Cropland covering 3.3 hectares in Kyongsong Township, Kyongsong County, North Hamgyong Province, is now a construction site for what may be a new factory. Image on left: WorldView3 (ⓒ2024 Maxar, U.S.G. Plus). Image on right: BlackSky (ⓒ2023 BlackSky Global LLC)

Satellite images show a new factory being built on a 3.3-hectare lot in Kyongsong County, North Hamgyong Province. Kyongsong was one of the first areas designated for provincial development as part of North Korea’s “20×10 regional development policy,” which was unveiled at the beginning of this year.

An analysis of imagery from a WorldView-3 satellite (with a 30-centimeter resolution) taken on May 29 shows new buildings going up on farmland in Kyongsong Township, Kyongsong County, North Hamgyong Province. Crains, trucks and stacks of construction materials are also visible around the construction site.

Given the extended shape of the buildings under construction, the site is presumed to be a factory complex rather than a residential complex. In addition, the building frames and groundwork are currently underway, suggesting that the buildings are not intended to have basements.

North Korean media have reported that Kyongsong County was among the 20 cities and counties selected for this year’s provincial factory construction projects in line with the 20×10 regional development policy. That raises the possibility that this factory is being built as part of that policy.

New factory will likely process local foods and manufacture light industrial products

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Friday that the construction site is indeed a “light manufacturing complex in Kyongsong.”

“This complex is supposed to host a factory for assembling regional specialty products, as well as several associated factories and companies,” the source added.

Kyongsong is famous for its pottery and pine mushrooms, as well as seafood, given the county’s location along the coast.

The presumed site of the factory construction is about 500 meters southwest of Kyongsong Station. The proximity to a railway station would make it easy to transport local specialties produced at the factory by rail.

Kyongsong County is also the site of the Jungphyong Vegetable Greenhouse Farm, which was completed in 2019. The greenhouse farm is around 2.5 kilometers southeast of where the new factory is going up, so the new complex could also host a facility for processing the vegetables produced in the greenhouse.

The source explained that the new factory is “likely to manufacture light industry products and process foods grown in the county” and added that the factory construction “lines up with the party’s policy of establishing economic conditions under which Kyongsong County can take ownership of promoting its own development instead of relying on the central government.”

Kyongsong officials expect the factory construction will stimulate the county economy. The source noted that the county people’s committee “thinks the factory construction will turn people currently working at the marketplace into ‘socialist workers.’”

The site where construction is underway used to be a crop field measuring 3.3 hectares in size. While North Korea had been working to increase cultivated land to boost agricultural output, in this case it appears to have eliminated a farm field to build a factory.

Images taken since February show factories being built on former farmland in other counties selected for construction this year under the 20×10 regional development policy. But in all cases, it is uncertain whether these factories are directly connected to the policy. 

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

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