Jul. 2 – The latest issue of DPRK Business Monthly is now available as a complimentary PDF download on the Asia Briefing Bookstore. The regular magazine looks at current international, domestic, and peninsular affairs concerning North Korea while also offering commentary and tourism information on the country.
In recent international news, The Chosun Ilbo reported that China is issuing work visas for another 20,000 North Koreans so they can work in China’s three northeastern provinces of Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang. This is the second batch of 20,000 visas to be offered by China to North Koreans. The move comes amid a crackdown on illegal North Korean migrants to China, who typically drift into menial jobs or fall into the hands of human traffickers, while at the same time the three Chinese provinces are suffering a labor shortage.
The 40,000 are expected to include many factory workers who lost their jobs when South Korea halted trade with North Korea in 2010.
In other Sino-Korean related news, North Korea and China will jointly hold a fair on economy, trade, culture and tourism in the Chinese border city of Dandong for five days from October 12.
A Dandong-based newspaper reported that this will be the first comprehensive fair covering several fields for the two countries. The paper said the fair will exhibit products, offer trade consultations, hold cultural and art performances, and introduce both nations’ tourist attractions.
A recent United Nations report says that millions of North Korean children are not getting the food, medicine or health care they need to develop physically or mentally, leaving many stunted and malnourished.
Nearly one-third of children under the age of five show signs of stunted growth, particularly in rural areas where food is scarce, and chronic diarrhea because of a lack of clean water, sanitation and electricity has become the leading cause of death among children, Jerome Sauvage, the UN’s Pyongyang-based resident coordinator for North Korea, said in Beijing before presenting his latest report to donors.
A recent Reuters report also notes that a drought is affecting food security across the country, quoting the head of the German NGO Welthungerhilfe aid agency.
Wolfgang Jamann said on June 22 after a visit to the DPRK countryside that he had seen children using bottles and buckets to water crops by hand in the absence of large-scale irrigation systems in two southern provinces.
“We were repeatedly confronted with the statement that they are in the most severe drought in 60 years,” he told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China in Beijing, after getting back from an almost week-long visit to North Korea.
On a separate note, the annual report from the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Pyongyang for 2012 blames the hostile political climate whipped up against the DPRK for a drop in donations destined for UN relief work in North Korea.
“Contrary to the principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship, and at variance with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality, humanitarian agencies note that there is an inherent link between the political environment and provision of funding to the UN and partners,” according to the report.
In other words, donors are being scared off by stories that aid to North Korea will only shore up an unsavory regime and food is being diverted to the military.
On the inter-Korean news front, Hyun Jung-hwa, a former female table tennis player from South Korea, is currently trying to create a unified Korean national ping-pong team to play at the Asian Table Tennis Championships in Pusan in June 2013.
If her efforts pan out, it will be the first time in 22 years that South and North Korean players will play at the same venue after the last game played together in 1991 at the World Table Tennis Championships in Chiba, Japan.
In domestic news, North Korean officials say a massive hydroelectric power plant open two months now can provide half of Pyongyang’s energy needs, AP reported.
Located near Huichon City, Jagang Province, some 250 kilometers north of the DPRK capital Pyongyang, the Huichon No.2 Power Station opened on April 5, 2012.
Regarding news related to North Korea’s economic zones, the country has announced that foreigners will be allowed visa-free access to a new economic zone near its west coast, along with tax breaks, AFP reported.
North Korea and China are jointly developing the Hwanggumphyong and Wihwado zone on the two islands of those names in the estuary of the Yalu River, which marks their border. Ground was broken last December.
“Foreigners and vehicles may enter and leave the zone through the designated route without a visa upon presentation of a passport or other equivalent pass,” KCNA announced.
To read further about these topics, and much more, please download the complimentary DPRK Business Monthly PDF from the Asia Briefing Bookstore.
DPRK Business Monthly is produced by North Korea expert Paul White.