North names Rason as ‘special city’

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North names Rason as ‘special city’


Kim Jong-il

North Korea has designated a northern city close to China and Russia as its first “special city,” the North’s state-run media reported late Monday.

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 []

Related Korean Article

대졸탈북자 단체 NK지식인연대 전해

북한이 김정일 국방위원장의 후계자로 내정된 셋째 아들 김정은의 생일(1월8일)을 '국가기념일'로 지정한 것으로 알려졌다.

대졸 탈북자 단체인 'NK지식인연대'는 5일 '현지 통신원'을 인용한 자체 홈페이지 글에서 "지난 2일 초급 당비서 이상 당일꾼 협의회가 모든 단위에서 진행돼 이같은 내용을 담은 '김정은 동지의 탄생일을 뜻 깊게 기념할데 대하여'라는 당 중앙위원회 비서국 지시문이 하달됐다"고 밝혔다.

이 단체는 또 "지시문은 1월8일을 '영원한 우리 미래' 김정은의 탄생일로 공식화하고, 김정은에 대해 '백두의 혈통을 완전무결하게 이어받은 또 한분의 지도자'라고 강조했다"면서 "김정은의 위대성과 김정일에 대한 충성심, 탁월한 영도력에 대한 학습과 강연을 조직하고, 김정은의 생일에 '발걸음'(김정은 찬양 가요) 합창을 시작으로 '충성의 노래모임'을 열도록 각급 당조직에 지시했다"고 전했다.

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