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Damin Jung was an NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked at the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) Korea Chair.
Light industry production in Kaesong city increased by 120% compared to the same period last year, North Korean outlet the Arirang-Meari reported on Monday.
“With the pride and confidence of the nuclear power of Juche, the light industry working class in Xi’an [Kaesong] has made the flame of self-regeneration more intense, and achieved the 1.2 times more production of light industry products than the same period last year,” the report said.
“Under the high goal of achieving and accelerating the People’s Economic Plan this year, which plays a key role in the implementation of the 5-year strategy of national economic development, the workers went to the fields to carry out economic operations and conduct scientifically and professionally,” it added.
North Korea’s five-year strategy of national economic development from 2016 to 2020 was presented in May last year at the central committee of the 7th Congress of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, and emphasized the development of industry and the independence of the “people’s economy.”
State media this year has increased its coverage of the country’s light industry, and Kim Jong Un during his New Year’s address stressed his intention to diversify and increase the quality of North Korean-made consumer goods.
North Korea’s manufacturing industries saw 4.8 percent year-on-year growth, according to the “Estimates of North Korea’s Economic Growth Rate in 2016” report by the Bank of Korea in July, with light industry seeing a 1.1 percent increase during the same period. The central bank also reported that North Korea’s gross domestic product (GDP) had grown by 3.9 percent since last year.
North Korea does not release official economic data, and the Bank of the Korea said the statistics are estimates gathered from “expert organizations on North Korea’s economy.”
DPRK state media has frequently condemned South Korea’s decision to suspend work at the KIC in February last year, with ruling party organ the Rodong Sinmun just this month publishing two editorials condemning the move.
The decision to halt the project came in response to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test a month earlier in January. A month after the closure, North Korea ordered the liquidation of all South Korean assets at the complex.
Dr. Kim Yeon-chul, a professor at the Department of Korean Unification at Inje University, said North Korea may be seeking to reopen the complex.
“It could be that North Korea is promoting the achievements of Kaesong to signal to the South that it wants to resume Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC)” Kim said.
Moon Jae-in in February pledged a significant expansion of the complex if elected, promising “immediate” compensation for the losses of the South Korean companies that had run businesses at the plant.
The South Korean government expressed its support for reopening the KIC project, according to a KIC business official who attended a meeting with Minister of Unification Cho Myong-gyon in July.
Edited by: Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons