North Korean universities have begun programs to train specialists in matters related to special economic zones (SEZs) and their development.
On August 1, 2016, the North Korean website Naenara (lit: ‘My Country’) revealed this, saying “One of the most important matters with respect to development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) is the training of a large number of specialists. Hence, the government of the republic [DPRK] has established and implemented an educational program that aims to train specialists in this field.”
According to the website, the training of specialists in the development of SEZs has begun at Kim Il Sung University, the University of the People’s Economy, and Jong Jun Taek University of Economics (also known as Wonsan University of Economics).
These universities have departments specializing in the management of SEZs, real estate, tourism, and international investment. The curricula are based upon the developmental experiences of Rason Economic Investment Zone, the Hwanggumpyong-Wihwado Economic Zones, along with the law, regulations, and the experience of other countries.
These departments train specialists on the economic principles and effects of special economic development zones, theories on the form zones take and how development occurs, as well as how developmental strategy is devised. They also deal with issues like the creation of comprehensive development plans, the designation of companies for participation in development projects, the conclusion of development-related contracts, the conferring of development rights, the conclusion of land-usage contracts, the sale of land usage rights and the operation of sub-structural operations, and management of investment by foreign companies.
Naenara’s post also indicated that “the government of the republic has organized the investigation of the success of other countries in the development of special economic zones, this is being undertaken by university staff and researchers. A number of the country’s universities, research institutions, persons of repute, and public forums are engaged in these tasks.”
It also underscored the aim of “in future, scientific research dealing with special economic zones (SEZs) should be deepened, and education programs strengthened. Moreover, multifaceted cooperation and exchanges should be expanded with all countries that respect the sovereignty of the country [DPRK].”
The North Korean magazine ‘Mount Kumgang’ — which targets a foreign audience — for the last two months has also printed a series entitled ‘Regarding plans to expand foreign investment relations’. The series publicizes the variety of government policies designed to attract investment.
In one of these pieces, Cho Chang Jun (a professor of the University of the People’s Economy) explains that “with the importance of our government’s efforts to expand and develop foreign investment relations lies a number of legal measures, implemented in a way that is stronger than ever before, and which give foreign investors in our country a guarantee, in the government’s name, for a return of the principal invested and the payment of profits.”
The Rason SEZ (Rason Economic and Trade Zone) was created in the 1990s. In 2013, SEZs were also announced in each of the country’s provinces. At present there are 26 SEZs in North Korea.