A view of the long-abandoned and tattered Cheongsu Chemical Factory, which is currently undergoing renovations. Photographed by ISHIMARU Jiro from the Chinese side of the border with the DPRK in July 2017.

In a speech to the Supreme People's Assembly on January 15, Kim Jong-un pointed out the gap between the capital and the provinces, and between urban and rural areas, and ordered factories to be built for rural development, dubbing it the "20×10 policy for regional development.” A month later, the government has now moved to begin to build factories in various regions. (By KANG Ji-won / ISHIMARU Jiro)

◆ North Hamgyong Province’s Gyongsong and Orang counties will be sites for new factories…Mobilizations for construction have already begun

"Build modern provincial industrial plants in 20 counties every year, and within 10 years, raise the basic material and cultural living standards of all cities, counties, and the entire population to a higher level," Kim Jong Un said in the January 15 speech, laying out the blueprint for his "20×10 policy for regional development.”

In mid-February, ASIAPRESS reporting partners in Yanggang and North Hamgyong provinces reported that the sites for the new factories were announced and labor mobilization for construction began.

In North Hamgyong Province, the new factory sites this year are in Gyongsong County and Orang County. A reporting partner in Musan County had this to say about the labor mobilization that has begun:

"Musan mine workers have been mobilized for the construction called for by the '20×10 policy for regional development.’ The number of workers is said to be about two battalions, with 500 to 600 people. They will be mobilized for three-month shifts in the counties of Gyongsong or Orang. The selection of workers has already begun. At workplaces, there are 'party members' and 'youth league shock troops' who will work in the construction sites, and meetings are being organized to encourage people to volunteer for enlistment in these groups.”

Shock troops: Specialized construction and civil engineering organizations mobilized for national construction projects. There are two types: permanent "shock troops” that are mainly recruited from the Youth League and serve for about three years, and temporary "shock troops” that are recruited for projects from workplaces and party members.

"This year will end with the construction of a local factory. A specialized department has been created in the Musan County Workers' Party Committee to organize material support for the construction. Cadres say they are setting an example to mobilize everything."

Urban residents mobilized for Yalu River dike construction. Unpaid labor puts further pressure on people’s lives. Photo taken from the Chinese side of the border across from North Pyongan Province in mid-July 2021. (ASIAPRESS)

◆ Government calls for “all people to be mobilized for factory construction”

ASIAPRESS spoke to another reporting partner in City A, North Hamgyong Province, about the progress of the 20×10 policy. He is a party member who works for a state-owned company.

-- Some areas are already selecting people for mobilization as early as February, correct?
That's right. In City A, we'll be mobilizing a lot of people, so we're organizing party members' shock troops, youth league shock troops, and company-affiliated shock troops to gather people. I think they’ll be mobilized in late February.

-- What will the new factory make?
In Orang County, we are building a seafood processing plant, and in Gyongsong County, we are building a factory for local specialties and basic food products. We are either building completely new modern factories or renovating existing ones.

This year, the authorities have said that everyone will be mobilized to build factories in both counties. Since the country has decided to make each province compete with each other, the provincial party organizations have become feverishly busy, urging their subordinate organizations and workplaces to fill the ranks.