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ILO insists that S. Korea guarantees freedom of association for unemployed and dismissed workers
Posted on : Apr.21,2019 16:40 KST Modified on : Apr.21,2019 16:40 KST
Organization determines amendments in labor-related laws are inadequate
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) holds a press conference demanding South Korea’s adoption of International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions on Apr. 16 in Seoul. (Yonhap News)
The International Labour Organization (ILO) reiterated its insistence that the South Korean government adopt legal measures to guarantee freedom of association for unemployed and dismissed workers. It also stated the opinion that excessively specific legal stipulations regarding matters such as conditions on labor union officials entering workplaces could be regarded as constituting excessive interference.
[Labour] [Human rights]
Successes Made in Tideland Reclamation
Date: 19/04/2019 | Source: DPRK Today (English)
Pyongyang, April 18 (KCNA) -- Successes have been made in the tideland reclamation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
In the first quarter of the year alone, thousands of hectares of new land were reclaimed.
The South Hwanghae Provincial Tideland Reclamation General Enterprise built more than 15 000 meter-long dike in March to complete the first dam construction in the third and fourth districts of the Ryongmaedo Tideland, thus acquiring over 3 600 hectares of new land.
The South Phyongan Provincial Tideland Reclamation General Enterprise set the position of the closure embankment in a rational way and introduced diverse construction methods into the Ansok Tideland reclamation.
Now, it acquired over 1 400 hectares of arable land and made a breakthrough in hastening the tideland reclamation.
Meanwhile, the North Phyongan Provincial Tideland Reclamation General Enterprise, which obtained a thousand and several hundred hectares of new land by completing the first dam construction in the first district of the second-phase project for reclaiming the Honggondo Tideland last year, has successfully blown up 50 000, 150 000 and 250 000 cubic meters of earth.
Kim Jong-un 'Satisfied' with Glitzy Mall in Pyongyang
By Kim Myong-song
April 09, 2019 12:13
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has expressed "great satisfaction" at a newly refurbished mall in Pyongyang which will open imminently despite crippling international sanctions.
Kim visited the Daesong mall after it was given a major facelift, the official [North] Korean Central News Agency reported on Monday. It was his third on-site inspection in a month after massive construction sites in Samjiyon, Ryanggang Province and the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist zone in Kangwon Province.
The trips come amid desperate efforts to stimulate the North's moribund economy ahead of the new session of the rubber-stamp Supreme People's Assembly starting Thursday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) looks at a product at a mall in Pyongyang in this grab from the [North] Korean Central News Agency on Monday.
Last summer, Kim harangued factory workers in several provinces for laziness and incompetence, but this time he only offered encouragement and expressed satisfaction in an apparent bid to conceal how dire the North's economic reality is.
But a source said the North is having great difficulties mining coal and faces a chronic power shortage because international sanctions prevent it from importing equipment and materials needed to operate the mines.
The regime is trying to attract tourists from China to solve its increasing shortage of hard currency.
The notorious mass games are scheduled again for April 15, regime founder Kim Il-sung's birthday, Radio Free Asia reported on Monday. The calisthenics performance typically draws substantial numbers of tourists from China who do not object to tens of thousands hopping about and waving colored banners in queasy unison.
[Sanctions] [Growth] [Chagrin] [Inspections]
N.Korea Delays Mega Project as Sanctions Bite
By Kim Myong-song
April 08, 2019 12:48
North Korea has delayed massive construction project in the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist zone as international sanctions turn off the spigot.
According to the official [North] Korean Central News Agency on Saturday, leader Kim Jong-un visited the coastal tourist zone for the first time in six months and pushed back the deadline so the project can be completed by nation founder Kim Il-sung's birthday in April 2020.
His pet project was scheduled to be completed by Oct. 10 this year, which is the founding day of the Workers Party. But lachrymose earlier reports in the state media said workers have to use their "bare hands" because of the shortage of equipment and fuel caused by international sanctions.
[Construction] [Sanctions] [Tourism]
Kim Jong-un Visits Massive Construction Projects Again
April 05, 2019 13:32
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has again visited Samjiyon, Ryanggang Province where massive construction projects are underway, the North's official Korean Central Television reported Thursday.
The projects have reportedly been pushed forward despite international sanctions to the point where workers are using their bare hands.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) gives instructions to officials at a construction site in Samjiyon, Ryanggang Province, in this grab from the [North] Korean Central Television on Thursday.
Kim has often visited Samjiyon, his father Kim Jong-il's alleged birthplace near Mt. Baekdu, right before he made an important decision like the execution of his uncle Jang Song-taek and his declaration that the country's nuclear program is complete.
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Moon advocates S. Korea-Malaysia economic cooperation in global halal industry
Posted on : Mar.13,2019 17:26 KST Modified on : Mar.13,2019 17:26 KST
During a state visit to Malaysia, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that if South Korea and Malaysia cooperate, they can conquer the global halal industry. After attending the K-Wave and Halal Show in Malaysia event in Kuala Lumpur’s 1 Utama Shopping Centre on Mar. 12, Moon said, “I’ve confirmed the infinite potential behind the economic cooperation of South Korea and Malaysia,” adding that the two countries’ cooperation in the halal industry could formulate a new model of “win-win” cooperation.
[SK Malaysia] [Halal]
Study tour to North Korea (19 – 28 May 2019)
The last summit in Hanoi between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US president Trump did not result in any agreement, and there are now reports about the reconstruction of parts of the Sohae satellite launch facility, which was partly partially dismantled. How do the North Koreans view the current international situation and the recent developments? What is the impact of the UN Security Council sanctions on North Korea’s economy? What economic changes are visible to the visitor, and what are the business opportunities at the moment?
Because of these developments, it is now a good time for analysts and academics with an interest in North Korea to explore the country in person. For this reason, we are organizing a study tour in May, which will have an introductory character and will cover a broad range of political, economic, security and societal issues.
Examples of topics:
• security: the view from the North. Meetings with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Disarmament and Peace institute), Institute of International affairs, the Korean People’s Army, local peace organization, a visit to the DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone)
• economic transformations: incorporating competitive market mechanisms into state-owned enterprises. Understanding the Corporate Responsibility Management System through lectures from the State Academy of Sciences and discussions with managers of factories
• impression of a large new economic development project: a tour around the huge Wonsan-Kalma tourist area (this beach resort is part of the Wonsan-Mount Kumgang International Tourist Zone, and has not yet been visited by foreigners; see picture)
• a taste of international trade: attending the busy Pyongyang International Trade Fair (the spring PITF takes place from 20 - 24 May)
• being among Koreans, by visits to a funpark, a dolphinarium, a supermarket, the Heineken pub, etc
Kim Jong-un Vows to Improve Living Conditions
By Kim Myong-song
March 11, 2019 12:05
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to improve the economy and living conditions in his impoverished country, the official [North] Korean Central News Agency reported Saturday.
At a Workers Party rally that brought together the lowest echelons of propaganda officials across the country, Kim expressed hope that North Koreans will become affluent enough to "eat white rice and meat soup," a common formula in such pledges from North Korean leaders.
N.Koreans Work with Bare Hands in Major Construction Sites
By Kim Myong-song
March 07, 2019 12:50
North Korean workers are building roads and other facilities with their bare hands in Samjiyon, Ryanggang Province where massive projects are underway.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is driving development of the region, where Mt. Baekdu stands, as a tourist attraction but international sanctions have resulted in a severe shortage of equipment, materials and fuel.
In a rare admission of hardship, state media said huge numbers of soldiers who have been mobilized for the projects are suffering in freezing weather.
"Soldiers who have been mobilized for the Samjiyon construction project are digging through the frozen earth using hammers and picks and transporting soil by hand inside sacks," the official Rodong Sinmun daily said Tuesday. "Their clothes are stiff as armor and they are having a hard time controlling their frozen hands and feet after working in bone-chilling water, but they overcame [these difficulties] through their [ideological] convictions."
One source in Ryanggang Province said, "Construction workers are forced to live in freezing shacks and go hungry because of the poor quality of the food."
The North even promised prized membership in the Workers Party to people who volunteer to take part, but there have been no takers, so instead they are being press-ganged.
"Kim Jong-un is pushing ahead simultaneously with the construction of tourism zones in Samjiyon and Wonsan-Kalma coastal area, resulting in shortages of workers, money and materials," another source said.
Meanwhile, the Rodong Sinmun devoted four of its six pages to Kim's return from Vietnam in an effort to make his failed summit with U.S. President Donald Trump look like a success.
[Construction] [Military economy] [Sanctions effect]
'Unification can be curse'
Posted : 2019-03-06 14:25
Updated : 2019-03-07 16:15
Kim Byong-joon, former interim leader of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party, speaks during an interview with The Korea Times Monday. Korea Times photo by Shim Hyun-chul
By Oh Young-jin
Unification could spell a curse for South Korea because the current progressive government, lacking clear vision and hobbled by its ties with big labor, has failed to prepare for it, said Kim Byong-joon, who just finished a seven-month tour as interim leader of the main opposition conservative Liberty Korea Party (LKP).
"There would be a big sucking sound that knocks the wind out of our manufacturing base," said the 65-year-old former top policy aide to the late progressive President Roh Moo-hyun during a recent interview.
Kim worked together with President Moon Jae-in, then Roh's chief of staff. Now, the two find themselves on the opposite ends of the political spectrum _ after Kim took the job of fixing the Liberty party that was reeling amid a resounding defeat in the June local elections following the impeachment of Park Geun-hye.
"Neither is a bonanza," Kim said, dismissing Park's famous phrase to push for her reciprocal "trustpolitik"policy with the North that faltered almost immediately after it started.
He noted that the North's quality and cheap labor would pull the southern firms like a magnet, leaving the South industrially hollow.
"The current administration is supposed to prepare for a transformation to more efficient, higher-value industries," Kim said. "The government appears not to even have a clue about it. If it does, it has just sat on its hands, fearing it may irk the unions."
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Choson Exchange report or urbanisation
[Urbanisation] [Economic growth]
Korean Exports Fetch Ever-Dwindling Prices
By Jeon Soo-yong
February 12, 2019 11:21
Prices of Korean exports declined by the biggest margin among major exporters over the last 13 years.
The main reason is the vulnerability of Korea's main exports like semiconductors, petrochemical products, steel and cars to oil price fluctuations and other external factors.
According to the World Trade Organization on Sunday, Koreas export price index stood at 73.6 in November of last year if prices in January 2005 are set at 100.
The WTO compared shipments from nine major regions including the U.S., the EU and Japan that account for 85 percent of global manufactured goods exports.
Export prices also fell from Japan (86), Singapore (90.3) and Taiwan (90.3). But the U.S.' export price index rose to 117.3, Canada's to 117.6, the EU's to 115 and Switzerland's to a whopping 164.2, though its volume is much smaller.
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[Terms of Trade]
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CPTPP: New Key Player in International Trade
By Pradumna B. Rana and Xianbai Ji
Pradumna B. Rana (firstname.lastname@example.org) is associate professor and coordinator of the International Political Economy Programme in the Centre for Multilateralism Studies (CMS) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Xianbai Ji (XJI005@e.ntu.edu.sg) is a PhD candidate at RSIS. This article was originally published in RSIS Commentary and can be found here.
After prolonged negotiations, the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) became effective on 30 December 2018 when Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore implemented the first round of tariff cuts. Vietnam implemented the cuts on 14 January 2019 and the other four members are expected to follow suit. The CPTTP members account for approximately 14% of the global economy.
The CPTPP’s entry into force is a move in the right direction given today’s unpredictable trade policy environment. The accord sustains and pushes forward the momentum of the trade liberalization process when multilateralism under the World Trade Organization (WTO) has stalled, sets regionally acceptable cutting-edge rules on many 21st century trade issues related to production networks and supply chains, and gives rise to a vibrant market of 500 million aspiring consumers across Asia, the Americas and the Pacific.
[CPTPP] [TPP] [FTA]
Kim Jong-un Showers Senior Officials with S.Korean Cosmetics
By Kim Myong-song
January 23, 2019 10:55
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has given the families of senior Workers Party officials New Year's gifts of South Korean cosmetics, according to a source on Tuesday.
The source said staff from the Workers Party's Finance and Accounting Department bought 1,000 South Korean cosmetics sets with dollars in the Chinese region of Yanbian in mid-November. They were given to the families of senior officials in the party's Central Committee on New Year's Day. Many of them then sold them in the markets.
The regime regularly showers senior officials with gifts to buy their loyalty. Gifts normally included liquor and meat, as well as Swiss watches, home electronics and cars in special cases.
But South Korean goods are normally avoided. "There seems to be a craze for South Korean cosmetics in Pyongyang," the source added, "and the regime is easing controls on South Korean goods to some extent amid the current détente."
South Korean cosmetics are two to three times more expensive than Chinese or North Korean products but are in high demand in the markets.
"South Korean cosmetics are one of the most popular wedding gifts a groom can give his bride in Pyongyang," said a defector who used to live in the city.
[Inter-Korean trade] [Cosmetics]
Cellphone exports fall to 16-year low
Posted : 2019-01-20 16:55
Updated : 2019-01-20 17:35
By Baek Byung-yeul
Korea's exports of mobile phones hit a 16-year low in 2018 after falling 23.2 percent year-on-year amid mounting competition from Chinese phone makers, data showed Sunday.
Cellphones have been a major export item along with semiconductors. But the business has suffered a continued decline because of the slow global smartphone market and increased offshore production of cellphones and their components, industry officials said.
According to the data from the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Institute of Information & Communications Technology Planning & Evaluation (IITP), cellphones and components worth $14.61 billion were shipped overseas in 2018, a 23.2 percent fall from the previous year's $19.03 billion.
The figure was the lowest in 16 years since $11.36 billion in 2002. It also marked the third straight year of declines since $30.03 billion in 2015.
The weak performance of cellphone exports also comes from fewer locally produced smartphones and components, with more than 90 percent of smartphones from Korean phone makers produced overseas.
As of the first quarter of 2018, only 9 percent of Korean phone makers' smartphones were produced in Korea, according to Strategy Analytics data.
The cellphone components business fell 29.7 percent year-on-year because Samsung Electronics ? the world's largest phone maker with a market share of about 22 percent in 2018 ? is increasingly moving its smartphone factories overseas to emerging countries such as Vietnam and India.
Korean smartphones also have been threatened by fast-growing Chinese firms such as Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, which have narrowed the technological gap with Korean products.
[China competition] [Offshoring]
Tideland Developed Briskly
Date: 11/01/2019 | Source: Rodong Sinmun (En) | Read original version at source
In hearty response to the New Year Address of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un the managerial staff and developers of the North Phyongan Provincial General Tideland Reclamation Enterprise enthusiastically develop the tideland round the Honggon Island for the second stage from the beginning of 2019.
They blew up mountains in the Sinmi Island and the Taesamgot Island respectively on January 6 despite the rigors of winter and produced 50,000 tons of earth and rock. They then proceed to shore up Bank 1 and build Bank 2 for the first stage.
Thanks to their indomitable fortitude and untiring devotion, success after success is won in developing the tideland round the Honggon Island for the second stage.
Song Chang Yun
N.Korea's Exports Plunge Amid Sanctions
By Yoon Hyung-jun
January 07, 2019 10:48
North Korea's exports plummeted last year to just 1/10 of 2016's due to intensifying international sanctions, Voice of America reported Saturday. There are even forecasts that its foreign currency reserves could run out completely.
According to data from the International Trade Center and other sources, North Korea exported US$235.3 million worth of products to its 14 major trading partners including India, Mexico, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey in 2016, but that shrank to only $14.5 million as of the third quarter of last year.
Even if fourth-quarter figures are added, North Korea's exports in 2018 would not exceed 10 percent of 2016's.
According to Chinese customs data, North Korea's exports to China last year dropped to only eight percent of the volume in 2016.
Meanwhile, Radio Free Asia reported that torrential rains in North Korea's North Hwanghae Province in August last year left 42 people dead and 242,000 homeless. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, torrential downpours of up to 678 mm per hour resulted in landslides causing huge levels of damage.
Daniel Wallinder at the IFRC said, "The floods are part of a general and worrying trend in the past years of extreme and highly volatile weather that need further improvements in early warning systems and greater community training. Although geographically dispersed, the damage to land and to infrastructure often happens in areas that we could predict would be high-risk."
[Sanctions] [Exports] [Flooding]
Moon expands communication with chaebol
Posted : 2019-01-06 17:12
Updated : 2019-01-07 13:18
President Moon Jae-in listens to an explanation about a smartphone-linked scuba diving product produced by a Korean startup during a visit to the N15 industrial lab in Seoul, last week. Yonhap
By Kim Yoo-chul
Approval ratings of President Moon Jae-in remained relatively high in the first week of this year on the back of public approval for his signature "engagement-focused" North Korea policy.
But his lackluster and not-that-impressive domestic policy, particularly the apparent failure of its economic policies after its decision to hike the minimum wage and cut the workweek hours has taken its toll.
Moon's approval rating lowered to 47.1 percent in mid-December, the lowest since he took power in May 2017, according to local pollsters. While his approval rating saw a slight rebound, political analysts said a further upturn is dependent upon the President's wider rapprochement toward economic issues.
[Moon Jae-in] [Chaebol]
N.Korea Eyes Valuta with Tours to Celebrate New Year
By Yoon Hyung-jun
December 31, 2018 12:38
North Korea is offering a package tour that gives visitors a chance to greet the New Year in Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang, one of the most desolate concrete expanses in the world.
The tour is being organized by a state-run travel agency and not by a foreign tour operator and seems aimed at generating much-needed valuta amid international sanctions.
North Korea's National Tourism Administration unveiled the tour on its website, available from Dec. 29 to Jan. 5. Visitors will be given the "rare opportunity" to watch a midnight performance in Kim Il-sung Square and an ice sculpture exhibition in the capital.
North Korea is apparently resorting to a network of associates in third countries to bypass sanctions.
The Wall Street Journal reported that North Korea has "built an alternative financial system using a shadowy network of traders" for years. For instance, a timber company in Africa called Chilbo, which employs many North Korean workers, exported US$100,000 worth of lumber to a Chinese company, but the payment went through a middleman in Singapore.
The daily said North Korea has surreptitiously bought and sold oil, coal and cigarettes despite international efforts to stem such activities.
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