Changsung County, Shining Example of…?

Changsung County in North Pyongan Province, once held up as an example of regional economic development for the Kim Il Sung era, is again being put forward as a model for the spontaneous economic development of regional cities and counties as the regime works to foster a different mindset prior to impending economic changes.

On the 8th, Rodong Shinmun published an editorial entitled, ‘Let Our Country Be Prosperous in the Spirit of the Changsung Joint Session’ in an edition that also featured seven other related articles. The articles served as a timely reminder of the joint session of central cadres, their provincial counterparts and economic sector officials held on August 7th and 8th in Changsung County.

At that joint session, Kim Il Sung addressed the issue of strengthening the role of the regions and developing regional industry and rural accounting to dramatically enhance the quality of people’s lives. The discussion covered topics including the development of agriculture, forestry, fisheries and industry according to the unique characteristics of the individual regions. Kim used it to order local cadres to step up and overcome existing difficulties.

According to defectors, Kim rebuked city and county cadres, emphasizing that if officials “do not do any research so as to lead the masses, the people will not be able to overcome poverty. All our workers should study the unique character of their own land- wherever there are mountains, they should use mountains, and where there are seas, they should live off what is plucked from the sea.”

Following the session, cities and counties took the signal and began to build SMEs to produce essential goods, agricultural and fishery processing plants and more.

Utilizing the history lesson, Rodong Shinmun emphasized, “The fundamental essence of the Changsung Joint Session was increasing the role of the county in developing regional industry and agricultural accounting, and enhanced the people’s lives by the strength of our household itself.”

It went on, “In every city and district, we must resolve to decisively raise the productivity of our land to solve issues of food insecurity, and must thoroughly implement the Party’s agricultural revolution.”

On days prior, Rodong Shinmun, KCNA and other state-run media outlets also reported in various forms the idea that ‘all the counties in the country are going to follow the example of Changsung County.’ For example, on the 7th it introduced a new food processing plant in Changsung County itself.

Analyzing these moves, Kwon Tae Jin, a researcher with the Korea Rural Economic Institute told Daily NK, “When it comes to the agricultural sector, the county is at the center of everything. This is a way of passing the center’s role to the regions at a time when the center (the Ministry of Agriculture) cannot play its role properly.”

“The purpose of emphasizing the responsibility of the Cabinet and the counties at the same time is to readjust the system,” Kwon added, while the head of North Korea Strategy Center, Kim Kwang In added, “Since the center cannot do what it needs to, they want the regions to deal with survival.”

The move is also intended to raise the likelihood of the 6.28 Policy succeeding. In Kim’s words, “The regime is pushing regional self-reliance prior to the announcement of the new policy.”