Archive for August, 2013

North Korea enthusiastically promoting tourism industry to attract foreign investments

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

The Korean Central News Agency reported on August 24 that a tourism briefing session was held in Pyongyang for the purpose of attracting foreign investment.

The state-run Korea International Travel Company (KITC) opened a briefing session at the Yanggakdo International Hotel to explain the preferential treatment for foreign investments. Officials from various embassies, along with Chinese, English, and German travel agency representatives were present at the briefing session.

Cho Song Gyu, president of Korea International Travel Company, said that “tourism districts will be operated as special tourism zone and all management activities such as customs, tax, communication, and investment protection will be guaranteed in accordance with the special zone law and international standards.” It was said that investments of foreign owned enterprises and joint venture companies are to be given priority.

President Cho added, “There are plans to invite foreign experts to improve other special tourism zones such as Wonsan and Mount Chilbo districts.”

North Korea recently disclosed plans of developing mountains Baektu, Kumgang, and Chilbo, with plans of constructing ski resorts in these areas.

In addition, North Korea’s tourism policy is rapidly changing and significant ease on restrictions can be observed on foreign tourists. Unlike in the past, tourists are now allowed to travel to North Korea at any time of the year, with fewer date restrictions.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s economic journal is attracting attention as it argues for the diversification of foreign investment. This call for diversification might reflect a North Korean concern about China’s growing investment in North Korea’s resource sector.

In the current issue of Kyongje Yongu (Economic Research, July 30 issue), North Korea’s quarterly economic journal, it was stated that “Foreign companies in our country are heavily concentrated in joint ventures with domestic companies in the collection industries and their main interest is in developing natural resources.”

The article analyzed that investments by foreign companies are largely concentrated in natural resources development, as they are trying to secure raw materials necessary for production activities. In addition, the article called for improvements in the method and diversification of foreign investment as it stressed that without any intervention, the situation could lead to negative results.

Most of the foreign investment in North Korea is known to be from China. Last year, gold mining companies and Chinese enterprises signed joint venture agreements one after another, displaying Chinese companies’ growing interest in North Korean mines.

Here is the story from KCNA:

Tourism-related Explanation Session Held in DPRK

Pyongyang, August 24 (KCNA) — A tourism-related explanation session, sponsored by the International Travel Company of the DPRK, took place at the Yanggakdo International Hotel here Saturday.

Present at the session on invitation were staff members of foreign embassies in DPRK and representatives of travel companies from China, Britain, Germany and other countries.

Addressing the session, Jo Song Gyu, head of the International Travel Company of the DPRK, referred to the development of tourism in the DPRK and its policy on tourism.

Mts. Paektu, Kumgang and Chilbo, Wonsan City and other scenic spots and areas in the country have turned into recreation grounds and tourist resorts and a brisk drive is being conducted to further develop them, he noted.

The tourist resorts will be run in the form of special zone for tourism and all the management activities such as passage through boundaries, customs, taxes, communications and investment protection will go by the DPRK’s relevant law on special zones as well as the international rules, Jo said.

He further said that businesspersons and investors of any countries and regions interested in tourism of DPRK would be welcomed and preference be given to private and joint-venture and collaboration businesses.

He also mentioned a plan to invite foreign experts needed for the development and management of the tourist resorts in various parts of the country including Wonsan City and Mt. Chilbo.


DPRK develops tourism as one of its “major industries”

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

According to KCNA (2013-8-28):

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is directing big efforts to developing tourism as one of major industries.

In this regard, KCNA met Jo Song Gyu, director of the International Travel Company of the DPRK.
Jo said:

Consistent is the policy of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the DPRK government to develop tourism in the country.

Abundant in tourism resources, the country has a bright future to develop tourism.

Regular air route will be opened between Pyongyang, Lake Samji and Wonsan for local and foreign tourists.

The country also plans to open air routes between Pyongyang and Chinese cities like Shanghai and Yanji.
Air services will also be available for people in Southeast Asia and Europe to come to DPRK for sightseeing.

Wonsan and Mts. Paektu and Chilbo areas are likely to be linked with other countries and regions by air services.

Economic development zones to be built in each province will serve as tourism destinations.

Hotels in Pyongyang City are being renovated at the world’s level.

A number of fitness centers, service complexes and souvenir and duty-free shops will be built for tourists.

The government will allow foreigners to launch independent business or joint venture in the country to invest in tourist resorts and economic development zones and construct and manage hotels, shops and other tourist facilities.

It will render preferential treatment to foreign businesses which come to the DPRK before others so that they can begin making profits as early as possible.

It is also inviting foreign tourist experts for development of tourist resorts and operation of hotels, restaurants, etc.

Read the full story here:
DPRK to Develop Tourism as One of Major Industries


Masik Ski Pass News

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013


Pictured above: Masik Pass Ski Resort under construction (Google Earth: 2013-5-22)

UPDATE 11 (2013-8-27): Koryo Tours posts images of the new resort and offers a status update.

UPDATE 10 (2013-8-19): Switzerland bans the export of ski lifts to the DPRK. According to Reuters:

Switzerland has banned the sale to North Korea of equipment for a luxury ski resort planned for the ruling elite in the widely impoverished state that is under U.N. sanctions, officials said on Monday.

North Korean leader Kim Jung-un, who studied under an assumed name in the Swiss capital Berne and is believed to have gone on school ski trips in the Alps, wants to develop leisure activities for tourists and the upper crust among its 23 million citizens.

North Korea approached several Swiss companies, including Bartholet Maschinenbau AG, to provide chair lifts and cable cars worth 7 million Swiss francs ($7.57 million) for its sprawling Masik resort, the Geneva daily Le Temps reported on Monday.

But the Swiss government, contacted by the firms for clearance, added luxury sporting equipment to its list of goods banned under United Nations sanctions, Marie Avet of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said.

“The Federal Council decided on July 3 to also put infrastructure for sports facilities on the list, especially when they have a more luxury character for resorts,” Avet told Reuters. “These resorts have a luxury character, that is why it is not appropriate to export.”

The neutral country’s sanctions list for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) also includes equipment for golf, horseback riding, water sports, billiards and casinos, as well as luxury watches, jewellery, caviar, perfume and artworks.

See also this NK News article.

UPDATE 9 (2013-8-17): KCNA reports on the progress made at the ski resort.

Soldier-builders, mobilized in the construction of the Ski Resort on Masik Pass, have finished in July the building of structures of hotel, service and welfare facilities and scores of blocks of dwelling houses in the spirit of the “Masikryong Speed”, paving a way for rounding off the project this year.

UPDATE 8 (2013-8-17): KCNA reports that Kim Jong-un visits the Masik Pass Resort.

 UPDATE 7 (2013-8-16): KCNA reports on the progress made at the resort:

The soldier builders have completed the walling of dozens of structures including hotels, lodging quarters, resting grounds, underground parking lot, garages and welfare facilities. They are now pushing ahead with the plastering of interior and exterior walls of those buildings.

They are fulfilling their daily plastering work plan over 300 percent by giving definite priority to the preceding processes and closely following them up with new processes.

They are dynamically spurring the construction despite such bad whether conditions as untimely downpours and continuous sultriness.

Thanks to their devoted efforts, the starting point and mid-points of the skiing courses, resting pavilion and resting places at terminals are taking a shape.

Drivers are increasing the rate of vehicle operations to the maximum.

They are using a driving method suited to the different topographic and road conditions at high and rough mountain ranges, conducting a campaign to carry more materials, and thus pushing the supply of materials ahead of the project schedule.

A lot of units and people throughout the country are sending aid materials they prepared with sincerity to the soldier builders to encourage them.

UPDATE 6 (2013-8-12): Following the publication of this NK News report, I have been authorized to release the source, a business plan that was circulated for the Masik Pass resort.

Download the PDF here.

UPDATE 5 (2013-8-9): Choe Ryon-hae visits Masik Pass resort.

UPDATE 4 (2013-7-24): KCNA reports on the progress made at the resort:

Construction of Ski Resort on Masik Pass Progresses Apace

Pyongyang, July 24 (KCNA) — Signal achievements have been made on a daily basis at the construction site of Ski Resort on Masik Pass with the approach of the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War.

The soldier-builders have waged a high-pitched drive to create the “speed on Masik Pass”, carrying out 55 percent of the total project and making steady progress.

A hotel has taken its shape by the devoted efforts of the soldiers.

Those in charge of the construction of service center, lodgings, underground parking lot, cable operation, heating, purification and pumping facilities are carrying out their work 1.5 times that of the schedule, two times at the maximum despite difficulties and trials.

Soldiers have spurred the reservoir project also.

Defying high altitude and unfavorable transport conditions the builders have given definite precedence to the transport of materials and over-fulfilled the daily assignments for embankment project and concrete tamping.

Innovations have also been made in the construction of dwelling houses, kindergarten, nursery and power transmission line.

The pavement of roads extending dozens of kilometers and the construction of bridges, skating ground and swimming pool have made rapid progress together with the arrangement of surrounding areas and the planting of trees and turf of good species.

UPDATE 3 (2013-7-10): KCNA reports on support workers at the resort are receiving:

Soldier-builders of Skiing Resort Inspired with Aid Materials

Pyongyang, July 10 (KCNA) — Many units, people of various circles and school youth and children in different places of the DPRK have rendered positive help to the soldier-builders of the Skiing Resort on Masik Pass.

Officials and other people of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, Supreme Court, Korean Revolution Museum, General Bureau for Service for People and others procured lots of aid materials and visited the construction site to raise the morale of the soldier-builders.

The Cabinet, State Planning Commission and the Ministry of Metal Industry organized well the work of the relevant units to supply materials to the construction site, making the public officials turn out in the work for assisting the army.

Officials of the Ministries of Post and Telecommunications, Chemical Industry, Culture and Light Industry also presented aid materials to the soldier-builders and helped their work, encouraging them.

The hot wind of assisting the army is raging among the people in Kangwon Province to render fraternal help to the soldiers creating the new history of change in their province.

Officials and other people in Pyongyang, South Hamgyong, South Phyongan, North Hwanghae, Jagang provinces and Nampho City are dedicating all their sincerity to aiding the construction of the skiing resort.

Good deeds are done by the new generation, notably students of Changdok School in Pyongyang and Kalma Junior Secondary School in Wonsan City. They gave aid materials they sincerely procured with their families to the soldier-builders and requested them to hasten the construction.

UPDATE 2 (2013-6-13): According to Rodong Sinmun, “Masikryong Speed (마식령속도)” has become the latest propaganda slogan:

Army men, Party members and working people are now making a great stride forward, following the examples set by the soldiers in the construction of a skiing ground on Masik Pass responding to the call of the respected Marshal Kim Jong Un for a new turn on all fronts of socialist construction by creating “Masikryong Speed”.

Indeed, a new speed is being created on the skiing ground to finish the project within this year as soldier-builders give full play to their indomitable revolutionary spirit, a spirit of each being a match for a hundred.

Soldier-builders engaged in the construction of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum expect to wind up the project soon.

Reports of innovatory successes also come from many other construction sites such as the Munsu Wading Pool, the Mirim Riding Club and the Cemetery of Fallen Heroes of the Korean People’s Army.

At the second-stage construction of the Huichon Power Station and in the reclamation of the Sepho Tableland one can witness the vigorous labor endeavors of soldiers and working people for another leap in socialist construction.

A new speed known as “Masikryong Speed” calls for a new upsurge all through the country such as in the project for increasing the Kosan Fruit Farm’s capacity and the project for cutting water ways in South Hwanghae Province.

UPDATE 1 (2013-5-29): I identify the location of the Masikryong Ski Resort here and talk about the DPRK’s ski facilities.

ORIGINAL POST (2013-8-25): Kim Jong-un visits construction of new Masik Pass Ski Resort.


DPRK tried to ship gas masks to Syria

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

According to the Los Angeles Times:

North Korea tried to export gas masks to Syria this spring, presumably for use in the Middle East nation’s chemical weapons program, but the shipment was intercepted by Turkey along with arms and ammunition, a Japanese newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Libya-flagged ship El Entisar (“Victory”) was stopped April 3 by Turkish authorities as it passed through the Dardanelles, the Sankei Shimbun reported. Acting on the tip from the United States, authorities searched the ship and seized 1,400 rifles and pistols and about 30,000 rounds of ammunition as well as the gas masks.

The captain of the vessel admitted that the shipment had come from North Korea, according to the newspaper, which said the plan was for the arms to be unloaded in Turkey and transported by land into Syria to support the government of President Bashar Assad.

The revelation comes amid international outrage over accusations that Syrian troops used chemical weapons against civilians suburbs of Damascus last week. Any connection between North Korea and the alleged attacks could further isolate North Korea.

This is not the first time that North Korea has been accused of supplying equipment related to chemical arms to Syria. In November 2009, Greece seized almost 14,000 suits that provide protection from such weapons on a North Korean ship they believed was headed to Syria. South Korean authorities also intercepted a North Korean shipment of protective gear on a vessel sailing near the South Korean port of Busan that year.

“There is a long-term relationship between North Korea and Syria, similar to the agreement with Iran, on nuclear and conventional weapons,” said Park Syung-je, a military expert at the Asia Strategy Institute in Seoul. “I don’t see any signs that it has diminished.”

A Syrian delegation was reported to have visited Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, in late July. The Korean Central News Agency quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un saying the talks were aimed as “boasting bilateral relations” between their countries.

Read the full story here:
North Korea tried to ship gas masks to Syria, report says
Los Angeles Times
Barbara Demick


Business slow at JVIC Beijing office

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

According to Yonhap:

The only sign of activity at the North Korean trade promotion agency here in Beijing is the faintly lit banner in front, and it is hard to tell whether the office is open for business.

No one is seen at the reception desk of North Korea’s Investment and Development Group building, located in a northern Beijing suburb, and its front door, though appears to be open, remains stationary for most of a weekday.

“North Koreans are still working there,” said a Chinese cleaner near the building, who only gave his surname Wu.

The Beijing branch of North Korea’s Investment and Development Group was believed to have launched operations early last year, but it appears certain to be a dead duck as the North’s unpredictability continues to keep Chinese investors away.

Its website has not posted any statement since Jan. 23 this year, and there was no response to a phone call made on Aug. 16.

A South Korean diplomatic source in Beijing, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the North Korean branch has been dormant since the North’s defiant launch of a long-range rocket last December.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula soared early this year, with North Korea conducting its third nuclear test and its near-daily war threats during an annual joint military drill between South Korea and the United States.

“We have figured out that operations at the Beijing office of the North’s Investment and Development Group almost ground to a halt,” the source said.

China, North Korea’s biggest trading partner and aid donor, has become increasingly frustrated with its wayward ally, particularly after the North’s February nuclear test. In May, the Bank of China closed accounts with North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank, which was accused by the U.S. of helping to finance the North’s nuclear weapons program.

According to the South Korean Embassy in Beijing, North Korea’s trade volume with China fell 6 percent on-year in the first six months of this year.

The North’s trade with China stood at US$2.95 billion in the January-June period, compared with $3.14 billion a year earlier, embassy officials said.

Exports to China rose 6 percent to $1.36 billion, while imports declined 14 percent to $1.59 billion, they said, citing official data.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea appears to struggle to woo Chinese investors


3rd Rason International Trade Fair (UPDATED)

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

UPDATE 1 (2013-8-27): Chinese auto manufacturer announces plans for Rason plant. According to Yonhap:

A major Chinese automaker has expressed its intention to invest in a project to build a car manufacturing factory in North Korea, the North’s media said Tuesday.

FAW Group Corp., a Chinese state-owned automotive manufacturing firm, signed a letter of intent last week with North Korea’s Rason regional government to invest in the construction of the factory, the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

The agreement is a preliminary step to conclude an official deal for the investment.

The deal was made during the third round of the exhibition for international goods held in the North Korean city last week, according to the KCNA.

The impoverished communist country designated Rason, located on its northeastern tip, as a special economic zone and has been actively seeking an overseas investment in the region.

During the exhibition, China’s Heilongjiang regional committee on trade promotion and Rason’s economic committee signed an agreement to boost cooperation. Heilongjiang province is located in the northeastern part of China.

Stressing Chinese firms’ investment in the Rason region, an unidentified official from the Chinese body vowed “to transport goods from its region to Shanghai via Rason ports,” according to the report.

ORIGINAL POST (2013-8-21): According to KCNA:

3rd Rason Int’l Trade Exhibition under Way

Pyongyang, August 21 (KCNA) — The 3rd Rason International Trade Exhibition is going on in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The exhibition in the Rason Economic and Trade Zone bordering China and Russia is attended by more than 120 entities from countries and regions, including the DPRK, China, Russia, Germany, the U.S., and Japan.

On display at the exhibition are some 78 000 items of exhibits in 410 kinds, covering machinery, steel, electrical, electronic and chemical products, foodstuffs, medicines, building materials, vehicles and sundries.

In this regard, KCNA met Hwang Chol Nam, vice-chairman of the Rason City People’s Committee.

Hwang said:

The Rason City has laid definite institutional guarantee and legal foundations for jointly developing the economic and trade zone and has made a big stride in building infrastructure, paving a way for foreign businesses to smoothly carry on production and trade in the zone.

During the days of the exhibition, foreign businessmen will witness the situation of the developing zone.

Ho Myong Ho, director of the Rason Exhibition Corporation, told KCNA that the current exhibition is the biggest in scale and he believes that it will serve as an occasion for making the trade in the zone gain momentum.

The exhibition will run until August 23.

The Rason Economic and Trade Zone is a special economic zone in the DPRK, where preferential treatment is available.

The zone has developed into a hub for transit transport, trade and investment and financial and tourism service.

2013-8-20 evening news coverage of the opening ceremony can be seen here.

Dr. Bernhard Seliger posted the application form for the trade fair:





Previous posts on the Rason International Trade Fair can be found here.


Yonhap publishes table of ROK aid to DPRK

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

From 2001 until 2013.


Here is the source.


UN WFP and FAO Report food shortages

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

According to Yonahp (via Global Post):

Eight out of 10 North Korean people are suffering from food shortages this year, with nearly 20 percent of children younger than five severely malnourished, a report by the U.N. food body has said.

According to the quarterly report the World Food Program (WFP) published on its assistance project for the communist country, 81 percent out of 115 households there were found to be in the category of “poor food consumption” or fall in the category between having adequate and poor food consumption in the second quarter of this year.

Of the surveyed, 76 percent coped with the crisis either by relying on support from others or eating cheaper food. Some 14 percent reduced their portions with 3 percent skipping meals, the report showed.

Thanks to Pyongyang’s increased food rations and the international organization’s aid, things have improved from a year earlier when 87 percent of the people surveyed suffered from shortages, according to the report.

The WFP’s earlier report showed that the North Korean government is providing more food rations to its people in 2013 than the previous year despite a drop in overseas aid. In the communist country, 66 percent of the total population, or about 16 million people, receive state food rations.

The agency, however, said the situation “remains fragile,” with the frequency of protein consumption “very low and unlikely meeting requirements.”

The WFP also said its visit to 120 pediatric hospitals found that 17 percent of the children under the age of five admitted to suffering from acute malnutrition.

Of the children admitted to hospitals, some 88 percent suffered from diarrhea, followed by 82 percent showing symptoms of respiratory infections and 49 percent indigestion, the report showed.

The WFP said it reached 1.46 million beneficiaries each month during the second quarter of the year, distributing a total of 10,489 metric tons of food. It also conducted 764 rounds of field visits to ensure its assistance arrived and was utilized properly.

According to Yonhap (via Global Post):

North Korea’s food procurement effort has been inadequate to cover the expected shortfall for this year, a media report based on data provided by an international agriculture agency said Friday.

The quarterly report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations showed Pyongyang has been able to secure 290,600 tons of various grains from abroad from November 2012 through June of this year, the Voice of America (VOA) said.

The Washington-based media outlet said the total is equal to just 57 percent of the 507,000 tons the North needs to secure by October to prevent a food shortage for its people.

The latest findings come a day after the World Food Program (WFP) claimed eight out of 10 North Koreans are suffering from food shortages this year, with nearly 20 percent of children younger than five severely malnourished.

The percentage of people suffering food shortages, however, fell from 87 percent tallied the year before, the WFP said.

Despite the risk of shortage, the North has been able to increase its daily food rations for its people in the first seven months of this year to 397 grams per person, up 14 grams from the year before.

North Korea watchers also said that with Pyongyang placing emphasis on strengthening its agricultural sector, there have been some improvements in food conditions in the country compared to the past.

As per usual, the articles provided neither the titles of the reports nor links. Many UN reports on the DPRK can be found on my DPRK Economic Statistics Page.

The UN is appealing for funding for its DPRK relief programs. According to Yonhap:

The United Nations on Thursday appealed for US$98 million from the international community to help North Koreans in need, saying its humanitarian projects there are drastically underfunded.

Of the overall funding requirement of $150 million for 2013, $98 million is still urgently needed for food and agricultural support, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, according to the global body.

“While the overall humanitarian situation has improved slightly over the last 12 months, the structural causes of people’s vulnerability persist,” U.N. Resident Coordinator Ghulam Isaczai said in an emailed statement. “External assistance continues to play a vital role in safeguarding the lives of millions whose food security, nutritional status and essential health needs would otherwise be seriously compromised.”

Around 16 million people of the 24 million population are chronically short on food, his office said.

For cereal alone, the cereal for the 2012-13 marketing year is estimated at 507,000 metric tons, with serious gaps remaining between recommended and actual nutrient intake, widely due also to a lack of dietary diversity, it said.

“Without sustained humanitarian support, the gains made the past 10 years in improving food security and the overall health and nutrition of the most vulnerable — children, pregnant and nursing mothers, and the elderly — could be quickly reversed,” said Isaczai.

He urged U.N. member states to draw a line between political and humanitarian issues, as efforts to denuclearize North Korea have been stalled for years.

“We hope that donors will respond quickly and generously to allow U.N. agencies to address the humanitarian situation,” he said. “Separating humanitarian needs from political issues is a prerequisite for a sustainable improvement in the condition of people.”

Read the full stories here:
80 pct of N. Koreans suffer food shortages: WFP
Yonahp (via Global Post)

N. Korea food procurement effort inadequate to cover shortfalls: report
Yonhap (via Global Post)


“Hoeryong Food Street” reopens

Friday, August 16th, 2013


Pictured Above: The Hoeryong Food Avenue (Google Earth)

According to Radio Free Asia:

A shuttered special food court established by former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as a showcase for “high quality dishes at reasonable prices” has reopened and is being allowed to operate independent of the government in a rare move seen by some as reflecting economic reforms.

The center in Hoeryong city in North Hamgyong province bordering China was closed several months after its opening in November 2010 because the management faced financial problems as it could not meet production costs based on food sold to the public at prices dictated by the authorities, sources said.

North Hamgyong authorities recently allowed the Hoeryong Special Food Court to reopen and operate on an “autonomous” basis under new economic management methods introduced last year by Kim Jong Il’s son, Kim Jong Un, who took over after his father’s death in December 2011, the sources told RFA’s Korean Service.

“In order to meet the demands of the New Economic Management System, [the ruling] Workers Party provincial offices allowed the restaurant owners at Hoeryong Special Food Court to operate on an autonomous management basis,” one source in North Hamgyeong province said.

But some observers said the authorities had no choice but to allow the food center to set prices on its own to keep the operations alive, adding that any reform excuse was just an eyewash.

North Korea raced to build the food court after Kim Jong Il proposed it during a visit to his mother’s home town in 2009. He directed government funding of U.S. $800,000 for the project, which was completed in November 2010.

When he inspected the food court a month later, he ordered that it serve people with “high quality dishes at reasonable prices,” asking it to follow in the footsteps of another food outlet, Okryu Restaurant, in Pyongyang.

Operating cost

The source in North Hamgyong province said that the Hoeryong Special Food Court tried to adjust its prices to keep in tandem with those of Okryu Restaurant but could not cope with operating costs.

“During the initial months of operations, the North Korean authorities [subsidized prices] but soon after, the restaurants lost support from the government, thus it went out of business,” another source in the province said.

Even though the authorities did not provide support, they continued to regulate the food prices to make them 75 percent cheaper than those of regular restaurants,” the source said. “Therefore, the owners were suffering from financial difficulties.”

Some sources complain that under the new management of the Hoeryong Special Food Court, food prices have shot up rapidly. In addition, food that is not on the menu is served.

For instance, a seafood specialty restaurant serves steak while a steak house offers noodles, one source complained.

“Before at Hoeryong restaurant, cold noodles were 1,000 North Korean won (about 17 cents), and one bottle of Korean distilled spirits was 800 won (about 10 cents), but after the owners got authority to manage independently, the price of cold noodles went up to 4,000 won (about 68 cents) and one bottle of Korean distilled spirits up to 2,000 won (about 34 cents).

Read the full story here:
Special North Korean Food Court Allowed to Operate Independently
Radio Free Asia
Sung Hui Moon


KCNA on the DPRK’s economic progress

Friday, August 16th, 2013

Here is a recent article in KCNA on economic advancements. I post as a reference to what the North Koreans are most proud of when it comes to economic management.

DPRK Directs Efforts to Developing Economy

Pyongyang, August 16 (KCNA) — Marshal Kim Jong Un, in the 2013 New Year Address, set the building of a strong economy as a key issue in accomplishing the cause of building a thriving socialist nation.

In response to his New Year Address, the people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have made fresh upsurge in all economic sectors in the spirit of the “Masikryong Speed”.

Readjustment of the West Sea Barrage-Sinchon-Kangryong and Ongjin waterways was finished in ten days, while more than 1,000 hectares of fruit field has come into being in Pukchong County, South Hamgyong Province.

The Pyongyang Essential Foodstuff Factory and the Phyongsong Synthetic Leather Factory have become streamlined and the Vitamin C Factory and the Turf Research Center of the State Academy of Science were newly built on a modern basis.

Lots of industrial establishments across the country finished the first half-yearly assignments ahead of schedule.

The country’s science witnessed big achievements during the first half of the year.

The 10th national sci-tech presentation and show in the field of nano-technology and national sci-tech presentation in the field of mining industry took place, and an IT presentation was held on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Central Agency for Information of Science and Technology.

More than 140,000 hectares of land were afforested, 590 kilometers of roads repaired and 2,100 kilometers of riversides improved.

The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum was newly built in a wonderful way on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Korean people’s victory in the Fatherland Liberation War (June 1950-July 1953).

The Rungna People’s Sports Park and Pyongyang International Football School were also built in Pyongyang.

A wave of innovations have been registered in building the Masik Pass Ski Resort, the reclamation project of the Sepho Tableland, the expansion project of the Kosan Fruit Farm and the construction of the second-stage Huichon Power Station.

The same is true with the construction sites of apartment houses for scientists, children’s hospital, dental hospital, Munsu Wading Pool and Mirim Riding Club.

All these projects are carried on as part of the efforts for implementing the plan of Kim Jong Un on turning the country into an economic giant.