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Title NK Brief, March 15, 2018 Date 2018.03.20
Attach 180315_NK Brief_No3-3_(economic production, foreign relations).pdf
□ The Pyongyang Trolley Bus Factory manufactures new model
Having been upgraded and modernized, the Pyongyang Trolley Bus Factory, a company located in the Pyongchon district of Pyongyang and a manufacturer of one of the most typical means of public transportation in the capital of North Korea, is accelerating the production of a new type of vehicle, the Tokyo-based Choson Sinbo reported from Pyongyang on March 15.

According to the Tongil News report on March 15, the factory has been recently turning out the basic model of connected trolley buses known as the Chollima-091, which can accommodate a large number of passengers.

However, the company has newly introduced the Chollima-316, a smaller trolley bus compared to the older Chollima-091 model. The Chollima-316 has a smaller passenger capacity, but they are designed for safer operation and greater passenger comfort.

The new trolley buses have 24 seats with a boarding capacity of 80 passengers, although are said to be able to accommodate a maximum of 120 people if needed.

The Pyongyang Trolley Bus Factory is also said to have developed and introduced a new type of electric motor, which is said to assure the stable operation of the trolley buses even at low voltage.

Reportedly, the new motor allows for a power savings of up to 40 percent compared to the old model, along with substantial reduction in vibration and noise. Other features include a lower first step for passengers’ boarding convenience.

Last year, for the first time in North Korea, the factory developed and completed a test run of a trolley bus equipped with a dual power system that runs on both battery and electricity.

Having the battery as a power source ensures that the bus can operate even in contingencies such as a blackout, disconnected wire, or road accident.

Accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju, Chairman Kim Jong-un visited the factory in early February this year and rode the Chollima-316 trolley during a test drive. He reportedly commented after the ride that “Having taken a ride in the trolley, I felt comfortable and have faith in it.” He was also impressed with its features. “It has good shock absorbers, is free of vibration and noise, and it has a good speed,” he added.

□ North Korean foreign minister visits Sweden
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho arrived in Stockholm on March 15 via Beijing, China, Yonhap News reported on the same day.

The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Ri would visit the Swedish capital from March 15 to 16 and have talks with Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström.

“The talks will focus on Sweden’s consular responsibilities as a protecting power for the United States, Canada and Australians in North Korea,” reported the Swedish foreign ministry in explanation of the agenda for the bilateral meeting.

Through the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea also said that during his visit to Sweden, Ri will “exchange opinions on the bilateral relations and matters of mutual interests.”

The fact that Ri’s visit is taking place shortly after US President Trump accepted Chairman Kim Jong-un’s proposal for a US-DPRK summit meeting—and that the bilateral summit take place in May—has many North Korean watchers wondering whether there is any connection between Ri’s visit and these developments.

Sweden, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, provides consular services for the United States, Canada and Australia in North Korea.

Commenting on Ri’s visit, Katina Adams, a spokeswoman for US State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told news media that there is “no indication whatsoever that his visit is related to the upcoming US-North Korea summit.”