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N. Korea's largest steel mill not operating properly due to material shortage: report

All News 16:16 July 18, 2016

SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's largest steel mill, the Kimchaek Iron and Steel Complex, is unable to operate properly due to fuel and material shortage, a U.S.-based media report said Monday, citing internal sources in the reclusive country.

A source in the North Korean city of Chongjin told Radio Free Asia (RFA) that the steel mill has only been operating seven days a month recently, apparently due to the shortage of raw materials such as coal coke and scrap metal.

The source said that China appears to be holding back on its export of coke to North Korea amid the international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile tests earlier this year.

The mill located in North Hamgyong Province has frequently been held up as a showcase of North Korea's industrial and technological development.

According to the latest RFA report, the factory chimneys are sending up clouds of smoke only occasionally because the country is having a hard time procuring materials and fuel.

The source also said that North Korean students and ordinary citizens are mobilized to collect scrap metal, but the amount brought in is not enough to keep operations moving forward.

More recently, North Korean media made a propaganda report that many people in the country including Jagang Province and Nampo city have collected some scrap irons and provided them to metal factories in the country.

Another source in the country's northeastern province said that North Korea's dependence on outside raw materials and fuel has increased, despite the regime's propaganda machine claiming the country is self-sufficient in its procurement of fuel and major raw materials.

North Korea has persistently argued that the Kimchaek Iron and Steel Complex, employing 25,000 workers, is where "Juche (self-reliant) steel" is produced and the mill is a bright symbol of the country's self-revitalization.

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