New technology and fresh designs breathe new life into DPRK shoe factory

China 24

It’s a rare look inside the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In this case, it’s inside a factory. And the facility is now taking a fresh approach to an age-old industry.

CGTN’s Frances Kuo gave us this report.

It’s a modest-looking building on the outside. But what’s going on inside is considered the model of the DPRK’s footwear industry.

The Ryuwon Footwear Factory was built in 1988. But it lagged behind for several years, using equipment from abroad that could only produce old-fashioned shoes.

But in the past year, it’s stepped up its game with an injection of new technology.

“Its power consumption is less than half of the previous production line, and the operation is automatic,” explained In Uiung, Chief Engineer of Ryuwon Footwear Factory. “We can produce 2,000 pairs of shoes every day using this production line, and the yearly output of shoes can reach one million pairs.”

Providing power to the facility is a greener system of more than 1,200 solar panels installed on the factory’s roof.

“Because the factory is powered by solar energy, it can keep producing,” said In. “So the factory can over achieve the production target of economic plan over a longer period of time.”

And gone are the tired shoe prototypes of the past. The factory’s design department is churning out dozens of new styles every week.

“I use samples to learn about the world fashion trends,” said Sim Eun Shin, a designer. “I combine it with the preference of local people to form a design with Korean characteristics.”

Some of the shoes are sold to kindergarten and elementary school children at a discounted price, while others are sold in stores.

The hope is that DPRK citizens won’t be the shoes’ only fans, but that the wider world will count among its customers.