Archive for December, 2012

Gender dynamics and economic realities in the DPRK

Friday, December 28th, 2012

NPR correspondent Louisa Lim posted an interesting report on economic and social changes in the DPRK.

You should listen to the full report here.

Here are a few interesting highlights:

“In the past, our husbands would bring home rations, and we’d live off that,” says Mrs. Kim. “Now there are no rations, and the women support the families. If we don’t make money, they starve, so life is hard for women.”

In North Korea, Mrs. Kim gets up at 4:30 each morning to feed the animals she sells, and also brews alcohol illegally. Every minute of the day is spent figuring out how to feed her family, including an adult son and daughter whose state-run jobs do not provide enough to live on.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s men still remain tied to the country’s moribund state-run institutions.

“If you don’t go to work, you go to prison,” one male interviewee tells NPR. The one escape is a system where some men, like Mrs. Kim’s husband, pay between 20 to 30 times their tiny monthly salary not to work.

They make the payments in order to be classified in what are known as “August the third units,” who can trade privately. It’s not clear whether this practice is legal, although it is widespread. Anecdotally, the women hint that they often are the ones to decide whether their husband’s skills are actually worth paying such sums of money.

“I don’t know if you can call it power, but women do what men can’t do, so we can speak louder now,” she says. “In the past, we obeyed our husbands. But now they can’t make money. Women have to make money and feed them. Women have become the heads of the family. They make the money and buy the food. Men cannot say what they want.”

She admits her friends mockingly call their husbands “puppies” or “pets” because they have to be fed, yet they do nothing. The economics are telling: Mrs. Kim earns about 3,000 won a day at the market — the equivalent of less than 50 cents — at black market rates.

That’s double what her husband would earn in an entire month, were he to get paid.

“I get paid 1,200 won a month,” complains another interviewee, Mr. Kim, who is no relation to Mrs. Kim and who has an office job in a state-run company. “It’s a joke. There’s nothing you can do with that salary. A kilo of rice is something between 5,000 to 7,000 won.” He was paid only six times last year, he says, but as he points out, his salary is largely meaningless.

North Korea’s government has become dependent on free labor from its citizens. Each young man spends a decade in the army on compulsory military service, for which he may earn a nominal salary and dwindling food supplies. The men are then sent to a job in a state-run work unit, which — strapped for cash — doesn’t necessarily pay wages any more.

The extra burden women carry is beginning to have social consequences, with young women hoping to delay marriage to avoid taking on a husband. For men, their emasculation within their own households is now a fact of life.

“Whatever your wife tells you to do, you do,” says Mr. Kim, despairing. “If women say it’s a cow, it’s a cow. If they say it’s a giraffe, it’s a giraffe. We are slaves, slaves of the women. Women’s voices have become louder. Men have become mute.”

That muteness has become a matter of survival. Mr. Kim describes what happens to friends whose wives have left them or died: “Men without wives become beggars. They become so hungry that they can’t go to work. Then they have to go to market to beg. This has happened to between five and seven men I know.”


Prices and exchange rates soaring in North Korea

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

The price of rice in North Korea along with the exchange rate declined slightly in October 2012 but began to rise sharply this month, near the one-year anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death on December 17.

According to “North Korean Market Trends,” published by the online newspaper Daily NK, the price of rice on December 10 in Pyongyang, Sinuiju, and Hyesan, were reported to be 6,400 KPW, 6,800 KPW, and 6,500 KPW, respectively. This is a 300-700 KPW/kg increase from the previous month.

Even the exchange rate against the US dollar increased dramatically in these three cities: 7,800 KPW in Pyongyang, 8,000 KPW in Sinuiju, and 8,450 KPW in Hyesan. This was a jump of 1,500 KPW, 1,300 KPW, and 2,000 KPW in the respective cities against last month.

This is the highest recorded exchange rate, beating the September rate of 6,370 KPW in Pyongyang.

The Daily NK quoted an unnamed North Korean source, explaining the reason for such jump in prices and exchange rate is due to blockage of trade with China during the mourning period for Kim Jong Il and merchants began to withhold rice and dollars from the market.

The North Korean authorities announced to its people on December 5 that the mourning period for Kim Jong Il would run from December 7 to 18, and that manufactured goods from China would not be permitted to enter the country. Immediately following this decision, the exchange rate and prices began to skyrocket. Residents’ complaints escalated, forcing North Korean authorities to re-open the border to allow goods from China to enter the country again.

The North Korean source explained the unannounced decision to halt trade with China angered the North Korean residents as most goods in the market are from China and it resulted in soaring prices and withholding of US dollars as people’s sense of insecurity began to rise.

Some believe the ban on Chinese imports was reversed quickly as negative sentiments among the North Korean people began to escalate. North Korean authorities established market control policy during the mourning period to maintain order but this ended shortly for the fear of adverse effects from the new policy.


Déjà vu all over again: Christmas tree edition

Monday, December 24th, 2012

In 2010 a South Korean church lit a Christmas Tree on a hill overlooking the Han River and within view of Kaesong, DPRK.

In 2011, the South Koreans planned to do the same.  However, this time around, the death of Kim Jong-il prompted the South Koreans to avoid ruffling the feathers of the DPRK. The tree lighting was canceled.

Now for 2012. With the Kim Jong-un era thoroughly underway, the South Koreans decided that this year they should return to the tradition of lighting a Christmas Tree for their brothers and sisters in the DPRK.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the tree was lit on December 22 (Saturday).

The North Koreans are not happy about this…if we are to judge from their official publications KCNA and Rodong Sinmun. I would normally take the time to link to all KCNA and Rodong Sinmun materials, but since I am behind on blogging, I will just link to this post in the Wall Street Journal article which carries the relevant texts.


DPRK ship captured in Somalia

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

UPDATE 2 (2012-12-19): Garowe Online reports that the situation is complicated:

BOSSASO, Somalia Dec 19 2012 (Garowe Online) – An impounded North Korean ship captured dumping cement into Puntland waters last month, was hijacked and is heading back to Bossaso port, Garowe Online reports.

Security forces guarding the North Korean-flagged vessel MV Daesan impounded on Nov. 17, 2012, at the Bossaso port were involved in the hijacking of the ship and the crew on the vessel late Tuesday night.

According to local sources, after a work shift change a team of 8 soldiers decided to hijack the ship and its crew of 33. After hijacking the ship and traveling for some hours and faced incidents the hijackers argued amongst themselves because some members argued over their decision.

The sources said that after the sequence of extraordinary events some of the men regretted the hijacking.

Continuing, the sources said that after heated debates and negotiations done by Puntland authorities, the rogue security forces decided to return the ship to Puntland authorities and contacted Puntland security officials of their decision.

Puntland security officials told GO, that there are two Puntland coast guard boats chaperoning the MV Daesan back into Puntland waters where the case over the dumping of cement is still ongoing at the local court.

Puntland authorities caught the MV Daesan while it was dumping 5,000 metric tons of cement 13 nautical miles east of Bossaso coast. According to authorities the ship is expected at Bossaso port Thursday morning and the case will continue in court.

Puntland authorities told GO that they are conducting an investigation of the hijacking Tuesday night and there are leads that suggest Somali pirates were involved in the attempted hijacking.

Puntland officials have also been engaged in a standoff with pirates off the coast of Gara’ad town in Mudug region since Dec. 10. Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) attempted to rescue the 22 hostages of the MV Iceberg 1 vessel last week and Puntland forces have enforced a blockade on the ship.

According to Puntland security sources, the MV Daesan hijacking was a diversion plot by Somali pirates to ease pressure off the MV Iceberg 1 vessel, which remains under a blockade for the past 10 days.

UPDATE 1 (2012-12-19): Nearly a month after reports surfaced that Puntland had captured the North Korean ship M.V Daesan, it appears that the ship has been hijacked by the very individuals who were guarding it on the beach. According to Reuters:

A dozen soldiers guarding a North Korean ship impounded in Somalia’s autonomous Puntland region for maritime violations have hijacked the vessel and its 33 crew, government and naval sources said on Wednesday.

MV Daesan, a North Korean ship ferrying cement to Somali capital Mogadishu, was impounded and fined last month by Puntland authorities who accused it of ditching its cargo off Somalia’s coast.

The ship dumped the cement into the ocean because it had been rejected by importers in Mogadishu, who claimed that the cement was wet and unusable, authorities said.

However, a government source told Reuters a dozen soldiers guarding the vessel hijacked it on Tuesday night. It was now at sea, destination unknown.

A naval source at the port of Bosasso, near where the ship lay seized over the past month, confirmed the claim.

“The government is preparing troops to rescue the ship,” the naval source said.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-11-19): I have previously blogged about DPRK ships being intercepted by Somali pirates. See  here (2010-2-9), here (2010-3-16), here (2010-3-31)here (2010-6-7), and here (2010-10-25).

It has been a couple of years, but some DPRK citizens seem to be in trouble with the Somalis again. According to NK News:

Somalia’s semi-autonomous regional administration of Puntland has impounded a North Korean vessel for discharging cement at sea, two years after a group of Somali pirates captured a North Korean cargo ship, Radio Gaalkacyo reported Sunday.

A press statement issued by the quasi-government of Puntland has confirmed that security forces impounded a North Korea-Flagged vessel, M.V. Daesan, for dumping materials, including cement, near the coast of the Puntland port city of Bossaso, the radio adds.

According to Radio Gaalkacyo, the DPRK flagged vessel was seized 13 nautical miles east of Bossaso as it was in the process of unloading some 5,000 metric tonnes of cement. Allegedly the M.V. Daesan was carrying cement which was headed to Mogadishu but was refused by the businessmen because it had been spoiled by a water leakage. According to local sources, the businessmen were given a full refund for the spoiled goods.

The Puntland authorities have condemned the illegal and environmentally destructive practice by the ship-owners. A source at Radio Gaalkacyo added that the ship and its crew will be arraigned in court soon.

Its not the first time the M.V. Daesan has been in the news, with the boat’s crew being involved in a rescue by Oman’s naval forces while near to the Suez canal this summer.

Back then the Oman navy reported the North Korean crew’s surprise at being offered help:

“We told him that of the 33 people on board the vessel, we could accommodate half and start repairing the vessel, or take all the crew and come back to port. One of the crew actually asked us how much we would charge for the rescue, but this is a humanitarian act and lives were at stake. There can be no cost to that.”

And nor is it the first time that North Korea has been in the news near Somalia. It was reported last year that Somali pirates have been holding the crew of the North Korean cargo ship Chilsanbong Cheonnyeonho since it was captured on March 31 2010. Nearly two years on, its not known what ever happened to that ship.

With no records found at maritime insurance tracker Seasearcher, the possibility that the crew may have been simply abandoned by DPRK authorities has become evermore likely.


Fishing casualties in 2011

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012


Pictured Above: The Orang Odaejin Fisheries Office

According to the Daily NK:

Daily NK has learned that approximately 30 North Korean squid fishing vessels from ports in the provinces of North and South Hamkyung have been lost at sea this year alone, causing more than 120 casualties.

A source from North Hamkyung Province revealed the news to Daily NK on the 18th, explaining that the information came from the ‘2012 Missing Vessels Report,’ a booklet of statistical data compiled by the regional coast guard.

According to the source, the report noted, “Among all the vessels that have engaged in squid fishing this year, more than 30 smaller vessels have been lost, and 122 crew members have been killed or reported missing.”

It is mandatory for fishing vessels to register a crew list before leaving port each day for security reasons. Those vessels that leave port but do not return are classified as lost.

The sea near the Hamkyung port of Odaejin in Eorang County has traditionally been the most popular on the North Korean East Sea coast for squid fishing. However, Jang Keum Chun, who previously operated a shipping company in the Liaoning Province city of Dalian, has had a number of boats in the area since 2007.

This is because Jang is the son of Jang Wool Hwa, who sided with Kim Il Sung during the fight for liberation from Japanese rule. As such, he is said to have received direct permission from Kim Jong Il to begin fishing in the area.

The local fishermen who had been fishing for squid in the region for generations have been progressively forced further and further out by this (plus declining squid stocks throughout the East Sea region), which has put many in grave danger.

The source said, “North Korean fishing vessels only have about 6 to 8Hp, so are easily swayed by strong winds and waves.” When vessels run into trouble, there is little hope of rescue due to inadequate communications equipment and rescue vessels.

North Korea has reportedly been suffering 100 or more casualties in fishing accidents in the region for a number of years.

Read the full story here:
122 Casualties in Race for Squid
Daily NK
Choi Song Min


Foundations of Energy Security for the DPRK: 1990-2009

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

The Nautilus Institute has put together an amazing research paper on the DPRK’s energy sector. I cannot understate the value of the quality/quantity of facts/figures/tables in this research.

You can download the PDF here.

I have also added it to my DPRK Economic statistics Page.

Here is the introduction:

Energy demand and supply in general—and, arguably, demand for and supply of electricity in particular—have played a key role in many high-profile issues involving North Korea, and have played and will play a central role in the resolution of the ongoing confrontation between North Korea and much of the international community over the North’s nuclear weapons program. Energy sector issues will continue to be a key to the resolution of the crisis, as underscored by the formation of a Working Group under the Six-Party Talks that was (and nominally, still is) devoted to the issue of energy and economic assistance to the DPRK.

The purpose of this report is to provide policy-makers and other interested parties with an overview of the demand for and supply of the various forms of energy used in the DPRK in six years during the last two decades:

  • 1990, the year before much of the DPRK’s economic and technical support from the Soviet Union was withdrawn;
  • 1996, thought by some to be one of the most meager years of the difficult economic 1990s in the DPRK; and 2000, a year that has been perceived by some observers as a period of modest economic “recovery” in the DPRK, as well as a marker of the period before the start, in late 2002, of a period of renewed political conflict between the DPRK, the United States, and it neighbors in Northeast Asia over the DPRK’s nuclear weapons development program; and
  • 2005, also a year in which observers have again noted an upward trend in some aspects of the DPRK economy, as well as the most recent year for which any published estimates on the DPRK’s energy sector and economy are available.
  • 2008, the last year in which the DPRK received heavy fuel oil from its negotiating partners in the Six-Party talks; and
  • 2009, the most recent year for which we have analyzed the DPRK’s energy sector.

Kumsusan Palace renovations

Monday, December 17th, 2012


Pictured Above: Kumsusan Palace of the Sun (formerly “Kumsusan Memorial Palace”). On the left is an image from Google Earth (2012-6-20).  On the right is an image from GeoEye (2012-10-14).

UPDATE 4 (2012-12-17): The Kumsusan Palace has been opened and Kim jong-il’s body has been put on display. According to The Guardian:

North Korea has unveiled the embalmed body of Kim Jong-il, still in his trademark khaki jumpsuit, on the anniversary of his death.

Kim lies in state a few floors below his father, national founder Kim Il-sung, in the Kumsusan mausoleum, the cavernous former presidential palace. Kim Jong-il is presented lying beneath a red blanket, a spotlight shining on his face in a room suffused in red.

North Korea also unveiled Kim’s yacht and his armoured train carriage, where he is said to have died. Among the personal belongings featured in the mausoleum are the parka, sunglasses and pointy platform shoes he famously wore in the last decades of his life. A MacBook Pro lay open on his desk.

Here is footage from DPRK television:

UPDATE 3 (2012-12-17): Well, it was the first anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death, rather than his February 2013 birthday anniversary, which marked the opening of the renovated Kumsusan Palace. According to the Associate Press (via USA Today):

North Korea unveiled the embalmed body of Kim Jong Il, still in his trademark khaki jumpsuit, on the anniversary of his death Monday as mourning mixed with pride over a recent satellite launch that was a long-held goal of the late authoritarian leader.

Kim lies in state a few floors below his father, national founder Kim Il Sung, in the Kumsusan mausoleum, the cavernous former presidential palace. Kim Jong Il is presented lying beneath a red blanket, a spotlight shining on his face in a room suffused in red.

Wails echoed through the chilly hall as a group of North Korean women sobbed into the sashes of their traditional Korean dresses as they bowed before his body. The hall bearing the glass coffin was opened to select visitors — including The Associated Press — for the first time since his death.

North Korea also unveiled Kim’s yacht and his armored train carriage, where he is said to have died. Among the personal belongings featured in the mausoleum are the parka, sunglasses and pointy platform shoes he famously wore in the last decades of his life. A MacBook Pro lay open on his desk.

Here is footage from North Korean television on the opening of the palace:

UPDATE 2 (2012-11-9): KCNA has reported on the renovations taking place outside the palace but not those taking place inside the palace:

Lawn Spreads Out around Kumsusan Palace of Sun

Pyongyang, November 9 (KCNA) — Service personnel, officials and working people carpeted the plaza park of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun with turf of new species.

They created the lawn covering the area of tens of thousands of square meters in a short span of time with a single-minded desire to spruce up the area around the palace where the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie in state for perpetuity.

The lawn represents the ardent wishes of the service personnel and people of the DPRK to hold the great Generalissimos in high esteem for all ages.

They laid earth of 86 000 cubic meters on the ground to completely replace the former ground in a matter of several days.

They devoted themselves to such work as burning earth and humus soil and sowing the seeds of turf, covering up seeds with soil and taking care of them.

They provided the best conditions for the growth of the turf of new species by covering the area with fertile soil and humus of 12 000 cubic meters.

The seeds of all turfs sprouted in a matter of four-five days since their sowing and each has now two-three stems.

UPDATE 1: Raymond Cunningham photos of the place here.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-11-4): A few days ago I worked on this story for Radio Free Asia. The story highlights construction work being done at Kumsusan Palace. To date this work has not been reported in the North Korean media.

What do we see?  Most obviously, the large concrete plaza in front of the palace is being converted into a large park with new fountains and displays.

The former plaza was approximately 94,000 square meters of flat concrete blocks (according to Google Earth measurements). The new park in the plaza takes up approximately 57,000 square meters, or 60% of the real estate. This will prevent the sort of large scale military ceremonies that have taken place in the plaza over the years, however it will make the facility more enjoyable as a proper park.

We can also see that the main building is surrounded by debris (outlined in yellow), indicating that significant renovations are taking place within the building itself. Since the DPRK has announced that Kim Jong-il’s body will go on display like that of his father, Kim Il-sung, we can expect that exhibits on the life and accomplishments of Kim Jong-il are being added to complement the Kim Il-sung exhibits.

Given the date of the satellite image it is likely that the project will not be completed before winter temperatures arrive. It is possible that construction could come to a halt in the winter, yet I suspect that the North Korean workers (probably soldiers) will have to labor through the winter for a grand public opening on February 16th next year.

The construction work has yet to be announced in any official North Korean media outlet, and the cost and scale of the renovations are currently unknown outside of the DPRK.

The facility has not seen this scale of work since it was transformed following the death of Kim Il-sung.  During the renovations, the DPRK was widely criticized for spending millions of dollars on the palace even as many experienced food shortages and starvation throughout the country during the “Arduous March”.


Some new Google Earth discoveries: Workers’ Party housing and Yanggak Island

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Recent Google Earth satellite imagery of central Pyongyang shows that three new apartment buildings are going up in the Workers’ Party Complex next to the “Red Wall” apartment buildings and  just north of the Organization and Guidance Department:


Pictured above (Google Earth:  39.022592°, 125.742889°): Images of the new housing construction in Central Pyongyang. Image Dates:  2012-6-20, 2012-10-13.

This is the second visible residential renovation in the area following the updating of Residence No. 15 (in 2009-2010):


The buildings surrounding the new construction house KWP VIPs, doctors, secretariat staff, guard command staff, and deputy directors, so it is likely that these new buildings will also house the families of new VIPs.

The buildings are being constructed on a tract of land that previously served as garden plots for nearby residents.

On Yanggak Island (Yanggakdo) we can see the new health complex taking shape where the golf course used to be:

Here is a poster of the completed project which is on display on Yanggak Island:

I have previously posted about this here.


Global Resource Services

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

The Atlantic has an article on Global Resource Services, a religious US-based NGO which has been running programs in the DPRK for years. The full article is well worth reading.

According to the GRS web page, these are the project in which they are involved:

1. “HaePo Ri Soy Farm“. I suspect that this is located in Haepho-ri (해포리)in Singye County. According to the web page:

About 500 hectares of land originally used to grow corn, has now been dedicated to growing soybeans. Initially, GRS helped by supplying soy seed and equipment to process the soybeans. The soybean products are an excellent source of protein for the local diet. Growing soybeans also helps replenish the soil after growing corn for many years. The soybean oil is used for cooking oil, and the soymilk is used in the local school lunch program.

The newest installation at the HaePo Ri Soy Farm is a soybean oil factory. The soybean oil is used for cooking oil, which is very important in preparing meals with locally grown corn and other grains. Soybean meal is also a byproduct of the factory that is also high in protein, and can be used in the local diet and to supplement animal feed. Approximately 30 tons of soybean oil are produced each year.

GRS and local farm managers at HaePo Ri have a long range plan for community development. Economic development, water resource development, medical health programs, and educational programs are being planned and implemented.

2. “Jangpoong Goat Dairy Farm”. I suspect that this is the “Jangphung (장풍읍) Goat Farm”.


According to the web page:

GRS began working with the DPRK Ministry of Agriculture and officials from the Jangpoong Goat Dairy Farm in 2002. The engineers and workers at the Jangpoong Farm constructed a building, and GRS began installing dairy processing equipment in June 2003. Dairy processing began in October 2003. Since that time, GRS staff and partners have made several visits to the farm with ongoing support. A delegation of DPRK agricultural experts visited Langston University in 2004 for discussions and training in goat care, nutrition, cheese making, and artificial insemination. GRS began a several year program in 2004 to improve the goat breed at the farm through artificial insemination. A pelletizing machine was installed at the farm in 2007 to pelletize locally grown goat feed for winter storage. Currently the farm has over 3000 goats and regularly processes cheese, yogurt, and butter. Winter production is often continued using powdered milk.

3. Global Health Program and exchanges.


North Korea Lauds Its Economic Achievements One Year After Kim Jong Il’s Death

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

In preparation for the first anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death, North Korea is calling attention to its economic achievements.

North Korean media announced that workers in each production sector met the goals of this year to commemorate the death of Kim Jong Il.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on December 7, “To honor the oath of bloody tears made before our Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, with burning hopes to charge ahead to meet the annual People’s Economic Plan, industrial production output reached 100 percent and production of daily necessities reached 113.7 percent, as of December 5.”Specifically, the machinery industrial sector was said to have reached its annual production goal by 107 percent as of the end of November.

Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), also mentioned that a product exhibition was held from December 3rd to 6th in the Pyongyang Department Store No. 1.

In addition, KCNA reported that many hydroelectric power plants across the nation have already exceeded the annual electricity production plan. The KCNA claimed that Sodusu power plant exceeded the annual goal by 120.3 percent, while the Hochon River power plant and Jangjin River power plant reached 107.6 and 109.3 percent, respectively.

North Korean media boasted its economic development and spoke of its economic revitalization strategy. In the KCNA commentary: “We have developed our own economic revitalization strategies for economic development and devotion for this goal is deepening with time.”

North Korea’s recent announcement and actual launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite is also claimed to be an essential process for North Korea’s economic development.

“Unha-3rocket carryingthe satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, was developed by North Korean scientists and engineers by its own technology, and it is a noble achievement for its scientific and technical advancement to realize the goal of economic revival,” stated Choson Sinbo, a Japan-based pro-North Korean newspaper.

Analysts see North Korea’s recent moves (that is, its stressing of economic achievements and the rocket/satellite launch) as Pyongyang’s effort to emphasize the Kim Jong Un regime’s intent to uphold the teachings of the late leader Kim Jong Il through strengthening the economy.

The year 2012 was propagated by North Korea to be the first year of its kangsong taeguk (“strong and prosperous nation”). North Korea is trying to prove to its people that, despite Kim Jong Il’s death, this effort is still continuing under the Kim Jong Un leadership.

In the December 7th article of the KCNA, annual evaluation was made of the various economic achievements. The article called the past year “a historical miracle of a new era,” and “first year of new centennial of juche.” It also stated that a “new historical miracle was created to mark the new era of strong Korea (Chosun) upholding the great teachings of General Kim Jong Il.”

The KCNA mentioned the ‘Day of the Sun’ celebrations and other various celebrations, WPK conference, Kim Jong Un’s onsite visits to military bases, completion of the Huichon Power Station, Pyongyang city park construction, and Moranbong band performances as major achievements of the year.

In addition, the new 12-year compulsory education policy, outstanding performance by North Korean athletes at the 2012 London Olympics (i.e., four gold and one bronze medal), and the commissioning of the new State Culture and SportsGuidance Commission were also mentioned as main accomplishments of the year.