Archive for the ‘Economic Development Zones (2013)’ Category

DPRK holds investor forum in Dalian

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

According to the JoongAng Ilbo:

North Korea held a rare investors relations event over the weekend and its more capitalistic and entrepreneurial manner hinted at a new openness to foreign investors and economic reform in general.

“The door is wide open. Come on in any time,” said Oh Eung-gil, president of North Korea’s Wonsan District Development General Corporation.

Oh was inviting South Koreans to invest in the North as he addressed a group of businessmen at an investors relations session at the Shangri-La Hotel in Dalian, China, on Saturday.

“We prepared all the conditions to develop Mount Kumgang and waited for the South to change its attitude,” said Oh. “But we can no longer wait, so we are trying to attract foreign investors. We have no intention to exclude the South.”

The investors relations event was arranged by the Dalian chapter of the World Federation of Overseas Korea Traders Association. About 200 Korean businessmen from around the world including Australia, China and the United States attended.

From North Korea, five delegates including Oh joined the event.

The North started its event with a presentation by Oh on the country’s laws governing foreign investments and the business environment.

“We have already simplified the investment application procedures and created regulations that meet international standards,” Oh said.

He spent a considerable amount of time to assuring businessmen that their investments, if made, will not vanish overnight.

“With Article 19 of the Foreign Investment Act, we promise that the assets of foreign investors and their companies won’t be nationalized,” he said. “If they are nationalized for an unavoidable reason, then we will make compensation for all costs.”

He also stressed that the North has abundant mineral and fisheries resources. With its 2 million educated workforce, who graduated from 300 universities, Oh said North Korea is the best place to make investments in Asia.

He said foreign companies that invest in special economic zones will only have to pay 14 percent corporate income tax and that the tax is even lower for some advanced technology industries. Making investments in the North’s infrastructure will also be tax-free, he said.

The North also held an unprecedented question and answer session. At similar events in the past, the North only made presentations without answering investors’ questions.

A businessman said he was afraid that the North Korean government could confiscate his investments, and Oh assured him that the government guarantees all legal investments by laws.

Oh even used humor to answer one businessman’s question.

“I would like to invest in hospitals,” the businessman said.

“Our [Democratic People’s] Republic of Korea offers free medical services, so it will be hard for you to make money,” Oh joked. “Please reconsider.”

Following Oh’s presentation, Ri Sing-ryol, vice president of the Wonsan District Development General Corporation, unveiled a development plan for the Wonsan-Mount Kumgang international tourism zone. He said the zone has 142 historic sites, 11 white-sand coasts and nine lakes, as well as 676 tourist venues.

The North’s Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly announced in June an ambitious plan to develop the area as an international tourism zone.

“Now that the Kim Jong-un regime is settled, the North’s top priority is resolving economic hardships and strong economic reform is being pushed forward,” said Jin Jiang, chairman of the Dalian Chapter of the World Federation of Overseas Korea Traders Association.

According to the Donga-Ilbo, the patchy subject of Hyundai Asan’s assets came up:

North Korea requested South Korea to make additional investment in Mount Kumgang and Wonsan areas, claiming that “it never confiscated the South’s property,” which it had forfeited and frozen in April 2010. Oh Eung Kil, general president of Wonsan district development company under the North’s external economy ministry, told South Korean reporters at an informational session on investment in the North in Dalian, Liaoning Province, China on Saturday.

“We did not confiscate Hyundai (Asan)’s asset. We will not confiscate and will wait (going forward). We have waited for long (thus far),” Oh said. “The South’s asset is just in our territory because it is real estate, and the property is registered in Hyundai’s name.”

Notably, citing the North’s foreign investment act providing that Pyongyang does not nationalize foreigners’ asset, Oh said, “Because we cannot afford to continue waiting, blindly trusting the South, we will form ties with investors from various countries. Still, we are not excluding the South. The door is open.”

In April 2010, the North implemented a slew of measures, including forfeiture of the South Korean government’s assets such as a separated family reunion house, freezing of private sector assets including duty-free shops, and deportation of management staff. In 2011, the North enacted the “Mount Kumgang international tourism district act,” and deprived Hyundai Asan of the exclusive right to tourism projects. Hotels and other assets that were owned by Hyundai are currently operated by the North Korean authority. Experts say, “The North’s move is aimed at denying its forfeiture of Hyundai Asan’s assets, which was negatively regarded by foreigners, and displaying situation of improved investment environment.”

Meanwhile, Oh said, “Foreign shipment of unprocessed natural resources has been designated as an additional item subject to restriction of investment into North Korea.” While banning shipment of coals and others without processing in North Korea by foreign investors, the North intends to allow processing of such resources within the Stalinist country. Since the North Korean authority singled out “sale of valuable natural resources at bargain prices as a unpatriotic act” as one of the crimes allegedly committed by Jang Song Thaek who was executed late last year, Pyongyang is believed to have strictly restricted foreign shipment of natural resources.

Here is additional coverage in the Choson Ilbo.

Other posts on the Wonsan-Mt. Kumgang International Tourist Zone here. See the category tab on the right for more.

Read the full stories here:
Pyongyang woos foreign investors
JoongAng Ilbo
Choi Hyung-Kyu

N.K.: ‘We never confiscated facilities from Hyundai Asan’


Export processing zone to be set up in Songnim

Friday, August 8th, 2014

According to the Pyongyang Times:

An export processing zone covering part of Songnim City will be established in North Hwanghae Province.

The area has natural and geographical conditions favourable to export processing as it is situated on the shore of the lower reaches of the Taedong River. Its west faces Taean District of Nampho with the river in between and its north adjoins Kangnam County of Pyongyang.

Songnim Port is located on the banks of the river 7.5 kilometres away from the development zone.

The zone is about 40.8 kilometres from Nampho Port, 6 kilometres from Pyongyang-Kaesong Motorway and 7.5 kilometres from Songnim Railway Station.

It is about 35 kilometres by train and nearly 41 kilometres by car from Sariwon, capital of North Hwanghae Province, and 43 kilometres by car from Pyongyang.

Mobile communications are possible as optical fibre cables are available in Songnim.

The zone lies on the hilly area on the shore of the lower reaches of the river and most of the area is flat farm fields, which saves labour in rezoning.

The province plans to build it to be an intensive export processing zone that concentrates on export processing, warehousing and freight transport.

In the zone there will be built processing bases depending on the raw materials from Songnim and Nampho ports and other bases specializing in second- and third-stage processing with products and materials from within and without.

Under a long-term plan it will increase its processing ability by commissioning industrial establishments in Songnim and Sariwon to do bonded processing.

The estimated area of the zone is 2 square kilometres.

In the zone, too, foreign investors will be offered a variety of preferences.


Sinuiju SEZ renamed

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014


Pictured Above (Google Earth): The approximate borders of the Sinuiju Special Economic Zone.

According to KCNA:

Special Economic Zone in Sinuiju City to Turn into Sinuiju Int’l Economic Zone

Pyongyang, July 23, 2014 17:40 KST (KCNA) — The DPRK decided to rename the Special Economic Zone in some parts of Sinuiju City, North Phyongan Province, Sinuiju International Economic Zone.

The sovereignty of the DPRK will be exercised in the Sinuiju International Economic Zone.

The relevant decree of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly was promulgated on Wednesday.

Previous posts on the Sinuiju SEZ here and here.


EDZs in North Hamgyong Province

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

According to the Pyongyang Times (2014-6-28):

North Hamgyong Province, together with Rason City which is the first economic and trade zone in the DPRK, is located in the place linking Northeast China, Russia, Japan and other Pacific nations.

It has rich tourism resources including Mt. Chilbo, a celebrated mountain of Korea, and renowned Kyongsong spa. The long east coastline provides it with favourable conditions for the development of fisheries and ocean development industry.

It also has the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex, the Musan Mining Complex and other large industrial establishments and light industry factories, provincial branch of the academy of agricultural science and universities.

The local authorities intend to develop three economic development zones in the province—Chongjin Economic Development Zone, Orang Agricultural Development Zone and Onsong Island Tourism Development Zone—by making the most of these favourable conditions.

The Chongjin Economic Development Zone will focus on metal processing, machine building, building materials, electronic goods, light industry products and export processing, combined with international freight transit transport through Chongjin Port.

It will be developed into a hub of production of secondary and tertiary processed metal products with iron and steel products of the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex, manufacturing of machinery and electronic goods and equipment and bonded processing of hydraulic and precision machinery, robots and road vehicles with processed metal products made at the machine and chemical factories and other industrial establishments.

At the moment the zone development will be orientated to renovating Chongjin Port to boost freight transit transport with Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces of China and neighbouring nations and bonded processing and trade through it, and increasing the proportion of technology-intensive processing industry by relying on the abundant skilled manpower and scientific and technological personnel in the surroundings.

Professor Gu Chaolin at Qinghua University of China, an SEZ expert, said after touring the area that the zone is favourable for investment as it has a solid industrial foundation and many universities around it.

As a typical unit of the northern agricultural areas on the east coast, the Orang Agricultural Development Zone will be developed into a high-efficiency agricultural base that concentrates on agricultural research and production and to which a modern food production cycle combining stockbreeding and fish farming is applied.

It will be a model base of breeding and seed production and a modern intensive stockbreeding centre based on advanced farming for vegetable and flower production including water-saving and no-soil cultivation in greenhouses and a food production cycle embracing animal husbandry and fruit and fish farming.

Additional efforts will be directed to the development of fruit farming by generalizing experiences gained in the building of the agricultural development zone on the trial stage to the nearby areas. Fresh and seawater fish farms and fish processing bases will be built on the shore of Lake Jangyon.

After touring the area, Arnel Casanova, a Philippine SEZ expert commented that it is beneficial to have selected it as an agricultural development zone.

Onsong Island on the Tuman River on the border between the DPRK and China will be built as a hub of commerce combined with tourism.

Foreign investors toured the zones and expressed their willingness to invest in the economic zones.”


High-tech development zones: The core of building a powerful knowledge economy nation

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

It appears that the Kim Jong Un regime’s core slogan of “constructing a powerful knowledge economy nation” is being propelled by the development of high-tech development zones.

The need to switch to a knowledge economy is emphasized in the newest issue of the quarterly North Korean academic journal Kyongje Yongu (published April 30, 2014). According to a thesis included in this quarter’s issue (entitled “The Creation of High-Tech Development Zone is Necessary Step in the Knowledge Economy Era”), “Using high-tech development zones as a model, the establishment of a high-tech industry and the shifting of the entire economy towards a knowledge economy is both a Party initiative and legal demands to the construction of a knowledge economy.”

Alongside the national goals of becoming both an economic superpower as well as an athletically powerful nation, the Kim Jong Un regime has also established the national goal of becoming a leader among knowledge economy countries. In order to establish a foothold for building the country’s knowledge economy, the regime has proposed the construction of high-tech development zones.

After attracting foreign investments to fund economic development zones (EDZ) last year, North Korea has begun pushing forward for the construction of a high-tech development zone in the city of Pyongsong, located in South Pyongan province. The high-tech development zone will be built in the same area as the Unjong Science and Technology Zone and will share a similar locale with the National Academy of Sciences, both of which are located in the South Pyongan Province.

According to the thesis, high-tech development zones will “act as regional bases that bring technology and production closer together, unifying the research-development-production-export process.” The thesis also explains the characteristics of the high-tech development zone, calling it a “new type of development region with a high concentration of information, technology, and talented individuals” and “a place where education, scientific research, and production are brought together to become one.”

Furthermore, the thesis continues, “Through the improvement of the high-tech development zone, existing businesses have begun to change to information-related businesses,” and noted that, “Just as the foundation of the high-tech development zone is important to the construction of a powerful knowledge economy, it is also important to provide support from the state and the Party.”

In November of 2013, North Korea formed an international consortium of foreign companies to initiate the building of the Kaesong High-Tech Development Zone; however, construction has reportedly been suspended.

North Korea is currently pressing for construction of a type of cooperative complex to be built in the high-tech development zone where research and development, as well as production itself can take place in order to produce technologically-intensive products with high added value. However, due to sanctions imposed by the international community, North Korea is unable to acquire the advanced machinery it needs to construct the high-tech zone, and for now has only drawn out a rough sketch of the framework.

On the other hand, North Korea has also spurred progress in light industry in other regions by rewarding exemplary factories. This is seen as an attempt to increase the standard of living for the locals living in those regions, who have taken it upon themselves to improve light industry to best suit their situations.

Companies in Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province, Wonsan, Kangwon Province, Chinchon [?], Chagang Province, and other regions have become recognized in North Korean media for their “innovations.” In Hoeryong, a chemical commodities factory developed fuel additives for lignite that increase its burning ability and efficiency, and was commended for its contribution in solving its citizens’ fuel problems. Other factories that were chosen to receive rewards include a glass bottle factory in Wonsan, and a wooden commodities factory in Chinchon[?] for increasing the production quality of their respective goods.

In a situation where the central authorities are in a vulnerable situation financially, North Korea has been encouraging regional businesses to grow and develop on their own. This not only increases the standard of living for the people, but encourages balanced regional development as well. Another thesis appearing in the most recent issue of Kyongje Yongu argues, “The comprehensive development of the regional economies has greatly reduced the state’s burden by allowing households to take it upon themselves to meet their needs according to their own situation.

Furthermore, regarding the growth of regional light industry, the thesis says, “general consumer goods are now being mass-produced, and are able to fulfill the region’s supply and demand needs,” emphasizing the use of “small quantity batch production.” Other light industry factories are also being built across the nation as part of the efforts to revitalize North Korea’s local economies.

Recently, construction of the Haeju Unjong Beer Factory was finished. Operations have commenced in Southern Hwanghae Province, and construction of the Musanryong Spring Water Factory was completed in late 2013. While North Korea’s plan to develop its local economies is not exactly breaking news, advances are slowly being made toward achieving the Kim Jong Un regime’s national goals.

* NKeconWatch: I have no idea why this article references a place in Jagang Province called “Chinchon”. Maybe they mean Huichon?


Knowledge sharing SEZ conference held

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

In September 2013 the DPRK held its first conference on economic development zones under the just announced State Economic Development Commission. Read all about it here.

On May 2, 2014, KCNA announced a second conference:

Knowledge Sharing on SEZs in DPRK Held

Pyongyang, May 2 (KCNA) — There took place at Yanggakdo International Hotel on Friday knowledge sharing on SEZs in the DPRK hosted by the Korea Economic Development Association [AKA State Economic Development Commission/Association].

It was attended by Ri Chol Sok, vice-chairman of the association, and its other officials and experts and teachers and researchers at scientific and educational institutions and officials concerned.

Also present there were Kyung-Ae Park, professor at University of British Columbia, Canada, prestigious experts on special economic zones from China, India, Canada, Philippines and the U.S. and foreign diplomatic envoys and representatives of international bodies here and foreign embassy officials.

Ri Chol Sok and Kyung-Ae Park made speeches.

The speakers congratulated those participants on the successful holding of the event and mentioned the importance of the exchange of each other’s experience and cooperation in developing special economic zones and managing and operating them.

They said that the event would help to broaden experts’ vision and expand the development work and also contribute to promoting the international exchange and cooperation.

Then followed speeches.

Introduced at the event were the present situation in some economic development zones of the DPRK and their prospect and policies of preferential treatment and the master plan for Wonsan-Kumgangsan area.

The results of researches and opinions were exchanged and the BOT widely applied to investment and cooperation and the experience gained by various countries in doing so were discussed.

The event marked an occasion in contributing to turning economic development zones of the DPRK into world-level economic cooperation zones by introducing the advanced experience gained in special economic zones according to the specific conditions of the country.

Uriminzokkiri posted this video of Kyung-Ae Park and Yun Yong-sok:

Here is a loose translation of the video:

Q) What were your initial thoughts on the SEZ’s?
A) It is important to differentiate the North’s SEZ’s from those of other countries to make them attractive to investors. For tourism SEZ’s, many experts have recommended minimizing environmental degradation to promote sustainability. 신평 관광개발구 (신평 tourism SEZ) is a good example where sustainable development can help attract tourists who wish to relax and enjoy the environment.

Q) You teach Poli Sci at UBC, how did you get interested in SEZ’s?
A) Faculty exchanges among economics and management experts are often more profitable than academic discussions on political science. Naturally, those who participated in the exchange programs were talking about SEZ’s more often than any other topics.

Q) What are your thoughts on the prospects of the North’s SEZ’s ?
A) I was impressed how the entire country is putting an effort into SEZ projects. This is a very positive aspect, but we need to think about making these SEZ’s more attractive than SEZ’s of other countries.

Here is another translation:

Dr. Park: The key issue of establishing economic development zones (EDZs) is how to make ‘our’ zones distinctive from other countries. In the tourism industry, for example, it has been suggested that simply constructing new buildings, hotels, and condominiums does not offer any competitive advantage because others have been doing the same way. Instead, a better way is to ask ourselves what makes our zones unique so that they could attract people and investment. For North Korea, it is indeed the beauty of the wilderness and untouched nature that makes the country remarkable.

While teaching political science in University of British Columbia, I’ve come to realize that the South-North exchange should first take place in the area where both have mutual interests and the outcome can be mutually beneficial. Exchanges among the political scientists will unlikely be productive; so instead, we have been inviting numerous North Korean professors of economics and business, including those from Kim Il-Sung University, Wonsan University of Economics, and Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies. And this year we are extending our invitation for the fourth time.

Yet, compared to the number of North Korean experts coming to Canada, not many scholars have visited the North from our end as part of an exchange program. While we were considering ways to facilitate an academic exchange at a greater level, we were lucky to get in touch with Korea Economic Development Association (KEDA; aka Chosun Economic Development Committee). We had a meeting on special economic zones last October […] and this was a follow-up meeting after the successful outcome of the first one. Canada-DPRK Knowledge Partnership Program (KPP) organized the event, and KEDA co-hosted the meeting.

Many experts have suggested that more study is needed to make North Korean economic zones distinctive, unique, and attractive. The critical issue remains as to how to attract foreign capital and investment. Despite many challenges North Korea may confront, we believe that passion and diligence of North Koreans will prove fruitful.


EDZs to be set up in northern area

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

According to the Pyongyang Times (2014-4-26):

Amid steady efforts to establish and develop unique economic zones in line with the specific conditions of each province, two economic zones are in the making in the border area in Jagang Province.

The province in the northwestern part of the country adjoins China with the Amnok River in between.

The Jagang Provincial People’s Committee is planning to set up an economic development zone in Manpho City and an industrial development zone in Wiwon County by taking advantage of the favourable geographical environment and exploitable resources.

Manpho is opposite Jilin Province of China over the Amnok.

It is blessed with cultural relics.

In Segom-dong there are the site of Segom Pavilion, Mangmi Pavilion built in 1436 and a 1 200-metre-long stone wall around the town of Manpho.

The site of Segom Pavilion is on the natural rock on the cliff, 100 metres above the water surface of the Amnok and facing the river. The pavilion was built during the feudal Joson dynasty (1392-1910) and burnt down by the Japanese imperialists in 1938 before Korea’s liberation. As the place commands a marvellous view it has been known as one of eight scenic spots in the northwestern region of Korea since olden times.

There are Kosanjin Fort and a group of graves in Kyongsong Valley, which were built during the feudal Joson dynasty, in Kosan-ri, menhirs from the period of Koryo (918-1392) in Mitha-ri and stone graves in Munak-dong.

There are mineral springs good for the treatment of various diseases including gastric disorders in Yonha- and Mitha-ri.

The Manpho Economic Development Zone covers an area of about 3 square kilometres embracing parts of Mitha-ri (Poltung Islet in the Amnok River included) and Phosang-ri which face Jian in Tonghua of Jilin over the river.

It is 8-18 km from the DPRK-China border bridge of Manpho, 70 km from that of Wiwon, 165 km from that of Junggang and 8-18 km from the border railway station of Manpho. There are railway lines between Manpho and Pyongyang and between Manpho and Hyesan, and Jian Railway Station in Jilin on the opposite side leads to Changchun via Tonghua.

Power and water supplies are satisfactory as the zone is located 14 km from the Jangjagang Power Station with a capacity of 90 000 kW and 15 km from the Manpho Yonha Power Station with a capacity of 10 000 kW and the water source of the Amnok River is plentiful.

An international service base combining tourism and trade will be built in the Mitha-ri area comprising Poltung Islet by exploiting cultural relics and tourism resources and a modern agricultural base incorporating the food production cycle in the Phosang-ri area.

Wiwon County is opposite Northeast China over the Amnok River.

It is rich in mineral deposits including white silica.

Forests account for 87 per cent of the area of the county and so it is a leading timber production centre.

The county’s water system is comprised of the Amnok, Jangja and Wiwon rivers and Wiwon Reservoir.

The Wiwon Industrial Development Zone also covers an area of nearly 3 square kilometres encompassing the shores of the Wiwon River, a tributary of the Amnok, and Wiwon Reservoir, and parts of Togam- and Kosong-ri in the county opposite China’s Jian.

It is 20 km from the Wiwon Power Station with a capacity of 390 000 kW and 25 km from the Manpho Yonha Power Station.

In and around the zone there are metallic silicon factories that turn out ferrosilicon and other metallic silicon.

It has a favourable condition for entry and exit and transport of imports and exports as it is 20 km from the point of border transit in Wiwon, 80 km from that in Manpho and 180 km from that in Junggang.

The zone will mainly specialize in processing minerals, timber and local farm products and manufacturing machinery on the basis of rich natural resources while engaging in scientific research into sericulture and freshwater fish farming.

Plans of the development zones have already been completed and investors are making field surveys.



Hong Kong firm signs onto Sinuiju Economic Development Zone

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014


Pictured Above (Google Earth): The approximate borders of the Sinuiju Special Economic Zone.

According to Yonhap:

North Korea has joined hands with a Hong Kong-based company to develop the country’s northwestern border city of Sinuiju into a special economic zone, a North Korean official said.

Sinuiju, which borders China’s Dandong city, has drawn much attention from foreign investors for its geographical advantage as North Korea’s western gateway to China, Ri Chol-sok, the vice chairman of North Korea’s economic development committee, said in an interview in the March issue of Kumsugangsan magazine, a North Korean government mouthpiece.

“Now a joint development company has been established for the development of (Sinuiju) and is striving to win back lost opportunities,” said the North Korean official.

Hong Kong-based conglomerate Great China International Investment Groups Ltd. reportedly signed the deal with North Korea.

North Korea is also making efforts to lure foreign investment to other special economic zones, including one in the Rason area in the northern tip of the country, according to Ri.

The foreign company already has deep ties with the North, having joined the country’s project launched in January to renovate the eastern part of the capital Pyongyang.

The Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) reported the following:

It has been reported that North Korea has established relations with a Hong Kong-based company with the goals of developing Sinuiju, a city bordering China in the northwest region of North Pyongan Province, into a special economic zone (SEZ). Vice Chairman of North Korea’s Committee for Economic Development Ri Chol Sok emphasized the nation’s efforts to attract foreign investors to the Sinuiju economic zone in an interview in the March issue of Kumsugangsan, a North Korean government magazine.

Vice Chairman Ri specifically mentioned that, in the past, Sinuiju garnered praise and attention from foreign investors due to its geographically advantageous location along the western border. Ri also announced the establishment of the Sinuiju-Great China joint venture development company, which plans to draw further interest and investment from abroad.

It is reported that the Sinuiju-Great China joint venture development company was created alongside a Hong Kong-based finance conglomerate known as Great China International Investment Groups, Ltd. (“Great China Groups”). Great China Groups has recently shown great interest in investing in North Korea and recently began the construction of East Pyongyang Commercial Street this past January.

Recent reports from other foreign media outlets have shown that Great China Groups had intentions to invest in the development of the Sinuiju region for some time, but Vice Chairman Ri’s announcement marks the first time that North Korean state media has officially recognized their joint development plans.

Meanwhile, the North Korean foreign publicity website Naenara announced that development of an additional economic development zone (EDZ) in North Pyongan Province along the Amnok (Yalu) River began on January 27 of this year. The Amnok (Yalu) River economic development zone will extend 6.6 square kilometers, with construction taking place in Ryongun-ri and continuing up to the Guri and Ojok Islands, where the North Korean border meets the city of Dandong and the Hu Mountain in China’s Liaoning Province.

North Korea plans to draw in tourists visiting China’s Hu Mountain to Ojok Island, where an “international services station” will offer food, entertainment, and tourist attractions. There are also plans to develop a modern agricultural sciences research complex on Guri Island that will specialize in flower and vegetable production.

North Korea specifically pushed for this location for the development of the Amnok (Yalu) River economic development zone — which will operate autonomously in Pyongan — due to its border location with China. In addition to its desirable geographical location, convenient transportation between the two nations will likely attract more attention from Chinese foreign investors, giving the Amnok (Yalu) River EDZ a higher chance of success compared to other economic development zones.

Investments reaching upwards of 240 million USD (approx. 260.3 billion KRW) make the Amnok River EDZ the largest in scale among the 13 total development areas.  In terms of actual size, however, the largest economic development zone in North Korea is the Shinpyong tourist development zone (8.1km2), located in North Hwanghae province.

Apart from the EDZs in the North Pyongan region of Sinuiju, the central government has announced their plans to push forward with two other special economic zones. The Hwanggeumpyong and Wihwa Islands SEZ was announced in June 2010, and in November of last year, plans were revealed to develop an additional special economic zone in the Sinuiju region.

All the economic development zones are listed here. Some people say there are 13 of them. Some people say 14 because they consider the Sinuiju Special Economic Zone an economic development zone. I am in the 14 camp. There have also been at least three other zones proposed that did not make the final list. 

The Sinuiju Special Economic Zone was announced on 2013-11-21 (the same day as the other 13 EDZs were announced–though in a different article).

Besides the Sinuiju Special Economic Zone, the only other EDZ to have reportedly made any progress is the  North Hamgyong Provincial Onsong Island Tourist Development Zone.

Read the full story here:
N. Korean, Hong Kong firms to develop border city of Sinuiju


Sinphyong turns into tourism development zone

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

According to the Pyongyang Times (2014-3-11):

Korea has been renowned for scenic beauty of mountains and rivers and has lots of scenic spots named after Mt. Kumgang, a celebrated mountain with unsurpassed scenery.

Among them, there is the Sinphyong Kumgang Scenic Spot in Phyonghwa-ri of Sinphyong County, North Hwanghae Province. Sinphyong Kumgang has also been called Little Kumgang Mountain.

Since ancient times, the area has been dubbed Tohwa Valley, meaning a beautiful valley covered with peach blossoms.

It is surrounded by high and steep mountains in the heart of the Ahobiryong Mountains in the middle of the country.

Sinphyong Kumgang is characterized by the beautiful sights of gorges.

The narrow and long Tohwa Valley is flanked by successive gorges and there are 72 noted places.

Waterfalls, ponds and fantastic rocks are found everywhere.

The fauna and flora are diverse. There are good tree species, Panax schinseng, songi mushroom, wild edible greens, bear, roe deer, pheasant, woodpecker, carp, goldfish, catfish and minnow.

There are sites of such temples as Kwanjok and Kirum which offer a glimpse of the private life of ancient Buddhist monks.

Kumgang Sujong spring water gushing out from a place near the scenic spot is widely known to different countries for its virtue in enhancing the beauty of women.

In different places of the scenic attraction there are resting sites, pavilions, observation platforms, sites for shower bath, fish ponds and fountains. There are also tourist, sightseeing and mountaineering roads stretching for over 8 kilometres.

The North Hwanghae Provincial People’s Committee has a plan to establish a Sinphyong Tourist Development Zone in some parts of the scenic spot comprising the areas of Kumgang Waterfalls Valley, Big Bear Valley and Small Bear Valley. It will offer comprehensive tourist services.

The zone is some 600 metres above sea level on average, which is ideal for mountaineering and physical training and favourable to building a tourist resort.

It is free from pollution and eco-friendly and expected to cover an area of 8.1 square kilometres.

A modern hotel with accommodation for hundreds of tourists, a golf course and other service facilities will be built.

The zone is easy of access as it is located in the middle of the tourist road between Pyongyang and Wonsan in Kangwon Province which is now being built into an international tourist city.

It is about 120 kilometres away from Pyongyang Airport, some 75 kilometres from Wonsan Port, nearly 142 kilometres from Sariwon, the capital of North Hwanghae Province, 8 kilometres from Sinphyong county town and about 30 kilometres from Jongbong Railway Station in Singye County, the nearest railway station.

Small as it is in area, Sinphyong Kumgang is a show-stopper for the original beauty of gorges, refreshing waterfalls, clean air and diverse fauna and flora.


State Economic Development Commission and the Jang purge

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Two officials at the State Economic Development Commission have apparently been reinstated following their removal during the purge of Jang Song-thaek. According to Yonhap:

Kim Ki-sok and Kim Chol-jin, chief and deputy chief of the North’s State Economic Development Commission, had been sacked in connection with the purge and execution of leader’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, in December last year, but have been reinstated after undergoing an “ideology re-education,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.

“Kim Ki-sok and Kim Chol-jin were forced to resign from the posts after being involved in the case of Jang Song-thaek, but reinstated as they were considered not so close to Jang,” the source said.

After reinstatement, Kim Ki-sok, chief of the North Korean commission, made secret visits last week to Beijing and Shenzhen, southern China, during which he met with Chinese business people, according to the source.

Here is what the Choson Ilbo had to say:

A source in Beijing said Kim visited Beijing, Shenzen, Singapore and Malaysia last week. He met with businesspeople interested in developing North Korea’s special economic zones.

Kim also met with Chinese officials who had experience in developing special economic zones, the source said. In Singapore, Kim discussed the development of a tourism zone in Wonsan.

But he apparently returned empty-handed.

Diplomatic sources in Beijing say North Korea is poised to push for more economic exchanges with China after elections for its rubber-stamp parliament on March 9. It will form a new team to handle the initiative now that Jang and his associates have been purged.

Prime Minister Pak Pong-ju or Ri Su-yong, a deputy department chief in the Workers Party who used to manage the coffers for former leader Kim Jong-il, may pay an official visit to China, according to sources.

Read other posts about the State Economic Development Commission here.

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N. Korea reinstates key officials on economic projects with China