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Kim Jong Un Visits 11 May Factory, Views Mobile ‘Phone Handset

11 Aug
Kim Jong Un gives instructions on production at the 11 May Factory, after viewing the "Arirang" model handheld 'phone.  Seen in attendance is Ri Jae Il (L), a KWP senior deputy department director and close aide to Kim Jong Un (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un gives instructions on production at the 11 May Factory, after viewing the “Arirang” model handheld ‘phone. Seen in attendance is Ri Jae Il (L), a KWP senior deputy department director and close aide to Kim Jong Un (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours the assembly shop at 11 May Factory (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours the assembly shop at 11 May Factory (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK state media reported on 10 August (Saturday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) toured the 11 May Factory.  He was accompanied by Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Deputy Department Directors Ri Jae Il (Ri Ch’ae-il) and Kim Pyong Ho (Kim Pyo’ng-ho).  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearances were visits to the construction sites of the Mirim Riding Club and Munsu Wading Pool.

A view of the "Aririang" model phone handset, produced by the 11 May Factory (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

A view of the “Aririang” model phone handset, produced by the 11 May Factory (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un toured various shops in the factory, including the assembly shop. He was briefed about the mobile ‘phone handset model “Arirang.”  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “highly appreciated the creative ingenuity and patriotic enthusiasm with which the officials and employees of the factory laid a solid foundation for mass-producing hand phones by building a new modern hand phone production process” and “praised them for developing an application program in Korean style which provides the best convenience to the users while strictly guaranteeing security.”  After being briefed about the “Arirang” phone’s performance he said “that a hand phone is convenient for its user when that part of the phone is sensitive” and “these hand phones will be very convenient for their users as their camera function has high pixels.”  KCNA reported that production of the “Arirang” ‘phones began “only a few days ago and were in high demand by people.”  Whilst looking at the logo on the ‘phone, Kim Jong Un said “that mass-production of goods with DPRK trademark can instill national pride and self-respect into the Korean people” and “how nice to see hand phones being successfully produced with indigenous technology.”  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said that “only when the quality of products is improved while boosting their production, people will like home-made things and they will be in high demand” then issued instructions for the 11 May Factory.

Kim Jong Un previously visited the 11 May Factory in late July 2011 with his father, late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il).

Kim Jong Un (R) visits the 11 May Factory with his father, late leader Kim Jong Il, in July 2011 (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap).

Kim Jong Un (R) visits the 11 May Factory with his father, late leader Kim Jong Il, in July 2011 (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap).

A New Party Economic Department?

17 Jul
A 15 April 2012 satellite image shows the Korean Workers' Party Central Committee Office Complex #1 in central Pyongyang.  RFA, according to anonymous sources, reports that a new Department of the Economy was established in June 2013 to manage economic policies and personnel.  The departments mentioned in this posting that are seen in this image are: the Organization Guidance Department (1) the Propaganda and Agitation Department (2) the Administration Department (7), Economic Policy Control and Finance and Planning Departments (14), Office #39 (15), Office #38 (16), the Machine-Building Industry Department (17), the Light Industry Department (19) and the Finance and Accounting Department (20) (Photo: Digital Globe).

A 15 April 2012 satellite image shows the Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee Office Complex #1 in central Pyongyang. RFA, according to anonymous sources, reports that a new Department of the Economy was established in June 2013 to manage economic policies and personnel. The departments mentioned in this posting seen in this image are: the Organization Guidance Department (1) the Propaganda and Agitation Department (3) the Administration Department (7), Economic Policy Control and Finance and Planning Departments (14), Office #39 (15), Office #38 (16), the Machine-Building Industry Department (17), the Light Industry Department (19) and the Finance and Accounting Department (20) (Photo: Digital Globe).

Radio Free Asia, citing two anonymous sources based in Chagang and Yanggang Provinces, reports that the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] created a new department in June within the Central Committee to manage economic, financial and trace policies.  The so-called Department of Economy is part of the central party apparatus in Pyongyang and has branch departments within the KWP’s Provincial Committee system.  The department is rumored to be an eventual merger of several of the KWP Central Committee’s economy and planning related departments.  According to RFA the Department of Economy now has sole control over the appointment of economic and finance officials to the DPRK Cabinet and has the power to create, abolish or consolidate domestic and foreign trading corporations.  The new department also has a broad license in formulating and implementing economic policy.  Concentrating nearly all policy and personnel control into one central party department may reduce bureaucratic encroachment among party and government agencies, corruption (through the establishment of fraudulent trading companies and misappropriation of funds and resources) and prevent well-connected senior cadres using their personal relationships with the center to bypass formal control channels in establishing  trading companies.

One RFA source links the department to an economic restructuring policy announced internally in June 2012 (the so-called 28 June Policy) claims that “establishing the Department of Economy is related to the so-called ‘reformed economic management system’. . .it means the Party never wants to lose its control over the economy, even though the ‘reformed system’ takes place everywhere.”  The word “reform,” said with a positive connotation, is no longer the conversation-stopper among DPRK elites and policymakers that it used to be.  Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) used the word “reform” in a long public letter published in Rodong Sinmun on 1 May 2013.  The letter (which can be read in its entirety with a textual note at NCNK) was a message of thanks to DPRK citizens and security personnel who contributed to the renovation of the park and grounds around the Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.  Kim Jong Un wrote that “the functionaries and the working people of the cabinet and its committees, ministries, central organs, the City of Pyongyang, and each of the provincial people’s committees should not only make great reform and a great leap in the whole range of the economy, including the four leading sectors, which are the locomotives of the people’s economy, and agriculture and light industry, which are the primary assault targets of the construction of an economically powerful state, but actively contribute to achieving a decisive turnabout in the improvement of the people’s living standards.”

It is not clear which Party Central Committee (central party) departments will be consolidated into the Department of Economy.  Looking at the relevant departments in the Central Committee apparatus the Department of Economy could absorb the Finance and Planning Department, the Light Industry Department and the Economic Policy Inspection Department.  One might put question marks in the marginalia for two other economy-related central party departments, the Finance and Accounting Department and the Machine-Building Industry Department.

The Finance and Accounting Department manages party finances and the party economy (sometimes called the Third Economy).  It includes Office #39 and Office #38 (poetically called “Kim Jong Il’s safe).  It is possible that the offices and sections that manage the Kim Family’s finances and household(s) purchases have been transferred into the DPRK National Defense Commission Secretariat, where Kim Jong Un established his executive office (his Personal Secretariat).  Other offices and sections managing non-Kim party finances and resources may become part of the Department of Economy.

The Machine-Building Industry Department [MBID] (formerly known as the Munitions Industry Department) manages the DPRK’s conventional and advanced weapons programs and machine-building and machine tools industries.  The Second Economy Commission (arms manufacturers and producers) and the Second Academy of Natural Science (arms science and technology R &D) are nominally part of the MBID.   The MBID might be exempt from merging into the Department of the Economy.  However, another possibility is that the MBID’s various offices, sections and agencies involved in conventional and advanced weapons may be formally transferred to the National Defense Commission (which some Pyongyang watchers have long suspected).  Offices and sections linked to the Ministry of Machine Building and the civilian economy might then be absorbed by the Department of the Economy.

According to RFA‘s sources the Department of Economy is expected to become one of the Party Central Committee’s control tower departments, along with the Organization Guidance Department [OGD], the Propaganda and Agitation Department and the Administration Department.  One source anticipated that the Department of Economy could become “the strongest department in the Party,” which could incite a power competition among different patronage networks and state, party and army organizations seeking to establish businesses

Personalities and Power Dynamics

There have been two occasions during the past 20 years in which the Party Central Committee consolidated its economy and trade related departments.  Around 1993 the Light Industry Department and the Planning Department were folded into the Economic Policy Inspection Department under one director, Kim Kyong Hui (sister of late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il and paternal aunt of current leader Kim Jong Un).  This arrangement lasted until 1997 and the Light Industry Department and the Planning Department reverted to individual departments.

In 2005 the KWP Agricultural Department, the Planning Department and the Finance Department were consolidated into the Finance and Planning Department (a.k.a. Financial Planning Department).  Then-Chairman of the State Planning Commission Pak Nam Gi migrated from the semi-autonomous planning commission in the DPRK Cabinet into the central party to become director of the Finance and Planning Department.  In addition to holding a portfolio for economic affairs, Pak supervised a restructuring process in the central party in which numerous cadres and staff members were made redundant or migrated to the National Defense Commission.  This may have drawn a target on Pak’s back, long before the 2009 currency reform, and in February 2010 Pak was executed by firing squad.  In June 2010 Pak was formally replaced by Hong Sok Hyong.  During the 3rd Party Conference on 28 September 2010 Hong was elected to the KWP Secretariat and reappointed director of the Planning and Finance Department.  Hong was later removed from office in June 2011, having headed Finance and Planning for only a year.  His eventual replacement, Kwak Pom Gi was later appointed to concurrent positions on the KWP Secretariat and director of the Finance and Planning Department during the 4th Party Conference in April 2012.

Hong Sok Hyong (1) served as Director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department from June 2010 to June 2011.  Pak Nam Gi (2) oversaw the establishment of the KWP Finance and Planning Department and served as its director from 2005 to 2010.  They are seen attending a guidance tour with late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il in North Hamgyo'ng Province in the summer of 2009 (Photo: NK Leadership Watch/KCNA file photo).

Hong Sok Hyong (1) served as Director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department from June 2010 to June 2011. Pak Nam Gi (2) oversaw the establishment of the KWP Finance and Planning Department and served as its director from 2005 to 2010. They are seen attending a guidance tour with late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il in North Hamgyo’ng Province in the summer of 2009 (Photo: NK Leadership Watch/KCNA file photo).

Current director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department Kwak Pom Gi (L), KWP Secretary and department director Kim Kyong Hui (C) and current DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (R).  From 1993 to 1997 Pak served as Madame Kim's principal deputy when three KWP Central Committee economic departments were consolidated.  This consolidation may serve as the model for the recently established Department of Economy (Photos: KCNA/Rodong Sinmun).

Current director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department Kwak Pom Gi (L), KWP Secretary and department director Kim Kyong Hui (C) and current DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (R). From 1993 to 1997 Pak served as Madame Kim’s principal deputy when three KWP Central Committee economic departments were consolidated. This consolidation may serve as the model for the recently established Department of Economy (Photos: KCNA/Rodong Sinmun).

Given the violent end one director met and the quick turnover between the two succeeding directors, the Finance and Planning Department may be a fundamentally flawed institution.   It might have proven ineffective in fulfilling its mission or was a buzzing hive of corruption.  Kwak Pom Gi appears to be in good standing in the leadership.  He was elected the Chairman of the Budget Committee of the DPRK’s unicameral legislature, the Supreme People’s Assembly in September 2012 and his last observed appearance was his attendance at Kim Jong Un’s visit to the renovation of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) Museum in July 2013.  It is possible that Kwak is a key player in the rumored establishment of the Department of Economy.

Another mover and shaker in the creation of the Department of Economy is most likely DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju.  Reappointed Premier in April 2013, Pak has taken over a DPRK Cabinet with greater involvement in the country’s economy.  In a report on the DPRK Cabinet’s 2nd plenary meeting in July 2013 there was a call to “further enhancing the responsibility and role of the cabinet and the functionaries of economic guidance organs” and the Cabinet meeting “emphasized the need to resolve all issues that arise in the economic work by concentrating them on the cabinet according to the demands of the cabinet system, the system centered on the cabinet; the need to establish a strong discipline and order of unconditionally executing the cabinet’s decisions and instructions; and the need for economic guidance functionaries to make sure that leaps and innovations take place in every sentry post, while taking the lead in guiding the work of their respective sectors and units.”  This may indicate that the Department of Economy will provide the political backing for the Cabinet’s role in economic affairs.  With Pak Pong Ju as the country’s premier, the new party department and the DPRK Government may work shoulder to shoulder.  Pak Pong Ju, it should be noted, was Kim Kyong Hui’s principal deputy in the Economic Policy Inspection Department from 1993 to 1997 during a previous consolidation of three Party Central Committee economic departments.

DPRK Cabinet Holds Second Plenum

16 Jul
DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (1) and DPRK Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Chairman Ro Tu Chol (2), seen touring a KPA livestock breeding facility in May 2013, delivered the reports at the DPRK Cabinet's second plenary meeting held on an disclosed date in July 2013 (Photo: KCNA file photo).

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (1) and DPRK Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Chairman Ro Tu Chol (2), seen touring a KPA livestock breeding facility in May 2013, delivered the reports at the DPRK Cabinet’s second plenary meeting held on an disclosed date in July 2013 (Photo: KCNA file photo).

DPRK state media reported on 13 July (Saturday) that the DPRK Cabinet held its second plenary meeting (plenum) in 2013.  Neither Korean nor English news items on the Cabinet meeting disclosed the date (KCNA reported on 15 July [Monday] that the meeting was “held recently”) of the plenary session.  Attending the meeting were DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju and Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Chairman Ro Tu Chol, “senior functionaries of the organs under direct control of the cabinet; directors of management bureaus; chairman of provincial, municipal, and country people’s committees; chairmen of provincial rural economic committees; chairman of provincial district planning committees; directors of provincial and daily necessities industrial management bureaus” and attending as observers were “managers of major plants and enterprises.”

The first agenda item at the Cabinet meeting was “death defyingly implementing the militant tasks set forth in respected and beloved Comrade Kim Jong Un’s historic letter of appeal ‘Let Us Usher in a New Heyday on All Fronts of Socialist Construction by Creating the Masikryo’ng [Masik Pass] Speed.”  Premier Pak Pong Ju delivered a report on the first agenda item.  The Cabinet meeting’s second agenda item was a report on “the fulfillment of the people’s economic plan in the first half of the year and on measures for successfully fulfilling the people’s economic plan in the third and fourth quarters.  Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Chairman Ro Tu Chol reported on the second agenda item.

After the reports were delivered, speeches were delivered by the plenary meeting’s participants.  According to KCNA, Pak, Ro and the meeting’s speakers said “soldier-builders on Masik Pass are pushing forward several projects in a three dimensional way and breaking levels and records set in the past amid a high- pitched drive for creating the ‘speed on Masik Pass,'” that “reclaimers of the Sep’o tableland made shining achievements with the goal to reclaim more than 50 000 hectares of grassland and finish the construction of stock-breeding management center within this year” and that “fresh successes and innovations are being made in the construction of major projects including the construction of the Ch’o’ngch’o’ngang Power Stations in Tiers and apartment houses for scientists.”  According to Minju Joson, all participants of the expanded meeting of the cabinet plenary session renewed their firm resolve to achieve great successes in this meaningful year’s economic work by thoroughly implementing the militant tasks set forth in the respected and beloved marshal’s New Year Address and historic letter of appeal.”

KCNA also reported that the meeting’s speakers noted that “unprecedented production swing is being effected in the different sectors of the national economy amid the efforts to carry out the tasks advanced by Marshal Kim Jong Un in his New Year Address and appeal” and said “the service personnel and people of the DPRK are faced with the heavy yet responsible tasks to usher in a new heyday on all fronts of socialist construction by working hard to create the “speed on Masik Pass” in hearty response to the historic appeal made by the Marshal while carrying through the tasks laid out in his New Year Address.”  The meeting’s reporters and speakers also said that “in the midst of a hot wind of productive upsurges fiercely sweeping through all sectors of the people’s economy, including light industry and agriculture — the main fronts of this year’s economic construction — and the four leading sectors, the Ministry of Coal Industry, the Ministry of Machine Industry, and many other units overfulfilled the people’s economic plan in the first half of the year, and brilliant success was achieved particularly in fulfilling the June people’s economic plan through the vigorous struggle of the functionaries and working people of various sectors of the people’s economy who rose up vigorously, holding high the respected and beloved marshal’s historic letter of appeal” and that “the production of key industrial products increased amid a struggle to fulfill the people’s economic plan by each index during the first half of the year.”

The Cabinet plenary meeting’s speakers and debate participants “unanimously emphasized that all these achievements are the results of the wise leadership of the respected and beloved marshal, who clearly indicated the direction and ways of doing the economic work in this meaningful year’s New Year Address, led various sectors of the people’s economy by the hand every step of the way in the course of giving them on-the-spot guidance despite being so busy with leading the military-first revolution, and roused millions of soldiers and people to achieve great innovation and great leap by issuing his historic letter of appeal.”  In the official report of the Cabinet meeting,  Minju Joson quoted Kim Jong Un’s remark that “it is our party’s intention and determination to raise a hot wind of great innovation and great leap throughout the country by following and learning from the indomitable fighting spirit and fighting traits displayed by soldiers in the construction of the Masik Pass Skiing Ground.”  According to KCNA after the reports, speeches and debates the DPRK Cabinet “adopted a relevant decision.”

The DPRK Cabinet resolved that “firm priority should be given to the equipment and materials needed for construction over carrying out construction work and should be responsibly supplied so that the Masik Pass soldier-builders can finish building the Masik Pass Skiing Ground within this year as intended by the respected and beloved marshal.”  To that end the Cabinet instructed that “the building materials, metal, and forestry industrial sectors and other sectors should supply cement, steel materials, logs, and other materials needed for construction in a timely manner, and the machine industrial sector and other units should responsibly fulfill the tasks of supplying equipment by meticulously carrying out the production organization and command, and support the construction both materially and morally.”

The DPRK Cabinet also resolved that using the Masik Pass Skiing Ground workers as model, “important construction projects should be further accelerated, including the Sep’o tableland reclamation battle, the construction of the terraced Ch’o’ngch’o’n River Power Plant, Mt Paektu Military-First Youth Power Plant, and Wo’nsan Army-People Power Plant, the construction of Munsu Wading Pool, and the reconstruction and repair of the sports village in Ch’o’ngch’un Street” and that “relevant units should carry out all construction work strictly in accordance with the requirements of technical regulations and standard construction methods and decisively reinforce the struggle to improve the construction quality and construction supervision work, thereby erecting all buildings and other structures at the best level as monumental creations of the times, and supply units should unconditionally give priority to supplying the building materials over carrying out construction work.”

The Cabinet meeting also “presented a task of fiercely raising fiery winds of great innovation and great leap in the leading sectors of the the people’s economy above all else.”  The coal industry “should give firm priority to prospecting and tunneling, expand coal production capacity by accelerating the development of new coal mines and pits, and increase coal production by actively introducing advanced coal mining methods.”  The electrical power industry “should concentrate its efforts on operating existing power generating facilities at full capacity and systematically increase electric power production by mapping out measures for increasing the efficiency of power generating facilities.”

In order for “efforts. . .into shoring up” the metal industry the electric power and coal industries, in cooperation with the Ministry of Railways “should unconditionally produce and supply the electric power and coal needed for production at iron works and steel mills according to plan and channel efforts to materials transport.”  The metal industry should also “shold fast to the chuch’e-orientation of metal industry as a lifeline and put spurs to the production of steel materials.”   The Ministry of Railways should also “further increase the transport capacity by intensifying the production and repair of locomotives and freight cars, and meticulously carry out the transport organization and command to establish a strong discipline like the army, thereby further increasing the railway cargo transport.”

The DPRK Cabinet’s plenary meeting also “placed key emphasis on the need to bring about productive upsurges in light industrial and agricultural sectors — the main fronts of this year’s economic construction.”  The country’s light industries “should adhere to the normalization of the people’s consumer goods production as a priority task and operate the modernized people’s consumer goods production bases at full capacity by meticulously carrying out the work for the supply of raw materials and other materials, and make a strong drive for improving the product quality, thereby making sure that more consumer goods are supplied to the people in this meaningful year, while also further accelerating the technical reconstruction of light industrial plants.”

With regard to food production, the DPRK’s agricultural sector “should do the fertilization and management of crops thoroughly in line with the demands of the chuch’e-based farming method without losing the momentum created in finishing the rice planting and sowing the seeds of field crops at the right time, thereby fulfilling this year’s grain production goal without fail” and the country’s fishing industry should “increase fish production by harmoniously combining deep-sea fishing and inshore fishing and expand sea farming, while more firmly consolidating the material and technical foundation of the fisheries industry.”

The cabinet meeting called for the machine-building industry to “make good use of the existing production foundations to produce more machine tools, vehicles, tractors, and various other machine products, and actively develop new modern machine products”, for the chemical industries to “increase the fertilizer production and put spurs to the production of synthetic fibers and synthetic resins, thus thoroughly achieving localization of light industrial raw materials,” for the building materials and forestry industries to “normalize the production at existing cement factories and increase log production” and for mining industries to “decisive increase the production of various minerals and processed products.”

On the matter of science and technology the DPRK Cabinet “indicated the need for all sectors and units of the people’s economy to vigorously carry out the battle of breaking through the ultra-cutting edge, holding high the party’s intention” saying that it “is necessary to decisively improve and reinforce guidance over the work of science and technology in line with the demands of the development of reality, firmly organize specialized scientific research institutes, reinforce the research and development activities of universities, and decisively increase the technology and product development capabilities of factories and enterprises” and that “investment in the work of science and technology should be increased, and the social traits of attaching importance to science and technology should be established in the whole country, while firmly adhering to the work for guaranteeing the working and living conditions of scientists and technicians.”  The Cabinet also “set forth important tasks that arise in thoroughly implementing the party’s strategic line on simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of a nuclear armed forces,” but did not disclose what those “tasks” were.

The Cabinet plenary meeting also addressed “issues of provincial, municipal, and county people’s committees revitalizing local industries according to the characteristics of their local areas; vigorously waging a struggle to develop all cultural fields, including education, public health, literature and art, and sports, to the level of an advanced civilized country; and all functionaries and working people inscribing Kim Jong Il patriotism deep on their hearts and sprucing up their villages, streets, and workplaces and parks and pleasure grounds in line with the demands of the military-first era and normalizing their management and operation, thereby bringing about a turnabout in the work for putting a new face on the land in this meaningful year.”

The DPRK Cabinet also reiterated its role “for further enhancing the responsibility and role of the cabinet and the functionaries of economic guidance organs” and “emphasized the need to resolve all issues that arise in the economic work by concentrating them on the cabinet according to the demands of the cabinet system, the system centered on the cabinet; the need to establish a strong discipline and order of unconditionally executing the cabinet’s decisions and instructions; and the need for economic guidance functionaries to make sure that leaps and innovations take place in every sentry post, while taking the lead in guiding the work of their respective sectors and units.”

DPRK Premier Visits Power Plant, Farm and Appliances Factory

2 Jul
DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (2nd R) tours the Pyongyang Electrical Appliances Joint Venture Company (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap).

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (2nd R) tours the Pyongyang Electrical Appliances Joint Venture Company (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap).

DPRK state media reported on 1 July (Monday) that Cabinet Premier Pak Pong Ju visited the Pyongyang Thermal Power Complex, a cooperative farm in Kangwo’n Province and an electric appliances factory.  Pak’s first visit was to the Pyongyang Electric Appliance Joint Venture Company, which was established in 2006 in cooperation with the Beijing Fu Xing Xiao Cheng Electronic Technology Stock Company [LTD].  Pak learned “in detail about the researches into the power management and production of different kinds of watt-hour meters” and held a “consultative meeting” which “discussed and took measures to improve the power industry system to meet the higher demands for power in the fields of the national economy and use electricity in an effective manner.”

Pak later visited the Pyongyang Thermal Power Complex.  While touring the power plant, he “spoke highly of the successes made by officials, technicians and workers of the complex who have replied to the Workers’ Party of Korea’s call with increased production of electricity” and he learned “in detail about the production and boiler operation.”  Pak held a meeting with managers and officials of the power plant “to stress the need to produce much more electricity and send it to fields of national economy so as to meet the demand for electricity in building an economic power.”  Pak Pong Ju also “called for meticulously organizing the management of equipment and technical control and increasing production.”  Pak also visited Mip’yo’ng Cooperative Farm in T’ongch’o’n County, Kangwo’n Province where he learned about its fertilization and cultivation activities.  According to KCNA, he “underscored the need to establish ring-shaped rotation production system to raise soil fertility, and radically increase grain production and thoroughly prevent crop and land damage by downpours.”

DPRK Premier Visits Coal Mine

29 Apr
DPRK Cabinet Premier Pak Pong Ju (1) looks at a piece of equipment during a tour of the Sunchon Area Coal Mining Complex in South Pyongan Province (Photo: KCNA)

DPRK Cabinet Premier Pak Pong Ju (1) looks at a piece of equipment during a tour of the Sunchon Area Coal Mining Complex in South Pyongan Province (Photo: KCNA)

DPRK state media reported on 29 April (Monday) that DPRK Cabinet Premier Pak Pong Ju visited the Sunch’o’n Area Youth Coal Mining Complex.  Pak was briefed about coal production at the 8 February Jikdong Youth Coal Mine and learned about the deposit and yield of other coal mines in the area.  Pak held a meeting with local officials and managers of the coal mines at which he “underscored the importance of the coal production in stepping up the building of an economic power and carrying out the new strategic line of the Workers’ Party of Korea on simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of nuclear force,” according to KCNA.  The meeting also addressed  “issues of working out a correct business strategy as required by the socialist economic management in the new century and rationally and scrupulously managing enterprise and manpower” and “underscored the need for the relevant units to work out plans in line with the production capacity of coal mines and put the supply of materials on a par with production as immediate tasks.”  Pak Pong Ju also toured others areas of the Sunchon coal mining complex and “discussed matters for combining production with technology. “

Pak’s predecessor, Choe Yong Rim, last visited the Sunch’o’n coal mining complex and the 8 February Jikdong Youth Coal Mine in January 2013.

Overview of the Sunch'o'n Area Coal Mining Complex (Photo: Google image)

Overview of the Sunch’o’n Area Coal Mining Complex (Photo: Google image)

Two Academic Awards/Prize Ceremonies Held For Scientists in Pyongyang

6 Feb
DPRK Vice Premier Kim Yong Jin (R) reads a citation at the 2013 ceremony for the 16 February Science and Technology Prize at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang on 6 February 2013 (Photo: KCNA)

DPRK Vice Premier Kim Yong Jin (R) reads a citation at the 2013 ceremony for the 16 February Science and Technology Prize at the People’s Palace of Culture in Pyongyang on 6 February 2013 (Photo: KCNA)

DPRK state media reported on 6 February (Wednesday) that two academic award ceremonies were held in Pyongyang.  The 16 February Science and Technology  Prize held a ceremony at the People’s Palace of Culture to ” scientists, technicians, teachers, researchers and officials in the DPRK. . .[that] made tangible contributions to the development of the country’s science and technology, building an economic power and improving the people’s living standard.”  Attending the ceremony were DPRK Cabinet Vice Premier (for Education) Kim Yong Jin, State Science and Technology Commission Chairman Choe Sang Gon, Chairman of the Education Commission Kim Sung Du and President of the State Academy of Sciences Jang Chol.

According to KCNA “certificates and medals of the prize were awarded to various units including the Mathematics Faculty of Kim Il Sung University, Kim Chaek University of Technology and the Heat Engineering Institute of the State Academy of Science,” “Certificates of the Scientific and Technological Innovation Prize were awarded to the Organic Chemistry Institute of the Hamhung Branch, the Central Experimental Analysis Institute and the Mathematics Institute of the State Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Koryo Medical Science,” and “certificates of the February 16 Science and Technology Prize and the Scientific and Technological Innovation Prize went to more than 90 scientists, technicians, teachers, researchers and officials including Myong Kum Chol, department head of Kim Il Sung University, Kang Yong Chol, room chief of the Rakwon Building Machine Design Institute at the Rakwon Machine Complex, and Mun Chang Won, teacher at Kim Chaek University of Technology.”

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(Photos: KCNA)

Presentations and participants at 16 February Science and Technology Prize at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang on 6 February 2013 (Photos: KCNA)

Presentations and participants at 16 February Science and Technology Prize at the People’s Palace of Culture in Pyongyang on 6 February 2013 (Photos: KCNA)

Another ceremony that “awarded the state academic degrees and titles” to those “have made great contributions to building a thriving nation by waging a dynamic drive for pushing back the frontiers of latest science and technology, true to the dear respected Kim Jong Un’s idea of giving importance to science and technology.”  The ceremony was held as part of commemorations of  Kim Jong Il’s birth anniversary (16 February) was held, separately, the same day at the People’s Palace of Culture.   KCNA reported that “Kim Song Gun, researcher of the Turf Institute of the State Academy of Sciences, and Kim Kwon Mu, researcher of the Forest of Economic Value Research Institute of the Ministry of Land and Environmental Conservation, were awarded the title of academician and that of candidate academician went to Kim Song Il, dean of a faculty of Kim Il Sung University” and “Jo Chol, vice-president of Kim Il Sung University, Pak Je Dong, room chief of University of National Economy, Ri Kyong Su, researcher of Kim Chaek University of Technology, and others were awarded academic title of professor.”  Also, according to KCNA, “a doctor’s degree went to 38 persons including Yun Nam, head of a department of Kim Il Sung University, Kim Ryong Hwa, head of a department of Kim Chaek University of Technology, Ryom Song Chol, researcher of the Mathematics Research Institute of the State Academy of Sciences, and academic title of associate professor went to 127 others.”

The 16 February Science and Technology Prize ceremony received more prominent coverage in state media.  The officials reported to have attended that ceremony are all leading officials of organizations involved the civilian research academic aspects of the DPRK nuclear community.  One might also scan the names and find that some DPRK scientists linked to a possible forthcoming nuclear test are already receiving their state awards, regardless of the test’s outcome.

DPRK TV News Reports on Richardson-Schmidt Visit to Grand People’s Study House and KIS University

10 Jan
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (L) takes a photograph of the Chuch'e Tower (R) from the balcony of the Grand People's Study House in Pyongyang (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (L) takes a photograph of the Chuch’e Tower (R) from the balcony of the Grand People’s Study House in Pyongyang (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

DPRK state media aired a brief story (33 seconds) at the end of its 9 January (Wednesday) television newscast which showed former Governor Bill Richardson, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Google Ideas Director Jared Cohen and members of their delegation touring the Grand People’s Study House in central Pyongyang.  The television news story showed Richardson and members of the delegation visiting a circulation desk at the DPRK’s national library, using the library’s computer terminals and taking souvenir photographs of the Chuch’e Tower from the study house’s balcony.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (2nd L) and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (3rd L) begin a tour of the Grand People's Study House in central Pyongyang on 9 January 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (2nd L) and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (3rd L) begin a tour of the Grand People’s Study House in central Pyongyang on 9 January 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

The Richardson-Schmidt delegation visit an information desk at the Grand People's Study House (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

The Richardson-Schmidt delegation visit an information desk at the Grand People’s Study House (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Google Ideas Director Jared Cohen uses a computer workstation during a tour of the Grand People's Study House, the DPRK's national library, on 9 January 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Google Ideas Director Jared Cohen uses a computer workstation during a tour of the Grand People’s Study House, the DPRK’s national library, on 9 January 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

DPRK state media also aired a brief story (32 seconds) on Gov. Richardson, Mr. Schmidt and the delegation touring the E-Library at Kim Il Sung University toward the end of the 8 January (Tuesday) newscast.

Eric Schmidt (2nd L) talks with Bill Richardson (3rd L) during a tour of the E-Library at Kim Il Sung University.  Also in attendance is Korea expert Dr. Tony Namkung (L) (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Eric Schmidt (2nd L) talks with Bill Richardson (3rd L) during a tour of the E-Library at Kim Il Sung University. Also in attendance is Korea expert Dr. Tony Namkung (L) (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Bill Richardson, Eric Schmidt and members of their delegation tour a classroom at the E-Library at Kim Il Sung University (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Bill Richardson, Eric Schmidt and members of their delegation tour a classroom at the E-Library at Kim Il Sung University (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Bill Richardson and Eric Schmidt (C) tour a lecture hall at Kim Il Sung University's E-Library (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Bill Richardson and Eric Schmidt (C) tour a lecture hall at Kim Il Sung University’s E-Library (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

During its stay in the DPRK, the delegation met with several groups of DPRK officials, including a vice minister of foreign affairs, and visited the Korea Computer Center and the Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.  With the exception of these two brief stories on Korean Central Television [KCTV] news and several short news items in DPRK print media, the delegation’s visit was a low-visibility event in DPRK state media reporting.

The delegation departed Pyongyang on 10 January (Thursday) and arrived in Beijing.  Richardson said that DPRK officials assured him at one meeting that a 44-year old Korean American who was arrested and detained since early November 2012 was in good health and would soon be put on trial.  Richardson also said that during an interaction with DPRK officials he asked the country to stop nuclear and missile testing.  At a media availability in Beijing, Richardson and Schmidt said that they encouraged DPRK officials to expand access to the internet and cell ‘phones.  According to The Guardian Richardson said that “The internet is important for the welfare of the North Korean people, to expand mobile technology, to expand cell phone use” and Schmidt remarked that “As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth, and it will make it harder for them to catch up economically.”

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