Archive for November, 2010

The DPRK’s Damn Dams

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Kumya Dam
A dam is being constructed in Kumya County, South Hamgyong Province, to provide electrical power. Kim Jong-il last visited in August 4, 2010. It is just one of several dams under currently under construction in the DPRK.

Here is a satellite image of the Kumya dam’s construction (Google Earth: 11/25/2008,  39.574232°, 127.104736°)

This new reservoir will flood the locations of three villages (리): Ryongnam-ri (룡남리), Ryongsang-ri (룡상리), and Ryongchon-ri (룡천리).

Estimates of the reservoir size are made by me, but it is fairly obvious where the North Korean engineers expect the reservoir to flood because they have already relocated the villages from their former locations in the flood zone.

Here are the former locations of Ryongchon-ri, Ryongsong-ri, and Ryongnam-ri:

All of the homes, buildings, and factories have been moved (lock, stock, and barrel) to another location. I am not sure where.

Imnam Reservoir
The dislocation caused by the Kumya Dam, however, pails in comparison to the dislocation caused by the creation of the Imnam Reservoir (임남저수지) in Changdo County (창도군).

The Imnam Reservoir bisected the county and flooded nearly half of it, including its capital city and at least 14 villages (리): Jisok-ri (지석리), Pankyo-ri (판교리), Sinsong-ri (신성리), Songdo-ri (성도리), Kisong-ri (기성리), Tangsan-ri (당산리), Tohwa-ri (도화리), Tumok-ri (두목리), Myongchon-ri (면천리), Imnam-ri (임남리), Taejong-ri (대정리), Jon-ri (전리), Onpae-ri (언패리), and Cholpaek-ri (철벽리).

Below is a picture of the Imnam Reservoir along with locations of the various population centers that were flooded.

It appears that the North Koreans constructed a new county capital north of the reservior at 38.652243°, 127.711817° (although this city is not on any maps of North Korea that I have seen). This new city, however, has itself seen severe flood damage (caused by excessive rainfall).  Some of this devastation can bee seen on Google Earth, but the full extent of it is not available with current imagery.

The poor people of Changdo county can’t seem to catch a break.

Lake Paekma
Lake Paekma lies at the head of the Paekma-Cholsan Waterway in Phihyon County ( 40.082356°, 124.695685°).  Two villages were lost to the construction of this reservoir: Sangko-ri(상고리) and Ryongun-ri(룡운리).  In the images below you can see the locations of the remnants of these villages as well as their disappearance under the waters.

Military losses to dam construction
Civilians are not the only ones to have suffered dislocation at the hands of the DPRK’s energy policy. The airforce lost a couple of facilities as well.

Thaechon County:
The North Korean air force lost one training facility to a  new dam on the Taeryong River (대령강) in Thaechon County ( 39.865138°, 125.562139°).  Here and here are the before and after pictures.

Tongrim County:
And most recently, the an airfield and heliport in Tongrim County ( 39.918570°, 124.840542°) appears to be in danger of flooding as a result of the rising Maepong Reservoir (매봉저수지)–a lake on which “someone” has a very nice house:


MacArthur Foundation working papers on DPRK collapse

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Here is the text from the MacArthur Foundation:

North Korean Contingency and Prospects of China’s Military Intervention (PDF)
Park Changhee considers whether China would intervene with its military in the event of breakdown. A number of contingencies could occur in North Korea which could pose a direct threat to Chinese security and, Park argues, the prospect that the reunification of North and South Korea could result in a unified Korea as a U.S. ally means that China’s security is at stake even without direct threats in the form of refugee flows or instability among China’s Korean community. He concludes that given what is at stake on the peninsula for China, South Korea should expect and plan for Chinese involvement in a regime crisis in North Korea.

A Review of the Legacies associated with a Sudden Change in North Korea (PDF)
Shin Beomchul reviews legal issues surrounding regime collapse and reunification. Regime breakdown and reunification pose challenges in light of international law and South Korean domestic law. The latter especially could be problematic as South Korea will have to determine how to integrate the civil, criminal, and public legal codes of the two countries, and could also have to draft and enact a new constitution.

The Economic Impacts of a North Korean Collapse (PDF)
Deok Ryong Yoon considers the economic consequences of regime collapse. Regime collapse followed by rapid reunification could shock South Korea’s economy in the short term, producing a capital outflow, devaluation of the won, and asset market crashes. Over the longer term, South Korea will have to manage the unification of labor markets and currencies, and will have to cope with the potentially steep administrative costs of national reunification.

Here is a link to the Ilmin International Relations Institute (IIRI) which produced the papers.


DPRK re-freezes Kumgang facilities

Monday, November 15th, 2010

According to the Donga Ilbo:

North Korea has re-frozen and re-seized South Korean facilities at the Mount Kumgang resort that were reopened in the latest reunions of inter-Korean separated families.

An official at the South Korean Unification Ministry said Sunday that the North attached “frozen” labels on dining and container-type lodging facilities and a vehicle maintenance plant at the resort owned by Hyundai Asan Corp. of South Korea.

Pyongyang will also likely attach “seized” labels on a family reunion center owned by the South Korean government where the reunions took place.

You can read about the family reunions here.

Read the full story here:
NK Re-freezes S. Korean Facilities at Mount Kumgang
Donga Ilbo


DPRK manufacturing mobile phones

Monday, November 15th, 2010

According to Bernama:

North Korea has started to mass-produce cellular phones while trying to customize their operating systems to satisfy local needs, Yonhap news agency reported, citing a pro-Pyongyang newspaper as saying.

The report by Chosun Sinbo, run by a group of pro-North Korea residents in Tokyo and monitored in Seoul, came after Cairo-based Orascom Telecom Holding announced earlier this month that its mobile business in the communist state is rapidly expanding.

The number of mobile phone subscribers has at least quadrupled over the period of one year in North Korea, according to Orascom. The expansion doesn’t mean that the regime has eased its rules aimed at restricting the flow of information in and out of the country.

Chosun Sinbo said Monday in its report from Pyongyang that a firm known as Checom Technology Joint Venture Company has set up a “flow manufacturing process and is producing hundreds of high-performance cellular phones each day.”

Checom is a Pyongyang-based electronics and communications company, according to the Web site of Songsang Company, a Dandong, China-based firm that trades with North Korea.

Flow manufacturing is a build-to-order process aimed at minimizing inventory.

“Related sectors are testing new devices and actively working on a project aimed at modifying the operating software to suit the needs of local users,” Chosun Sinbo said.

“Central engineering rooms for mobile communications are also pushing a program to develop software for their main machines to meet the domestic environment.”

The report added that a video calling service has also been made available while “hundreds of base stations” that transmit signals have been set up across the country.

Orascom, which operates jointly with the local Koryolink, had said in its earnings report that video calling “resulted in a high level of demand, especially from the youth segment.”

North Korea first launched a mobile phone service in Pyongyang in November 2002, but banned it after a deadly explosion in the northern Ryongchon train station in April 2004, possibly out of concern that it could be used in a plot against the regime.

In 2008, the country reversed its policy and introduced a 3G mobile phone network in the joint venture with Orascom.

However, the overall “mobile penetration” remains at 1 percent in the country that has a per-capita GDP of US$1,900 and a population of 22.8 million, according to Orascom.

Read the full story here:
North Korea begins mass-producing cell phones to meet local demands
Bernama (Malaysia)


DPRK defectors to South reaches 20,000

Monday, November 15th, 2010

According to the AP:

The number of North Koreans defecting to South Korea has surged in recent years because of economic suffering in the North, with more than 10,000 defections over the past three years, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Monday.

About as many North Koreans have defected to the South since the end of 2007 as the number who had fled over the entire previous period since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, the ministry said in a statement. The overall total stands now at 20,050.

Ministry official Han Dong-ki said the rise in defections reflects North Korea’s worsening economy.

North Korea has relied on outside food aid since natural disasters and mismanagement wrecked its economy in the mid-1990s, when an estimated 2 million people died of famine. The North’s economic troubles are thought to have worsened following a botched attempt at currency reform last year.

Most defectors reach South Korea after crossing over a shared border with China, where activists say tens of thousands of North Koreans are hiding. About 2,500 defectors arrived in the South in 2007, and the number has risen each year since. More than 2,900 defected last year, the ministry statement said.

Many North Korean defectors have trouble adjusting to their new lives in the South, which is one of Asia’s richest countries. They report job discrimination and difficulty finding work, and say they aren’t being paid fairly or getting promotions.

South Korea runs resettlement centers where North Korean asylum-seekers take a three-month course that teaches them computer skills and such everyday lessons as how to use ATMs and shop in supermarkets. South Korean intelligence officials typically question defectors for about three months before they are sent to the centers.

The two Koreas share a common language, but there are often differences in word meanings after more than a half-century of division following the war. The South is also awash in Western influences compared to the isolated North.

The Unification Ministry said it is working to help defectors resettle in the South more smoothly, offering greater tax reduction and medical benefits.

Defectors are a point of friction between North and South Korea. Two North Korean army majors were sentenced to prison in South Korea earlier this year for plotting to assassinate a high-profile defector. The defector later died of heart failure, and police said there was no connection between his death and the plot.

North Korea denies involvement, accusing South Korea of staging the arrests to stoke public anger against the North.

The defector, Hwang Jang-yop, was one of the North’s most powerful officials when he fled in 1997. He was chief architect of North Korea’s guiding “juche” philosophy of self-reliance and had tutored North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong Il, on the ideology.

UPDATE 1: The New York Times also published a story on this trend.

UPDATE 2: The Economist offers coverage.

Read the full story here:
Number of NKorean defectors to SKorea tops 20,000
AP (via Washington Post)
Kim Hyung-Jin


6 new industrial parks worth 44 billion Won for construction industry

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 10-11-13-1

The construction cost for six inter-Korean cooperative industrial parks like the Kaesong Industrial Complex would carry a construction bill of 44 billion Won. According to “Analysis of Examples of Inter-Korean Cooperation in the Construction Field and the Direction of Industrial Park Development within North Korea,” a recent report by the Construction Economy Research Institute of Korea, “Promotion of the North Korean construction market by the [South Korean] construction industry would not only increase the limited demand for the South Korean construction [field], but will also provide new growth to our economy.”

According to the report, there has been almost no cooperative construction project within the construction field since 1988. On the other hand, tourism, industrial parks, physical fitness and religious projects have provided opportunities for construction companies. These projects generally call for construction equipment, materials, technicians and designs from South Korea, and land, labor, aggregate, etc. from the North. If six industrial parks on the same scale as the KIC were to be built, it would cost 43.09 billion Won. Of this, 4.07 billion won would cover government costs, while the actual cost of construction would be 39.02 billion won.

If the KIC, currently undergoing the first phase of construction, were to complete all three phases of the original plan, the 19.9 square-kilometer complex would house 2,000 businesses. The research institute calls for the completion of phases 2 and 3 in the KIC, as well as the construction of industrial parks at Rajin-Sonbong, Sinuiju, Haeju, Nampo, and Wonsan.

Rajin-Sonbong and Sinuiju are both ‘Free Economic Trade Zones’, and as special administrative zones, they offer large-scale industrial plots in an effort to attract foreign capital. In addition, it was agreed at the second inter-Korean summit, in October 2007, that Haeju would be developed. Furthermore, a light-industrial complex in Nampo, on the West Sea, and a heavy and chemical industry in Wonsan have been established.

The industrial zones, however, constitute only part of the construction demand. Roads and rails connecting the complexes, port facilities, power generation plants, cities to support production workers, and other derivative projects would also need to be constructed. In other words, the building of an industrial zone would lead to significant peripheral construction demand, as well.

Assuming that inter-Korean tensions were eased and North Korea decided to open itself up to the South, if construction on the six industrial zones could begin by the middle of next year, it is expected that they could all be completed by 2021. In addition, the construction and operation of the six zones could provide the impetus for quickly improving the North Korean economy, while also boosting the importance of South Korea to the North’s economy.

In order to see this accomplished, the research institute found that the government needs to boost activity in the KIC; expand the distribution network between the KIC, Kimpo, and Kangwa; guarantee free management authority in the KIC; iron out customs and transportation procedures; ensure a steady supply of North Korean laborers; and strengthen the ties between the KIC and North Korea’s domestic economy.

If, in the future, North Korea is to open its doors to cooperation, it is expected that foreign companies will also participate. Therefore, when considering long-term profits, it is necessary to spur interest in North Korea’s construction market. The research institute suggested that it was also necessary to construct a training center to teach North Korean construction workers the technical skills needed to ensure maximum potential.


Kim Jong-un’s prison amnesty

Saturday, November 13th, 2010

According to the Daily NK:

A number of criminals judged to have committed their crimes due to poverty were granted an amnesty in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Workers’ Party founding in September, in a move characterized as being a result of Kim Jong Eun’s boundless consideration for the North Korean people. However, this has led to serious adverse effects.

A Daily NK source reported on the 12th that, upon a decision of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the North Korean authorities reduced the prison terms of around 150,000 criminals across the country in the amnesty, entitled “On the reduction of prison terms for prisoners in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Party founding and the Party Delegates’ Conference.”

For example, around 1,500 out of 2,100 prisoners in No. 12 Reeducation Camp under the Reform Department of the People’s Safety Ministry in Pungsan-ri, formerly Jeongeo-ri, Hoiryeong, North Hamkyung Province had their sentences reduced.

According to the source, “Around 250 prisoners were released and three special contributors had their sentences reduced by four years, 20 model prisoners by three years, and around 1,500 other general prisoners by two years.”

He added, “Only violent offenders (robbers, murderers and rapists) sentenced under article 141 of the Penal Code and human trafficking offenders (defector-related offences) under article 117 of the Penal Code were excluded.”

After the head of the camp announced the list of prisoners who would benefit, he reportedly added, “Those who are being released and having their sentences reduced should feel deeply the consideration of the Youth Captain,” going on to say, “The consideration given by the Party is not a gift sent equally to everybody, but only to those who have done well, and gives more consideration to them.”

Generally, amnesties in North Korea are undertaken on every fifth birthday of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and the founding day of the Party, ratified by Kim Jong Il after the Standing Committee of the SPA submits a proposal to him. The 12 reeducation camps under the PSM then decide the scale of the amnesty, depending on the size of the prison population.

However, the amnesties can have undesirable consequences, and this one is no different; the PSM has been reportedly devoting itself to filling up the empty camps, because each camp contains production units.

The source said, “The PSM was concentrating on criminal investigations even before the official announcement of the amnesty, because they had received indications of the decree. With the help of the Prosecutors’ Office, they caught a lot of people and kept them in detention centers, then after the announcement they started putting them in camps.”

“In 2002, commemorating the 60th birthday of the General (Kim Jong Il), although around 30 percent of the prisoners in each camp were released, the same amount of prisoners filled the former prisoners’ places.”

The 12 reeducation camps in North Korea each have unique production facilities. In the No. 12 Camp in Hoiryeong, for example, there is a wooden goods factory, copper mine, dressing plant, limestone mine and farms. Defectors suggest that the profits from these factories cover 80% of the management costs of the PSM.

The camps can be found all over the country including Pyongyang, Kaechoen and Sariwon in South Pyongan Province, Deokwon in Kangwon Province, Hamheung and Hoiryeong.

Read the full story here:
Kim Jong Eun’s “Magnanimous” Amnesty
Daily NK
Im Jeong Jin


OCA to support DPRK

Friday, November 12th, 2010

According to the Indo-Asian News Service:

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Friday decided to lend financial support to some of its National Olympic Committees (NOCs), including Pakistan and North Korea.

OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah announced the decision at an executive board meeting here.

The OCA will aid the needy NOCs over a period of time. For now, the OCA will help North Korea and the flood ravaged Pakistan.

‘We will work very closely with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). We have asked our finance committee to allocate whatever amount of funds we can give them,’ said Sheikh Ahmad.

‘They are facing crisis and they need our support.’

The OCA along with IOC contributed $100,000 to the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) earlier to repair the sports infrastrucure damaged in heavy flooding earlier thuis summer.

The executive board approved the initiative, and it brought an emotional response from one of its members – said Syed Arif Hasan, OCA vice president for South Asia and president of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA).

‘Thank you for your assistance and your words of comfort. I appreciate the great work the OCA is doing under you (Sheikh Ahmad),’ said Arif.

Read the full story here:
OCA to provide financial aid to Pakistan, North Korea
Sify News


DPRK criticizes Western aid

Friday, November 12th, 2010

According to the Daily NK:

The North Korean media has released a number of articles and editorials characterizing western aid as a trap leading to plunder and subordination, while emphasizing the Military-first policy and Juche.

Pyongyang’s belligerent reinforcing of self-reliance principles comes in response to the ongoing G20 Summit in Seoul.

Rodong Shinmun, the daily publication of the Chosun Workers’ Party, asserted in an editorial on the 11th, “We should wake up to western countries’ aid diplomacy,” citing a quote attributed to Kim Jong Il, “There is no more stupid and dangerous attitude than to look forward to the imperialists’ aid while failing to see their aggressive and predatory nature. The imperialists’ aid is a trap of plundering and subordination; giving one so as to extort ten or hundred times more.”

Therefore, Rodong Shinmun claimed, “The way for developing countries to achieve social and economic progress is to throw away their reliance on foreign powers and strengthen economic and technologic cooperation between developing countries based on principles of self-revitalization.”

“In countries which thoughtlessly receive the imperialists’ deceptive aid, extreme affairs happen. In those countries, economies go into recession or go bankrupt and social and political chaos is created, while enormous wealth goes to Western powers,” it also claimed.

In another editorial, “Establishment of Juche is the Life Line for the Achievement of Independent Reunification,” the same publication went on, “The current South Chosun authorities clamored to restore their reliance on the U.S. immediately after taking office and intensified the occupation of South Chosun by the U.S.”

Meanwhile, a website managed by the North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, “Uriminjokkiri” posted an article on the same day which asserted, “Without independence, the life of the nation, the country will fail and the people become slaves. Military-first politics has allowed our people to take their autonomy back and embrace independent dignity and repute.”

In advance of the G20 Summit, President Lee Myung Bak stated in a press conference with domestic and international reporters, “Once North Korea reforms and opens, it will be able to receive development aid.”

However, in September North Korea criticized the unexpectedly small quantity of aid rice provided by South Korea through Tongil Shinbo, a weekly North Korean magazine, saying, “Even though they made a fuss about sending flood relief, when we uncovered it, it was just 5,000 tons of rice, through which we can see how narrow their mind is.”

“5,000 tons of rice is not even one day’s rice for the people of the Republic,” it added.

Read the full story here:
Western Aid a Trap of Enslavement
Daily NK
Mok Yong Jae


Koryo Tours November 2010 newsletter

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Koryo Tours continues to expand tourism opportunities in the DPRK and confirms the mass games will take place in 2011. According to their newsletter:

1. Mass Games (August 1 – Spetember 9, 2011): The performance will take place in the giant May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, DPRK (North Korea). We do not yet know if the show will continue on into October as it usually does so we advise anyone who is keen to see and experience this unique and spectacular show to aim at booking a tour within these dates in order to have a travel experience like no other. TOUR LIST.

2. Hamhung, Rason: We have some very special tours in 2011 we are able to offer to all tourists including those from the US. Hamhung – DPRK’s industrial 2nd city on the east coast Rason – North Korea’s free trade zone with a train exit to Vladivostok.

3. 16 Day Tour: Our new ultimate tour taking in pretty much everywhere it is possible for tourists to visit in North Korea.

4. Cycling Tour: Experince the DPRK by bike.

5. Madagan, Russia: In June we will offer a trip to the Russian province of Magadan, a place so remote that the locals call the rest of Russia ‘the mainland’.

Here is a full list of 2011 tours.