Shinuiju Special Administrative Region Plan Propelled Once Again

[imText1]A high-level internal source in North Korea reported on the 12th that North Korea is in the process of restarting the development of Shinuiju Special Administrative Region.

According to the source, a mass number of residents were moved to rural areas, plans were set to move administrative offices and plans were carried out to build the road to Dandong, China is under expansion construction. They are also coming up with measures to better control the usage of cellular phones as well as other political measures.

Such recent development activities in Shinuiju mainly took place after Kim Jong Il’s visit to China, which seems to be part of North Korea’s reformation and liberalization plan.

◆ Driving Out the Residents and Their Number

The source reported, “They are planning to move the Shinuiju residents of about 7,000 families (25,000 to 30,000 people) to close cities and rural areas. Their plan is to strictly sort out those from “bad families” and those who have committed political errors (wrongdoings) and move them to Chulsan-gun, Donglim-gun, Yomju-gun, and Taechun-gun of North Pyongan province.”

In September of 2002, North Korea announced Shinuiju as the Special Administrative Region and nominated Yang Bin, president of Ouya Group at the time, who was the invited minister of the Shinuiju Special Administrative Region. He said, “We will move the current 200,000 Shinuiju residents to another place.”

At the time, the North Korean government started to build 3 m high fence around the designated region, which clearly showed its preparation to make Shinuiju an isolated Special Administrative Region.

Kim Eun Chul, president of Backdu-Halla Association, a young adults defectors organization and a former Shinuiju resident, said, “Chulsan-gun, Donglim-gun, Yomju-gun, and Taechun-gun are agricultural areas where there is no military or manufacturing production facilities, thus they are adequate places to move the residents.”

“There have been rumors about moving those people with unclear backgrounds out of the region every time they talked about making the Special Administrative Region.”

◆ Provincial Administrative Offices to be Moved

The source reported, “The provincial offices located in Shinuiju city are rebuilt in South Shinuiju and roads to Dandong, China are under construction to be expanded.”

Shinuiju’s administrative offices refer to provincial offices of North Pyongan Province, including Provincial Party (office), People’s Committee, and Administrative Committee. Plans to move these offices to South Shinuiju had been announced when the government announced the plan for the Shinuiju Special Administrative Region in September 2002. South Shinuiju is located about 3 km away from downtown Shinuiju and when Shinuiju becomes a Special Administrative Region, administrative work will be divided and South Shuinuiju will take charge of provincial administrative work.

Yet another source said, “Among the Shinuiju residents, rumors are spreading that Kim Jong Il’s visit to China was for iron and oil trade.” Shinuiju relied on Chinese aid or trade for most of the industrial facilities and as an example, currently, Baekmawon Oil Factory in Shinuiju is receiving oil aid of 1,500,000 tons per year from China.

◆ Political Constraint Measure

Starting February 1, revised laws regarding use of cellular phones apply. Before, cellular phones were managed by the National Security Agency, but now under the new law, they are managed by security offices (police offices).

The sources report that the security offices have posted phone detectors here and there to detect cellular phones. In January, a number of Chinese-descendent Koreans were caught using cellular phones in Ryongchon and were fined 500 USD each.

Meanwhile, the provincial security office newly established the “detection department.” This department has more power than the inspection department, and mobilized by car, catches all the wrongdoings and “unsocialist” activities on the spot.

The source said he believes such recent events to be pre-steps to liberalization. “It is a measure they are taking to liberalize economy yet maintain politics as it is,” he explained.

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