Ri Yong Ho’s Vietnam visit and economic reform in North Korea

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

North Korea’s Ri Yong Ho is visiting Vietnam in November, several media outlets have reported. Reuters:

Ri will visit the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, for three days from Nov. 27 to inspect industrial zones and interview economic experts, a diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the trip told Reuters.

[…]

U.S. officials have said Vietnam’s socialist market economy could be an example for North Korea.

Yonhap said Ri had told the Vietnamese government that North Korea hoped to learn from Vietnam’s model of development.

This week Kim hosted President Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba – another country under U.S. sanctions – during a lavish visit in Pyongyang, where the two leaders vowed to boost their cooperation.

Full article:
As North Korea ponders economic reform, its top diplomat to visit Vietnam
James Pearson and Hayoung Choi
Reuters
2018-11-7

We don’t know exactly where Ri will go or what the purpose is, but North Korean officials have often spoken of “learning” from other countries’ experiences, without any radical, systemic overhaul being announced. It isn’t doesn’t mean the regime plans to adopt any specific “model” wholesale, or to change the entire system of economic governance tomorrow. North Korea is a country, and like all other countries, there exists a local, national context to which all reforms and systemic changes will be adapted.

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