On 18th December, website 38 North carried an article from the Wall Street Journal described as an interesting and thoroughly researched report on North Korea’s use of a technique to synthetically produce synthetic fuels from coal. It says that China has provided technology and expertise for the coal-conversion efforts. The output claimed by one company alone would be enough to produce synthetic fuels equivalent to about 10% of North Korea’s annual imports of crude and refined oil in recent years. North Korea had obtained German coal-gasification technology from the Soviets around the 1960s but did little to develop it, and became dependent on subsidised crude from Russia and China. It is said that coal gasification has helped provide raw materials to increase output of fertilizer and plastic sheeting for greenhouses, boosting food production, and enabled other industries to develop products such as steel alloys and pipes.