Archive for September, 2012

KCNA gets another makeover

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

UPDATE 1 (2012-10-1):   Martyn Williams reports that the Chinese funded the renovation of KCNA’s equipment and appearance.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-9-9): This weekend KCTV updated their news format to give it a more modern appearance. See the videos bleow.

In recent years, the appearance of the the DPRK evening news has changed several times (following decades of the same unchanging format). See here and here to learn more about past changes at KCTV.

Martyn Williams provides additional details at North Korea Tech. See here and here.


Friday Fun: The DPRK’s anti-trauma toothpaste

Friday, September 7th, 2012

A reader sends in the marketing material for a new toothpaste on offer in the DPRK:

According to the label this toothpaste is quite innovative:

“Super herb-made toothpaste”

“In a minuite you feel its efficacy as at medicine.”

“It removes saburra, disease germ, tartar (?) and bad smell”

“96.5% effective at removing bad breath”

“Not only riggs´ disease but also traumatic treatment”

Feeling traumatized? Reach for this toothpaste!

If anyone can determine the active ingredient or name of the manufacturing company/factory on the label, please let me know.


New Google Earth imagery

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Google Earth has some new satellite imagery of Pyongyang. Here are some of the new things:

We can see the new Mansudae Area construction (AKA Changjon Street)–visited by Kim Jong-un:

I previously blogged a photo of this area here.

We can see the new Breast Cancer Research Institute located at the Pyongyang Maternity Hospital–visited by Kim Jong-un:

We can see the new Ryugyong Health Complex and outdoor ice skating ring–visited by Kim Jong-un:

We can see the new Rungra Fun Fair, water slides, and dolphin aquarium–visited by Kim Jong-un:

We can also the construction of a new health complex on the site that used to be the Yanggak Golf Course:

I blogged about this here.

We can also see progress on the convention center and hotel space going up behind the Koryo Hotel:

We can see the new KPA Exhibition of Arms and Equipment in Mangyongdae–visited by Kim Jong-un ( h/t reader):

I previously blogged about this here.

And someone in the Ryongsong Kim Family compound is getting a home makeover (h/t reader)!

New Taekwondo Hall:

New National Gift Hall in Mangyongdae which features Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il statues:

This gift hall was first mentioned on the North Korean evening news on 2012-9-6:


Revisions to the statute governing Rason

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Noa Sharabi at the Hanns-Seidel-Foundation Korea office has written up a quick comparison of the 2010 and 2011 Law of the DPRK on the Rason Economic Trade Zone.

You can download a PDF of the comparison here (PDF).

You can download the text of most recent Law on Rason here (PDF).

Here is the original 1993 Law on Rason (in Korean) along with 1999and 2002 revisions (PDF).

Here are previous blog posts on the Law of Rason.

Here is recent coverage of the 2012 Rason International Trade Fair.


Chinese customs confiscate North Korean wildlife products

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

By Michael Rank

Pictured above: North Korean tiger bone wine in Rason tourist shop (Source here)

Chinese visitors to North Korea are increasingly bringing back endangered wildlife products, a Chinese website reports (

Between January and July this year Dandong customs have confiscated 137 bottles of tiger bone wine, five bears’ gall bladders weighing 172 grams and five boxes of powdered bears’ gall bladders weighing 50 grams.

It gave no further details but said such confiscations have increased with the growing numbers of Chinese tourists visiting North Korea. It noted that under China’s law on trade in endangered species traffickers can be fined or in more serious cases face criminal proceedings.

North Korea is known to have been involved in rhino horn smuggling in Africa and tiger bone wine is available in tourist shops in North Korea where it is popular with Chinese visitors on account of its alleged aphrodisiac properties. But it is not clear how much, if any, tiger bone the wine actually contains, or where it is derived from.

There is strong demand for bile from bears’ gall bladders throughout East Asia, with large numbers of bears being farmed for this purpose in China and South Korea, although the governments of both countries say the industry is coming under increasingly strict control. Little is known about bear farms in North Korea.