Computing facilities and cable drawing upgraded

A group of 72 South Korean businessmen, government officials, academics and journalists toured a manufacturing company in the capital of communist North Korea yesterday, the second day of their visit. The delegates also visited the Korea Computer Center and the Grand People’s Study Hall ― the country’s central library ― and attended an investment promotion session conducted by the North’s Trade Ministry.

During their visit to the Pyongyang March 26 Cable Factory, the group surveyed production lines and automated manufacturing facilities as well as finished products. They were allowed to speak to the factory managers, who oversee 1,500 workers producing 10,000 cable products. With $2 million investment from pro-Pyongyang Koreans overseas, the factory upgraded its facilities recently.

“We hope to adopt the more advanced technology of the South in the future,” Kim Seok-nam, head manager of the plant, said. “I want to nurture this factory, one of the most representative plants in Pyongyang, as a global manufacturer.”

Mr. Kim said the factory is operated 24 hours a day in three shifts. “We purchased a Swedish wire drawing machine recently and that reduced our electricity consumption and increased production.”

The South Korean visitors expressed surprise that the North Korean factory was better equipped than they had expected it to be.

“There is still room for improvement, but the North’s manufacturing facilities are much more modernized than I thought,” said Hwang Eun-yeon, a manager with Posco. “With South Korea’s support and cooperation, the North will be able to make improved products.”

The South Koreans toured the Korea Computer Center, a state-run software developer. The North’s word processor program and a medical test program were presented to the rare South Korean visitors. A cerebral vessel measurement machine, developed by the computer center, is currently on sale in the South at the price of $20,000 per unit. Among the delegates, the businessmen showed particular interest in a Korean version of the Linux operation system that had been developed by the North.

“We have sent 200 specialists to China for training and joint development,” Kim Chol-ho, vice president of the computer center, said. “We want more active exchanges with South Korean information technology companies.”

The computer center was built in 1990 with funding from North Korean residents in Japan, and the Cabinet’s software industry bureau has been overseeing the institute since 2002. The center employs about 1,500 elite graduates of North Korea’s science schools with special funding from the government.

The delegates also attended an investment relation session hosted by the North’s Trade Ministry in the afternoon. The group is scheduled to attend the International Trade Fair and visit a glass product manufacturer today.


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