Hwanggumpyong's Master Plan

Hwanggumpyong, an SEZ that was carved out with some fanfare in 2011, remains a placid, pastoral scene. When you approach its gates, over a portion of the Yalu that is no more than a trickle, you're met by a friendly guard who mostly keeps the kids of tourists from squeezing through gaps in the fence. You're also faced with signage explaining Hwanggumpyong's masterplan.

This is interesting information. One of the recurring takeaways from CE programs is the need for greater we connectivity and a greater web presence. I've spent some time now searching both the Korean and the English web and can't find this plan, but perhaps my google-fu/naver-do is weak. At any rate, one should be able to find this stuff more easily. 

Below is an English translation of the billboard followed by pictures.

Translations by Wang Xingyu and Alicia Bang.


Huangjinping Economic Zone Overall Planning 

Huangjinping is affiliated with Huangjinping, Ryongchon, North Pyongan Province in North Korea.  It is located in the lower reaches of Yalu River, the Northwestern North Korea, and connects with Dandong through a landway. Huangjinping is 10 km from Yalu River, and 20 km from Wihwa Island, 16 km from Sinuiju, 220 km from Pyongyang, 400 km from Seoul, 240 km from Shenyang and 300 km from Dalian. 20-kilometre radius around Huangjinping Economic Zone, the transportation infrastructure facilities are comprehensive, including a port (Dandong Port), three highways (Shenyang-Dandong, Dandong-Tonghua and Dandong-Dalian), one airport (Langtou Airport), two cross-boarder bridge (Yalu River Bridge and New Yalu River Road Bridge), and three railroads (Northeast eastern railroad, Shenyang-Dandong Passenger Transport Line, Dandong-Dalian express railroad).

The total area of Huangjinping Economic Zone is 14.49 km², which consists of the main island, inner island and upper island.

All planned out.

All planned out.

Map Key

Map Key

Planning Huangjinping Economic Zone to build up “five main industries” development:

1.     Electronic Information Industry

Will mainly produce computers, communication equipment, instruments and apparatus, etc. Also will develop software outsourcing industry.

2.     Garment Processing Industry

Will mainly produce brand-name clothes and accessories, and also all kinds of clothes products that North Korea needs.

3.     Modern Efficient Agricultural Industry

Will mainly produce modern facility agriculture and food processing industry.

4.     Cultural Tourist Industry

Will focus on folk culture, business conferences, competitive athletics, agricultural tours and other tourist projects. Also will develop animation creations and tourist projects based on the theme of “Arirang”.

5.     Commercial Service Industry

Focuses on processing commerce and service commerce, and develops logistics, business, finance and other service industries. 

Meanwhile, the Chinese side of the border looks increasingly ready to handle heavier trade flows. A huge and mostly empty 'New Dandong' has been built, which looks like it has housing capacity to at least double the population of the city. It has a new immigration facility. The Yalu River bridge linking the two countries appears very near completion - the guard noted this would be a very quick way to link traffic to and from the island to the Korean 'mainland'. New Dandong has wide boulevards, easy for truckers to happily navigate and get quickly onto highways rather than lumber around central Dandong, where the old bridge is located.

Now, of course, a masterplan is just an idea. A quick review of this one suggest if not a degree of ambition, at least the sense that a wide variety of non-capital intensive industries might work. Textiles are an obvious one and it is nice to see a more pragmatic 'electronics' appear, rather than the elusive 'high-tech' that the DPRK so desires. Assembly of CD players or USB sticks is a more likely goal. Tourism is also included, which makes sense, given that millions of domestic tourists visit Dandong, mostly to gawk at North Korea.

Food processing is also a good idea, too, given the location: Hwanggumpyong is essentially in the heart of China's corn and soy belt and would have easy access to a growing Korean and Northeast Chinese market for the kind of crappy processed foods of which corn and soy are the foundations. But, like so many of these things, having a Korean company put down some roots to demonstrate viability would be good. Any large factory will need power, though.

That is where complications begin and where the masterplan remains silent. Any large investment on the island would require a lot of electricity, which will have to be supplied from China and would have to be timed to come online about the same as a factory or cluster of factories. That takes coordination, stability and...well...things that aren't quite there yet.


And just to play us out, a classic from the 1990s, whose lyrics are about masterplans and possibly accepting frustrating situations. (Though really, one has to think Noel Gallagher would just pick whatever rhymed.)