For the past six months, seven working-level North Korean officials have been staying at the Longxi International Hotel, located in a 72-story skyscraper in Huaxi Village, in China’s Jiangsu Province, a local government official told the JoongAng Ilbo in a telephone interview.
They’re allegedly trying to learn the secrets of Huaxi Village, known as China’s richest village but one that is still dedicated to socialism.
Huaxi Village is one of the richest places in China and a symbol of a model mixing socialism and capitalism. All the residents are shareholders of the local conglomerate and earn dividends at the end of every year according to its profitability.
“Roughly 20 North Koreans recently toured Huaxi Village,” a local resident told the JoongAng Ilbo. “The seven working-level North Korean officials have been staying in the village for six months learning how to manage a modern-style hotel.” Intriguingly, all seven are women.
The 328-meter (1,076-foot)-high Longxi International Hotel was completed last October and cost 3 billion yuan ($471 million). The five-star hotel has 800 rooms, including suites that go for 99,999 yuan per night.
“Officials from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry and the North Korean Embassy in Beijing also visited the village,” the resident said. “I’m not quite sure whether the women workers are from the ruling Workers’ Party, but they are mostly in their 20s.
“They have a great interest in learning about the dramatic growth of the village,” he continued. “They reportedly receive some kind of wages [from North Korea].”
Starting in 1978, the village’s residents actively participated in the reforms led by Deng Xiaoping. Wu Ren Bao, 84-year-old local secretary of the village, said in an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo in October 2011, “We accepted whatever was needed to make people rich and develop the village.”
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Joong Ang Ilbo
Chang Se-jeong, Jeong Yong-soo