N. Korea starts construction of factories under regional economy development policy

North Korea has begun the construction of factories, state media reported Thursday, as its leader Kim Jong-un called for the development of backward provinces amid prolonged economic difficulties. Kim attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the regional industrial factories in Songchon County, South Pyongan Province, on Wednesday, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). The move is the first step in North Korea's project to build modernized factories in 20 counties over the next decade to raise the "basic material and cultural living standards of the people." In a speech delivered during the ceremony, Kim said he is pleased with the fact that these factories could help millions of people improve their livelihoods. "On the other hand, I also feel sorry with a sense of shame that now only we've been able to start this (project)," he said. Kim said it was not easy to launch a new 10-year project to build regional factories in addition to the country's ongoing push to constru ct homes in rural areas, but he stressed the policy is "a grave national matter" that has been launched out of desperation. South Korea's unification ministry has expressed skepticism over the North's regional development plan, raising questions about whether the resource-scarce country would have sufficient equipment and funds to implement the project. Source: Yonhap News Agency