North Korea’s recent emphasis on increasing production at its metalwork factories is aimed at producing steel for weapons development, with a view to sell these weapons abroad for foreign currency, Daily NK sources have reported. 

“Eighty percent of the steel produced will be used to create weapons,” a high-ranking government source told Daily NK on Monday. “They’ll send the steel to the weapons factories, which will either use the steel to produce conventional weapons or weapons for asymmetric warfare.”

The asymmetrical weapons the source mentioned refers to newly developed weapons such as the large multiple rocket artillery system recently tested by the country.

Daily NK previously reported that North Korea’s 600mm multiple rocket artillery system had the ability to launch lightweight rockets, and that North Korea was attempting to mass produce these weapons for deployment.

According to sources in the country, North Korean authorities believe that with weapons factories working at full capacity, it will be possible to produce and deploy the newly developed weapons within the year. 


On Monday, Rodong Sinmun reported that the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex was moving forward in earnest with the installation of oxygen separators, with the aim of increasing the production of “juche steel.” 

Juche steel is so named because it is made with domestic coal, not imported coke and energy.

According to the article, the factory workers had embraced the Workers’ Party of Korea’s mission of making this year the year of the metalwork industry and were energetically tackled the construction project to finish it as quickly as possible.

“Most factories are focusing on renovating their facilities to modernize their production,” said a source. “This includes the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex, as well as the Songjin, Kangson and Hwanghae steel plants.”  

Rodong Sinmun also reported that the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex was currently building a cooler, a steel structure, and pipes for an oxygen compressor, and that the Chonjin Metal Construction Company was currently constructing a separation column several meters high.


According to Daily NK sources, North Korean authorities have ordered an increase in production of steel before the 75th anniversary of the WPK on Oct. 10. 

“Right now all the factories are competing with each other to produce the most steel,” the high-level government source said. “The North Korean authorities keep emphasizing a revolutionary leap in the metalwork industry, and this has to do with increasing weapons production and exporting weapons.”

Ultimately, not of the weapons made with the new steel will be used by the North Korea because “some will be sold abroad to bring in foreign capital,” he added.

Poor logistics surrounding the transport of raw materials and steel has set back production of the steel at all of the metalworks factories, sources in the country cautioned. 

“The conveyor belts are barely working, making things difficult,” one source said. “There are quite a few places where the facilities need to be revamped, and it’s difficult because they are trying to manufacture metal but also renovate their facilities at the same time.”

*Translated by Violet Kim

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to

Read in Korean

Seulkee Jang is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to