N. Korea to focus on inter-Korean economic projects in 2007: think tank


North Korea will put strong emphasis on inter-Korean economic projects this year as the communist state insinuated that it is suffering from economic difficulties, a state-run think tank said Monday.

In its new year commentary, Pyongyang partially admitted that its economy is in bad shape and said its highest priority for 2007 is boosting the sagging economy, the Korea Development Institute (KDI) said in a report.

“Unlike in previous years, when the North placed political ideology, the military and the economic sector, in that order, as its three key areas of importance, North Korea set the economic sector ahead of those two other sectors in the commentary this year,” the KDI said.

“The North also skipped over commenting on a series of economic achievements, except for saying that it has secured a foothold for a new leap. … In addition, it said that it has gone through the ‘worst adverse situation’ in the past 10 years, showing that the economy was still suffering from difficulty in 2006.”

To boost the economy, the North may actively push for inter-Korean economic projects and depend on the South for increased economic support as its economic cooperation with other nations such as the United States and Japan has come to a near halt, the institute said.

In the commentary, the North also used a slogan, “put an importance on the Korean people,” a comment indicating increased inter-Korean cooperation, the KDI said.

Every Jan. 1, the communist nation releases its new year commentary on three state dailies, including the Rodong Sinmun, one of the only sources of information on the country’s economic policy plans.

Under the title, “Create a prosperous era of the Songun (military-first) Choseon,” the North urged its people to make concerted efforts to solve the economic problems in 2007 and make the country an economic power as a socialist nation.

According to many analysts, the North’s annual economic growth may have fallen below 1 percent last year, down from an estimated 1 percent growth in 2005 and 2.2 percent in 2004. A variety of global economic sanctions against Pyongyang could have contributed to the slower growth in 2006, the institute said.


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