary revenue 17 percent.
Provinces, cities and counties are envisaged to ensure expenditure with local import and put a huge amount of fund into national budget.
The state budgetary expenditure is expected to grow 5.9 percent over last year.
It was decided to increase expenditure in the field of coal, electricity, metal and railway transport 7.2 percent, the field of agriculture and light industry 5.1 percent, basic investment in capital construction and big overhaul 5.8 percent, the field of science and technology 6.7 percent, the field of education 6.8 percent, the field of public health 5.4 percent, the field of social insurance and security 3.7 percent, the field of sports 6.1 percent and the field of culture 2.2 percent.
Some of the total state budgetary expenditure will go for national defence.
A large amount of educational aid fund and stipends will be sent for the education of Korean children in Japan to promote the development of the democratic national education of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.
The reporter called for working hard to glorify this significant year marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War as a year of gigantic creation and innovations, in hearty response to the historic New Year Address by Kim Jong Un and the decision made at the March, 2013 plenary meeting of the WPK Central Committee.
Here is what Yonhap had to say about the DPRK’s defense budget:
North Korea is expected to spend 16 percent of its budget on national defense in 2013, up 0.2 percentage point from the year before, the country’s state media said Tuesday.
According to the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, Finance Minister Choe Kwang-jin reported to a meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang on Monday that the money is needed to effectively cope with “indiscriminate” provocations by the United States and its followers.
The paper, however, did not disclose the exact size of the defense budget, although South Korea’s unification ministry speculated that last year’s military budget totaled US$910 million.
The proportion of the spending plan compared to the overall budget, is the highest tallied since 1998, according to South Korean analysts.
From 1998 through 2002, the North is estimated to have spent 14.4 percent to 14.5 percent of its annual budget on defense, with numbers going up and being fixed at 15.8 percent in the 2007-2012 period, they said.
1. Here and here is KCTV footage of the SPA meeting.
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