North Korea last year designated an ambitious 13 special economic zones in November in the provinces last year and another six in Pyongyang and North and South Pyongan Provinces.
It also announced that the border city of Sinuiju and surrounding areas, which had previously been designated special economic zones, are now "international" economic zones.
The state-run [North] Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday said a relevant decree was issued by the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly.
The regime apparently made the announcement to show how committed it is to attracting foreign investment. But plans for the 13 zones announced last year have so far come to nothing, and it is highly doubtful whether the extra six will fare any better.
Cho Bong-hyun at the IBK Economic Research Institute here said it seems North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is getting anxious and falling over himself with various plans, "because if he doesn't show visible economic achievement this year, in his third year in power, his position may come under threat."
A South Korean government official said, "Without progress on denuclearization, North Korea will have hard time attracting any foreign investment at all."