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North Korea: Open For Business -- A Bit

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mumon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 08:02 PM
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North Korea: Open For Business -- A Bit
Edited on Mon Jul-19-04 08:03 PM by Kanzeon

the North's economy grew by 1.8% in 2003, according to South Korea's central bank. The gain may be modest, but it marks the fifth consecutive year of growth after nearly a decade of contraction in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse. Pyongyang today -- 10 years into Kim's erratic reign -- is alive with enterprise, visitors say. Stalls selling food, clothes, and electronics have popped up in dozens of newly opened markets; billboards advertise passenger cars (though few can afford them); and the city is better-lit at night, with some restaurants open late into the evening. "You can easily notice the change," says Kong Sun Hyun, general manager of South Korea's Taechang Inc., an apparel company that has invested $20 million in a joint venture that bottles mineral water near North Korea's scenic Mt. Kumgang for sale in the South. "The streets are energized with market activities."

While still nascent, the reforms appear to be taking root. Since July, 2002, Kim has allowed citizens to open small businesses such as restaurants and bakeries. Last March he introduced markets where licensed individuals and companies can trade goods. These bazaars -- some 300 of them across the country -- have become an essential part of daily life for North Koreans. And last year Pyongyang raised some $265 million for infrastructure projects by selling bonds to what the official media called "patriotic" citizens. The bonds -- the first such issue since 1950 -- pay no interest, but buyers were entered in a lottery to win a prize of up to 50 times their investment. (Some in Seoul say the bonds were substituted for part of salaries at state enterprises.) "The economic changes that have taken place in the past couple of years are much greater than those witnessed in the previous 50 years," says Jo Dong Ho, who monitors the North at Seoul's Korea Development Institute, a state-funded think tank.

North Korea's neighbors are chipping in. After the U.S. stopped supplying fuel last year, China boosted its shipments of oil by 53%, coal by 191%, and grain by 67%, according to Seoul's Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. And South Korea -- the North's largest donor and investor and second-largest trading partner -- last year increased bilateral trade to $724 million, up 80% from 2001. Seoul also provided 500,000 tons of grain to North Korea last year, covering half the total shortfall, as well as 300,000 tons of fertilizer. The neighborly help isn't entirely altruistic: China fears turmoil along its northeast border. "For Beijing, North Korea is no longer an economic issue but a security issue," says Koh Yu Hwan, professor of North Korea studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. And South Korea is hoping that economic aid will deepen Pyongyang's reliance on Seoul. "That's the only leverage we can build up with them," says a senior government official who asked not to be identified.

So I guess we're not going to bomb them because not only do they have nukes, but there's money to be made!
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Barkley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 08:35 PM
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1. Are they still exporting in euros? -nt
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mumon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 08:40 PM
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2. I don't know... but if so then maybe we'll invade them
or France or something...
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