Archive for July, 2009

DPRK establishes new ministry of foodstuff manufacturing

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 09-7-28-1

The Standing Committee of the North’s Supreme People’s Assembly announced, through a cabinet order on July 22, the establishment of a new Ministry of Foodstuff Manufacturing. According to (North) Korean Central Broadcasting, the standing committee created the new bureau with Cabinet Order 161, but no further details were revealed. The designation of ‘Ministry’, however, indicates that the new entity will be under the control of the Cabinet.

At the first session of the 12th Supreme People’s Committee, last April, the Cabinet identified 37 government facilities, including three committees, thirty ministries, two bureaus, one institute, and one bank; the establishment of this new Ministry of Foodstuff Manufacturing brings the number of offices under Cabinet control to 38.

It appears that the establishment of such a ministry is closely tied to the regime’s efforts at improving the daily lives of the people of North Korea as it strives to achieve a ‘Strong and Prosperous Nation’ by 2012. North Korean authorities have shown an awareness of the need to raise the standard of living for the average resident. After inspecting the Samilpo Special Product Factory and the factory-run store, both operated by the military, Kim Jong Il declared that the store was an example of a significant turn-around in public service activity for the residents of the country.

On July 14, a ‘Commerce Sector Leaders Conference’ was held in Pyongyang, with Cabinet Vice-Minister Kwak Beom Ki and Minister of Commerce Kim Bong Cheol in attendance. Discussion at the conference focused on “Tasks and Means for Turning Around Public Service Activities for the People.” Just as was seen last year, North Korea continues to emphasize improving the lives of the people, while focusing on resolution of food shortage issues and ensuring adequate supply of daily necessities, as well as continuing to build housing in Pyongyang. Despite these calls for improvement, however, the continued prioritization of military and heavy industry development, combined with raw material shortages means that no real progress has been made. 

ORIGINAL POST: According to Yonhap:

North Korea said Wednesday it has created the Ministry of Foodstuff and Daily Necessities Industry as the country strives to resolve its food shortage within years.

The Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly issued a decree on setting up the ministry, the official Korean Central News Agency said in a one-sentence dispatch. It gave no further details.

According to KCNA:

Decree of DPRK SPA Presidium Issued

Pyongyang, July 22 (KCNA) — The Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly issued a decree on setting up the Ministry of Foodstuff and Daily Necessities Industry on July 22.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea sets up food ministry


North Korea exports total USD $1.13 billion in 2008

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 09-7-22-1

According to a report released by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), mineral products again topped the list of DPRK exports, accounting for 41.3 percent of goods sent out of the country last year. The KOTRA report, “2008 DPRK Trade Trends,” states that the North’s 2008 exports, totaling 1,130,213,000 dollars, increased by 23 percent over the 918.77 million USD-worth of goods exported in 2007.

With the exception of plastic and wooden goods, North Korean exports grew in all areas. Mineral products accounted for 41.3 percent; non-ferrous minerals made up 16.8 percent, textiles accounted for 10.6 percent; chemical plastics made up 7.6 percent; electrical and electronic machinery made up 7 percent; and animal products accounted for 3.6 percent.

Mineral goods were up 33.5 percent over last year, recording sales of 465.44 million USD. This sector has shown continuous growth over the last five years. In 2004, trade in these goods brought in 152.28 million USD; in 2005, 243.66 million USD; in 2006, 244.43 million USD; and in 2007, 349.58 million USD.

Since 2003, North Korea has concentrated on invigorating the light-industrial sector, and has emphasized the export of manufactured goods. However, last year, exports of mineral products and non-ferrous minerals combined to make up a total of 58.1 percent of all exports; the North has been unable to restructure its export sector or satisfactorily boost light-industrial manufacturing.

North Korea’s imports grew as well, to more than twice that of exports. Bringing in goods worth 2,685,478,000 USD, imports grew by 32 percent over the 2.023 billion in imports during 2007. In 2008, mineral products accounted for 25.9 percent of imports; fibers accounted for 11.9 percent; electrical and electronic machinery, 11.5 percent; processed food items, 8.8 percent; chemical and heavy industrial goods, 7.5 percent; and non-ferrous minerals, 6.6 percent. Import of fibers, processed food, and mineral products grew, while the import of animal products, vegetable products and automobiles fell.

Crude petroleum, the North’s largest import item, was imported exclusively from China, and was up 46.9 percent (414.31 million USD) over 2007 (281.97 million USD). However, due to the loss of other sources of fuel, overall imports of crude grew by a mere 1 percent.

Import of grains fell in 2008, recording only 86.24 million USD – a fall of 25.6 percent from the 115.86 million USD in grain imports during 2007. KOTRA explains that due to instability in the grain market, imports from China of rice and barley were halted in April, while corn imports were halted in August.

(Note: Here is the KOTRA web page.  It is not a user-friendly site and I was unable to find the report in English.)


Traditional Korean burial mounds

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

When North Korea Uncovered (Google Earth) was featured in the Wall Street Journal last May, one aspect in particular generated some skepticism: the identification of thousands of burial mounds scattered across the DPRK’s mountains.


(Click on image for larger version)

IHS Jane’s Senior Image Analyst Allison Puccioni, in a blog post for CNN’s Anderson Cooper, confimrmed that this unusual looking landscape is composed of burial mounds.

“It’s sadly ironic that in a time where people can no longer sustain themselves the North Koreans still manage to bury their dead with the painstaking tradition of their culture. The burial mounds are unusually close together probably to save land for agriculture” (Allison Puccioni).

Also, here is a photo of these types of burial mounds in the DPRK from ground level:


(Click on image for larger verison)

The Korean tradition of burying the dead in burial mounds up on mountain tops and slopes goes back many years.  Here is a brief history in wikipedia.


PyongSu Rx advertisement

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

From YouTube:


(Click on image to see video)

According to the video description:

This was PyongSu’s introduction to donor organisations and individuals that have been purchasing pharmaceuticals abroad and shipped them to North Korea. PyongSu’s promotional presentation explained to them why they should place their orders with PyongSu rather than with pharmaceutical companies abroad.

As PyongSu had no budget to mandate a professional advertising company with the task its managing director Felix Abt made the concept, the script and produced it in-house towards the end of 2005, with the help of North Korean IT and designing students and their Canadian trainer Ian Lee as well as teacher Michael P. Spavor, then giving language courses in Pyongyang, who was the “voice” in this clip. Thus, this unique advertising clip was made in its entirety in Pyongyang (and by people who are not advertising professionals). Check it out and add your comment!

Longer videos on investments in the DPRK can be found here.


Hermit Surfers of Pyongyang

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Last week, North Korea was accused of  launching a series of annoying DOS attacks on web pages across the planet.  While doing some research on this story, I stumbled on “Hermit Surfers of Pongyang” by Stephen Mercato at the CIA.  This story highlights the ways the DPRK is using the Internet to support their system.  Below are some excerpts from the article:

Facilitating scientific research

The Internet has greatly enhanced the ease with which North Korea can acquire foreign data. Researchers can surf the Internet via a connection routed through the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.  The accomplishments of Dr. Hwang Tok-man, a researcher on the biology faculty of Kim Il-song University, illustrates P’yongyang’s embrace of IT. Her research focus has been the structural and functional analysis of proteins, or proteomics. She also has explored the intersection of biology and information technology, compiling a “huge” structural database. Using an IBM Aptiva S-series computer and data from the Protein Database of the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, she and a colleague examined the structure-function relationships of cellulases, enzymes that break down cellulose. They used the Align, Clustal V, and FASTA programs to compare the amino acid sequences and exploited overseas protein sequence databases to study the molecular evolution of a nuclease, an enzyme that splits nucleic acids.

The Internet has also eased the collection burden born by pro-DPRK Koreans living overseas. An article on the Web site of the Korean Association of Science and Technology in Japan (KAST), part of the [chongryun], describes the benefits of the Internet for KAST members who gather information in Japan for North Korea:

Data Dissemination 

In addition to enhancing foreign collection capabilities, the Internet has made dissemination of data within North Korea easier. Researchers based outside the capital no longer need to travel to P’yongyang for necessary information. For example, members of the Academy of Sciences, located on the outskirts of the capital, have for years commuted into the city on a particular train that “serves the convenience of the scientists to frequent the Grand People’s Study House and other organs.” Scientists now can access data of the GPSH, CSTIA, Kim Il-song University, and other data repositories via “Kwangmyong,” the DPRK S&T Intranet developed in 1997. Kwangmyong consists of a browser, an e-mail program, news groups, a search engine, and a file transfer system, programs developed by CSTIA. The online version of CSTIA’s Kwangmyong 2001 dictionary allows on-screen translation.

The Internet in the DPRK

While allowing researchers to use the Internet to keep current with global trends in science and technology, P’yongyang has been able to retain control over unwelcome political information. The government can promote scientific exploration while keeping researchers in country and under surveillance. Computers conducting Internet searches are more readily monitored than the photocopying machines that served to spread forbidden political tracts in the former Soviet Union. With Internet searches easily tracked and the penalties for political dissent grave, it is difficult to imagine scientists straying from technology sites. The same applies to the domestic Intranet, where technicians exchanging e-mail messages on political issues would run a serious risk of late-night knocks on the door by members of the security forces.

Read the full article here.


More UN sanctions

Friday, July 17th, 2009

On Thursday the UNSC adopted a travel ban on five North Koreans, an asset freeze on five DPRK organizations (and the five individuals), and banned the export of graphite and para-aramid fiber to the DPRK.  Below are the details:

UNSC Sanctions effective: July 16, 2009.

Officials named:
1. Ri Je-son, director at North Korea’s General Bureau of Atomic Energy (GBAE)
2. Hwang Sok-hwa, director at North Korea’s General Bureau of Atomic Energy (GBAE)
3. Yun Ho-jin, director of Namchongang  Trading Corp.
4. Ri Hong-sop, former director of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear research center
5. Han Yu-ro, director of Korea Ryongaksan General Trading Corp.

Organizations named:
1. General Bureau of Atomic Energy (GBAE)-DPRK weapons agency
2. Namchongang Trading Corp-alleged to have procured Japanese vacuum pumps and aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium.
3. Hong Kong Electronics-transferred millions of dollars to Tanchon Commercial Bank and Korea Mining Development Trading Corp., both subject to sanctions by Security Council agreement in April.
4. Korea Hyoksin Trading Corp
5. Korean Tangun Trading Corp-primarily responsible for the procurement of commodities and technologies to support” North Korea’s defense research and development program

Further Notes:
1. The North Korean’s actually have a web page for the Hyoksin Trading Corp.

2. Here is a previous post summarizing most of the sanctioning activites this year.

Read more below:
U.N. council sanctions North Korea entities, officials
Reuters (via Washngton Post)
Patrick Worsnip

North Korea Officials Sanctioned by UN for Travel, Nuke Program
Bill Varner


Education and student labor in the DPRK

Friday, July 17th, 2009

The Daily NK has run a series of interesting articles on education in the DPRK.  I have posted interesting excerpts below:

The Warped Nature of Gifted Student Schooling
Daily NK
By Moon Sung Hwee,

The birth of education for the gifted generated a new social trend which placed great value on science. First senior middle schools grew out of that trend.

In first senior middle schools, students are educated in the natural sciences using high quality text books produced especially for the task.

Only the graduates of these schools can enter elite science universities such as Pyongsung-ri College of Science, Kangkye College of Defense or the elite KimChaek University of Technology. Since 1992, the first generation of graduates has been distinguishing itself in professional fields. Naturally, they have had a great affect on military and scientific technological developments.

Being a first middle school student is even an exemption from compulsory military service.

In addition to being a shelter from undesirable military obligations, as graduates from the school tend to work in better positions in society, the first senior middle school is a great path to a comfortable future.

However, powerful and wealthy parents lobby hard to get their children into a first middle school, and as a consequence what was supposed to be national education for gifted students has degenerated into a school for the children of the rich and politically powerful classes. To add insult to injury, as the numbers of elite first middle school graduates rises, the number of opportunities for other, general students falls even further.

And indeed, since the March of Tribulation in the mid-1990s, this discrimination has grown more and more serious, so now there is practically zero opportunity for average children to enter the first middle school at all, and therefore little chance to use their innate abilities to climb the social ladder.

This is because, during and after the March of Tribulation, ideological training, “[proletarian] class spirit education,” seriously distorted the system of gifted-student education.

Through this “(proletarian) class spirit education,” under the slogan, “Without the revolutionary and proletarian classes we cannot maintain the achievements of the revolution,” the authorities emphasized the need for the Juche Ideology to dominate society. The classes encouraged abhorrence of capitalists and the bourgeoisie via lessons about capitalist contradictions and the superiority of socialist system.

Since 1998, revolutionary education facilities for (proletarian) class spirit education have been built in every province, city, county and neighborhood. This has changed society markedly, because since the Kim Il Sung period, until the March of Tribulation, the only area of life where class or family background had not had an effect on an individual’s chances was education.

This has resulted in the concept of three classes and 51 groups in society, formed originally in the 1970s, being more rigorously applied: the core class (workers, former farm hands, party members, intellectuals educated after 1945, etc.); the unsettled class (traders, intellectuals educated before 1945, former Confucian scholars and etc.); and the hostile class (former rich farmers, former landlords, pro-Japanese factions, religious persons, criminals’ families, those who have been exiled etc.). The unfavorable classes and groups have since grown more sharply defined and discriminated against, with different classes receiving vastly different treatment.

This has cemented a hereditary social system, and the vicious cycle of family background and class being passed down to descendants has irrevocably formed. Of course, the standard for admission to a school is also class. Ability is no longer of any relevance whatsoever. Now, countless young minds just wither on the vine.

General students feel defeatist when evaluating themselves, thinking they are losers with no social footholds. Since they are not elite students, and are not of a favorable class background, their chances are vanishingly small.

So, what do such groups do? Well, parents in lower classes who would have used education to help their kids escape from poverty or an unstable class have developed an interest in other methods, beyond the school gates. Money.

Since they cannot change their family background, these parents and students have started to believe that they need to earn a great deal of money to be able to give their children a chance. Not a side effect the authorities had hoped for. 

Private Education Is Most Effective for Every Class
Daily NK
By Moon Sung Hwee

Since the devastation wrought by the March of Tribulation in the late 1990s, education in North Korea has been firmly on the back burner.

When state food distribution ceased, teachers either could not go to school or simply handed in their resignations, while starving children simply stopped attending school. Therefore, even the basic operation of schools was extremely difficult.

One Seoul-based defector, who used to be in charge of military recruitment, explained the situation vividly, “More than half the candidates for military service came to take their physical examination wearing no underwear during the March.”

A Starving Student Rarely Attends School

Children whose parents had starved to death started appearing in large numbers, wandering the streets. People called them “kotjebi.”

Among those parents lucky enough not to starve, very few in the poorer classes bothered educating their children at all, saying, “Since you can’t move up due to your social status, you don’t need to go school. The only things you need are the reading and arithmetic that are needed in the jangmadang.” This has generated a vicious circle of poverty which continues to this day.

Meanwhile, most children in the middle social classes did not go to school either, but to the markets to do what business they could.

Declining attendances in schools wreaked havoc, of course. Since 2000 the North Korean authorities have been trying to bring schools back to life by harshly punishing parents whose children do not come to school.

Nevertheless, even elite children with politically and financially sound family backgrounds have given up on school. However, their reason is different; their parents are dissatisfied with the poor standard of education in public schools, so they have shifted into the private education field.

In reality, schools are equipped with ageing facilities, suffer a severe lack of materials and receive little state investment, so effective education is all but impossible.

For example, since 1985 there has been a chapter on computers in mathematics text books, and computer education has been nominally on the curriculum. However, IT education is purely theoretical, because there are no computers in any but the First Middle Schools.

A Starving Teacher is not a Good Teacher

A teacher who is not able to live on his or her wages alone will always have difficulties paying attention to teaching students, and either the teacher, or the students, or both, will seek alternative ways to achieve their goals.

From the late 1980s, informal private education started to appear in North Korea for the first time, in the form of music lessons. At the time, those who used to work for art units started teaching the accordion or violin to senior school students.

However, a decisive turning point in bringing about a boom in private education was the appearance of DVD players. Since around 2005, DVD players have become almost a necessity for senior school students.

Households use legal educational DVDs produced by Education and Culture Broadcasting, which is publicly aired only in Pyongyang, and illegally copied ones which feature recorded lectures by First Senior Middle School teachers. It is more effective than public school education, because they can see well-edited lectures by good teachers, rather than attending half-hearted ones by the disillusioned teachers in the general school system.

This home-schooling method has spread widely, even extending to elementary students.

In March this year, during the enrollment period for elementary school, an unprecedented “freshmen enrollment notice” containing a list of children required to start school was stuck up in public areas. This was due to rapidly declining freshman enrollment.

North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity (NKIS) released the story on March 17, quoting a North Korean source as saying, “Such a notice is the first in North Korean history.” Additionally, the source reported, “Affluent people can educate their children privately with the money which they would have to provide to public school every month plus a bit more. Therefore, they will not send their children to school. Private math or physics tutors can earn up to 30,000 North Korean won per month, and music or art tutors as much as 50,000 won.” 

Student Labor Utliized in Every Field
Daily NK
By Moon Sung Hwee

As the Kim Jong Il period started in the 1980s, students became subject to many more kinds of unwelcome social mobilization.

For example, students were made to carry water from local rivers in order to build a skating rink every winter, and to take part in the construction of railroads, swimming pools and many other construction projects in their neighborhoods almost daily.

Farm support activities, the domain of third grade middle school students, have long been a conventional method of exploiting North Korean child labor. Every spring the kids have to build seedbeds of corn, transplant rice for more than ten days in summer and then help bring in the harvest for a full month in fall.

They are made to harvest crops until late in the evening, while five or six students are put up in each farmer’s house for the duration. In summer, schools give the students ten days vacation, in which they are ordered to collect fresh bracken and other wild plants.

The authorities in cities and towns periodically mobilize students and factory workers to repair railroads or roads as well. Sunday, the only official day-off in North Korea, is now a day for mobilizing students instead.

Since social mobilization comes frequently, students are often far from their studies, so teachers simply devote themselves to the maintenance of schools.

Since the March of Tribulation in the late 1990s, the atmosphere in the education sector has changed a lot. Since that time, the authorities have found it difficult to push students into social mobilization, since they can’t even afford lunch, or to manage schools, because the number of those who are willing to give up their chance of an education has drastically increased.

A source from Hoiryeong, North Pyongan Province reported recently that the percentage of students who go to school is now 62 percent, according to a recent report from the education department of Hoiryeong’s municipal Party Committee.

Absence from school is more serious on Saturday than on any other day because there are weekly evaluation meetings on the students’ daily lives, and several other onerous and to-be-avoided tasks like the offering of rabbit furs or metal scraps.

Meanwhile, the North Korean authorities have been focusing on inspiring student loyalty to the ongoing 150-Day Battle, but the result has been quite the opposite.

In 1980, the first work on the daily student routine was a “Sincerity Task;” cleaning up the surroundings of the local Kim Il Sung statue, portraits and the like. Students naturally addressed the task with care and diligence.

However, the number of students seen even doing such things has decreased markedly since the early 1990s, let alone doing it well. Moreover, students who are prepared to undertake such tasks are branded “brown noses.”

One recent example can be found in Hyesan: in advance of the anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s death on July 8, the authorities mobilized local students to clean up the Bocheonbo Battle Monument. Yet, on one of the allocated days only a few students turned up, while on other days there was no one there at all, according to our source. 


Kim Jong Un loves basketball…

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

This web page has avoided focusing too much on the DPRK’s leadership transition because so much of the discussion is purely speculative.  But the Washington Post has published an interesting article which fills in some of the blanks on Kim Jong Un’s biography (Kim Jong il’s successor du jour) which gives us some insights into Pyongyang’s elite youth culture.

To begin with, we now know that KJU briefly went to a public school in Switzerland from 1998-2000 where he went by the name “Pak Un.” He did not attend the same Swiss school as his older brothers.  Sources from the school describe him as a swift learner who was quiet in class and uncomfortable around girls, but “fiercely competitive” on the basketball court.  Classmates also recall that he didn’t speak out against America.

Despite the short time he spent in Western Europe, however, he did show a love of American basketball, decorating his apartment with personal photos with Kobe Bryant, attending an NBA exhibition game in Paris and sporting Nike Air Jordan shoes.

The full article is worth reading below:
Who Will Succeed Kim Jong Il?
Washington Post
Andrew Higgins

Further notes:
1. Basketball is popular in the DPRK–maybe the second most popular sport after football (soccer).  Is it such a stretch to assume that elite North Korean youths get together to talk about or even watch NBA games? (There is also a baseaball field in Pyongyang here)

2. Kim Jong il is/was a Michael Jordan fan.  Madeline Albright gave him a basketball signed by Michael Jordan which is probably on display in the International Friendship Exhibition.

3. Kim Jong Chol (and probably Kim Jong nam) attended the International School of Bern (locaton here).  The North Korean embassy in Bern is here. Kim Jong Un reportedly attended the Schule Liebefeld Steinhölzli (located here).  However, I am a little confused about where he lived.  The article states that KJU lived in Liebefeld (Bern suburb) at No. 10 Kirchstrasse (10 Kirch Street), not at the DPRK’s embassy which was just down the road.  I wonder why that is…

4. Kim Jong Un’s older brother, Kim Jong Chol, was photographed attending the 2006 World Cup in Germany where he also attended an Eric Clapton concert.

5. Kim Jong nam, Kim Jong il’s eldest son (and a nice guy I hear), spends most of his time in Macao.  His son (KJI’s grandson) was recently photographed with his South Korean school friends at a Rain concert.

6. Charles Jenkins claims he bought Michael Jackson tapes on the Pyongyang black market.


2012 plan extends to Sungri Motors

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s sole home-grown automaker seeks to expand its annual production capacity to 10,000 units by 2012, a level not reached since its peak in the 1970s, a pro-Pyongyang paper said Tuesday.

The Sungri Motor Complex, which started production in 1958, has gone downhill as the country suffered economic downturns and severe famine in the decades following the 1970s.

The Choson Sinbo, a Tokyo-based newspaper that relays Pyongyang’s position to the outside world, said the automaker is aspiring to return to its record production capacity by 2012, the target year for the country to become a “strong, prosperous and powerful nation.”

“As production decreased from the 70s, the workforce of the motor company fell to 75 percent of the peak years,” the paper said.

“During economic hardships in the late 90s, the company was close to not breathing. But now, anyone active in production is talking about the ‘promised revival,'” it said.

The paper noted North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s trip in March to the complex, located at the foot of Mt. Sungni in South Phyongan Province, during which he stressed that the “modernization and scientification of the complex” is the most important factor in increasing output.

Kim then “guaranteed” state support to introduce computer numerical control machines to the complex, it said.

The automaker started producing hundreds of trucks named “Sungri 58-type,” “Sungri 61-type” or “Jaju (independence) 64-type” in late April, but output is “still in their early stage,” the paper said.

North Korea seeks to build a “strong, prosperous and powerful nation” by 2012, the centenary of the birth year of Kim Il-sung, the nation’s founder and father of North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong-il, who will turn 70 that year.

Read the full story here:
N. Korean automaker aims to return to peak production by 2012
Kim Hyun

Other links:
1. Background on Sungri Motors here.

2. I believe this is the location of the Sungri Motor Plant.  If anyone has evidence to the contrary, please let me know.

3. Read about another DPRK auto manufacturing plant here.


DPRK continues to supply new laborers to KIC

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 09-7-15-1

Despite the fact that inter-Korean relations continue to be stalled, North Korea authorities reportedly provided approximately 1,300 new workers in June for businesses entering the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC). Despite the fact that there has been no progress in inter-Korean working-level talks between authorities involved in the KIC, the North is continuing to provide a labor force for South Korean businesses in the complex.

An official from the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee verified that “approximately 1,300 new laborers were supplied last month,” and that “there are some young workers, as well, but the majority are 30 to 40-year-old women.” The official also explained, “the number of laborers was reduced slightly at the beginning of the year; while [their number] was insufficient, laborers continue to come…up until June of this year, while the number fluctuated, an average of around 700 per month [were provided].” Last year, the number of new workers each month was around 1,000.

New workers continue to be provided to the KIC, but there has also been a sharp increase in the number of workers quitting or being removed from their positions. At the end of June, there were 40,255 North Korean laborers; the overall number of workers provided by the North has only increased by 1,324 since the end of last year.

The source explained that at the beginning of 2009, more than 2000 construction workers quit. It appears, according to the numerous reports on the status of employment in the KIC, that the supply of workers is still insufficient, but that the North Korean authorities are working as hard as possible to provide what manpower they can.

North Korea’s Central Special Zone Development Guidance General Bureau recently held a general assembly for all North Korean labor representatives, and ordered them to “work to the max” in order to alleviate all complaints by South Korean businesses. However, as there has still been no resolution to the issue of constructing additional dormitories for the workers, this issue will continue to restrict growth in the number of North Korean laborers, regardless of the attitude in Pyongyang.