Walking along the bank road in the Songyo area down the picturesque Taedong River, I finally got to the entrance to the Pyongyang Cornstarch Factory which I had been to several times before for news coverage.

At the gate I met Jon Tong Chol, chief of the technical preparation section of the factory. As soon as he saw me, he said, “I think I’ve seen you here a few times.”

“Sure, the production processes are familiar to me,” I responded cheerfully.

“Then, you don’t want any explanation,” he said, and led me to the biscuits workshop. When I stepped into the shop, however, I found myself quite surprised. The image of the shop I had kept in my memory was all gone to give its place to a completely new one. It looked even strange.

There were two biscuits production processes, one for ordinary types and the other for wafers. No one was allowed to enter the dust- and germ-free workshop without going through the sanitation compartment.

I found the processes operating on an entirely automatic and flowline basis. Quite a number of facilities were strange to me. “This looks unfamiliar. Where is it from?” I asked.

My guide answered that his factory had made the machine itself and added that over 95 percent of the new modern equipment had been developed by his factory itself.

When I was surprised at the fact that the factory had made more than 100 facilities by itself when it is far from a machine manufacturer, Jon said that they had had a lot of dif fi culties in the modernization project. “But now I am proud of our struggle. We have done what we planned,” he recalled.

The work of making the production processes free from dust and germ was also put on a high level. The air in the workshop was purified by air conditioners and sterilized by the ozone and ion generator during the break between shifts of work. The standard temperature and humidity were provided in the workshop. The information system which helps monitor and control the production processes in real time was also a one which the factory had set up with the help of a company concerned. I found the packing of wa- fers on the conveyor belt up-to-date.

A slogan in the workshop read, “Quality is first and foremost,” which reflected the concern of the workers.

Downstairs was a general analysis laboratory in which I saw a lot of new analytical apparatuses. They had been developed by Kim Il Sung University, Jon said and then explained how they worked.

“We have set up a third-party analysis system. This is to make an objective evaluation of our products through other units’ examination of quality. We use it to assure the nutritional standard and hygienic safety of the products,” explained Om Hui Suk, chief of the laboratory.

The next leg of my visit was the sample room. Having on show different kinds of products made from corn, which is called king of the dry field crops, the room was also refurbished. I could see a good many kinds of products like biscuits, sweets, dextrose, corn syrup, corn sugar and corn starch, and certificates for patented products. My guide said that the great pride of the factory was that it had solved the sugar problem using corn which is widely grown in the country. Then, he told me stories about the factory’s achievements. One of them was how they had changed the chemical process of corn sugar production into an enzyme-based process by putting the enzyme production on an industrial basis. The story about a kind of healthy oil extracted from the corn germs was particularly interesting. Hearing his endless explanation in the sample room, I said, “Now I know I am mistaken when I think I am well informed of your factory. You are making remarkable progress.” Jon made a meaningful smile.

Bidding farewell to my guide, I got out of the factory. Looking back at it, I felt like returning for another look at the factory that was ever prospering on the strength of the spirit of self-reliance and self-development.

Article: Rim Ok