A modern department store providing commercial and catering services opened on Monday in Pyongyang, capital of North Korea, in the country's latest move to showcase its economic facilities to the world.
An avenue decorated with national flags in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Sept. 9, 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the DPRK on Sept. 8, 2018. (Photo: Xinhua)
Chinese analysts believe that North Korea's recent actions are intended to show the world its resolution to develop its economy and improve the livelihoods of its people, but for this to happen, the UN needs to lift sanctions against North Korea.
Taesong Department Store has been remodeled into a "comprehensive and all-purpose service center," and food, household goods, school supplies and goods for cultural use are on sale, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Sunday.
The department store is to ensure the "convenience of customers to the maximum and enhance the material and cultural life of people," according to KCNA.
Just days before the opening of the department store, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited it.
Kim has been busy visiting economic facilities this month. KCNA reported that Kim made four visits to local factories, tourist facilities and department stores from April 4 to 8, including the construction site of the Wonsan-Kalma coastal tourist area and Samjiyon Potato Farina Production Factory.
Also on Sunday, an inauguration ceremony for the Maebongsan Spring Water Factory in Wonsan was held.
North Korea recently invited Japanese journalists to visit a Pyongyang sock factory. A Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) program on April 8 showed North Korean workers making socks with machines.
TBS said that inviting foreign journalists to the factory showed that North Korea is attempting to boost its economy under its own steam, and is trying to show this to the world.
Da Zhigang, director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that North Korea shifted its focus toward the economy and people's livelihoods last year, after it started to dismantle its nuclear test sites.
North Korea wants opening-up, but achieving it will take a long time considering the current UN sanctions and the US sanctions, Zheng Jiyong, director of the center for Korean studies at the Shanghai-based Fudan University, told the Global Times.
Experts believe that North Korea's opening-up will bring stability to Northeast Asia and boost regional economic cooperation, as North Korea has rich natural resources and its geographic location links several countries.
Li Guang, foreign trade manager of Hot Tex Woolen Co, a fabric supplier in East China's Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times on Monday that he has heard about the Taesong Department Store, and he believes that North Korea's attempts to boost its economy will mean more opportunities for Chinese merchants.
"I'm going to the Pyongyang (Spring) International Trade Fair this May. I hope that representatives from the Taesong Department Store and other state-run stores will come to me so we can cooperate," Li said.
Li's company has signed two deals with the North Korean side since the end of last year, and exported fabrics worth $20,000 to North Korea in 2018.