Aug. 10 (UPI) — North Korea weapons production plants are being turned into fishing boat operation centers, according to sources in the country.
“The waters of Chongjin are full of munitions factories’ fishing vessels,” said a source in North Hamgyong Province, which faces the body of water known as the East Sea or the Sea of Japan. “Many fishing vessels from Base 317 of Department No. 6 under the Second Economic Committee are making an effort to earn foreign currency by catching squid.”
Some of the munitions factories began to be repurposed in early 2017, according to RFA’s sources.
North Korea has publicly stressed the importance of its military, through annual parades and frequent missile provocations.
But domestically the earning of U.S. dollars may be a bigger priority for the reclusive state.
Fish exports are more lucrative than weapons production, and selling fish can bring in Chinese and U.S. currency, according to the report.
“The Puyun munitions factory at Base 317 is new to the Sinjin Port, and its fishing vessels are there to earn foreign currency,” RFA’s source said. “Their assignment is to generate U.S. $2,000 a year per ship. The base’s yearly assignment is to make U.S. $500,000.”
North Korea state media has previously touted military-run fishery stations, and has claimed the fish produced at the plants are for domestic consumption.