The site of North Korea's largest coal chemical producer, Sunchon Vinylon United Corporation, is regarded by most North Koreans as a symbol of the socialist state’s failed economic strategy of self-sustainment.
In the past, images of this area had been provided solely by the regime. In July 2009, however, ASIAPRESS reporter Kim Dong-cheol, a frequent visitor to Sunchon since the 1990's, was able to capture the true state of the factory district on camera for the very first time.
The factories show no signs of operation and huge pipelines are completely rusted. The factory site has largely been converted into a cornfield and there seems to be no industrial equipment at all inside the buildings. Kim Dong-cheol reported that the workers and nearby residents had apparently taken them all. The only remaining article on the site, in fact, is a banner that reads: 'We will follow the General a thousand miles'.
Although a tremendous amount of money and manpower was invested into the project, as ordered by Kim Il-sung, the project failed to gain any headway, with no explanation ever provided to the people.
* What is Vinylon?
Vinlyon is a chemical fiber resistant to friction and chemical degradation that was originally developed by Kyoto Imperial University researchers in 1939. Only the second chemical fiber to ever be developed, after nylon, it became North Korea’s industrial material of choice and gained praised as the “Juche textile” of North Korea during the 60’s and 70’s. Used mainly as a course material for work clothes, Vinylon production in North Korea was aided by Dr. Ri Sung-gi, one of the material’s original researchers in Kyoto. With his defection to North Korea, Dr. Ri became the nation’s most famous scientist.