SEOUL, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- China continues to heavily influence North Korea economically – Kim Jong Un is benchmarking North Korea's reforms against Chinese economic policies formulated more than 30 years ago, and China recently launched a new high-speed railway that runs to the Chinese border.
Kwon Young-kyung of Seoul's Institute for Unification Education said on Sunday that North Korea is following examples of China's economic reforms from the 80s, as well as reforms from South Korea, Donga Ilbo reported.
North Korea is particularly focused on examples from China's agricultural sector and Beijing's management of state-owned enterprises.
North Korea's agricultural policy is similar to China's farm production responsibility system that was implemented between 1978 and 1981, Kwon said.
In this system, farmers co-cultivated the land, but proceeds from products sold were partly passed to private households. Kwon said 40 percent of North Korea's cooperatives are now operating in a similar way.
Among state-owned enterprises, autonomy in economic units has expanded, in workplaces such as factories and collective farms, Kwon said, adding that North Korea's special economic development zones, 26 in total, are also following Chinese examples.
China has been working toward greater connectivity with cities along the North Korea border, an area that has been less prosperous than other regions of China.
It was announced on Sunday that a new high-speed railway line running between the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian and the border city of Dandong began operation on Dec. 17. The railway runs 180 miles to the border town, the most active point of China trade with North Korea.
An existing railway that runs between Dalian and Dandong includes a stopover in Shenyang and takes 3 hours and 40 minutes: The new high-speed train takes just 2 hours.
Trains carry not only passengers but also transport freight, the Chinese railway agency said.