North names Rason as ‘special city’
The Korean Central News Agency said the North designated Rason, located on the northernmost part of the peninsula’s coast, as the nation’s first special city. Two border towns of Rajin and Sonbong merged to form Rason, which became the North’s first free trade zone in December 1991.
The decision was reached during the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly. The news report didn’t provide further details on the roles or functions of the special city.
In recent years the North has tried to boost its sagging economy by bringing in foreign capital.
It would likely impose few business restrictions as it tries to encourage the inflow of foreign investment and trade in Rason.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited Rason in December for the first time since it became a free trade zone. At the time, Kim said that industry leaders should continue to expand their external markets through trade.
In its New Year’s Day editorial, the North emphasized the economy over politics and the military. The editorial, which is published jointly by three state newspapers, consistently sets the policy agenda for North Korea. This year’s version called for “more active trading to rebuild the economy and to improve living conditions for the people.”
Russia and China have recently reached deals with the North. Late last year, Russia decided to invest 140 million euros ($201.8 million) in a project to restore the railway in Rason and to renovate the Rajin port, the biggest port in the city.
In 2007, China and North Korea discussed connecting Rason with the Chinese city Hunchun by paving new roads and forming an industrial complex at the Rajin port. More recently, the two countries agreed to develop the port into an international logistics base with export-processing capabilities.
By Yoo Jee-ho [email@example.com]
More in Politics
Prosecutors raid homes of Choo's son and others implicated in scandal
Moon talks up Korea's Covid response in UN address
PPP lawmaker in hot seat over family business
Blue House event seen as public display of support for Choo
DP expels Kim Dae-jung's son amid real estate scandal