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World
03 Apr 2017

Pyeonghwa Motors, the invisible "civil" automotive firm of North Korea

Pyeonghwa, car-maker giant you have never heard of

Pyeonghwa Motors General Corp, started in 1999, is today the one and only "civil automobile assembly company" of North Korea.

Other than Pyeonghwa, all other companies of the automotive industry in the country focus on developing military vehicles.

This automaker company once tried to act as a "bridge between South and North Korea".

Here are some more interesting tidbits.

In context

Pyeonghwa, car-maker giant you have never heard of
Making cars in a country that has no buyers

Background

Making cars in a country that has no buyers

Pyeonghwa Motors General Corp was first set up at Nampo as a joint venture between the firm and a North Korean company.

Reportedly, the entire ownership of the company was transferred to North Korea in 2013, after complaints of poor sales and extremely low profits.

This made sense, as the country's economy doesn't allow most of the citizens to afford a car.

Hope for peace

The motto of building peace between North and South Korea

In the backdrop of the conflict-ridden relations of North and South Korea, the company aimed to build peace, so much so, that the name was also given based on this idea, 'Pyeonghwa' which means peace.

The website of the company talks mostly about the hope of building a reunion of the two countries and only a few lines about the products and automotive industry.

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Alienated from rest of the modern world

The founder and first president of North Korea Kim Il Sung, created a policy for the country called juche or "self-reliance", which has essentially cut off North Korea economically and diplomatically from the rest of the world, even in times of great need.

Rehashed versions of popular make with very little power

Poor copy

Rehashed versions of popular make with very little power

As of now the company has produced sedans, vans, station wagons and even something on the lines of an SUV.

Many of these cars are the rehashed versions of Chinese and European cars with extremely low power.

One popular model looks weirdly similar to Fiat's Doblo van and strangely it also carries the Fiat branding on the car next to that of Pyeonghwa.

Halt in production

Erstwhile estimated production capacity of Pyeonghwa

The Pyeonghwa Motors General Corp's factory in Nampo has the capability to produce 10,000 cars a year. But it merely reached that capacity ever.

In 2011 the production peaked at 1820 vehicles. The situation is such, that there is no data available regarding the production after 2011.

According to some reports, production has completely ceased in the company since November 2012.

Beating capitalism the North Korean way

Only military and government officials can own motor vehicles in North Korea, as a result the amount of cars per 1000 people is 1 to 10. North Korean roads have three lanes with different speed limits, the fastest, is reserved for senior government officials.

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