Kim Jong-il Interested in Vietnam-Style Reform Policy

Korea Times
Jung Sung-ki

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has expressed intention to model after the Vietnam-style economic reform and openness policy, dubbed “Doi Moi,” a report said Sunday.

Vietnam adopted the reform policy in 1986 to establish a market economy such as liberalization of trade and finance with foreign countries, decentralization of state economic management and reliance on the private sector as an engine of economic growth.

Kim made the remarks during a meeting with Nong Duc Manh, secretary-general of Vietnam’s Communist Party, in Pyongyang last week, Yonhap News reported, citing the Sunday edition of the weekly Yazhou Zhoukan, a Hong Kong-based international Chinese business daily. The newspaper carried an interview with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem who accompanied the secretary general on his Pyongyang visit.

“Chairman Kim highly evaluated the achievements Vietnam’s Doi Moi has made in the past 20 years while meeting with Secretary General Manh,” Khiem was quoted as saying, adding the North Korean leader accepted Manh’s proposal for Kim’s visit to Hanoi.

The ongoing visit to Hanoi by North Korean Prime Minister Kim Yong-il aims to prepare for Kim’s visit to Vietnam, the report said.

The North Korean premier, who arrived in Hanoi Friday, visited several industrial and tourist sites in Vietnam, including Halong Bay, one of the biggest tourist attractions for foreigners, reports said.

Diplomatic sources in Hong Kong, however, were quoted as saying it is remarkable that Kim Jong-il expressed an interest in Doi Moi, but it is not likely for the communist North to closely follow the reform program.

The reason why the North is eyeing Vietnam’s economic program could have something to do with China’s lukewarm attitude to Pyongyang’s efforts to build special economic zones near the North’s border with China, they said.

Hanoi’s reform has often been referred to as a model for North Korea’s underdeveloped economy to emulate.

Chief U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill said during a visit there in May that North Korea should “move on in the way that Vietnam has done so well.”

North Korea, Vietnam agree to boost bilateral ties


North Korea and Vietnam said Saturday they have agreed to forge closer cooperation in the sectors of agriculture, culture and tourism, in their first high-level meeting in five years.

The agreement was reached after a meeting of visiting North Korean Premier Kim Yong-il and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Kim, who is in charge of economic policy, arrived in Hanoi on Friday for a five-day stay, as part of the first leg of a tour to Southeast Asian nations that include Malaysia, Cambodia and Laos.

Vietnam has shifted to a market economy since the mid-1980s and Hanoi’s reform is seen by many as a model for North Korea’s underdeveloped economy to emulate.


One Response to “Kim Jong-il Interested in Vietnam-Style Reform Policy”

  1. Ramon D. says:

    This is an interesting development. I am thinking Kim Jong Il is going as far as remarking about Vietnam’s achievements because he feels secure that at this point in time, opening the DPRK economy would not result in regime change. Obviously I don’t know enough to give a better comment, but it is intriguing that suddenly now North Korea would show some intentions of shifting to a social market economy. If this is true, and the North becomes “prosperous” the country may even continue to exist well into this century and beyond, who knows?