Second Port Lease Deal Reported

North Korea has leased the rights to use Chongjin port to a Chinese firm, according to a Yonhap report released yesterday.

The report, citing an anonymous government official from Tumen in China’s far northeast, across the Tumen River from Namyang in North Hamkyung Province, said that the usage rights have been sold to a “Chinese state company, Yanbian Haihua Import-Export Trade Company.”

He predicted, “Yanbian Haihua Import-Export Trade Company will start shipping between Chongjin port and Busan by container ship in September, and will start shipments to southern regions of China soon.”

The anonymous official also revealed that North Korea has agreed to allow the Chinese company to use the railroad between Tumen and Chongjin as part of the deal. The deal, the official said, will “facilitate trade from Tumen,” and added that the Chinese company which inked it is planning to use it to fulfill shipping contracts with three other Chinese companies.

The Chinese company is reportedly investing 10 million Yuan ($1.48 million approx.) in shipping cranes and other construction at Chongjin, and is having 150 freight cars produced to add to 50 already sent.

The deal follows a similar one for the No. 1 dock at Rasun port, some 70km north of Chongjin. That deal, made after the visit to Pyongyang of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in October last year, gave the rights to the dock to another Chinese company, Chuangli Group.