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View more articles by Colin Zwirko
Colin Zwirko is an NK News correspondent based in Seoul.
A new North Korean web portal on the nation’s intranet network offering job recruitment services to help businesses grow, among other features, was featured across multiple externally-focused state-run news outlets on Monday.
“The National Science and Technology Committee (국가과학기술위원회) has started to operate the technological trade service system ‘Jagangryok’ (자강력, meaning ‘Self-Development’) on the country’s [intranet] network,” the articles read.
One feature, according to a detailed account of the service published by outlets Uriminzokkiri and Ryugyong, allows “companies [to] actively find and activate persons of talent to drive production and technological development.”
The “newly-developed … electronic business platform” reportedly also offers companies the ability to “increase various investments” through attracting more consumer interest by promoting new technologies and products.
“Production and development units can see more effective expense management and save drastically on human resources such as time and effort and material resources such as funding and fuel,” the article said.
The site serves as “yet another foundation being laid in mobilizing the full potential of the country’s human and material resources,” it added, while innovations in North Korea’s “economic development have been utilized in promoting the potential of a self-reliant economy.”
Screenshots of the site show that at the top of the page are buttons for the website’s sections, which include pages for exhibiting and reviewing tech products, viewing technical and education materials, an item auction area, and delivery services, with the article describing an online payment service for purchasing items.
It is unclear how businesses utilize the apparent recruitment service to search for “persons of talent,” however, as a dedicated button to the feature does not appear in the available images, and the site is not accessible outside North Korea.
Of the apparent 11 banner images which visitors can cycle through on the front page, according to the screenshots, three were shown in state media news releases on the new site.
One features the country’s national space agency in what could be another sign of its apparent ongoing activity despite laying low since negotiations with the U.S. began in mid-2018.
There is also an ad for the Chollima Tile Factory, while another promotes the site’s nationwide delivery service.
Boasting the “fastest and most reliable” delivery service, the image shows Pyongyang as the hub with lines drawn to all of the country’s major cities and provincial capitals.
While Pyongyang’s “middle-class” or wealthier individuals known as donju have been on the rise in recent years, it is less clear if there is similar buying power and demand for delivery in the other cities featured in the ad as destinations of the service.
The article, published Monday, said that subscriptions from central government ministries and departments, in addition to businesses and individuals, have continued to rapidly increase since the site opened recently.
“Currently, the National Science and Technology Committee continues to develop projects according to current demands to further complete and normalize operation of electronic business systems for national technological trade services,” it added.
While the “Jagangryok” web portal contains at least one new feature in terms of its apparent recruitment service, it will have to compete against many other sites on the North Korean intranet offering shopping, delivery, and document access services.
These include potentially the most well-known and promoted shopping site Manmulsang, the Sili online store, and the web portal for the Pyongyang Department Store No. 1, in addition to others which are not promoted as heavily in external media.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: DPRK Today