Archive for August, 2011

On the DPRK’s University of Natural Science

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Pictured above (Google Earth): The National Academy of Science and what I believe is the Natural Science Academy (University of Natural Science) on the border of Pyongyang and Phyongsong.  If any readers beleive the facility is in a different location, please let me know. See in Google Maps here.

Choi Sung writes in the Korea IT Times:

The University of Natural Science which is a North Korea’s science education university is located in Eunjunggu in Pyongyang. It used to be in Pyeongseong-si with the National Academy of Science, where the university is affiliated to, but it was moved to Pyongyang to benefit scientists as a citizen of Pyongyang. The National Academy of Science is North Korea’s best scientific research complex. Every year, Kim Il Sung University hosts a science competition in early January. The competition subjects include Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and English and a thousand students who already passed previous competitions in local institutes participate in the final competition.

Students who win first, second and third places in this competition are eligible to enter any Natural Science university of their choice. Also twenty to thirty top students are awarded and are given a chance to sit for an exam at Kim Il Sung University, The University of Natural Science or Kim Chaek University of Technology. However, the top students gets additional points in their admission, so virtually, seats for them are already secured. North Korea’s top talents usually choose between Kim Il Sung University and the University of Natural Science, but the formal is more for the social title and the latter is more for improving science research skills.

The Best Science Educational Institution

The University of Natural Science, where North Korea’s science and technology talents receive full scholarship (including meals, clothes and even underwear) from the government, is affiliated to the National Academy of Science and is nurturing professional science researchers. The National Academy of Science is North Korea’s top scientific research complex, having the University of Natural Science as a branch.

This University was established on 27 January 1967 by Kang Young Chang, the then director of the National Academy of Science and a member of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and his determination to foster bright scientists. It was rather an unexpected move in the time when the environment variation theory (Lysenkoism- a theory that believes genetic abilities can be changed depending on the circumstance) that doesn’t admit the existence of the gifted was overflowing through the society as well as it was in other socialism countries like Eastern Europe and China. However, as a result of the establishment of the university, North Korea had a significant turning point in its science and technology development.

The University of Natural Science started from Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology departments in Kim Il Sung University, and all of the professors were members of The Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Furthermore, this university was financed by the ruling party’s finance and accounting department as its direct institution and was received special treatment until October 1985. Since then, it became a branch institution of the National Academy of Science, and has established its firm foothold as the top science educational university in North Korea up to now.

Admission Process

Generally, in North Korea, which family one comes from or what kind of social background one has is more important than academic records, however, the ruling party’s Central Committee ordered to select students solely by their academic performance or excellence since 1984. Consequentially, the university has more students who just graduated from high schools, and famous for its young graduates’ scientific achievement after their graduation.

Every university in North Korea has to receive certain percentage (twenty to thirty) of discharged soldiers (served longer than three years) or workers (employed longer than five years), however the University of Natural Science is an exception. It means the university education is focused more on academic performance than ideology, so talented young students can study in this school no matter how old they are. If a gifted student achieves early completion from a high school, he or she can enter the University of Natural Science. Most of the professors at school have Doctorate degree from this university and thirty to forty percent of them have studied in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Generally, the admission process is divided into two parts, and the first part is that the government sends the university’s professors to the high schools that are considered to be the best in each region, and give top thirty students who want to enter the University of Natural Science a pre-exam. The exam subjects are Mathematics and Physics and top five students are selected to proceed to the next part. In the second part, students take extra Mathematics and Physics exams specially set by the professors of the University of Natural Science in July to August which is the same time as the general university exams are conducted. Students who get ten out of ten in any of those extra exams are specially chosen even if their general exam scores are not as good. For the students who graduate early from high schools are only allowed to enter the University of Natural Science.


Six to seven hundred students a year are entered the university and they study at six departments including Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Electronics and Automation, Computing and Biology, and three thousand students are studying at the graduate school, and four thousand researchers and university personnel are working at the research center, and female students account for fifteen percent.

Most of the professors have degrees from this university and currently forty to fifty percent of the professors have studied in China or Eastern Europe, and almost all of them studied abroad at least from six months to a year and they are mostly teaching modern science theories. The University of Natural Science is famous for being the first university to have higher degree graduates in their twenties and the graduates are known for their excellent performance, so now they takes up the major part of North Korean research centers.

Especially, the graduates are the mainstream in the scientific recerch centers of military agencies and the special agencies. The textbooks used in classes are usually written by professors from this university and original books in English. Since 2005, major subjects have been taught in English and the university has quickly adapted revolutionary measures like South Korean style discussion classes and presentation sessions to provide world-class education system.

It takes seven years to receive bachelor’s degree, the longest school system in North Korea and the graduates get the Expert Qualification which is only given to the natural science graduates from Kim Il Sung University while the graduates from other universities are given the Engineer Qualification. Especially, the University of Natural Science requires one to one and half years to finish graduate dissertation, and students conduct research at the research center at the Nationa Academy of Science. Thus it is the only university that has academic-industrial collaboration system which resembles that of South Korea.

In general, foreign books are not allowed to read without permission in universities in North Korea, the University of Natural Science is an exception. The students in this university can read any natural science books even if that was written by authors from capitalism countries, and it is well known that its graduates have no problems in reading in three or more languages.

As for examinations, getting one F means the student will be flunk, and getting two F mean getting expelled automatically. Because there are only ten students in one class, the competition in classes is so intense that one to three students are flunked or kicked out before graduation. It is the only university in NK where actual experiments takes up thirty percent of curriculum and the exams mainly consist of essay questions. Recently, even though major science research institutions welcome its graduates, students in South Korea tend to choose different majors other than natural science because of the economic recession, and the same phenomenon is also found in North Korea.

All of the students in the university live in dormitories. They wake up at five in the morning (six in summer and winter) for stretching and jogging, after that, they line up and sing while they are going to a cafeteria. Every university in North Korea has the same system and lifestyle as those in military base, and the University of Natural Science is not an exception there. After all that, students take ninety-minute-long classes from eight in the morning.

The main text books are written by professors at the university and original English books are used as a subsidiary. Students are not allowed to read foreign books of Social Sciences without permission but they have free access to foreign science books. The library has foreign books mostly from Japan, Russia and the United States. Also, students learn English, Russian and Japanese, mostly focused on reading, and read books written in those three languages fluently.

The exams are taken at the end of semesters in August and January. If a student gets an F in one subject, he or she will be flunked, and two F means getting expelled. Generally, two to three people among fifteen students in a class get flunked and one to two people are expelled before graduation. Because there are only selected intelligent people in the school, competition could get tough.

Educational Achievements

The graduates from the University of Natural Science can have chances to work at special government agencies such as the National Defense Commission, The Central Committee, Ministry of People’s Security and Ministry of State Inspection and also work as a professor at other universities. These incentives seem to attract more students year by year. Especially, it is confirmed that the graduates play the main role to develop strategic technologies such as missiles, nuclear technology and computer hacking.

For example, it was reported in South Korean and international scientific journals that North Korea announced their success in thirty new generic engineering development including embryonic transplant, polytcocia and sex control of goats, and it is known that the graduates from the University of Natural Science are in the center of these cutting-edge scientific achievements.

Recently, a company in South Korea advertised their newly developed Finger Key, a fingerprint recognition system operated by computer, so that people with registered fingerprints can only open the door. However, North Korea already received a gold medal from 22nd International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva with the same technology in 1994, four years ahead of South Korea. NK has also developed a medical program that can diagnose people’s health by the computer-recognized picture of their faces. All these program development projects were led by the first graduates from the computer engineering department in the University of Natural Science.

The GPS system which was the core technology in recent NK’s rocket launch was the work of software developers at the university, collaborating with China.

Read the full story here:
NK’s Top-Notch Science Education and Research Institute
Korea IT Times
Choi Sung


DPRK bringing domestic and Chinese tourists to Kumgang

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Pictured above: North Korean visitors to Kumgangsan wave to the camera in this video posted to Uriminzokkiri’s YouTube page.  The Video is dated 2011-8-20.

According to the Donga Ilbo:

North Korea has reportedly opened the Mount Kumgang resort to its nationals since April after having allowed only a select few to visit the scenic area before with permission.

Pyongyang apparently intends to pressure Seoul by opening the door to the mountain to the North Korean people after failing to attract foreign investment and tourists to the resort.

A Chinese source on North Korea said Tuesday, “North Korea effectively allowed all North Koreans from April to visit the entire Mount Kumgang area, including major rivers in the region.”

North Korea, however, allows only group tourists and not individual visits. North Korean authorities have ordered companies and businesses to visit the site for company picnics or events, and the mountain has 4,000 to 5,000 visitors per month.

A business unit that wants to visit files an application with the provincial government, which then reports to the international tourist authorities of Mount Kumgang. After screening candidates, authorities issue a tourist certificate that allows holders to pass checkpoints on the way to the mountain.

Two days are generally needed to travel the region, and visitors use the accommodation facility called Kumgangsan that can handle 500 people per day. The source said rooms are in short supply because of many visitors.

Each visitor should cover his or her own expenses. The estimated cost is around 1,700 North Korean won (1.43 U.S. dollars) for entry and 19 cents per night, so the combined expense amount is 2,500 to 3,000 North Korean won (2.10 to 2.53 dollars).

The source said, “The expenses almost equal a month`s salary but the popularity (of going to Mount Kumgang) has surprised everyone.”

Speculation is rising over whether the North will use South Korean real estate and equipment belonging to Hyundai Asan Corp., the South Korean operator of the tour, and others. Pyongyang announced Monday that it will dispose of South Korean assets and properties in the resort area.

“North Korea has not yet used any South Korean facilities but has apparently used them for local tourists,” the source said.

Also, according to KCNA, at least one Chinese tour group has visited the resort since July 30:

Pyongyang, July 30 (KCNA) — A Chinese tourist group led by Zhuang Jun, general manager of the Chinese Kanghui Xi’an International Tourist Agency, visited the Tower of the Juche Idea, Party Founding Memorial Tower, Pyongyang Students and Children’s Palace and Mangyongdae, President Kim Il Sung’s native place, in Pyongyang on Friday and Saturday.

The tourist group came to Pyongyang by the Pyongyang-Xi’an international air service.

Yang Rui, manager of the agency, told KCNA:

I was pleased to see an excellent performance of Korean schoolchildren. I hope they will perform in Xi’an. I have long looked forward to visiting Mt. Kumgang. In the afternoon we are leaving for the mountain. I will be happy to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the mountain.

Read about the continuing troubles at Kumgang from the shooting to the present day here.

Read the full story here:
N.Korea allowed its people to visit Mount Kumgang from April
Donga Ilbo


Inter-Korean trade statistics update

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

According to the Choson Ilbo:

According to the Unification Ministry, 123 firms were operating in the industrial park as of July, with combined production output amounting to US$34.87 million in May, up 25 percent from $27.79 million year-on-year.

The total volume of inter-Korean trade through the industrial park reached $825.88 million in the first half of this year, up 19.5 percent from last year and a whopping 135.8 percent from 2009.

South Korean staff dwindled from 1,461 in 2008, when inter-Korean trade was at its height, to 801 in May this year, but the number of North Korean workers rose from 36,650 to 47,172. And some 3,700 more North Korean workers were hired even since May last year when the South banned new investments there after the North sank the Navy corvette Cheonon in March.

At the moment, the regime is unlikely to shut down the industrial park, since nearly 50,000 North Koreans are working there. But experts stress that the government should take the seizure of the properties in the resort as a warning and be prepared for anything that the regime could do.

“There’s nothing we can be sure of in inter-Korean relations,” said Dong Yong-seung, a researcher at the Samsung Economic Research Institute. “Risk factors always exist because the government launched the Kaesong project without providing any safety net to protect its people and properties, as in the case of the Mt. Kumgang tour project.”

South Korean investments in the industrial park amount to W920 billion (US$1=W1,079) — W540 billion invested by the 123 firms, and W380 billion from the government and public corporations to lay the infrastructure, including electricity and communications facilities, and landscaping.

If the regime shuts down the industrial park, the South would suffer double the losses it incurred from the regime’s seizure of the properties in Mt. Kumgang, which are worth W484.1 billion.

Read the full story here:
Kaesong Firms Worry as N.Korea Seizes Mt. Kumgang Assets
Choson Ilbo


Pyongyang seeing more inspections

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

According to the Daily NK:

With the border area enveloped in ‘Storm Trooper Unit’ inspections, operations against South Korean goods have been stepped up in distant Pyongyang, according to a man from the city who talked to the Daily NK in Dandong, China on Tuesday.

“Inspections by ‘Group 109’, which has been around for a while, have gradually become more intense,” the man, Kim, explained. “Worst of all, they are showing up in the middle of the night without warning to search for CDs, DVDs and recorders, and if there are any materials such as pornography or South Korean merchandise, then the offender is taken away. There are no exceptions.”

“In the past when the National Security Agency or People’s Safety Ministry came to inspect, people would pay them to let it slide, but nowadays the authorities send an agent from both of those agencies and the Defense Security Command as a team, which makes it hard to get out of it if you get caught,” he added.

A Daily NK source from Pyongyang confirmed the story, saying that as recently as July one could escape Group 109 punishment for watching South Korean or American DVDs with a bribe of $100 in central Pyongyang, or less in the surrounding areas.

Group 109 is an organization set up by the Chosun Workers’ Party to crack down on illegal media including CDs and DVDs. The group is one of a number of ‘Gruppas’, as they are locally known, currently operating in the capital, with others including Group 622, which handles juvenile delinquency, and Group 27, actually a branch of the Defense Security Command, which deals with mobile phone usage.

The various groups have been conducting their assorted inspections to weed out myriad ‘anti-socialist’ behavior for some time, but bribery has always provided an escape route, albeit while those without money or connections were made an example of. However in recent times, allegedly since successor Kim Jong Eun ordered more intense inspections and punishments, the ‘Gruppas’ have had to take their tasks more seriously.

The volume of South Korean goods trading in the market has contracted due to the recent crackdowns, but their popularity is undiminished; evasion of inspections is apparently being achieved via house calls to trusted clients. Kim says that the preference is only getting stronger for South Korean goods amongst cadres, a group which has always been safe from inspections.

“The traders go around the city knocking on people’s doors, quietly asking whether the residents would like to buy some South Korean merchandise. For this reason the nickname ‘knock-knocker’ is sometimes used to refer to them,” Kim explained.

Read the full story here:
Pyongyang Seeing Tighter Inspections
Daily NK
Lee Seok Young


PRC military exports to DPRK

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

The Choson Ilbo posts a video of dozens of military vehicles being shipped to the DPRK:

Left: Click image above to see video. Right: Dandong Customs House

According to the article:

Some 3,000 to 4,000 Chinese-made military trucks and jeeps entered North Korea last month, it was confirmed Monday. According to video clips obtained by the Chosun Ilbo, over 100 military trucks and jeeps made in China went to North Korea everyday last month after going through customs in Dandong.

There were eight video clips of varying lengths ranging from two minutes to 16 minutes. The footage shows Chinese-produced military vehicles standing in the 10,000 sq.m parking lot of the Dandong customs office waiting to be cleared along with other civilian cars, and two-story trailers loaded with military vehicles waiting on the side road to enter the customs office. A local source in Dandong said, “Normally, all Chinese-made vehicles going into North Korea were civilian, but in July, a massive number of military cars went to North Korea.”

A senior source in North Korea said that these cars were gifts to military officers by North Korea’s heir apparent Kim Jong-un in celebration of “Victory Day,” or the day the armistice in the Korean War was signed on July 27. “North Korean military vehicles produced in the 1970s and the 80s are too old to carry out drills, and many soldiers were dissatisfied. In order to buy the loyalty of the military and show what he can do, Kim Jong-un replaced the old vehicles thanks to the assistance of China,” the source added.

Jeeps were given to officers to be used to conduct operations, and the trucks were given to soldiers.

Analysis of the footage suggests the trucks were 6-ton trucks made by FAW Car Limited Company. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited the headquarters of this firm in Changchun, Jilin, during his visit to China in May. The military jeeps were manufactured by Beijing Automobile Works with engine capacity of 2,200 cc and 100 horsepower. BAW, which specializes in SUVs, trucks and military vehicles, is a subsidiary of Beijing Automotive Group, a partner of Hyundai Motor.

Dump trucks, large buses, sedans, oil trucks, agricultural machines and heavy machinery were also spotted in the video going into North Korea. In the windscreen, the name of the recipients is written. One is Korea Taesong Trading Company, a trading company under the Workers Party that manages Kim Jong-il’s slush funds. It was blacklisted by the U.S. as part of its economic sanctions against the North.

In one video clip, tourist buses pack one side of the parking lot. Another clip shows a queue of several dozens of LNG trucks. A South Korean government official commented, “North Korea depends on China for almost entire amount of fossil fuel it needs.”


Health care on hold in Kaesong

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Pictured above (Google Earth): Kaesong Industrial Zone (Sept. 2009)


According to Yonhap:

With Seoul’s plan to build a hospital within the inter-Korean industrial park in the North stalled, more than 220 South Korean workers have had to be rushed to hospitals in the South for emergency treatment over the past five years, the Unification Ministry said Monday.

As many as 227 South Korean workers who were injured or fell ill while working in the joint complex in the North’s border town of Kaesong had to be transferred across the border to general hospitals in South Korean border cities between 2007 and June this year, according to the ministry.

Though a small clinic manned by two doctors and three nurses has been in operation in the Kaesong complex since 2005, it is only capable of administering simple first aid, it added.

To cope with steady demand for emergency medical services, Seoul had planned to set up a hospital with 10 beds and a dozen medical staff by the end of last year, and earmarked 326.8 billion won (US$301.7 million) in 2010 and 330 billion won in 2011 to fund the project.

But with the souring of inter-Korean relations over Pyongyang’s two deadly attacks on South Korea last year, Seoul has yet to even take the first steps toward building such facilities, according to the ministry.

“Our plan for a better medical environment for the Kaesong workers will be pushed back in consideration of overall inter-Korean relations and how things will unfold in the industrial park,” a ministry official said.

Around 500 South Koreans, together with more than 46,000 North Koreans, currently work at some 120 South Korean companies in the Kaesong joint industrial park, which has been in operation since 2004.

Read the full story here:
Inter-Korean hostility inconveniences Kaesong complex patients
Oh Seok-min


DPRK orders expulsion of South Koreans from Kumgang

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

According to the New York Times:

North Korea on Monday gave South Korean tourism officials 72 hours to leave a mountain resort, saying it would start auctioning off South Korean-owned hotels, restaurants and other remnants of what used to be a symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

North Korea gave the ultimatum on Monday after talks failed to resolve a dispute over whether tourism in the resort should resume and under what conditions.

“We consider that the South has completely given up all rights on properties owned by South Korean companies and now start legal disposal of them,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency quoted the North Korean tourism authorities as saying. “All assets owned by South Korean companies in the Geumgangsan resort are banned from being taken out as of Aug. 21.”

The South Korean assets in the resort amount to 480 billion won, or $443 million, according to government data. North Korea said last year that it had confiscated the assets, including a spa, a duty-free shop and other businesses built and owned by the South Korean government.

Fourteen South Koreans were staying in the area maintaining facilities owned by Hyundai and other private South Korean investors. The Unification Ministry, a South Korean government agency in charge of inter-Korean relations, said it would take “all possible diplomatic and legal measures to protect the property rights of our government and enterprises.”

Hyundai Asan, which developed and ran the resort, warned that anyone who bought facilities at the resort would be implicated in international lawsuits.

After attracting 2 million South Korean tourists by sea or by a road built across the nations’ heavily armed border, the project came to an abrupt halt in 2008, after the female South Korean tourist strayed outside the tourism zone one morning and was shot and killed by North Korean soldiers.

Xinhua, the Chinese state media outlet reports that the South Koreans have rejected this move by the North Koreans:

“The government cannot accept North Korea (DPRK)’s arbitrary measures, and we’d like to make it clear the North should be held responsible for all consequences,” Chun Hae-sung, spokesman for the unification ministry in Seoul, told reporters.

“The government will seek all necessary measures including legal and diplomatic ones, and will stay in close contact with business operators involved,” he added, calling Pyongyang’s announcement “regrettable.” The ministry oversees inter-Korean affairs.

The Choson Ilbo points out some additional points of economic interest:

The greatest concern for South Korean officials is the potential conflict over power generators Hyundai Asan installed at Kosong Port to supply electricity to the resort. Since 2008, Hyundai has been operating only one of them to supply power for the remaining staff. If Asan halts the power generators, North Korea cannot use the facilities in the resort. This may be why the North has threatened to take “stern measures” should South Korea “cause damage to assets” left in the resort.

While freezing the South Korean assets, North Korea has been trying to organize tours to Mt. Kumgang on its own. Some analysts say the North hopes to get another country to operate the tours to generate hard cash. Until the tours were suspended in 2008, North Korea made US$487 million from Hyundai Asan.

A separate Choson Ilbo article questions whether the operation will be as profitable if targeted at non-South Koreans:

But of the total 1.93 million visitors to the resort between 1998 and 2008, non-Koreans accounted for only 12,817, or less than 1 percent, which comes to just four a day. It was South Koreans who were willing to pay a large amount of money, including fees to cross the border, to briefly set foot on Korean soil on the other side of the demilitarized zone, But for foreigners, the resort is just a place in the middle of nowhere.

Foreign investors who were cautiously calculating the viability of investments in North Korea were probably shocked to see the seizure of South Korean assets. The North scrapped a 50-year contract with Asan as if it was not worth the paper it was written on and even invented a new law enabling it to sign a deal with somebody else. Which investor in his right mind would want to put his money in a country like that?

The Donga Ilbo breaks down the cost of the fixed capital investments Hyundai-Asan made in the Kumgang Resort:

South Korean assets seized by the North are worth 484.1 billion won (447.2 million dollars). Of the amount, Hyundai Asan invested 226.9 billion won (209.6 million dollars), including hotels in the resort, and the South Korean government spent 124.2 billion won (114.7 million dollars) to build a meeting venue for Korean families separated during the Korean War, duty-free shops and a cultural hall.

Hyundai Asan’s three power generators with a capacity of 1,700 kilometers at Goseong dock are one of the major assets in the tourist region.

North Korea, however, is unlikely to attract foreign tourists to Mount Kumgang on its own or sell the facility to foreign investors. It continues to search for a new partner in China, Japan and the U.S.

Rumor also has it that that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has ordered that the Mount Kumgang tour be made into a luxury business but low feasibility has prevented progress in the project.

A timeline of Kumgang stories from the shooting until the present can be found here.

Read the full stories here:
North Korea to Auction Resort Owned by South
New York Times
Choe Sang-hun

S. Korea rejects DPRK’s threatened disposal of properties

N.Korea Orders S.Koreans Out of Mt. Kumgang
Choson Ilbo

N.Korea Shoots Itself in the Foot Again
Choson Ilbo

NK declares disposal of S.Korean assets in Mount Kumgang
Donga Ilbo


Yonhap on the DPRK’s Basic Medicine Research Center in Pyongyang

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

According to Yonhap:

Seok, 46, who defected to the South in 1998, is known for practicing North Korea’s “royal court medicine” that he learned while working at Pyongyang’s top medical research center devoted solely to caring for the health of leader Kim Jong-il.

The research institute is known in South Korea as the Kim Il-sung Longevity Research Institute after the name of the North’s late national founder and father of the current leader. Among North Koreans, it is simply called the “long life research institute,” Seok said, dressed in a white lab coat during a recent interview at his two-story clinic.

“Simply put, the long life research institute is to look after the general,” Seok said, referring to the North’s leader. “I was with the cardiovascular and anti-aging team at the institute.”

Details about the secrecy-shrouded Basic Medicine Research Center in Pyongyang are scarce, but the institute was believed to have hundreds of herbal doctors, physicians, biologists and other scientists working to make sure that the North Korean leader lives for a long time and in good health, Seok said.

Newly developed treatment methods, Seok said, were first tested on people similar to the leader in age and body type and with heart disease, an illness that killed late leader Kim Il-sung in 1994 and the current leader Kim Jong-il, now 68, is believed to be suffering from.

“These people were considered lucky because they were treated with good medicine,” Seok recalled.

Besides medical research, the longevity institute was also charged with growing high-quality organic rice, fruits and other agricultural products for the leader, even burying dogs in the farm fields as fertilizer, he said.

A top graduate from the North’s prestigious Pyongyang Medical College, Seok said he was plucked by authorities and assigned the research center regardless of his desires. Most graduates wanted to work at general hospitals where they could make more money.

“It’s not a place you can apply to work at. It’s a place you are dragged into,” Seok said with a chuckle that appears to imply a sense of relief that he is no longer in the totalitarian nation and lives a happy life in South Korea.

Read the full story here:
Oriental medicine doctor gives S. Koreans tastes of N. Korea’s ‘royal court medicine’


Kim Jong-il and his sister on markets and the market economy

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Stephan Haggard and Dan Pinkston have found and posted comments attributed to Kim Jong-il revealing some of his thinking on “markets” and the “market economy”:

Kim Jong-il, “On the promotion of a superior socialist economy…adhering to the principles of socialism” June 18, 2008, dialogue with party and state officials.

“…As I said on many occasions during the recent period, one must have a correct understanding of the market. As we allowed a certain use of markets with respect to economic management, some people understood this as a departure from the socialist principle and as a move towards a market economy through “reform” and “opening up” of the country’s economy.

But this is a very wrong way of reasoning. Having a misguided understanding of the market and the market economy on the part of economic planners shows their lack of ideology and knowledge… [If] one fails to exactly and deeply recognize the party’s ideology and policy with regards to economic planning, that person will have his or her faith in the superior socialist economy shaken and can be dazzled by “reform” or “opening up” that the imperialists brag about and also be captured by the fantasy that the capitalist market economy promises.

Workers need to be awakened from these pitfalls…. Markets are both home to and a hotbed for un-socialist phenomenon and capitalist factors in the economic sectors. Without devising a national plan about markets and neglecting them as they are, or further encouraging their activities and expanding their reach, the country’s economy will inevitably turn into a market economy. However, following the practical conditions by using the market to a certain extent while keeping it under national control does not necessarily mean a movement towards market economy. Markets and a market economy are not the same concepts. The question resides in how to perceive and treat the market, and how to use it following [appropriate] principles and direction…”

-Original text in Korean

“…….내가 최근시기 여러 기회에 말하였지만 시장에 대한 인식을 바로 가져야 합니다. 우리가 경제관리에서 시장을 일정하게 리용하도록 하였더니 한때 일부 사람들은 사회주의 원칙에서 벗어나 나라의 경제를 《개혁》《개방》하여 시장경제로 넘어가는 것처럼 리해한 것 같은데 이것은 아주 잘못된 생각입니다. 경제지도일꾼들이 시장과 시장경제에 대한 그릇된 인식을 가지게 되는 것은 사상의 빈곤 지식의 빈곤에 빠져있다는 것을 말해줍니다. 누구나 할 것 없이 경제사업과 관련한 당의 사상과 방침을 정확히, 깊이있게 인식하지 못하면 사회주의 경제의 우월성에 대한 신념이 흔들리게 되어 제국주의자들이 떠벌이는 《개혁》《개방》에 현혹될 수 있고 자본주의 시장경제에 대한 환상에 사로잡힐 수 있는 것입니다. 이에 대하여 일군들이 각성을 높여야 합니다….시장은 경제분야에서 나타나는 비사회주의적 현상, 자본주의적 요소의 본거지이며 온상입니다. 시장에 대하여 아무런 국가적 대책도 세우지 않고 그대로 내버려 두거나 시장을 더욱 조장하고 그 령역을 확대하는 방향으로 나간다면 불피코 나라의 경제가 시장경제로 넘어가게 됩니다. 그러나 현실적 조건에 따라 국가적 통제 밑에 시장을 일정하게 리용하는 것이 곧 시장경제로 가는 것은 아닙니다. 시장과 시장경제는 같은 개념이 아닙니다. 문제는 시장을 어떻게 보고 대하며 그것을 어떤 원칙과 방향에서 어떻게 리용하는가 하는데 있습니다….”

Marcus Noland followed up with a [longer] publication by Kim Jong-il’s sister, Kim Kyong-hui:

Strengthening Centralized, Unified State Guidance Over Economy, Kyo’ngje Yo’ngu

Our army and people are vigorously carrying out a general onward march to elevate the economy to a stage of leaping development through a new great revolutionary upswing under the great party’s military-first leadership.

Today, when our country is displaying its majestic appearance and might as a politically, ideologically, and militarily powerful state, in order to build it into an economically powerful socialist state and a socialist paradise where the people enjoy an affluent life with nothing more to desire in the world by concentrating efforts on the economic construction and on improving the people’s living standard, it is necessary to adhere to the socialist principle in the economic work and bring the superiority of the socialist planned economy into high play, and what is important in this is to strengthen the centralized and unified guidance of the state over the economic construction.

The great leader [ryo’ngdoja] Comrade Kim Jong Il [Kim Cho’ng-il] has pointed out the following:

“Above all else, it is necessary to strengthen the centralized and unified guidance of the state over the economic construction.”

Strengthening the centralized and unified guidance of the state in the socialist economic management arises as a basic demand for improving the economic management in line with the intrinsic nature of socialist society, further consolidating and developing the socialist economic system by bringing the superiority of the socialist planned economy into high play, and accelerating the construction of an economically powerful state.

Strengthening the centralized and unified guidance of the state is a basic demand for improving the socialist economic management because, above all, managing and operating the country’s economy in a planned manner under the state’s centralized and unified guidance is an intrinsic demand of the socialist economy that is based on collectivism and a basic principle of the socialist economic management.

Realizing the centralized and unified guidance of the state in the socialist economic management serves as a lifeline of the socialist economic management, which stems from the natural law-governed nature of the socialist economic development and the essential characteristics of the socialist economy.

The centralized and unified guidance of the state over the economy is, above all, an intrinsic demand of the socialist economy that is based on collectivism. The socialist economy is a large-scale collective economy in which all sectors and units of the people’s economy are organically connected with each other based on social ownership of the means of production, and it is a highly organized and centralized planned economy. This is the essential superiority of the socialist planned economy, which is distinct from the capitalist market economy that operates spontaneously on the basis of private ownership of the means of production. In a capitalist society, the bourgeois state is not able to perform the function of interconnecting the management activities of different enterprises and leading them in one direction. In a capitalist society, the economy moves in a spontaneous manner amid the pursuit of profits and competition based on the law of the jungle due to the conflict of interests between the capitalist class and the working popular masses and among capitalists, and this accompanies the bankruptcy of enterprises.

In contrast, the socialist economy is based on social ownership of the means of production, and it is managed and operated through goal consciousness by the popular masses as the masters. Social ownership of the means of production calls for combining all economic sectors and units into a single production organism, and also for the factories and enterprises comprising its components to move under a unitary command. Realizing planned ties between factories and enterprises and ensuring that the economy operates under a single unitary command are firmly guaranteed by the unified guidance of the socialist state.

The centralized and unified guidance of the state over the economy is also a basic principle of the socialist economic management.

Apart from the centralized and unified guidance of the state and the principle of managing a planned economy, socialism cannot be defended in the economic field, and the socialist economy cannot be developed.

The initiative of lower units has to be brought into high play in the socialist economic management, but this has to be achieved strictly on the basis of firmly guaranteeing the centralized and unified guidance of the state and within the framework of the socialist planned economy. It is only through the centralized and unified guidance of the state that it is possible to correctly map out plans so as to guarantee the greatest actual profits consistent with national interests and the all-people’s economic interests, mobilize all production potentials of the country to the maximum, concentrate forces and resources on the objects that are of key significance in the overall economic development, and thus achieve a planned and balanced development of the economy. If one moves in the direction of giving a free rein to economic management and enterprise management in an attempt to enhance the initiative of lower units and strengthen their “independence” and “self-reliance,” then the lower units will break way from the unified guidance and control of the state and act as they please, and this will not only bring about tremendous national waste and loss but also make it impossible to neither defend socialism in the economic field nor develop the socialist economy.

Strengthening the centralized and unified guidance of the state is a basic demand for improving the socialist economic management also because the centralized and unified guidance of the state over the economy has to be strengthened in order to be able to mobilize all potentials to the maximum based on the principle of self-reliance and thus elevate the country’s economy to a stage of leaping development and accelerate the construction of an economically powerful socialist state.

Today’s great upswing calls for more highly holding up the banner of self-reliance, and an economically powerful socialist state is a powerful state of self-reliance, a powerful state with a mighty self-supporting national economy.

We have laid the strong foundation of a socialist self-supporting national economy by highly displaying the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance under the wise leadership of the great leader [suryo’ngnim] and the respected and beloved general. Mobilizing and utilizing the potential of the already provided foundation of a self-supporting economy to the maximum is the most accurate way to elevate the country’s economy to a stage of leaping development and accelerate the construction of an economically powerful socialist state in our style in the present circumstances.

Though many obstacles are still lying in the way ahead of us, we have to open a road of advance for victory by relying on the boundless creative ability of all the people, our resources and technology, and the superiority of our system.

The centralized and unified guidance of the state over the economy has to be strengthened in order to elevate the country’s economy to a stage of leaping development by mobilizing the potential of the already provided foundation of a self-supporting national economy to the maximum and to accelerate the construction of an economically powerful socialist state.

Above all, the centralized and unified guidance of the state has to be strengthened in order to ensure a balanced and harmonious development of the economy in conformity with the aspiration and demand of the popular masses. An important task we are faced with in the economic construction at the present time is to rely on the superiority of the socialist planned economy to closely combine the normalization of production with modernization and push ahead with it vigorously, and thus decisively surpass the highest production level in all sectors of the people’s economy. It is only under the condition of strengthening the centralized and unified guidance of the state that it is possible to create the military-first era’s speed of waging the general onward march by mobilizing all production potentials of the country to the maximum from the viewpoint of national interests consistent with the party’s policy demands, and also accelerate the construction of an economically powerful socialist state by harmonizing the production ties centered on the objects of key significance in the economic development, guaranteeing the planned and disciplined nature of the economic work, and thus achieving a balanced development of the overall economy.

The centralized and unified guidance of the state has to be strengthened also to be able to bring the initiative of individual sectors and units, and local areas into high play and thus actively mobilize and utilize the potential of the self-supporting economy.

There may be things that are in short supply and that are missing in the process of building an economically powerful state. This is why the demand for bringing the initiative of each sector and unit into high play arises in order for all sectors and units of the people’s economy to normalize production and surpass the highest production level based on the existing assets.

Only when the centralized and unified guidance of the state over the economy is realized smoothly, is it possible to enhance the initiative of all sectors and units in line with the intrinsic requirement for the development of socialist economy that is based on collectivism and decisively boost the economic effectiveness in mobilizing and utilizing the reserves.

Strengthening the centralized and unified guidance of the state over the economy in no ways means disregarding the initiative of lower units. The socialist economic construction can be carried out successfully only when the unified guidance of the state is combined correctly with the initiative of lower units. This is because if the state’s centralized and unified guidance enables the economy to develop harmoniously on a pan-social level, then the initiative of lower units spurs factories and enterprises to increase production and perfect the production and technical processes on their own by positively exploring and mobilizing the existing reserves and production potentials pursuant to the economic plans established by the state. If the lower units are restrained based on the opinion that the management activities of each unit should be unconditionally subordinate to the state, then the initiative of factories and enterprises will be suppressed and the production will not proceed smoothly. This is why the centralized and unified guidance of the state over the economy is based on the premise of further enhancing the initiative of lower units.

All the economic guidance functionaries should have a correct perception of the state’s centralized and unified guidance and realize it correctly, and thus bring the genuine superiority of socialist planned economy into high play.

“위대한 당의 선군령도따라 우리 군대와 인민은 새로운 혁명적대고조로 경제를
비약적인 발전단계에 올려세우기 위한 총진군을 힘있게 벌려나가고있다.

정치사상강국, 군사강국의 위용과 위력을 온 세계에 떨치고있는 오늘 경제건설과
인민생활향상에 힘을 집중하여 우리 나라를 사회주의경제강국으로, 인민들이
세상에 부러움없이 잘 사는 사회주의락원으로 건설하기 위하여서는 경제사업에서
사회주의원칙을 고수하고 사회주의계획경제의 우월성을 높이 발양시켜야 하며
여기서 중요한것은 경제건설에 대한 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를

위대한 령도자 김정일동지께서는 다음과 같이 지적하시였다.

《무엇보다도 경제건설에 대한 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를 강화하여야

사회주의경제관리에서 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를 강화하는것은
사회주의사회의 본성에 맞게 경제관리를 개선하고 사회주의계획경제의 우월성을
높이 발양시켜 사회주의경제제도를 더욱 공고발전시키며 경제강국건설을
다그치기 위한 기본요구로 제기된다.

국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를 강화하는것이 사회주의경제관리개선의
기본요구로 되는것은 무엇보다먼저 나라의 경제를 국가의 중앙집권적,
통일적지도밑에 계획적으로 관리운영하는것이 집단주의에 기초한 사회주의경제의
본성적요구이며 사회주의경제관리의 기본원칙이기때문이다.

사회주의경제관리에서 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를 실현하는것은
사회주의경제발전의 합법칙성과 사회주의경제의 본질적특성으로부터 출발한
사회주의경제관리의 생명선이다.

경제에 대한 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도는 우선 집단주의에 기초한
사회주의경제의 본성적요구이다. 사회주의경제는 생산수단에 대한 사회적소유에
기초하여 인민경제의 모든 부문들과 단위들이 유기적으로 련결된 대규모의
집단경제이며 고도로 조직화되고 중앙집권화된 계획경제이다. 이것은 생산수단에
대한 사적소유에 기초하여 자연발생적으로 움직이는 자본주의시장경제와 다른
사회주의계획경제의 본질적우월성이다. 자본주의사회에서는 부르죠아국가가
각이한 기업체들의 경영활동을 서로 맞물리고 하나의 방향으로 이끌어나갈수
있는 기능을 수행할수 없다. 자본주의사회에서는 자본가계급과
근로인민대중사이, 자본가들사이의 리해관계의 대립으로 하여 경제가 리윤추구와
약육강식의 경쟁속에서 자연발생적으로 진행되며 이것은 기업파산을 동반한다.

이와는 달리 사회주의경제는 생산수단에 대한 사회적소유에 기초하고있으며
인민대중이 주인이 되여 목적의식적으로 관리운영된다. 생산수단에 대한
사회적소유는 모든 경제부문, 단위들을 하나의 생산유기체로 결합시키는 한편 그
구성부분으로 되는 공장, 기업소들이 유일적인 지휘에 따라 움직일것을
요구한다. 공장, 기업소들사이에 계획적인 련계를 실현하며 경제가 하나의
유일적인 지휘밑에 움직이도록 하는것은 사회주의국가의 통일적지도에 의하여
확고히 담보된다.

경제에 대한 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도는 또한 사회주의경제관리의

국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도와 계획적경제관리원칙을 떠나서는 경제분야에서
사회주의를 지킬수 없고 사회주의경제를 발전시킬수도 없다.

사회주의경제관리에서 아래단위의 창발성을 높이 발양시켜야 하지만 그것은
어디까지나 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를 확고히 보장하는 기초우에서,
사회주의계획경제의 테두리안에서 이루어져야 한다. 국가적리익,
전인민경제적리익에 맞게 가장 큰 실리를 보장할수 있도록 계획을 세우며 나라의
모든 생산잠재력을 최대한으로 동원하고 전반적경제발전에서 관건적인 의의를
가지는 대상들에 력량과 자원을 집중하여 경제의 계획적, 균형적발전을
이룩하는것은 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도에 의해서만 옳게 실현될수 있다.
아래단위의 창발성을 높이고 《독자성》과 《자립성》을 강화한다고 하면서
경제관리, 기업관리를 풀어놓는 방향으로 나간다면 아래단위들이 국가의
통일적지도와 통제에서 벗어나 제멋대로 움직이게 되며 국가적으로 막대한
랑비와 손실을 가져오는것은 물론 경제분야에서 사회주의를 지킬수도 없
사회주의경제를 발전시킬수도 없다.

국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를 강화하는것이 사회주의경제관리개선의
기본요구로 되는것은 다음으로 경제에 대한 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를
강화하여야 자력갱생의 원칙에서 모든 잠재력을 최대한 동원하여 나라의 경제를
비약적인 발전단계에 올려세우고 사회주의경제강국건설을 다그칠수

오늘의 대고조는 자력갱생의 기치를 더 높이 들것을 요구하며
사회주의경제강국은 자력갱생의 강국, 위력한 자립적민족경제의 강국이다.

우리는 위대한 수령님과 경애하는 장군님의 현명한 령도밑에 자력갱생의
혁명정신을 높이 발휘하여 사회주의자립적민족경제의 토대를 튼튼히 마련하였다.
이미 마련된 자립적경제토대의 잠재력을 최대한 동원리용하는것은 오늘의
형편에서 우리 식으로 나라의 경제를 비약적인 발전단계에 올려세우
사회주의경제강국건설을 다그치는 가장 정확한 길이다.

우리앞에는 의연히 많은 난관이 가로놓여있지만 전체 인민의 무궁무진한
창조력과 우리의 자원과 기술, 우리 제도의 우월성에 의거하여 승리의 진격로를
열어나가야 한다.

이미 마련된 자립적민족경제토대의 잠재력을 최대한 동원하여 나라의 경제를
비약적인 발전단계에 올려세우고 사회주의경제강국건설을 다그치자면 경제에
대한 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를 강화하여야 한다.

우선 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를 강화해야 인민대중의 지향과 요구에 맞게
경제의 균형적이고 조화로운 발전을 보장할수 있다. 현시기 경제건설에서
우리앞에 나서는 중요한 과업은 사회주의계획경제의 우월성에 의거하여
생산정상화와 현대화를 밀접히 결합시켜 힘있게 밀고나감으로써 인민경제 모
부문에서 최고생산수준을 결정적으로 돌파하는것이다. 국가의 중앙집권적,
통일적지도를 강화하는 조건에서만 당의 정책적요구에 맞게 국가적리익의
견지에서 나라의 모든 생산잠재력을 최대한 동원하여 선군시대의 총진군속도를
창조할수 있으며 이와 함께 경제발전에서 관건적인 의의를 가지는 대상들을
중심으로 생산적련계를 조화롭게 하고 경제사업에서 계획성과 규률성을 보장하여
전반적경제의 균형적발전을 이룩함으로써 사회주의경제강국건설을 다그칠수

또한 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를 강화하여야 개별적부문과 단위, 지방의
창발성을 높이 발양시켜 자립경제의 잠재력을 적극 동원리용할수 있다.

경제강국을 건설하는 과정에는 부족한것도 있고 없는것도 있을수 있다. 따라서
인민경제 모든 부문, 모든 단위에서 있는 밑천을 가지고 생산을 정상화하
최고생산수준을 돌파하기 위하여서는 매개 부문, 단위의 창발성을 높이
발양시켜야 할 요구가 제기되게 된다.

경제에 대한 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를 원만히 실현하여야 모든 부문,
모든 단위의 창발성을 집단주의에 기초한 사회주의경제발전의 본성적요구에 맞게
발전시킬수 있으며 예비를 동원하고 리용하는데서 경제적효과성을 결정적으로
높일수 있다.

경제에 대한 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도를 강화한다는것은 결코 아래단위의
창발성을 무시한다는것을 의미하지 않는다. 사회주의경제건설은 국가의
통일적지도와 아래단위의 창발성을 옳게 결합시킬 때 성과적으로 진행될수 있다.
그것은 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도가 전사회적범위에서 경제가 조화롭게
발전될수 있게 한다면 아래단위의 창발성은 공장, 기업소들이 국가가 세운
경제계획에 따라 있는 예비와 생산잠재력을 적극 탐구동원하여 생산을 늘이
자체로 생산기술공정을 완비하도록 추동하기때문이다. 만일 매개 단위의
경영활동이 국가에 무조건 복종되여야 한다고 하면서 아래단위를 얽어매놓으면
공장, 기업소들의 창발성이 억제되여 생산을 원만히 진행할수 없게 된다.
그러므로 경제에 대한 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도는 아래단위의 창발성을
더욱 높이는것을 전제로 한다.

모든 경제지도일군들은 국가의 중앙집권적, 통일적지도에 대한 옳은 인식을
가지고 이를 옳바로 실현함으로써 사회주의계획경제의 참다운 우월성을 높이
발양시켜나가야 할것이다.”


New Air Koryo terminal

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Pictured above: The new Air Koryo terminal at Sunan Airport via Air Koryo’s unofficial facebook page.

According to the unofficial fan page:

The new terminal at Pyongyang’s Sunan International Airport is in 100% use as of the 15th of July 2011. The new terminal features modernised facilities for luggage, security, customs, border control and the list goes on to an extent.

The building can be seen in the KCNA video “Chinese Art Group Here” dated 2011-7-7.  Sorry, KCNA’s web page does not make it easy to link to videos or stories.  Hopefully they will change that soon.

The building is too recent to appear on Google Earth imagery, which means construction began after 2010-9-15.

Big hat tip to a reader!