North Korea has drawn up a decade-long development plan and will establish a new government body to implement projects, in a move analysts here said is designed to revive the stalled economy.
The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said Saturday the North Korean cabinet decided to adopt a “10-Year State Strategy Plan for Economic Development” and to set up a new agency called the State General Bureau for Economic Development.
“This governmental body will handle all issues arising in implementing state strategy projects for economic development,” the KCNA’s English-language report read. “The above-said plan set a state strategic goal for economic development. It puts main emphasis on building infrastructure and developing agriculture and basic industries including electric power, coal, oil and metal industries and regional development.”
North Korea has set out to become a “strong and prosperous state” by the year 2012, which marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, founder of North Korea and father of the current leader, Kim Jong-il. The KCNA said the 10-year plan will help the North achieve the stated goal by next year and also put the country among advanced economies by 2020.
“When the above-said strategy plan is fulfilled, the DPRK will emerge not only a full-fledged thriving nation but take a strategic position in Northeast Asia and international economic relations,” the report said, referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Cho Bong-hyun, a Seoul-based analyst with IBK Bank, said North Korea had been working on the 10-year plan since late 2009 and that it covers 12 areas worth $100 billion.
According to Cho, the dozen categories include agricultural development, the building of five logistics districts, an airport and a port, and urban development.
“Setting up this 10-year plan is to help find breakthroughs for the North Korean economy through foreign investments, since the North has reached a point where it can’t solve economic problems on its own,” Cho observed.
The analyst also said the North’s current regime appears to be trying to build economic achievements credited to Kim Jong-un, the heir apparent to Kim Jong-il, and smooth the impending hereditary power succession.
In recent weeks, North Korea has made overtures toward South Korea in an apparent attempt to win over much-needed assistance.
On Wednesday, the North formally proposed holding talks with the South over the promotion of inter-Korean economic cooperation.
Pyongyang also reopened its Red Cross hotline with Seoul at their joint truce village, after cutting it off in May last year.
South Korea has remained lukewarm to the North Korean proposals. Officials here demand that North Korea show that it’s sincere about holding talks and also take responsible steps over the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island last year.
In making its proposals, North Korea has made no reference to these provocations. The two Koreas remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.