Archive for October, 2006

US monitoring DPRK ships

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

From the Donga:
U.S., All-Direction Pursuit on North Korean Ships

It was [discovered] on October 24 that the U.S. is currently monitoring and tracking North Korean ships as a result of the resolution against North Korea and the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

The South Korean government is known to have received intelligence from the U.S. government stating that it is tracking the route of North Korean ships which are suspected to be carrying either nuclear material or military equipment.



Sanctions Don’t Dent N. Korea-China Trade

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

From the New York Times:
Jim Yardley

[edited]Sanhe, China–Truckers carrying goods into North Korea across the sludge-colored Tumen River say inspections are unchanged on the Chinese side. Customs agents rarely open boxes here or at two other border crossings in this mountainous region, truckers and private transport companies say.

Nor are any fences visible, like the barrier under construction near China’s busiest border crossing at the city of Dandong. There were early reports that inspectors in Dandong were at least opening trucks for a look, but so far statistics and anecdotal reports in the Chinese news media indicate that, essentially, everything remains the same.

What is visible here, though, is the growing and, in some ways, surprisingly complicated trade relationship between China and North Korea. China remains North Korea’s most important aid donor and oil supplier, but, conversely, China is now importing growing amounts of coal and electricity from North Korea. Chinese entrepreneurs, meanwhile, are starting to buy shares in North Korean mining operations and, in one case, trying to gain access to the Sea of Japan by leasing a North Korean port as a potential shipping hub.

The upswing in Chinese economic activity — which is already raising questions about whether the intent is more strategic than commercial — is one of the reasons that China has sent mixed signals about how aggressive it will be in inspecting border trade to meet the United Nations sanctions. For now, at least, some truckers in this region say the only change in border inspections has come on the North Korean side, where customs agents are checking loads more carefully for items deemed contraband by Kim Jong-il’s government.

“We used to sit with North Koreans that we know and have a chat,” said Jiang Zhuchun, a trucker waiting to cross into North Korea on Tuesday afternoon. “But after the nuclear test, we are only allowed to sit alone in our trucks.”

The United States has praised China for approving the sanctions against North Korea, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice used her visit to Beijing last week to emphasize the common desire to restart diplomatic talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. China’s leaders are said to be deeply angered over the nuclear test and have signaled they may take a harder line against their longtime ally. Last week, some banks in Dandong froze certain accounts and financial transactions with North Korea.

But the question of inspections along the 866-mile border between China and North Korea is a different matter. The sanctions authorized countries to inspect cargo entering and leaving North Korea and barred the sale or transfer of material that can be used to make nuclear weapons. Yet the sanctions are still less than two weeks old, and some details have still not been worked out. For example, the sanctions ban luxury goods without defining them.

The United States wants tightened border inspections by China as a tool for squeezing the North Korean economy and ensuring that North Korea cannot buy or sell nuclear materials. China is worried that destabilizing North Korea could begin an exodus of refugees and has resisted changing inspections. This week, with rumors swirling about a possible border crackdown, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, said China intended to comply fully with the sanctions, but also said inspections along the border would remain “normal.”

The Yanbian Korean Autonomous Region, the name of the sprawling district that includes the Sanhe border checkpoint, is not the primary trade route between China and North Korea; Dandong, with its more direct route to Pyongyang, the North’s capital, is by far the busiest. But the Yanbian area is wedged into a geopolitical hotspot where China, North Korea and Russia all come together.

In interviews and visits to three crossings from Yanbian into North Korea, truckers, transportation company agents, investors and others confirmed without exception that trade is continuing across the border much as it always has. Customs agents examine bills of lading but usually open shipments only when they are tipped in advance to someone trying to smuggle goods like beer or liquor without paying customs duties, several people said.

“No matter who you talk to, they will tell you there is not much difference,” said Jin Lanzhu, whose trading company is one of the largest in the region.

On Wednesday morning inside the Chinese customs yard in the border city of Tumen, small groups of North Koreans, each wearing their mandatory pins with images of either North Korean leader Kim Jong-il or his father, Kim Il-sung, waited to cross the bridge. They had nylon sacks stuffed with shoes and clothes, television sets, a refrigerator. Some carried bags of rice.

“How many bags do you have?” asked a female Chinese customs agent in a blue uniform. She looked them over and walked away without opening any. She did forbid the North Koreans to take several boxes of fruit because of a problem with worms. Then, the men began loading the sacks onto a flatbed truck operated by the customs office to carry smaller loads to the North Korean side. Two North Korean women complained to a local taxi driver that they had to pay 400 yuan, or about $50, for the service.

“They don’t really check over here,” one North Korean woman said of Chinese customs. “They do on the North Korean side.”

A similar scene unfolded later in the day at a smaller crossing in the dingy town of Kaishan, where the customs port is so small that trucks take a dirt road to a crumbling checkpoint. On Wednesday, a young soldier watched laborers load about 150 used televisions and boxes of medicine into a North Korean truck that had crossed the river to collect the shipment.

“I’m here for security,” the soldier said.

Trade between China and North Korea has grown rapidly in recent years — as has North Korea’s trade deficit with China, in part, because China no longer appears to be selling oil at a subsidized rate. China now accounts for almost 40 percent of North Korea’s total foreign trade; bilateral trade has more than doubled to $1.1 billion in 2005 from $490 million in 1995. In Yanbian alone, trade with North Korea jumped 82 percent in 2004 and another 20 percent in 2005, according to a local newspaper account.

Divining what the increased traffic says about the state of North Korea’s economy is a subject of debate. New research and interviews in the Yanbian region suggest that North Korea, a country that regularly suffers blackouts, is now exporting growing amounts of coal, minerals and even electricity to China, which is hungry for energy and raw materials. In exchange, North Korea is no longer importing as much raw material and machinery as it had in the past.

Instead, North Korea is importing food, clothes, daily sundries, outdated televisions and appliances and, of course, oil. The trend could suggest that North Korea’s recent experiments with private markets may be expanding, some analysts said.

A recent study by the Nautilus Institute, a San Francisco-based research group, used customs statistics to describe the trend, but also concluded that it might indicate that North Korea’s nonmilitary manufacturing industries were in sharp decline. One Chinese investor in a North Korean coal mine agreed. “They seemed to have stopped the factories,” said the investor, who asked not to be identified. He said doing business with North Korea was very risky and cautioned that numerous Chinese businessmen had lost money. “There are zero guarantees and protections.”

Even so, Chinese entrepreneurs and companies, both private and state-owned, are starting to buy interests in North Korean mines to export raw materials. The amount of investment is not clearly defined, but different Chinese proposals call for building truck routes between inland trade centers in northeast China to the North Korean coast, according to Chinese media accounts.

A Chinese property developer, Fan Yingsheng, told the Chinese news media that despite the nuclear test, he was still pursuing plans to develop the North Korean port of Rajin into a shipping center for goods from China. He said he would soon fly to Pyongyang to sign a final agreement.

The flurry of Chinese activity has not gone unnoticed by South Korea and others in the region, analysts say. Like China, South Korea has resisted harsh economic sanctions and refused to shut down its own trade deals with North Korea in part because of concerns about a swift collapse of the North Korean government. But South Korea is also positioning itself, to some degree against China, to be the dominant player in the future of North Korea.

China, meanwhile, has said the activity is not strategic positioning but natural economic outgrowth for a booming, entrepreneurial economy in need of resources. Li Dunqiu, a North Korea specialist with a research institute under China’s State Council, or cabinet, recently wrote that “laws of the market economy” were the driving force in Chinese investment in North Korea.

Along the border, it is easy to see how the daily traffic from China is a lifeline for North Korea. One woman from Yanbian said her family had recently come across to buy rice and other essentials. But Mr. Jin, the owner of the trading company, said charity was not at the essence of China’s trade with North Korea.

“The business interest is the most important thing,” he said. “Helping them comes after that.” Then, pausing to reflect on the potential and perils of trading with North Korea, he added: “North Korea is just like China in the past. It is a blank sheet of paper. You can draw wherever you want to. The question is whether the paper is going to be there at all times for you to draw on.”


North Korea Needs Outside Help: Naumann Foundation Rep

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

From the Korea Times:
Jane Han

As the high-charged summer energy simmered away, Niemann immersed himself in the Korean way of living and delved deeper into his responsibilities that ranged from teaching small, citizen democracy classes to bridging communications and pioneering exchanges with North Korea.

“I went to North Korea 15 times,’’ Niemann told The Korea Times in an interview on Monday as he summed up his past four and a half years in Seoul, noting that he made his most recent trip just after the missile test in August. “What stunned me was that they [North Koreans] wanted to know how the missile test was perceived in the South. That, for me, was a good sign.’’

Showing a deep affection and understanding of Korea (Germany has a similar history as a divided country), Niemann earnestly believes that the Stalinist state needs help from outsiders.

“I told them that the missile test was not at all helpful for relations and organizations such as ours to provide support if the security problem further escalates,’’ he affirmed, “I was honest by telling them it will hurt them.’’

He recounted the 2002 summit of the two Koreas, remembering what a breakthrough it was for many things, including bilateral talks with Germany and EU. “The North Korean regime wanted to modernize its economic system so they were trying to open up and invite knowledge from the outside market economy.’’ The following two years found Niemann and the FNF busy with seminars and workshops in Pyongyang teaching business leaders, politicians and scholars the mechanisms of the market economy.

However, with the security threats, things didn’t go smoothly.

More training programs are in the pipeline to take place next year, but the future is unclear because of the current nuclear situation.

On the recently passed U.N. sanctions against the North, Niemann said, “They [sanctions] aren’t harsh yet, and it’s the first step to unity, but everyone should follow the sanctions so that the message can get across.’’

As the FNF representative nears the end of his years in South Korea, he praises the country for its mature democratic system, but hopes that further improvements could be made in local autonomy and party system.

“I think Korea has all the capabilities and many, many friends in the world so that it can stand up and be a regional and even global leader,’’ said Niemann.

Following Niemann’s departure to Berlin where he will take on a bigger responsibility as a director overseeing parts of Asia and Europe, Walter Klitz will take up the job of FNF resident representative, starting January 2007.

“For four and a half years of my life, Korea was the center. I had to be concerned about both Koreas day and night for those years,’’ reminisced Niemann, It’s almost half a decade, I can never forget these years.’’


Bank of Korea sees hardship in sanctions

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

From the Joong Ang Daily:
Bank sees North pain if sanctions take hold
Choi Hyung-kyu, Ser Myo-ja

The Bank of Korea said yesterday, in a report prepared for a legislator, that international financial sanctions on North Korea could deal a heavy blow to the North’s shaky economy.

In an assessment for Representative Yim Tae-hee of the Grand National Party, the central bank said a 30-percent reduction in foreign currency inflows to North Korea would lower economic activity by three-quarters of a percentage point. A halving of North Korea’s external trade, the paper said, would reduce economic growth by nearly 5.5 percentage points; a 70-percent falloff in trade would drop economic output by 8.25 points.

Estimates of economic activity in centrally planned economies are difficult at best, however, and North Korea’s secrecy makes such estimates even more tenuous.

“When international financial institutions join in the sanctions and cut the influx of the annual $800 million in foreign currency to the North, Pyongyang will face serious trouble,” Mr. Yim said.

He added, without citing sources, that the North earns about $300 million through legitimate activities, such as inter-Korean economic cooperation deals and remittances from North Koreans abroad, adding that counterfeiting and drug trafficking bring in about $500 million more annually.

Christopher Hill, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Asia, arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday to meet, among others, William Ryback, the deputy chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

“The U.S. team asked the Hong Kong authorities to cooperate in its effort to freeze North Korean assets in Hong Kong and Macao,” a Hong Kong source said yesterday. “Hong Kong gave a positive answer.”

Another Hong Kong government source said Mr. Hill also asked the government there to help inspect suspect North Korean ships.

“A North Korean ship under a U.S. intelligence watch is on its way to Hong Kong,” the official said. “Mr. Hill asked the authorities to inspect the boat thoroughly when it enters port here.”


Nuke test sparks backlash against North Korean community in Japan

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Herald Tribune

When a bamboo grove mysteriously erupted in flames and nearly engulfed an office compound of Japan’s biggest pro-North Korean organization, So Chung-on was hardly surprised.
Harassment of Japan’s insular North Korean community, the biggest outside the homeland or China, dates back decades. But animosity has flared to new levels since North Korea stunned the world with its nuclear test.
“The atmosphere in Japan is now the worst,” said So, director of international affairs at Chongryon, an umbrella group acting as de facto embassy for tens of thousands of ethnic Koreans who live in Asia’s richest capitalist society yet see North Korea as home.
No one was hurt in the Oct. 17 arson attack, and the blaze was put out before it could torch local Chongryon offices. But it was one of several outbursts putting people on edge — including angry protests outside Chongryon facilities, threatening phone calls to North Korea-backed private schools and a severed pinkie finger mailed to the group’s headquarters with a note promising “punishment from heaven.”
North Koreans in Japan have long been vilified as a communist fifth column, but with Tokyo leading a worldwide campaign to sanction Pyongyang for its nuclear test, they now stand in an unwanted spotlight.
Japan, lying within easy range of North Korean missiles, is especially jittery about its neighbor’s atomic arsenal. After the Oct. 9 test, Tokyo banned North Korean imports, barred port entry of North Korean ships and prohibited most North Korean nationals from entering the country.
Chongryon has not commented on the nuclear test, but was quick to condemn the backlash.
The measures will likely strangle North Korean businesses in Japan and divide families with roots in both countries. It could also finally kill off reconciliation between rival camps of North and South Koreans in Japan.
“Koreans who have nothing to do with the nuclear test have become the victim,” Chongryon said in a statement. “The ratcheting up of sanctions severely threatens the rights and lifestyle of Koreans in Japan.”
There are some 600,000 ethnic Koreans among 127 million Japanese, most of them descendants of people who moved here voluntarily or by force during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula. About 200,000 are affiliated with Pyongyang.
All Koreans in Japan face discrimination in Japan. All Koreans were stripped of their Japanese citizenship after World War II and those in Japan found themselves in a society that often looked down on them as former colonial subjects.
Yet given the long-standing animosity between Tokyo and Pyongyang, North Koreans face especially limited economic opportunities, confined to tight-knit community-run businesses. Students who attend North Korean schools find it all but impossible to enter public universities.
Chongryon functions like an embassy because Japan and North Korea have no diplomatic ties. Its walled headquarters in Tokyo is guarded by police. Inside, visitors are greeted by a giant mural of North Korea’s founding father Kim Il Sung and his son, current leader Kim Jong Il.
The current backlash began in July, after North Korea conducted internationally condemned missile tests.
Since then, there have been 130 cases of harassment and intimidation against North Korean students, Chongryon said. The pace quickened after the nuclear test, with two arson attacks against Chongryon facilities, including the bamboo incident in the city of Mito.
Tokyo’s sanctions are meant to squeeze North Korea’s economy and pressure Pyongyang into giving up its nuclear ambitions. But in reality, North Korean trade with Japan tumbled 85 percent from 2001, to a paltry US$195 million last year. Analysts say any additional crackdown will have limited impact overseas.
But in Japan, it will dig deep into North Korean businesses that rely on importing manufactured goods like cheap men’s suits, marine and agriculture products, like clams and mushrooms, and raw materials such as coal.
Meanwhile, banning North Korean ships will shut the doors on the most popular way for North Koreans to visit relatives back home, and the new immigration restrictions will further limit travel.
Chongryon’s future is anything but bright, said David C. Kang, a North Korea expert at Dartmouth University.
Loyalty toward Chongryon started fading in the 1990s when North Korea’s economy flat-lined and famines killed an estimated 2 million people. Then, in 2002, Kim Jong Il shocked the world by admitting North Korean agents had been kidnapping Japanese citizens to train communist spies.
Today, many North Koreans simply opt for South Korean or Japanese citizenship to escape the stigma.
Chongryon tried to bolster its support by striking a landmark reconciliation accord with the South Korean association in Japan earlier this year. But the nuclear crisis scuttled that too.
“The North Korean community is dwindling, for both assimilation in Japan and also because it’s such a sinking ship,” Kang said.


The Internet Balckhole that Is North Korea

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

NY Times:
Tom Zeller

[edited]…This is an impoverished country where televisions and radios are hard-wired to receive only government-controlled frequencies. Cellphones were banned outright in 2004. In May, the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York ranked North Korea No. 1 — over also-rans like Burma, Syria and Uzbekistan — on its list of the “10 Most Censored Countries.”

That would seem to leave the question of Internet access in North Korea moot.

At a time when much of the world takes for granted a fat and growing network of digitized human knowledge, art, history, thought and debate, it is easy to forget just how much is being denied the people who live under the veil of darkness revealed in that satellite photograph.

While other restrictive regimes have sought to find ways to limit the Internet — through filters and blocks and threats — North Korea has chosen to stay wholly off the grid.

Julien Pain, head of the Internet desk at Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based group which tracks censorship around the world, put it more bluntly. “It is by far the worst Internet black hole,” he said.

That is not to say that North Korean officials are not aware of the Internet.

As far back as 2000, at the conclusion of a visit to Pyongyang, Madeleine K. Albright, then secretary of state, bid Mr. Kim to “pick up the telephone any time,” to which the North Korean leader replied, “Please give me your e-mail address.” That signaled to everyone that at least he, if not the average North Korean, was cybersavvy. (It is unclear if Ms. Albright obliged.)

These days, the designated North Korean domain suffix, “.kp” remains dormant, but several “official” North Korean sites can be found delivering sweet nothings about the country and its leader to the global conversation (an example: — although these are typically hosted on servers in China or Japan.

Mr. Kim, embracing the concept of “distance learning,” has established the Kim Il-sung Open University Web site, — aimed at educating the world on North Korea’s philosophy of “juche” or self-reliance. And the official North Korean news agency, at, provides tea leaves that are required reading for anyone following the great Quixote in the current nuclear crisis.

But to the extent that students and researchers at universities and a few other lucky souls have access to computers, these are linked only to each other — that is, to a nationwide, closely-monitored Intranet — according to the OpenNet Initiative, a human rights project linking researchers from the University of Toronto, Harvard Law School and Cambridge and Oxford Universities in Britain.

A handful of elites have access to the wider Web — via a pipeline through China — but this is almost certainly filtered, monitored and logged.

Some small “information technology stores” — crude cybercafes — have also cropped up. But these, too, connect only to the country’s closed network. According to The Daily NK, a pro-democracy news site based in South Korea, computer classes at one such store cost more than six months wages for the average North Korean ( The store, located in Chungjin, North Korea, has its own generator to keep the computers running if the power is cut, The Daily NK site said.

“It’s one thing for authoritarian regimes like China to try to blend the economic catalyst of access to the Internet with controls designed to sand off the rough edges, forcing citizens to make a little extra effort to see or create sensitive content,” said Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford.

The problem is much more vexing for North Korea, Professor Zittrain said, because its “comprehensive official fantasy worldview” must remain inviolate. “In such a situation, any information leakage from the outside world could be devastating,” he said, “and Internet access for the citizenry would have to be so controlled as to be useless. It couldn’t even resemble the Internet as we know it.”

But how long can North Korea’s leadership keep the country in the dark?

Writing in The International Herald Tribune last year, Rebecca MacKinnon, a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, suggested that North Korea’s ban on cellphones was being breached on the black market along China’s border. And as more and more cellphones there become Web-enabled, she suggested, that might mean that a growing number of North Koreans, in addition to talking to family in the South, would be quietly raising digital periscopes from the depths.

Of course, there are no polls indicating whether the average North Korean would prefer nuclear arms or Internet access (or food, or reliable power), but given Mr. Kim’s interest in weapons, it is a safe bet it would not matter.

“No doubt it’s harder to make nuclear warheads than to set up an Internet network,” Mr. Pain said. “It’s all a question of priority.”


Autumn Harvest at Cooperative Farms

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

From the Korea Times:

Every autumn the North Korean newspapers shower their readers with pictures and lengthy reports about the unbelievable happiness felt by North Korean farmers.
November is the time when the annual food distribution is made in the agricultural cooperatives, and farmers are reportedly overwhelmed with joy about the great harvest. As the Great Leader himself once pointed out, every year in the North was to see a bumper harvest, and nothing else could possibly be reported.

The world of most North Korean farmers is limited to their cooperative farm (hyoptong nongjang in Korean). Koreans are not allowed to change their place of residence at will, and until the social disruption of the mid-1990s even brief trips outside one’s native country were rare since such trips required police permission.

Men spend 7-10 years in the army, but if they returned back to their native village after military service, they usually stayed there for the rest of their lives.

Collective farms were first introduced to the North in the 1950s, and by 1958 membership was obligatory for all peasants.

In joining the collective farms, the farmers had to give up their land, orchards, essential agricultural tools, cattle and the like. They were allowed to have tiny kitchen gardens, to grow a couple of fruit trees and to keep chicken. In regard to larger animals, like pigs or sheep or dogs (kept for food, of course), the policy has changed a number of times.

In theory, the collective’s property belongs to its members, but this fiction never misled anybody. In everything but name, the collective farm is a state-run and governmentowned institution.

Its major task is to meet government- defined production quotas and provide the state with foodstuffs. The farm is managed by people appointed by the authorities. It is supervised by the local (county-level) ‘Farming Management Committee’ which, in turn, is subordinated to the similar committee at the provincial level.

The entire structure is supervised by the National Agricultural Committee which in 1998 was renamed the ‘Ministry of Agriculture.’

In addition to the collective farms, the North has very similar institutions called ‘state-run farms.’ There are some fine distinctions in management style, but from a common farmer’s prospective, the difference between these two types of farms is negligible.

In the past decade a number of collective farms were transformed into state farms (this process mirrored the developments in the USSR in the 1970s).

Currently, there are some 3,300 collective farms in the North, as well as some 200 state farms. The average collective farm comprises 500-800 households, but the actual size varies depending on the area.

Typically, the farm headquarters is located in a larger village, surrounded by a number of smaller settlements. Each collective farm has its own health center, library and other welfare institutions.

According to the system which was established in the late 1950s and which existed without much change until the recent economic crash, the farmers worked in units known as ‘productive groups,’ each group being responsible for a particular area or project.

All members had every tenth day off _ no Sundays. All harvest had to be given to the state. In exchange, in autumn a part of it was distributed back to the farmers with much celebration and pomp. Usually, an ablebodied adult would receive some 250-300 kilograms of cereals plus some other items of food.

For children or older people the norms were proportionally less. However, the distribution was conditional on meeting government quotas. If quotas were not met, then rations were cut.

Unlike many (indeed, most) communist countries, the North never tolerated even small-scale private farming. The kitchen plots were very small and, in some periods, non-existent. Markets were forbidden, or at the least discouraged.

Obviously, this was done to deprive the farmers of any alternative to working hard in the state’s plots. This policy was augmented by draconian punishments meted out to those foolish enough to attempt to retain any of the ‘state produce’ for themselves.

Economically, the collective farms have never been efficient, but for three decades they managed to provide the country with the necessary minimum of food.

The economic disaster of the mid-1990s changed that. In some cases it led to a quiet piecemeal dismantling of the collective farms, never to be admitted by the authorities.


North Koreans hoarding rice

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

From the Daily NK:
Kang Jae Hyok

According to a North Korean source, while international community has been worried that North Korea will undergo “the second march of tribulation”, recently the number of North Korean people who lay in rice has been increasing.

Kim Jong Hee(pseudonym, 39), Chungjin resident said on the phone interview with the DailyNK that, “In spite of Fall, the price of rice is not decreasing”, and “These days the number of people who buy rice is sharply increasing”.

Kim added that from last June the price of rice is 1,000~1,200 won (0.30 US$~0.36 US$) per 1kg and in August it increased up to 1,300 won, yet even in October(now) the price is not decreasing. The price of corn wet up to 300 or 400 won.

It is natural that in fall the price of rice goes down and in spring goes up. So people lay in rice in fall. However, given that the price of rice does not go down until now, in the next spring it will be expected to go up more. Because of it, it seams that people lay in more rice in advance.

The exchange rate of yuan in black market is 360won of North Korea per 1 yuan. In 1990, the exchange rate was 1:25 and in 2002 after the 7.1. Economic Management Improvement Measure it was 1: 300. Recently it goes up to 1: 360. In addition, 1 dollar is 3,300 won of North Korea.
“Only interested in survival, never in nuclear test”

Responding to a question “do you know North Korea did nuclear test?”, Kim said that, “I do not care about whether the North Korean government did the test or not. I am busy supporting our family so I have time to think about that”. According to him, because there have been electronic lights there, people cannot know about what happened in the world.

Kim who is a vendor selling Chinese goods in Sunam market, Chungjin said that for a few days Chinese vendors have not come in Chungjin and now are around Haeryung. In the past the Chinese vendors came in once a week, yet now it is letting up at the same time the price of goods are increasing.

Regarding this trend, some people explained that because of the tension in Korean peninsular caused by the nuclear test the Chinese vendors have visited less and less and because of the censoring in goods introduced in North Korea, the amount of goods coming in North Korea has decreased.

Kim said that now Chinese goods in North Korean markets amount for more than 80%. If the sanction of China against North Korea is taken, the North Korean Jangmadangs will be negatively influenced.

Kim also said that, “Unless the Chinese goods are not introduced, we cannot survive”, and now it is the time to lay in rice for the next spring. This is what is most important to us now”.


. Korea to supply trained technicians for Kaesong industrial complex: report

Monday, October 23rd, 2006


North Korea plans to use a light-industry university in its border town of Kaesong to train technicians for an inter-Korean industrial complex in the town, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan said Monday.

“One of the demands by South Korean businesses operating in the Kaesong industrial complex is hiring competitive manpower from North Korea,” reported the Choson Sinbo, organ of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, citing an unnamed official of the Kaesong City People’s Committee.

“North Korea plans to nurture such talented people in Koryo Songgyungwan in Kaesong,” the official was quoted as saying.

To this end, the North is building a new campus to house more students on a site next to the existing Songgyungwan building, the newspaper said.

The industrial complex, located a few kilometers north of the inter-Korean border, is home to 15 South Korean companies that make goods for South Korean and foreign markets. They employed about 8,700 North Korean workers as of the end of last month.

As many as half a million North Koreans are expected to be working at the joint industrial complex by 2012, when it could likely house up to 2,000 South Korean companies, according to the Unification Ministry.

Seoul hopes its free trade agreement now under negotiations with the United States will recognize products made in Kaesong as South Korean-made, but Washington is against the idea.

Washington has also expressed skepticism about the inter-Korean project calling it a channel for North Korea to earn much-needed hard currency for its weapons of mass destruction development.

The Kaesong complex is one of the joint economic achievements the Koreas have so far made in the wake of their historic summit talks in June 2000.


DPRK life expectancy second lowest in Asia

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

From Yonhap:

N. Koreans’ life expectancy to be second-lowest in Asia from 2005-2010: report

North Koreans are expected to live 64 years on average between 2005 and 2010, the fewest in Asia after Iraqis, according to government statistics released Monday.

North Korean men are expected to live up to 61.7 years on average, while women were forecast to live for 67.5 years, the National Statistical Office (NSO) and the Bank of Korea said, citing reports from the United Nations.