Category: Politics

Kim Jong Un took part in Supreme People’s Asse…

Kim Jong Un took part in Supreme People’s Assembly elections. He cast his vote for Hong So Hon, the president of Kim Chaek University of Science and Technology.

North Korean soldiers inside the Joint Securit…

North Korean soldiers inside the Joint Security Area have begun sporting new uniforms. The padded, woodland-pattern camouflage uniforms also include sunglasses, earpieces, and armbands. 

Pyongyang’s skyline viewed from the Yanggakdo …

Pyongyang’s skyline viewed from the Yanggakdo International Hotel. The capital’s electricity situation has dramatically improved in recent years due to the ongoing modernization of North Korea’s power grid and the completion of several new power plants. 

The central control room of the Pukchang Therm…

The central control room of the Pukchang Thermal Power Complex. North Korea’s largest power plant, it recently completed an expansion project that saw the installation of new generating equipment. The plant is currently renovating circulating pumps and manufacturing feeding pump blades to further boost electricity production.

North Koreans build nascent fintech infrastruc…

Amidst reports that North Korea’s mobile subscriber base has recently surpassed 6 million, a service called “mobile money” that allows users to share mobile phone minutes with each other has been rising in popularity. The micropayment service can also be used to send money and make purchases.

“The number of cell phone users and the time being spent on phones is increasing,” said a South Pyongan Province-based source. “Koryolink (a telecommunications company in North Korea) has subscribers paying 2,850 won per month for 200 minutes. Subscribers can share these minutes with friends or buy them from vendors.”

A source in North Pyongan Province added, “To send minutes to another person, all a subscriber has to do is put in the code and the phone number of the person they want to send the minutes to. They indicate the number of minutes they want to send and submit the form. The minutes on the other person’s phone increases accordingly.”

The use of the service also allows money transfers between individual subscribers, and there are even traders who assist in these transactions for a fee.

For example, a user in Chongjin may want to send money to a recipient in Pyongyang. The Chongjin resident can send minutes to a trader living in Pyongyang, who converts the amount into cash and delivers it to the Pyongyang recipient.

North Koreans can transfer money in a slightly more complicated way that requires traders in both Pyongyang and Chongjin to complete such a transaction. Moreover, the money sender has to transfer the money in cash instead of electronically.

“Mobile money” is also increasingly being used in the markets to pay for goods.

“There are some people who are starting to use the service to purchase items in the market with the minutes left over from a particular month,” said a North Hamgyong Province-based source. “All they have to do is send the minutes to the merchant on the spot.”

The fact that “mobile money” is being used as a new way to purchase products, despite the availability of a variety of debit cards, shows that North Koreans are using their own form of fintech infrastructure in the absence of other established financial services.

However, whether the use of “mobile money” to conduct money transfers and pay for products becomes a nationwide trend remains to be seen.

– Mun Dong Hui / DailyNK

Kim Jong Un made his annual New Year Address t…

Kim Jong Un made his annual New Year Address to mark the start of 2019. Roughly two thirds of his speech was devoted to the economy. Kim Jong Un called for increased electricity supply and the need for modernization and innovation in consumer goods production. Kim Jong Un also stated that the United States should provide sanctions relief soon or he would have no choice but to try a different approach to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Newly built Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No…

Newly built Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 5 in North Hwanghae province. The station possesses four turbines with a total generating capacity of 10 MW. This plant is one of North Korea’s hydroelectric power stations registered with the UNFCCC’s Clean Development Mechanism that allow North Korea to generate carbon credits in return for food and other non-sanctioned goods.

N. Korean media highlight high-tech achievemen…

North Korea’s media outlets are repeatedly playing up the importance of information and communications technology (ICT) apparently as part of an effort to attain economic development.

DPRK Today, a propaganda website run by the Pyongyang regime, said in an article Wednesday that a laboratory affiliated with the North’s most prestigious university has developed a number of advanced artificial intelligence programs and systems.

The article said that the IT Institute of the Latest Science Institute of Kim Il Sung University has been chosen as one of the North’s 10 best ICT enterprises of 2018.

A Korean language voice recognition program and a Korean language document recognition program, both developed by the Kim Il Sung University institute, have been certified as the best artificial intelligence technology products, it noted.

The institute has also developed an integrated search system based on the North’s internal network within six months, making it possible to quickly and accurately search for information stored on hundreds of websites, the article said.

The Pyongyang-based institute is now in the process of developing a simultaneous interpretation program, a free conversation software combining voice and character recognition technologies, and a program capable of recognizing any handwriting, it said.

According to a recent report of the Rodong Sinmun, the 29th National Exhibition of IT Achievements that opened at the Sci-Tech Complex in the North’s capital on Nov. 7 featured a voice-controlled smart home system and other advanced information technology devices developed by the Kim Il Sung University institute.

The mouthpiece of the North’s ruling party argued that an intelligent speaker is capable of recognizing human voice to automatically control household devices, including fans, air conditioners, televisions and lights.

Watchers say that North Korea appears to be actively coping with the latest global trends in the IT sector under North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s campaign for economic development.

“Well aware that the introduction of high value-added industries would speed up economic development, the North appears to have embarked on its own fourth industrial revolution. It seeks to maximize productivity by elevating the level of automation through the integration of ICT,” said Lim Eul-chul, a professor at Kyungnam University.

“What is important is the commercialization of indigenously developed technologies. With only the domestic market available, the North appears to be preparing for a market opening and reform after denuclearization and sanctions relief.”

– Yonhap News Agency

A defacement page created by WhoIs Team, a h…

A defacement page created by WhoIs Team, a hacking group based in North Korea. In March 2013, the cyber team hacked into LG U+, a large South Korean internet portal, and uploaded the above image during cyber-warfare attacks on the South titled “10 Days of Rain”.

The re-construction of Samjiyon is being pushe…

The re-construction of Samjiyon is being pushed forward at a rapid pace. Since Kim Jong Un first visited the town in early July, over 100 buildings have gone up. In all, over 400 new structures will be constructed including factories, museums, recreational buildings, housing, and hotels.