According to journalist Demick, North Korea can see economic activity by seeing the factory chimney.

By observing the chimneys of a large group of factories in the seaside area of Chongjin, economic activity can be accurately grasped. On most days, only a few of them exhale the furnace smoke.
The choppy smoke can even be counted. You can see how the city’s pulse weakens in places where one spits, two spits, and at most three smoke clouds.
The gates of most factories were closed with chains and padlocks.
Of course, if a thief who disassembled the factory’s equipment and stolen it didn’t sneak a padlock. (Barbara Demick, Ordinary Lives in North Korea)

More than 70% of North Korea’s factories are said to be munitions factories.

We have heard from Prime Minister Kang Sungsan that “if there are 100 factories in North Korea, 77 of those are munitions factories.”
In February 1989, I visited the Kang-so 93 plant. The plant produces Scud and Nodong 1 missiles. This factory adjacent to Nampo City was in the mountains, but the valleys were completely filled with factories. Also, the North Korean basement factory is not a small basement like you think in the south. An underground palace is better than a basement. It is large enough to play soccer and volleyball in the factory. (Kan Myong-do, Top Secret of North Korea)

Zhebin, a Pyongyang representative, is interviewing a North Korean factory.

The main factory of the department (province) was interviewed at Ryongsong Heavy Machinery Factory in Hamhung. He entered a large building specially designed for frequent delegations and visitors, or when the “Great Master” or “Dear Leader” visited. On both the expensive marble-covered hall and the wall in front of the entrance, there are large portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, dashing gagging white and black horses. The official propaganda of this country is called “Sacred Mountain of the Korean Revolution”, and is the brave figure of Kim Il Sung on the edge of the old crater at the top of Mt.
According to the Disability Manager, Kim Il-sung provided 22 instructions on-site at the factory, giving about 1500 instructions, and Kim Jong-il gave on-site instruction on the sixth floor and 100 instructions. In August 1989, Kim Il Sung toured the factory and, in light of the size of the factory and the importance of the product in its national economy, said that he had upgraded the factory to a ministry (province). The number of people and shops (sections) is 30, and there are 400 groups engaged in production.
The factory was built during the Japanese occupation in 1938, and at that time it was a repair shop for equipment.
The main challenges for the future are to supply equipment to the largest plants under construction, including the Binarong (Sufu) Plant in Shuncheon, the Kali Fertilizer Union in Sariwon City, the Tokugawa Automobile Plant, which is undergoing modernization, and the Shigeru Mine. It is to be.
We drove to the main factory of this department by a road that was darkened by coal dust, but many of the factory areas in this country are covered with thick coal dust on both the sidewalk and the road. Ryongsong’s homes, like many “large industrial parks” in the country, are directly adjacent to factories, separated by low fences and have no green belts.
Modern facilities in western countries such as West Germany and Austria were also seen in some places, but the lighting was poor and the heating was not good. The workers looked tired, dressed like worn out military uniforms.
At a glance, even amateurs could see at a glance that the equipment was not operating at all times.
New employees at the plant pay 60 to 70 won per month. High school graduates receive professional education as apprentices for two years at the factory school.
If the quota is exceeded, workers will be rewarded, and winners of the socialist competition between teams and shops (departments) will receive consumer goods. They are not fired for violating labor discipline and are educated with the help of social organizations such as professional unions, women’s and youth organizations. Speaking of the punishment of party members, they lose their voting rights at party gatherings. In other words, the potential for so-called social and political activities is lost. Physical sanctions will be imposed, such as no rewards being paid.
At some factories, on average, about 20 major disasters and personal injuries occur annually, resulting in collective work-related injuries. If you are temporarily unable to work due to illness or an injury at the production site, you will be paid 60 percent of your wages.
The Foreign Affairs Section has stated that housing issues are the most serious problem for workers’ lives. In North Korea, this factory alone has over 200 households of workers awaiting their turn in state-owned housing.
The priority order of occupancy is skilled workers, followed by exemplary production workers, and lastly housing poor families.
The central government places great importance on the factory and does not try to cooperate major sector workers with rice planting and corn borrowing practices throughout the country. In addition, in order to secure the food for employees normally, the factory is provided with a land of 150 chombo (a chombo is a unit used to count the area of ​​fields and forests). In a vegetable field, thirty-hundred chombos have become orchards, and roughly 200 people are working on this farm. In addition, there are four fishing boats, and the fish caught supply 200 g of meat per person per day. (Alexander Zhebin, The Kim Dynasty I See)

However, as can be seen from the following series of citations, it is clear that North Korea’s factory is not functioning properly due to factors such as a shortage of materials and energy, and a factory management system.

Factory workers often have to repair machines every day, as they often strip and steal machines and accessories and sell them to the market for money or food. If you steal colored metals, rare metals, bearings, tools, measuring instruments, measuring instruments, and automated parts, you will replace them with living expenses. (Aya Han Won, North Korean defector)
He even makes television in the north. It produces TV mainly at the Taedong-gang television factory in the Taedong-gang area of ​​Pyongyang and a part of the second economy (munitions factory). Trademarks are “Pyongyang” and “Taedong-gang”.
But in the north, even a cathode ray tube cannot be made on its own. Only 80% of the parts are imported from Romania and Japan and assembled. I remember working in the Pyongyang Patriotic Knitting Factory, where I had been. The factory, built by the Korean Federation of Koreans living in Japan, is one of the leading factories in the north.
However, compared to Seoul, the working attitude of the workers seemed to be playing. Despite being at work, he was hanging out and squandering. The working group chief also pretends not to look. There is no material.
Every day, Kim Il Sung emphasized, “For the workers, the factory must be made beautifully like a palace and the surrounding area like a park.” The Mangyongdae Machine Tool Factory, which was built at the head of Potonggang in Pyongyang, was part of a first-class factory in the north, so we went on a tour. As soon as I stepped in, I wanted to cover my eyes.
First of all, the factory floor was scattered with black waste oil and iron swarf, so there was no even a foothold. At this plant, of course, a lot of iron is cut, so a lot of iron sawdust and waste oil from metal processing are produced. Discard these on the floor. As soon as I stepped into the factory, because of the lack of ventilation, I couldn’t afford enough, though not so much, with stinking odors and burning eyes.
Workers in the south wear clean work clothes, while workers in the north wear dirty work clothes forever without washing. (Kan, op. Cit.)
About 1,500 workers work at the Mangyongdae machine tool factory in Bongsu-dong, Wanjingtai area, which is slightly away from the center of Pyongyang. Originally a factory for private use, whose main business is metalworking, it only produces weapon launch tubes (a kind of grenade launcher). Of the total workforce, only 500 workers on the launch tube production line are working.
The rest is hanging out without doing anything. When I get bored, I scrape keys and make things like toys. When asked why he wouldn’t work, he told him to spit out that he wanted to do it because he had nothing to do. Such a phenomenon comes from an unreasonable factory management system. The factory is managed by a manager (factory manager) and a senior party executive.
The true power of the two is party leaders. The manager is only watching the party leader’s complexion. However, the ratings of senior elementary party leaders are based on the production of munitions. Therefore, the production of machine tools such as lathes and milling, which must be produced at this factory, has to be postponed, and only the launch tube is made eagerly.
The manager of the materials department must run around to purchase materials without having to take a day off. The factory is to be supplied with all equipment, oil, supplies, etc. according to a detailed supply plan established by the National Planning Commission. However, it was a premature construction, and the material manager of the factory received from the state a piece of paper saying, “ Receive 500 tons of material and 300 tons of oil from Kangson Steelworks and produce some machine tools ” Is just a piece of paper. The factory gives the following instructions to the factory workers:
“Every worker should submit a box of cigarettes by tomorrow.” The workers are forced to submit cigarettes, and the material clerk goes to the Kangson Steel Works with 1,500 boxes of cigarettes. Tobacco is a bribe.
Even at the Kangson Steel Works adjacent to the factory, there is not enough power to supply materials smoothly. In this steel mill, steel is made mainly by melting old iron in an electric furnace. However, since the supply of power is frequently interrupted, there is a definite shortage of steel materials. Raising the problem at the top gives a guideline that says, “Don’t just complain and use your creativity to solve the problem.”
In order to solve this problem, the steelworks commissioned the “2/16 Ponghwa Technical Research Institute”, a comprehensive chemical research institute. After a while the solution was presented.
“When you heat the electric furnace for the first time, you can use special charcoal made of bituminous coal and oil without using electricity. Then, when it comes to heating the electric furnace, use electricity. it can”
The laboratory then carefully dispatched it to a research technician to provide guidance on the special coal production process. The Kangson Steel Works was delighted to try a new method. In fact, it has saved 30 percent on electricity bills. However, this new method takes three times more time to heat the electric furnace than before. (Ibid.)
When electricity and coal supply is cut off, factories are forced to close. The Chongjin Chemical Union Office is a huge enterprise. There are 12,000 employees alone.
It has been three years since the factory stopped. This is because the coal supply has stopped and the boiler cannot be moved. It has been a long time since all employees have been issued vacation orders. Perhaps less than 30 percent of all North Korean factories are up and running. (Ibid.)
The knitting factory where my brother works is a factory with less than 100 employees located under a large clothing factory. It is said that the quality and quantity of the product will be determined in consultation with the manager and the chief engineer, but in fact, the secretariat of the woman party of the factory party is in dictatorship. The middle-aged, sometimes-hysterically yelling female workers must meet the whim of the Single Women Party Secretary. Returning fellow ladies should not give a positive constructive opinion to the women’s party secretary, remembering the colors, patterns and designs of the sweaters they have seen in Japan.
Returning nations are not familiar with the Republic, and when they are first placed in their first workplace, they sometimes say, “This is what you want. It should be efficient and you should have a good product.” Then, everyone is bullied, saying, “He’s a fool of a return home who doesn’t know anything.”
When the Republic raises a “production struggle” for clothing under the slogan “promoting the well-being of the people,” knitting factories are set to meet their goals. For example, produce 3000 sweaters. However, even if these goals are met, the necessary materials-knitting machine needles and yarns-will not be supplied sufficiently. The government exercises the spirit of self-rehabilitation and says, “Please find hidden materials on your own!” A workplace rally is held in accordance with customary practice, and “100% overachieving the target” is officially resolved. The women’s party secretary has ordered the female workers to supply household knitting machine needles and old wool sweaters. While developing campaigns such as “Offering is the proof of loyalty.” If you don’t respond to it, you’ll call it “owner of the remains of capitalist thought.”
Be bullied. They bring out old sweaters and waistcoats for adults and children from their homes, unravel them and use them to knit new sweaters, and devote them to the state through the Women’s Party Secretary.
In this way, the knitting factory has achieved the goal set by the state by one hundred percent, is praised by the government, and can raise the nose of women’s party secretaries and other executives. (Kim Won-jo, “Republic of the frozen land”)