Category: Politics

Chinese-North Korean joint ventures in constru…

With the recent restoration of DPRK-China relations, North Korea’s Rason special economic zone (SEZ) is being transformed into a city of modern skyscrapers, according to an April 13 report by Radio Free Asia.

China-North Korea bilateral joint ventures had been stalled for a while due to the sanctions being imposed by China and the international community. Slowly, however, there are signs that these joint ventures are being revitalized, at least in the Rason Economic and Trade Zone.

In Rason, there is a high demand for apartment buildings. North Korean trading companies are providing the sites, with the Chinese investors supplying the funds for such construction.

“The latest models of high-rise apartment have recently started to change the skyline in Rason. The joint ventures had slowed down last year as the China-North Korean relations became strained. However, the joint venture constructions were resumed recently and many buildings are now about to be completed,” an informed source from North Hamkyong province told Radio Free Asia.

High-rise apartments started to appear in Rason last year, but their construction slowed down when the Chinese government stepped up its enforcement of sanctions against North Korea. Consequently, most ongoing constructions had come to a halt, and the industry had paused to catch its breath.

At present, most of those apartments in the Rason special economic zone that are already completed or about to be completed are over twenty-stories high. North Korean trading companies often provide the construction sites and workers, while their Chinese partners are responsible for supplying construction materials and design of the buildings. The profits raised from the sales are shared between the two.

Because many high-ranking government and party officials and the new rich North Koreans known as “donju” are buying up these expensive apartments in Rason, the supply can hardly catch up with the demand. Depending on its location, direction, and the floor it is on, an apartment unit is sold at a price ranging from $30,000 to $50,000. Nevertheless, they are in short supply.

Although for the average North Koreans, these buildings are so expensive that they can hardly dream of owning one, they are often sold out even before their completion. Consequently, the trading companies are allegedly pocketing huge sums of foreign currency.

– The Institute for Far Eastern Studies

Kim Jong Un took his first selfie with Singapo…

Kim Jong Un took his first selfie with Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan as he toured Singapore’s tourist attractions the night before his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Lets firmly gather under the common banner of…

“Lets firmly gather under the common banner of the Korean race and build a unified powerhouse that will prosper!”

Recently, North Korean media has been emphasizing cooperation with the South and has repeatedly called on it to faithfully implement the latest Panmunjom Declaration which is also known as the April 27 Declaration in the North.

The Koam-Tapchon Marine Railway Bridge was rec…

The Koam-Tapchon Marine Railway Bridge was recently completed in Kangwon Province. A large-scale fishing zone is currently being constructed in this area and the completion of the railway bridge will allow its construction to rapidly progress.

A statue depicting Kim Il Sung giving his addr…

A statue depicting Kim Il Sung giving his address marking the end of the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula in the Pyongyang Metro. Pyongyang’s subway system is being quietly expanded west of the Hyoksin Line with at least three new stations already completed past Kwangbok station.

Automated production line for shrimp cracker…

Automated production line for shrimp crackers at the Kumkop General Foodstuff Factory for Sportspersons. This product was rumored to be created due to the popularity of South Korean-brand Nongshim shrimp crackers, which are available in black markets throughout North Korea.

Kim Jong Un crossed the DMZ to greet South Kor…

Kim Jong Un crossed the DMZ to greet South Korean President Moon Jae-in. He then invited Moon to cross briefly North with him before returning to the Southern side. The two will hold a one day summit where they will discuss issues related to inter-Korean relations.


North Korea Going All Out to Attract Foreign Tourists

North Korea is making strong efforts to attract foreign tourists. The State General Bureau of Tourist Guidance advertised on its website ‘DPR Korea Tour’ that the Korea International Travel Company (KITC) will run a Korean language program at the Pyongyang Tourism College (PTC) from July 14 to August 4, the Seoul-based Seoul-Pyongyang News said on April 4.

The language program advertises three levels of instruction—beginner, intermediate and advanced—with tourists to attend three hours of in-class language lessons each morning, followed by tours in the afternoon of famous attractions and scenic spots in Pyongyang, Kaesong, Nampho and Mt. Myohyang.

The state agency remarked that the PTC has produced many talented workers who now staff the tourism industry. PTC has also expanded the scope of knowledge in the industry by providing to its students a wide range of lectures by both local and foreign instructors. The website also features a film clip, which shows a group of college students from Hong Kong taking the Korean language program at the PTC last December. It added that KITC offers many interesting itineraries combining various themed tour programs, including bike riding around the city of Pyongyang, experiencing daily life on the Migok Collective Farm in Sariwon, learning North Korean cooking, and boating on the Taedong River. Having overhauled its website in mid-March, the state agency is demonstrating efforts to attract foreign tourists by newly introducing a flower festival, exhibitions, sports events, and various other tourist products. Language programs for tourists are not an entirely new product for North Korea. For example, in summer 2017, Kim Hyong Jik University—located in the capital and well-known for producing teachers—held a Korean language summer study program in conjunction with the academically-focused international travel agency Tongil Tours, who is offering their summer program again in 2018 at the same venue. This year, international travel companies such as Koryo Tours, Korea Konsult, and KTG DPRK Tours & Information all appear to be advertising the Pyongyang Tourism College language program, while the company Young Pioneer Tours is offering a very short program (four classes) to take place in July primarily at the School of Foreign Languages in Chongjin, and Juche Travel Services is advertising a three-week program at Kim Hyong Jik University in Pyongyang.

Xi Jinping, president of China, hosted a grand…

Xi Jinping, president of China, hosted a grand banquet to welcome Kim Jong Un to Beijing. During Kim Jong Un’s first international trip as the leader of North Korea, the two statesmen had substantial talks about the current political situation on the Korean peninsula and pledged to improve cooperation between China and North Korea. 

North Korea’s newest multiple rocket launcher …

North Korea’s newest multiple rocket launcher system, the KN-09. Introduced in 2016, its 300 mm rockets boast an indigenously developed imagery guidance system which allows its rockets to accurately hit targets up to 200 km (120 mi) away, putting South Korea’s military HQ in Daejeon within range.