Entrance of the February 8 Vinylon Factory Complex in Hungnam, North Korea.
Vinylon(Ja:ビニロン), also known as Vinalon, is a synthetic fiber produced from polyvinyl alcohol, using anthracite and limestone as raw materials. Vinalon was first developed in 1939 by Ichiro Sakurada, Ri Sung Gi, and H. Kawakami. Production of this fiber was delayed for World War II. The fibre was largely ignored in Korea until Ri defected to North Korea in 1950. Trial production began in 1954 and in 1961 the massive February 8 Vinylon Complex was built in Hamhung. Its success and widespread usage in North Korea is often pointed to as an example of the success of the juche philosophy.
While Hamhung remains a major production centre for vinylon; in 1998, a vinylon factory was opened up in South Pyongan. In early 2010, Kim Jong-il himself attended a mass rally at the February 8 Vinalon Complex in Hamhung to celebrate its reopening after 16 years of inactivity. While Kim was often seen at political rallies or military parades, this was the first documented time he has ever attended an industrial mass rally, said an anonymous South Korean security official.
Vinylon, also known as "Juche fibre" in the DPRK, has become the national fibre of North Korea and is used for the majority of textiles, outstripping fibre such as cotton or nylon, which are produced only in small amounts in North Korea. Other than clothing, Vinalon is also used for shoes, ropes, and quilt wadding.
Vinylon is resistant to heat and chemicals but has several disadvantages, being stiff, having a relatively high manufacturing cost, and being difficult to dye.
- Patent no. 147,958, February 20, 1941, Ichiro Sakurada, Yi Sung-ki [Lee. S. or Ri. Sung．Gi. and Hiroshi Kawakami, issued to Institute of Japan Chemical Fiber.
- "Can North Korea sustain industrial growth?". The Korea Herald. 2010-08-18. Retrieved 2012-08-11.
- Robinson, Michael E. (2007). Korea's Twentieth-Century Odyssey. Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press. pp. 158–161. ISBN 9780824831745.
- "Vice Chairman Ri Byong Rim of Light Industry Commission". The People's Korea. 1998-02-12.
- "North and South Hamgyong Provinces". The People's Korea. 1999-02-03. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
- "Kim Jong-il Shows Up at Mass Rally". The Chosun Ilbo. 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2010-03-08.
- Quirk, Vanessa. "Meet the Artist Behind Those Amazing, Hand-Knitted Playgrounds". ArchDaily. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
- "'Vinalon', the North's proud invention". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 2012-08-11.