New kimchi factory under construction in Hyesan

Kimchi produced in a household in Ryanggang Province. Image: Daily NK

A food factory producing kimchi year-round is being built in the North Korean city of Hyesan, located in Ryanggang Province.

“Construction began in early July. The factory will be 2 square kilometers in size,” a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK.

“The factory is being promoted by local authorities as a ‘gift from the party to improve the lives of the people.’ The factory is slated to be finished late next year.”

The building will include a factory management office, a cafeteria for factory employees, and other facilities for storing and fermenting the kimchi produced.

The kimchi produced in the factory will be sold to both ordinary residents and tourists visiting the Mount Paektu area, including Tonghongdan and Samjiyon. Some of the kimchi will also be sent to public welfare centers, including orphanages, schools for orphaned children and aged-care facilities, the source said.

The new factory will allow the production of kimchi throughout the year and local residents hope it will improve food supplies in the country. There are also hopes that it will spur growth in the economy given that it will require a great number of workers.

“The construction of the new factory has led to an influx of Hyesan denizens into the area and increase activity at the nearby Yonhung Market,” said a separate source in Ryanggang Province.

“The kimchi factory has also led to small bouts of fighting and robberies among construction workers in the area, but local residents don’t mind given that the project is infusing the local market with new business,” she added.

“Construction “shock units” mobilized to work on the factory have invigorated the local economy, purchasing cold noodles and Eskimo (a brand of North Korean ice cream bars) from local merchants.”

Many locals believe that the new factory will improve their lives because it will provide employment and steady government rations; moreover, the kimchi will be distributed nationwide and even exported. “Just like the beer, mushroom, and blueberry-processing factories in Hyesan, residents of Songbong-dong expect it to improve their quality of living.”

Kimchi factories in Pyongyang have recently begun to produce “packaged” kimchi products that have been well-received by local consumers. Korea Central TV (KCTV) reported recently that radish, young radish and bean sprout kimchi are popular among North Korea’s housewives.

North Koreans still make kimchi to last over half a year and kimchi-making season begins in late October. The new factory and the production of packaged kimchi products highlights the degree to which North Korea’s food production is improving and the increasing importance of foods of convenience in the country.

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