A South Korean government-run institute is seeking subcontractors to investigate potential cooperation on infrastructure development between Seoul, Pyongyang, and international organizations.
According to the proposal seen by NK News, the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT) has commissioned a project on the “establishment of inter-Korean cooperation system and networks” for social overhead capital (SOC) projects in the North.
The specialized research institute is requesting potential subcontractors to analyze the current state of DPRK infrastructure by looking into the country’s national-level plans, including the five-year strategy for national economic development.
The construction sector in border areas, including Wonsan and Sinuiju, is among the areas to be investigated.
Based on the research, the KICT is asking the subcontractor to propose a system for how South Korean government agencies and North Korea’s specialized organizations could work together on infrastructure development in the DPRK.
Researchers were asked to come up with plans on how the KICP and North Korean institutes, including the Paektusan Institute of Architecture and Pyongyang University of Architecture, could collaborate in the research.
Specific plans including topics for joint research, scheduling, and budget must also be included.
The Paektusan Institute of Architecture, which was built in 1982, has is the past worked on several major DPRK construction projects, including on the Changjon, Mirae Scientists, Ryomyong, and Unha Scientists Street.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made on-site inspections to the institute, previously called the Pyongyang University of Construction and Building-materials Industry, in July 2016 and March 2017.
He said last year that its designers, architects, and researchers “produced a lot of architectural masterpieces… at the highest level,” praising it as “an able and trustworthy group of designers and an icon and standard of the nation’s architectural design.”
In its recent proposal, the KICT also asks potential subcontractors to build a “cooperation network with neighboring countries” to help with, among other things, information sharing on infrastructure projects in the North.
Cooperation with domestic and foreign institutes to support SOC projects in the North, including ones in China, Japan, and Russia, is also part of the plans.
The KICT specifically made mention of the Sweden-based Institute of Security & Development Policy (ISDP), which is known to be engaged in track 1.5 meetings with Pyongyang, expressing its intention to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) or letter of intent (LOI) with the organ.
China’s Yanbian University is also among the proposed institutions.
The South Korean government-run organ plans to hold an international seminar on North Korean infrastructure later in the year, in which the two Koreas, China, Japan, and Sweden will purportedly participate.
Researchers commissioned to implement the project are being asked to devise a detailed plan on venue, schedule, and speakers, and to seek ways to regularize the program.
Tuesday night saw the KICT — which has conducted similar studies since 2013 — open the project to bidders. The deadline for proposals in September 3.
A total of KRW 44.9 million (USD$40,035) will allocated to the two-month research project.
The project comes as multiple South Korean construction companies, including POSCO E&C, GS E&C, Daelim Industrial Co., Ltd., Daewoo E&C, and Samsung C&T Corporation, have launched task forces to prepare for potential inter-Korean infrastructure projects.
In 2000, South Korea’s Hyundai Group — which announced the establishment of its task force in May — won 30-year business licenses for seven major SOC projects, working on power utilities, railroads, telecommunication, airports, dams, water reservoirs, and tourism.
Several South Korea corporations, too, including Daewoo E&C and Hyundai E&C, participated in the construction of a light water reactor in Sinpo city of South Hamgyong Province, until work was suspended in 2006.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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