Archive for the ‘Korea National Insurance Corporation’ Category

UK freezes KNIC assets

Monday, April 24th, 2017

According to The Guardian:

The UK has frozen the assets of a North Korean company based in south-east London after claims it funnelled cash to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.

The Korea National Insurance Corporation (KNIC) is registered at a property in Blackheath. The EU has already imposed sanctions against the company, which it describes as “generating substantial foreign exchange revenue which is used to support the regime in North Korea”. The move by Brussels followed an UN resolution.

The EU warned: “Those resources could contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear-related, ballistic missile-related or other weapons of mass destruction-related programmes.”

The company is registered to a detached property on Kidbrooke Park Road among suburban houses in an affluent part of London. Its entry on Companies House now describes KNIC as “closed” since 6 October 2016. Accounts show that in 2014 it had total assets of 130bn North Korean won, the equivalent of £113m.

According to EU sanctions imposed in July 2015, the KNIC’s headquarters in Pyonyang is linked to Office 39 of the Korean Workers’ party. In 2010 the US Treasury described Office 39 as “a secretive branch of the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that provides critical support to North Korean leadership in part through engaging in illicit economic activities and managing slush funds and generating revenues for the leadership”.

A spokesman for HM Treasury said: “We cannot comment on individual cases. However, the UK has fully complied and implemented the UN sanctions regime in relation to North Korea and North Korean companies.”

Through the EU regulations, the UK imposes restrictions on a range of goods from entering or leaving North Korea and imposes a travel ban and an asset freeze against people designated as engaging in or providing support for its programmes for weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.

Under the same sanctions, the funds and economic resources have been frozen of four Hamburg-based North Koreans who ran the KNIC branch in Germany and two other regime officials who have since moved back to Pyongyang.

The Sunday Times, which first reported the freeze on the assets of the UK branch, reported that a North Korean man at the Blackheath property told it that the insurer’s main UK director, Ko Su-gil, had left Britain in September.

Read the full story here:
UK freezes assets of North Korean company based in south London
The Guardian


Insurance products promoted to target foreign investment enterprises

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

North Korea is promoting insurance products targeted at foreign-investment companies with increasing efforts to attract foreign capital through special economic zones.

On January 19, 2016, the state-run Korea National Insurance Corporation (KNIC) made an official announcement on its website on new insurance products for the economic development zones. It announced that KNIC is promoting various insurance products to protect life and property for foreign investment companies, including fire insurance and accident liability insurance for gas accidents, third party automobile liability insurance, and third party construction liability insurance.

In addition, KNIC announced that it will offer a variety of insurance products according to personal and business demands. The website elaborated, “in order to meet the growing insurance need in the economic development zones, KNIC is introducing development of various insurance products and to realize the international insurance trends and the diversification of the insurance sector to ensure the prompt insurance coverage to remain as credible institution among foreign companies.”

The KNIC first began to operate fire, automobile, gas accident liability insurances to tenant companies in the Kaesong Industrial Complex from 2005.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) adopted the insurance regulation along with property regulation for the Economic Development Zone (EDZ) last July. The insurance regulation consisted of four chapters and 52 articles, but specific details were not disclosed. However, details on insurance contracts, insurance offices, as well as installation and operation of the insurance office were revealed.

Previously, North Korea enacted new EDZ laws in May 29, 2013 which guaranteed special privileges for economic activities conducted in special economic zones as specified in the law. On November 6, 2013, three EDZ Operational Regulations were adopted (management institutional regulations, establishment regulations, and business establishment and operational regulations) by the Presidium of the SPA.

This new property insurance policies and regulations appear as a new measure to ensure added legal protection to improve investment environment of foreign capital from the three existing operating regulations.

In February 2015, Ri Sun Hak, department director of the Ministry of External Economic Relations, stated in an interview with the KCNA, “Our country is fully equipped with the legal environment to protect the legitimate rights and interests of investors.” The news also depicted ‘foreign investment law,’ ‘economic development law,’ and ‘external economic arbitration law’ were newly enacted or revised. The foreign investment laws was revised to streamline investment formalities and to provide various services for foreign-investment companies.

However, the question still remains as to gauge the effectiveness of North Korea’s insurance operations. As the international community, including the UN Security Council, is likely to impose stronger sanctions to condemn North Korea’s fourth nuclear test, the solvency of North Korea’s insurance companies remains uncertain and unreliable.

In addition, the KNIC’s Germany branch and President So Tong Myong (Seo Dong-Myung) are both on the EU’s list of sanctions, which is likely to act as an impeding factor for smooth insurance operations. The EU listed six KNIC senior employees to the sanctions list subject to an EU-wide asset freeze and travel ban.


DPRK insurance market updates

Monday, August 17th, 2015

UPDATE 2 (2015-10-23): The Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) reports on additional developments in the DPRK’s insurance industry:

North Korean Insurance Company to Expand Insurance Offerings

On October 14, 2015, the state-owned North Korean insurance company, Korean National Insurance Corporation (KNIC), promoted its ongoing insurance programs at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, revealing that it will offer more types of insurance if North-South economic cooperation expands in the future.

As North Korea’s market economy has expanded under the Kim Jong Un regime, insurance aimed at the ‘protection of assets’ has also increased.

“In order to actively ensure joint economic development projects between the North and South using the economic space of insurance, in 2005 we started insuring the assets of businessmen from the South who come to the Kaesong Industrial Region,” KNIC announced on its homepage on October 14.

The company explained, “The types of insurance currently implemented are fire insurance, car insurance, and gas accident liability insurance […] In the future several insurance sectors will grow further commensurate with the increasing variety and expansion of North-South economic cooperation projects.”

The company emphasized that in the future it will offer insurance programs more practical for South Korean businesses at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

KNIC has also recently introduced new insurance products covering things like cell phones and fruit orchards.

However, Kaesong companies have reportedly not been enthusiastic about the products offered by KNIC. Not only is it difficult to trust the ability of North Korean insurance companies to pay out insurance money in the case of an insurance claim, but the insurance money itself is small. As a result, South Korean companies at Kaesong have been reluctant to enroll.

Meanwhile, KNIC revealed that it is strengthening its fire insurance services in accordance with North Korea’s recent construction of a number of new buildings such as the Masikryong Ski Resort, the Mirim Horse Riding Club, and the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport terminal.

“As we work to realize fire insurance guarantees of newly built or remodeled buildings in a timely manner, we are ensuring that insured companies are equipped with fire alarms and fire extinguishing facilities and experience improvements in risk management,” the insurance company declared.

It added, “We are also bringing in internationally recognized appraisal companies along with domestic appraisers to make sure that risk assessments of new insurance subjects proceed normally on-site.”

UPDATE 1 (2015-8-20): The Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) reports on developments in the DPRK’s insurance market:

New Insurance Products Appearing in North Korea

All sorts of insurance products, such as cell phone insurance and insurance against damage to fruit farms, are starting to appear in North Korea.

The Korea National Insurance Corporation (the state insurance company representing North Korea), revealed on its website on August 12, 2015 that the issue of cell phone insurance was discussed at the annual general meeting of provincial governors held in Pyongyang in February 2015.

“At last year’s meeting, provincial governors from all over, including Pyongyang, North Hamgyong Province, Yanggang Province, and Jagang Province, met and introduced new areas of business such as cell phone insurance. They discussed increasing the number of insurance policy holders and expanding coverage to raise insurance premium revenue,” the insurance company reported.

Recently, as the number of cell phone owners shoots up, the instances of lost or damaged phones have also risen. It appears that this new form of insurance is being offered against this backdrop to compensate cell phone owners for such incidents. As in South Korea, it is not yet mandatory for North Korean cell phone owners to purchase cell phone insurance.

Currently, North Korea’s primary mobile carrier, the Egyptian firm Orascom, owns a 75% share in North Korea’s mobile communications company Koryo Link. As of the end of June 2014, the company had 2.4 million cell phone subscribers in North Korea.

The Korea National Insurance Corporation is also preparing to offer insurance for fruit trees in order to compensate owners of fruit farms for damage caused by natural disasters or other events.

The company explained the background behind offering this insurance product on their homepage. According to the website, since Kim Jong Un came to power, a lot of effort has been put into the development of agriculture and fruit farms, but due to recent abnormal climate phenomena like El Niño, these fields have experienced a lot of difficulties.

The website reveals, “Based on experience accumulated in the testing phase, we plan on offering insurance coverage within several years for modern, large-scale fruit farms like Taedong River Integrated Fruit Farm and Kangwon Province’s Kosan Fruit Farm.”

In order to do this, the company has been performing risk appraisals since 2013 with international damage appraisers for each of the fruit farms. This suggests that it is keeping foreign reinsurance companies and contracts in mind.

The company offers fruit farms insurance coverage for a variety of calamities and natural disasters. It covers fruit trees in the event of drought, landslides, or fire; fruit in the event of hail, drought, excessive moisture, extreme heat, or fire; and the quality of fruit in the event of hail, heavy rain, or storms.

The provision of insurance for fruit farms is seen as an extension of North Korea’s ongoing efforts to earn foreign currency through insurance companies.

The fact that various insurance products are appearing in North Korea has attracted attention in the context of North Korea’s recent economic developments. Since Kim Jong Un came to power, the regime has tried to recognize and protect private property as the market economy has expanded through the growth of companies’ independent management rights and the expansion of private profits. Especially in the case of insurance companies, it is believed that the regime is trying to maximize profits by generating additional income through insurance premiums.

ORIGINAL POST (2015-8-17): Elizabeth Shim reports the following at UPI:

On Tuesday, Pyongyang’s Korea National Insurance Corp. posted on its website information on annual meetings held in each province. Issues of mobile phone insurance were discussed during the meetings, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

The North Korean insurance firm said in statement that new businesses were being introduced to meet the increased demand for mobile phone insurance in Pyongyang and the provinces, South Korean television network SBS reported.

The mobile phone is becoming a central component of everyday life for many North Koreans, particularly for merchants who are on the road to sell wares around the country – but damage or loss of phones are raising the demand for insurance in the country.

Egyptian firm Orascom owns a 75 percent stake in North Korea’s main network, Koryolink, and offers services to 2.4 million North Koreans.

Other insurance mentioned include new policies for agriculture and protection plans for large-scale fruit farms by the Taedong River and in Kangwon province are being assembled, according to North Korea. The plans would provide protection against weather effects like “El Nino,” that is resulting in increased drought, torrential rain, high temperatures and other factors that are hurting crops.

The Korea National Insurance Corporation web page is here. Here are the two specific reports mentioned in the article:

Annual conference of provincial KNIC branches held

The annual conference of provincial branches of Korea National Insurance Corporation was held in Pyongyang on February 25th and 26th.

It was attended by head-office officials concerned and branch managers, and accountants thereof, of different provinces.

Its agenda involved review of last year’s insurance operations conducted by the provincial branches, and determination of their goals to be reached this year.

Great appreciation was shown in the conference for the branches including the ones in Pyongyang, North Hamgyong Province, Ryanggang and Jagang Provinces, all of which, last year, introduced new insurance products, like mobile phone insurance, into sale, and brought an increase in the number of the insureds and objects to result a rise in premium income, and made prompt indemnifications on a scientific basis thus contributing to the stabilization of operation, production of the insureds concerned and people’s lives, as well.

Stress was laid on adoption and development of effective business strategies plus further improvement and intensification of insurance operation upholding the slogan reading “ Let us all turn out in the general offensive to hasten final victory in the revolutionary spirit of Paektu!”, thus enhancing the role of insurance in line with the development of national economy and improvement of the livelihood of the people as befitting the significance of the year marking the 70th founding anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

Lectures were given on business practices involving accountancy and some insurance accounts during the conference.

Fruit Crop Insurance to be introduced in future

According to a far-reaching plan of Chairman Kim Jong Il and supreme leader Kim Jong Un to supply the people with fresh fruit in and out of season, Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm had been built as the best integrated base for fruit production, keeping production going on a high level, and furthermore, Kosan Fruit Farm has been expanded as a large-scale fruit farm with the introduction of scientific, intensive and modernized methods into fruit production.

At present, the farms have boosted production by applying the densely planting method of dwarf fruit trees following the world-wide trend of fruit farming development and growing several kinds of fruit trees including high-grade apple, pear and peach as befits the specific conditions of our country.

They grow apple trees of Korean original varieties such as Hwangju, Pukchong and Unryul together with dwarf apple trees of more than a hundred of varieties including Granny Smith, Fuji and Golden Delicious,and meet their own demand for young saplings by growing them on their own.

However, there have frequently occurred abnormal weather phenomena due to El Nino in recent years, causing negative effects on agriculture and fruit farming in our country and its surrounding countries.

As far as fruit farming is so greatly influenced by the nature and terrain and weather conditions as agriculture, Korea National Insurance Corporation (KNIC) has intention of newly underwriting insurance contracts with fruit farms in our country so as to put production on a normal basis under the adverse weather conditions recently occurred.

The subject matter insured under Fruit Crop Insurance shall be fruit and fruit trees cultivated by fruit farms in DPRK, and the covered risks are as follows;

– Yield Loss Coverage

Drought, freezing, landslide, fire,

– Fruit Tree Loss Coverage

Hail, drought, excessive moisture, extreme heat, fire,

– Quality Loss Coverage

Hail, torrential rainfall and windstorm.

In 2013, KNIC conducted a risk survey on some fruit farms in our country in cooperation with international loss adjusters, and since then KNIC has underwritten insurance contracts with those farms.

KNIC, on the basis of practical experience gained at that pilot stage, shall cover against the risks mentioned above modernized and large-scale fruit farms including Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm and Kosan Fruit Farm within a few years to come.

Although KNIC has a dubious history, today the group still posts regular financial information which (if accurate) would make it one of the most financially transparent organizations in the DPRK (Congrats to them for at least trying). See tables here, here, and here.

Previous posts on the Korean National Insurance Corporation here.

Once they figure out crop insurance, the next step should be a commodity futures market!

Read the full UPI story here:
North Korea to provide insurance for drought, lost phones
Elizabeth Shim


New KNIC web page

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

The Korea National Insurance Corporation (KNIC) has a new web page that is internet accessible. Martyn Williams was the first to notice it. Although the web page offers information in English and Korean, I have only examined the English portal and I am unaware if there are significant differences between the two.

According to the web page:

KNIC, as a sole insurer of the DPR Korea has over 10 provincial insurance branches and over 200 insurance offices at municipal (district) and county levels under its umbrella nationwide and representative offices overseas.

The English web page provides basic financial and corporate information from 2008-2012. You can check out financial highlights, underwriting performance, and the consolidated balance sheet. It is unclear why 2013 and Q1 2014 data is not presented, but it is not like the shareholders or regulators are going to be up in arms about it.

On the corporate side we have a letter from the chairman of the executive management committee (since there are no shareholders he cannot be chairman of the board of directors)–again seeming to date from late 2012 or early 2013. We also see a list of the members of the executive management committee and an organization chart. The organization chart shows a list of internal divisions but does not explain how KNIC is linked to the cabinet.

KNIC posted a table of financial data (all numbers are in millions of KPW and cannot be verified):


The chart shows gross written premiums (총접수보험료) experienced an average growth of 16.6% (from 41,939m KPW to 48,905m KPW) between 2008 and 2012. Investment revenue (투자수입) also increased 87% (from 1,597m KPW to 2,996w KPW). Profits (순소득), however, fell 31% on average from 8,041m KPW in 2008 to 5,544m KPW in 2012. So over time, the firm has experienced increasing costs. I am not sure what these costs are, but if you love forensic accounting, please go through the financial reports and let me know.

The DPRK won experienced a significant loss in value compared to the US$ on the black market in 2012, falling from 4,400 to 9,100 per 1$. Using an annual average rate of 6,750 KPW to the US$, profits totaled just $821,333. Using the black market rate of 9,100, profits total $609,203. Using the official rate of 100KPW to the US$, profits grow to $55.44 million. Using the official Euro rate of 130KPW, profits total E42.64 million.

It is unclear what exactly “Pre-state payment result” (국가납부전 결과) is, but I believe it is the equivalent of “Earnings Before Taxes (EBT)” under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Since the DPRK has officially abolished taxes, direct cash transfers to the state must take another name, so it appears to simply be “State Payment”, but it is definitely not “tax”.

“Profit for the year” listed for each year is .675 of the “Pre-state payment result” which tells us the unofficial tax rate on the firm is a flat 32.5% (1-.675) on net earnings.

It is unclear what happens with profits in these firms. In privately owned firms in capitalist countries, profits are generally reinvested in the business or distributed as dividends to shareholders, partners, or proprietors.

Moving on to the corporate side, the web site lists the following major operational departments:

1. Property Insurance Department is in charge of non-life insurance classes, such as property, crop, livestock, engineering and motor applied from institutions, enterprises, cooperatives and individual citizens.

2. Marine Insurance Department handles such lines as marine hull, cargo and liability, aviation hull and liability applied from institutions, enterprises and cooperatives.

3. Life Insurance Department provides life and personal accident coverage applied from institutions, enterprises, cooperatives and individual citizens.

4. Economic Cooperation Insurance Department offers different classes of insurance to newly developed economic zones and foreign invested enterprises (foreigners, joint ventures, representative offices, correspondent branch offices, embassies and international organizations) including Rason Economic and Trade Zone and Hwanggumphyong and Wihua Islet Economic Zone.

5. Reinsurance Department organizes reinsurance protection for primary insurance accounts written by KNIC. This department has a bad reputation in the west.

6. Investment Department conducts investment activities into financial securities and mining, and manages non-insurance enterprises like a shipping company.

7. Additional divisions: Market Research, Insurance Cooperation, Financial Supervision, Finance & Accounting, Administration and Protocol, all of which are engaged in their respective functions.



Insurance in the DPRK

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Jakub Rehor and Geoffrey See of Choson Exchange post interesting information on insurance in the DPRK:

According to the Choson Exchange:

In the planned, state-controlled economy of North Korea, familiar concepts (including insurance) acquire a very different meaning. In a market economy, insurance coverage indemnifies individuals or corporations for losses suffered due to natural disasters, accidents, sickness, or death. In North Korea, what is called “insurance” functions as a fundraiser for certain entities in the government.

There are two kinds of insurance products in North Korea, individual and enterprise insurance. Both are compulsory and are administered by KNIC (Korea National Insurance Corporation). Compulsory individual insurance is deducted automatically from salaries, and is used to fund the state-run healthcare system. Individuals cannot file claims under this insurance; all payments go into the healthcare system to cover its costs and to other state-directed uses. This individual insurance program was originally administered by Korea Central Bank, but parts of it were moved to KNIC where it formed a new department.

Individuals do not have the option of buying property or life insurance in DPRK. Only state-owned enterprises can use property insurance. Compulsory enterprise insurance covers property losses from all major perils (there is exclusion for war). There are no separate policies or riders for windstorm, earthquake, flooding, etc. Instead, policies specify coverage by type of property (animal insurance, machinery insurance, etc.)

Pricing is set without regard to individual risks and loss history. Rather, insurance operates on a pooled basis, with the goal of roughly matching premiums with claims and administration costs. There are no reserves and the state absorbs any losses or profits. As a result, KNIC has no incentive to care about profitability or correct pricing (and, presumably, service) for local insurance operations priced in North Korean won.

There is no independent regulatory authority in DPRK overseeing KNIC’s activities. In theory, the Central Bank and Finance Ministry should be involved, but in reality they don’t have the expertise or political backing. The only oversight of KNIC comes from the party which provides mainly political supervision.

Given the pooled nature of the compulsory policies and lack of risk-based pricing, KNIC acts mainly as an administrator, collecting premiums and disbursing payments. In this position it functions as a revenue generator for the government via two channels:

1. It fails to pay market replacement value of losses. Claims are settled at official government prices which do not reflect market reality.

2. It has been alleged that KNIC has been involved in reinsurance fraud. Media reports claim that European reinsurers write policies for KNIC which then submits false claims, or retains a portion of the claim settlement payments rather than passing it on to the insured.

The existing insurance arrangements in DPRK are clearly inadequate for the needs of foreign joint ventures operating in the Special Economic Zones. If North Korea hopes to attract foreign investment, it needs to modernize its insurance system to bring it into line with expectations of outside investors.


DPRK hosts insurance seminar

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

According to Naenara:

The Pyongyang International Insurance Seminar on “Marine Insurance & Reinsurance: the Challenges of the Time” ran between June 7 and 8, 2010.

Present at the seminar were Yang Hyong Sop, vice-president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly, Pak Su Gil, vice-premier and minister of Finance, So Tong Myong, president of the Korea National Insurance Corporation (KNIC) and chairman of the organizing committee of the seminar, officials from the KNIC, insurance workers from the provinces and officials concerned.

Among those present were Ezzat Abdel-Bary, secretary general of the Federation of Afro-Asian Insurers and Reinsurers, and his party, Roberto Quinto Martinez, permanent secretariat of the Association of Insurance and Reinsurance in Developing Countries, delegates from companies of China, Morocco, Sudan, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, India and Egypt, officials of foreign embassies and missions of international organizations in the DPRK.

A delegation from the Kumgang Insurance Company of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan was also present at the seminar.

The seminar heard papers on marine cargo insurance, marine cargo claims and adjustment—an overview, the art of adjusting catastrophe claims, new trend in the reinsurance market and other papers. Then speeches were made.

The seminar provided the participants with an opportunity to find a way out of instability in the field of insurance affected by the global financial crisis and let each country make an effective use of its own financial resources in the field of insurance and strengthen the international cooperation and exchange.

Unfortunately, when I hear the words “DPRK” and “insurance,” I think of this.


DPRK defector discussed financial flows

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Last week we mentioned the curious case of Kim Kwang Jin, a high-ranking defector who helped raise money for the North Korean government who is spending a year here in DC at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.  This week he spoke to Fox News and painted a broad picture of the DPRK’s financial strategy:

Trim and sharply dressed, his bushy head of hair dyed jet black, the 42-year-old Kim, once an English professor at a computer college in Pyongyang, speaks polite and fluent English, albeit in a halting style and with a heavy accent.

An interview with FOX News in late June marked Kim’s first with an American TV news channel. Kim recounted his extraordinary experiences working for the Northeast Asia Bank and Korea National Insurance Corporation, where he handled accounts worth hundreds of million of dollars.

He described two economies in North Korea: one administered by the North Korean Cabinet and nominally oriented toward serving the needs of the people; and a “Royal Court economy,” financed by illicit enterprises worldwide and providing the stream of hard currency that keeps Kim Jong Il, and his cronies, ensconsed in power and luxury.

“Kim [Jong Il] himself enjoys a lavish lifestyle,” said Kim Kwang Jin. “He is giving gifts to his associates: the Mercedes-Benz[es] and whiskeys, first-class room and [air]fare from Japan. Everything’s provided to his aides….Kim Jong Il himself is now ruling the country with [the] dollar, hard currency….Without hard currency they cannot rule the country.” 

Kim Kwang Jin described a society in which bankers demand bribes from clients, doctors from patients, professors and teachers from students. 

“Everybody tries to make use of their position, their authority…to survive,” Kim said.

The former banker said the regime’s largest source of hard currency comes from the clandestine manufacture and sale of weapons of mass destruction. After that comes the regime’s multibillion-dollar insurance fraud business, in which the authorities stage arson and bogus accidents to collect multimillion-dollar payouts from international banks and insurers. 

“The state — Kim Jong Il himself — controls all these funds,” said Kim Kwang Jin. “It is funneled to him. And then he’s using all these revenues according to his regime’s priorities, which are now the missile program and nuclear weapons development.”

Kim Kwang Jin believes the North Korean government has never negotiated in good faith with the United States and its allies at the Six-Party nuclear disarmament talks. 

“The North Koreans are coming to the table not for negotiation; they are there for winning, for implementing their strategy,” he said. To grant meaningful concessions at such negotiations, or to enact meaningful internal reforms toward democratization, would, Kim says, be tantamount to “suicide to the regime.”

Yet Kim also believes financial sanctions can compel better behavior from Pyongyang, and cites as an example the Treasury Department’s targeting from 2005 to 2008 of Banco Delta Asia: a bank in Macau, also known as “BDA,” through which the North Korean regime once transferred large sums. It was during this period, when Banco Delta Asia faced international restrictions, that the North made its most far-reaching concessions in the Six-Party Talks, only to renege on them once the sanctions were lifted.

“The BDA case was a frightening thing to the regime,” Kim said. “It was a blow to [Kim Jong Il’s] personal funding, to the economic sector which is now supporting the regime. And even the national economy, the people’s economy run by [the] Cabinet, is influenced by this BDA case. 

Here is his interview on Fox News via YouTube

Read the full story here:
North Korean Defector Describes Inner Workings of Isolated Regime
Fox News
James Rosen


DPRK reinsurance update

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

In December 2008 this blog discussed how the DPRK’s Korea National Insurance Corporation (KNIC) received USD$58 million from several European reinsurance companies in a legal settlement.

Well, the Washington Post offers an update on how the money is being moved and even highlights the story of a defector who claims to be involved in the DPRK’s insurance racket:

For Kim Jong Il’s birthday, North Korean insurance managers prepared a special gift.

In Singapore, they stuffed $20 million in cash into two heavy-duty bags and sent them, via Beijing, to their leader in Pyongyang, said Kim Kwang Jin, who worked as a manager for Korea National Insurance Corp., a state-owned monopoly.

Kim said he helped arrange the shipment and watched in February 2003 as the cash was packed. After the money arrived, Kim Jong Il sent a letter of thanks to the managers and arranged for some of them to receive gifts that included oranges, apples, DVD players and blankets, Kim said.

“It was a great celebration,” he said.

The $20 million birthday present and the gratitude of its recipient, who is known as the Dear Leader, were annual highlights of a sophisticated global insurance fraud that North Korea has concocted to provide its communist leadership with hard currency, said Kim, who spent five years as an executive of the state insurance company in Pyongyang and worked for a year at its banking subsidiary in Singapore before defecting to South Korea.

The British court ruled the way it did [NKeconWatch: this might be an error as the court did not rule on the case–it was settled] because the reinsurance companies contractually agreed to be bound by the North Korean court system (which to nobody’s surprise systematically rules in favor of domestic agencies and firms).  Since the western reinsurance firms could not prove that the DPRK was committing fraud, they had to pay up.

And how does this program work?

While working for North Korea’s insurance monopoly, Kim Kwang Jin said, he and other managers had a tightly focused mission: to find reinsurance companies and brokers in different parts of the world who would accept high premiums to reinsure KNIC’s policies.

Those policies, he said, usually covered losses from common North Korean disasters such as mining accidents, industrial fires, transportation crashes and crop losses due to floods.

“The major point of the reinsurance operation is that they are banking on disaster,” he said. “Whenever there is a disaster, it becomes a source of hard currency.”

According to Kim, KNIC would target a different potential disaster and a different reinsurance company each year. “We pass it around,” he said. “One year, it might be Lloyd’s; the next year, it might be Swiss Re; and the next, Munich Re.”

In London, the expert on the insurance industry familiar with the helicopter case echoed Kim’s assessment of how KNIC operated. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized by reinsurers to talk about the case.

“They pay good premiums, and they are very sophisticated, very clever,” he said. “They would divvy business up into very small bites and use different brokers in different places. The division of losses was such that it would never be apparent to a prospective reinsurer just how bad the business was.”

The North Koreans were known in the reinsurance industry for their capacity to prepare meticulously documented claims, speed them through puppet courts in Pyongyang and demand quick payment from international reinsurers. The North sometimes restricts the ability of reinsurers to dispatch investigators to verify claims.

The North Korean insurance monopoly sometimes took advantage of the geographical and political ignorance of brokers and reinsurers, according to the London-based insurance expert. Some brokers and companies, he said, thought they were dealing with a company from South Korea, while others were unaware that North Korea is a secretive totalitarian state with one of the world’s worst human rights records.

When he worked at KNIC, Kim said, annual revenue from North Korea’s reinsurance claims was about $50 million to $60 million. Most of that money, he said, was used to scout out potential disasters inside North Korea, to buy more reinsurance on the global market and to pay premiums.

“The remaining hard currency should have been used to help people recover from disasters and accidents, but it was not used that way,” Kim said. “It is just going into the pocket of Kim Jong Il.”

He said cash shipments of $20 million arrived yearly in Pyongyang, usually in the week before Feb. 16, which is Kim Jong Il’s birthday and a national holiday. In his six years at KNIC, Kim said, bags of cash arrived in Pyongyang from Singapore, Switzerland, France and Austria.

The money, he added, was delivered to an entity called Bureau 39 of the Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee. It was created by Kim Jong Il in the 1970s to collect hard currency and give him an independent power base, according to defectors, Seoul-based analysts and published reports. These sources agree that Bureau 39 spends foreign currency on luxury goods for the North Korean elite, components for missiles and other weapons programs.

With Bureau 39 skimming off hard-currency earnings returned to North Korea by KNIC’s global operation, Kim said, claims to disaster victims had to be paid in won, North Korea’s currency.

“That money is nearly worthless at present, because the economy has collapsed,” he said. “This means that little is done to help people recover from fires or whatever.”

But Kim Jong Il has been pleased with the state insurance company, Kim said.

“It brings him large amounts of hard currency,” Kim said. “Working in insurance is one of the best professions in North Korea. Many people want to do it.”

Mr. Kim is working in the Washington DC area this year with the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.

Read the full artocle here:
Global Insurance Fraud By North Korea Outlined
Washington Post 
Blane Harden


Lessons in insurance

Friday, December 19th, 2008

In September 2006 the first questions about North Korean reinsurance contracts hit the media (Joong Ang Daily, Sept. 20).  North Korea’s Minjok Insurance General Company filed claims in London and Moscow for two railway crashes, a ferry sinking, and a helicopter crash.  The Joong Ang Daily reported that that the accident sites were examined by industry representatives—though the checks had not been cut.  At the time the filings were interpreted in the west as a sign of tough financial times in the DPRK. Others suggested Pyongyang was learning how to manipulate global financial systems.

By December 2006, many underwriters began to (publicly) suspect fraud in these cases.  

North Korea Suspected of Collecting Millions in Reinsurance Fraud
Monday , December 04, 2006
By George Russell

[Excerpt] The central focus of concern is the absolute control of ownership and information in North Korea by Kim Jong-Il and his regime. All North Korean insurance is controlled by one state-owned firm, the Korea National Insurance Corporation (KNIC), formerly known as the Korea Foreign Insurance Company, which in turn purchases reinsurance coverage abroad for risks that it has assumed in its domestic market.

The alleged fraud involves a wide variety of North Korean industrial and personal calamities where insurers have been presented with perfect government-controlled documentation of accidents, including deaths, along with carefully gathered photographic evidence, all compiled in a startlingly brief time.

That paperwork is coupled with a resistance to letting foreign insurance adjusters examine some of the most crucial physical evidence, except after long delays and under a watchful eye, if at all.

The growing concern in the reinsurance industry is that the property damage being claimed is vastly overstated, and the circumstances of some alleged accidents may have been altered, or that deaths for which insurance payment is claimed may have had nothing to do with the accidents.

The number of apparently ordinary people in the dictatorship who have suddenly been found to have foreign-backed life insurance is raising insurers’ eyebrows.  The chief concern is that only the Kim Jong-Il regime controls the information required to trigger the payments.

So what specifically looked suspicious?

Suspicions in London began to gel in July 2005, when North Korea reported that a medical rescue helicopter had crashed into a government-owned warehouse that authorities said was crammed with disaster relief supplies.

The entire contents of the warehouse, which ran to hundreds of thousands of items, were destroyed, KNIC said, submitting within 10 days a list compiled by the relief center of every single commodity that it said had been lost.

Along with the lengthy list came a reinsurance claim for more than 40 million euros, or almost $50 million at then-current rates, for 95 percent of the damages. The reinsurance was placed through London, but the risk was spread among reinsurers worldwide.

“They provided details including tens of thousands of children’s gloves, handkerchiefs, leather gloves, toilet soap and washing soap, within 10 days,” Payton said. “In the chaos which follows an accident of this kind, that is unheard of.

“A similar loss report in Britain might take months to compile.”

The North Koreans also supplied photos of the devastation, which insurers turned over to leading experts at photographic estimates of fire damage. The experts concluded that the volume of debris remaining within the warehouse, as assessed from the photographs, did not support the high volumes of relief supplies that were claimed to be there before the fire.

“The North Korean claims are supported by meticulous paperwork, something at which the North Koreans excel,” Payton (senior partner in the London-based international law firm of Clyde & Co.) said.

“For example, where death certificates and hospital reports are required, the regime’s attitude is ‘tell us what you want, we’ll give it to you.’”

In the case of a ferry accident that allegedly took place last April, near the coastal city of Wonsan, North Korean authorities declared that 129 people had died aboard the vessel after it struck a rock about 1,000 yards off the Korean coast, and only about 100 yards from an island. All of them, the Koreans claim, had been automatically covered with life insurance when they bought their ferry ticket, and that insurance risk had been passed on to the London market through a common reinsurance product known as “excess loss personal accident reinsurance.” Here the claims from reinsurers totaled about 5 million euros, or roughly $6 million.

The North Koreans claimed that most of the victims had died of hypothermia in the freezing water. Industry sources say that when insurance investigators discovered that weather conditions were warmer than claimed at that time, the North Koreans responded that severe winds were blowing from Siberia in the spring, making the water unusually frigid.

When insurers asked for permission to send an independent diver to inspect the ferry wreck, they were refused.

Britain’s Foreign Office says the lack of firm proof of fraud is why it hasn’t taken action on the reinsurance issue, although British diplomats say they are aware of it.

Apparently, these circumstances led the insurers to refuse payment, and the North Koreans took them to court in London. Quoting from the Times of London (January 2007): 

The state-owned Korea National Insurance Corporation (KNIC) is demanding €44 million in a London court from a group of reinsurers, including Lloyd’s syndicates, for damage caused in a catastrophic helicopter crash in 2005.

The North Koreans have supplied exhaustive documentation and their claims have been authenticated by independent loss adjusters and upheld in a North Korean court. But the reinsurers argue that the nature of the regime makes it impossible to trust and that the claim is a fraudulent one intended to bring in desperately needed foreign exchange.

The accident took place in April 2005 when, it is claimed, a helicopter owned by Air Koryo, the North Korean state airline, was dispatched from Pyongyang, the capital, to collect a woman who was in labour with triplets from a remote island. On the return flight it crashed into a warehouse on the outskirts of the city, causing a fire that destroyed a large amount of humanitarian relief goods.

The KNIC settled an insurance claim by the airline, which had compensated the owner of the warehouse, and claimed this back from its London reinsurers. According to the contract, disputes were to be settled under North Korean law and last month a court in Pyongyang ordered the reinsurers to pay the North Korean company the €44 million. They refuse to do so.

Lawyers for the KNIC say that, having pocketed premiums for the previous nine years without any claims, the reinsurers are simply reluctant to pay out such a large sum.

“There is no evidence at all to suggest that the helicopter claim is fraudulent,” says Tim Akeroyd, of the law firm Elborne Mitchell, which is acting for the KNIC. “All the evidence available, including the reports of loss adjusters appointed by Mr Payton’s clients, clearly established that this was a bona fide claim.”

The contract also states that claims in North Korean won will be converted at a rate of 160 won to the euro, close to the Government’s exchange rate. But the black market rate, which is used for all practical purposes in North Korea, is closer to 2,000 won to the euro. If this were applied it would reduce the reinsurers’ bill from €44 million to €3.5 million.

This month the European reinsurers settled the case–delivering the DPRK’s KNIC nearly totoal victory in the suit pertaining to the helicopter crash. Quoting from the Financial Times:

Court proceedings in London have ended after a group of re­insurers, including Allianz of Germany, Generali of Italy, [Misr Insurance of Egypt], and three Lloyd’s of London syndicates, agreed to pay 95 per cent of the reinsurance claim, or €39.2m ($58.2m).

[One member of the reinsurance consortium, Aviabel of Belgium, has refused to accept the settlement and legal proceedings are continuing.]

The reinsurers also agreed to retract and withdraw all allegations of fraud and impropriety made against the Korea National Insurance Company.

It is not unusual for reinsurers robustly to contest claims. But it is thought this is the first victory of its kind in an overseas court for [North Korea’s monopoly insurance provider].

Apparently the other cases (particularly the ferry sinking) are still pending. Quoting from Reuters:

The lawsuit is one of several which North Korea is pursuing, with claims exceeding $150 million dollar according to some estimates, involving several calamities.

Why did the European insurers settle the case?

[L]awyers representing the North Koreans argued that the insurance claim was a legitimate commercial debt owed to KNIC by reinsurers who were fully aware of the nature of the contract when they signed it, and had even agreed to let a North Korean tribunal adjudicate the claim.

English judges evidently agreed. The reinsurer’s position was first rejected in England’s High Court of Justice in August, 2007, and again on appeal two months later. Another trial began on November 12, 2008 before the Commercial Court in London before the two sides came to their agreement.

The settlement amounts to roughly 95 percent of what KNIC had originally demanded. It includes a specific confirmation that the reinsurers “have retracted and withdrawn all allegations of fraud and impropriety against KNIC.”

Settlement here (via Fox News): dprk_settlement_agreement.pdf

UPDATE: Aidan Foster-Carter issued a personal comment on the case.  You can read a PDF of it here.

Read articles here:
North finds reinsurance a source of hard cash
Joong Ang Daily
Lee Young-jong, Shin Eun-jin, Sohn Hae-yong

North Korea Suspected of Collecting Millions in Reinsurance Fraud
Fox News
By George Russell

North Korea ‘trying £30m insurance scam’
Times of London
Richard Lloyd Parry

N Korea state insurance group wins case
Financial Times
Sundeep Tucker

Reinsurers pay North Korea claim, drop fraud case
Nadine Jakobs


North Korean Financial Institutions (loads of info)

Tuesday, March 5th, 2002

From our friends at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul:

North Korean financial institutions
U.S. Embassy; Seoul, South Korea
Flash Fax Document Number: 5711
Date: April, 1995

1. This cable summarizes information obtained from meetings with Korean Development Institute (KDI) officials as well as from two unclassified publications:
— “Status of North Korea’s financial system and expected reform in North Korea’s financial world in case economic integration takes place,” written by Dr. Chun Hong-Taek, and published by KDI in January 1994. Chun notes that his information is from open sources as well as interviews with South Korean companies that have done business with North Korea.

— “North Korean trading companies and financial institutions,” published by the National Unification Board (NUB) in October 1994. The NUB notes that the data in its publication is based on contract forms between South and North Korean trading corporations and other open sources, such as “Foreign trade of the DPRK” (published by the DPRK International Trade Promotion Committee, editions of January 1993 to June 1994) and “Directory of DPRK Foreign Trade Organizations,” (published in March 1994 by Japan’s East Asian Trade Society).

2. A few observations about the information:

— It provides a snapshot of individual North Korean financial institutions, such as a bank’s areas of specialization (if any), its address, key personnel, and its correspondent banks overseas. It does not provide information on current financial transactions.

— There are some differences in the information provided by the KDI and NUB, especially regarding subordination/jurisdiction. For example, the KDI publication notes that all banks are subordinate to the Central Bank, which itself is subordinate to the State Administration Council (SAC). The NUB, however, indicates that some banks are directly responsible to the Central Bank, while others are responsible to the SAC.

— Neither the KDI nor NUB publication lists any North Korean financial institution as having a correspondent agreement with Ashikaga Bank in Japan — a relationship that has been discussed in the press.

— Because of the date of information, newly created banks, such as the Ing-North East Asia Bank (reftel), are not included below.

— Likewise, the KDI and NUB include the names of several banks that may not be currently operating (such as Lyongaksan Bank), may have merged, or may have been renamed. 3. According to KDI officials and the two documents mentioned above, North Korean financial institutions include:

The Central Bank
4. Its title in English is the “Central Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” The CB is located In the central district of Pyongyang. Its telegraphic address is central bank. The CB operates 227 branches throughout North Korea, including P’yongyang, Ch’ongjin, Haeju, Hamhung, Hyesan, Kaesong, Kanggye, Namp’o, Najin, Sariwon, Sinuiju, and Wonsan. According to NUB, CB’s President is Chong Song-t’aek.

5. Established in 1946, the CB falls under the jurisdiction of the State Administration Council. Organizationally, the CB consists of three departments (Cadre Affairs, Material Supply, and Finance) and 14 Offices (coordination/planning, floating fund, Construction fund, repair fund, technology, currency control, banknote issue, fixed assets, savings/insurance, bookkeeping, inspection, business, and mobilization).

6. As a central bank, it is responsible for issuing bank notes, regulating currency in circulation, handling matters related to payment of accounts on a national level, making the government’s budgetary payments, and purchasing/managing precious metals. The Central Bank also operates as: a “special bank” by supplying state funds; a “commercial bank” by accepting deposits and lending money; a “state auditor” by exercising financial control in matters regarding the use of state funds; a “state property manager” by registering and evaluating the fixed assets of state institutions and enterprises; and as an “insurance institution” by handling domestic insurance matters–including property insurance for cooperative farms and factories and accident insurance for working Persons between 16 and 65 years old.

7. (FYI: according to KDI, there are four kinds of savings accounts available at the CB and north Korean Post Offices: ordinary savings accounts carrying 3.0 percent interest per year; long-term savings accounts carrying 3.6 percent interest per year; time deposit accounts carrying 4.0 percent interest per year; and a lottery-type deposit whereby the subscriber-if he/she draws a winning number in a lottery held every quarter–is paid a prize instead of interest.)

8. Funds lent by the CB to North Korean enterprises come from three sources, including the state budget, savings accounts, and insurance premiums. If an enterprise suffers a temporary cash flow problem while implementing Its projected economic plan, it can go to the CB because — according to KDI — the CB is the only supplier of state budgetary funds and money needed for financing national economic plans comes out of the state budget.

9. The NUB publication lists a firm named “Eunbyol Corporation of the Central Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” It is located in the central district of P’yongyang, its telex number is 5965 zu kp, and its telephone numbers are 33946 and 36882. According to the NUB, Eunbyol accepts orders for the manufacture of memorial coins. (Comment: The relationship between Eunbyol and the Central Bank is not further defined.)

Trade Bank (aka Korea Trade Bank)
10. The Korea Trade Bank’s (KTB) title in English is the “Foreign Trade Bank of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” The bank is located in the central district of P’yongyang. Its telegraphic address is Mooyokbank Pyongyang; its telephone numbers are 32588, 34531, and 36508; its telex is 5460, 5465, 5477 and 36032 muyok bk kp; and its fax number is 814467. KTB’s president is Kim Ung-ch’ol, and its vice presidents are Kim Chun-ch’ol, Kim Myong-po, Pak Yang-sok, and Kim Yun-sik.

11. KTB was established in November 1959. The bank comes under the Central Bank’s jurisdiction, although KDI officials believe that the bank is now operating with less Central Bank oversight. According to KDI — KTB actually functions like a central bank’s foreign exchange department because its responsibilities include settling accounts in trade and invisible transactions, exercising control in matters regarding foreign exchange acquisition and disbursement, setting and announcing foreign exchange rates, and issuing foreign exchange convertible notes that can be used only by foreigners while staying in north Korea. According to NUB, KTB was once involved in trade with South Korea, such as selling gold and silver nuggets.

12. In order to settle its trade accounts overseas, KTB has correspondent agreements with foreign banks, including 18 banks in Japan, which (as of March 1993) the NUB identified as Sanwa, Tokyo, Sakura, Mitsubishi, Fuji, Daiichi-kangyo, Tokai, Sumitomo, Asahi, Saiwa, Hokkaido Takushoku, Nihon Kogyo, Nihon Long-term Credit Bank, Itsui Trust, Sokuri, Hyogo, Hokkuriku, and Norin Chuou Kinko. According to KDI, other foreign banks include Great Britain’s Lloyds and Standard Chartered, Germany’s Deutsche and Commerze, France’s BNP and Credit lyonnaise, Switzerland’s SBC and UBS, Austria’s Creditanstalt Bankverein and Girozentrale Vienna. KTB also has correspondent agreements with unidentified banks in Hong Kong.

Daesong Bank
13. This bank’s title in English is “Korea Daesong Bank” (KDB. It is located in the central district of P’yongyang. Its telegraphic address is Daesongbank Pyongyang; its telephone number is 43002; and its telex is 36023 and 37041 kdb kp. According to the NUB, KDB’s President is Kim Myong-hui, its vice president is Chang Kon-il, and its chief managing director is Ch’oe Su-kil. (comment: according to KDI, the KDB’s top managers traditionally hold high posts within the KWP, and these persons are typically more influential than other government officials.)

14. Established in November 1978, KDP comes under the Central Bank’s jurisdiction. The bank settles accounts for trading and shipping companies, such as Korea Daesong Trading Corporation, Korea Tonghae Shipping Company, and Korea Mangyong Trading Corporation. The bank was also once involved in trade with South Korea, such as selling gold and silver nuggets

15. (Comment: the KDI and NUB publications say that KDB is under the Central Bank’s jurisdiction, but the NUB write-up on Korea Daesong General Trading Corporation (KDGTC) notes that KDGTC operates a bank, most likely referring to Korea Daesong bank. Moreover, the NUB says That kdgtc itself is under the jurisdiction of the Daesong General Bureau, Office 39, KWP Central Committee.)

16. KDB operates a branch/affiliate in Vienna, Austria, named the Golden Star Bank. It also operates a branch of the Korea Daesong Trading Corporation in Hong Kong, according to KDI. In addition, KDB has correspondent relations with banks in Japan (Tokyo, Sanwa, and Sokuri), In the United Kingdom (Midland, National Westminister, and Standard Chartered), in Germany (Deutsche Bank) and in Switzerland (Swiss Bancorp). It also has correspondent relations with unidentified banks in Bombay, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Paris, Singapore, Stockholm, and Vienna.

Changgwang Credit Bank
17. Its title in English is “Korea Changgwang Credit Bank” (KCCB). The bank is located in P’yongyang. Its telegraphic address is Changgwang credit; its telephone number is 31477; its telex is 36016 kccbc kp; and its fax number is 814414. According to NUB, the chairman of Korea Changgwang Credit Bank (KCCB) is Sin Ho and its president is Maeng Pok-sik.

18. According to NUB, KCCB was established on 25 February 1983 and deals in international financing – making exchange transactions in Beijing, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hong Kong, London, Milan, Rome, Singapore, Stockholm, Tokyo, and Vienna. KCCBC also has 172 branches. (Comment: the NUB publication does not specify whether these branches are located in North Korea or overseas.)

19. (Comment: Although KDI’s banking document does not contain any details on KCCB or its activities, a KDI official told Emboffs that he considers KCCB to be the richest bank operating in North Korea — primarily because it is associated with the military (NFI).)

Koryo Commercial Bank
20. The bank’s title in English is “Koryo Commercial Bank Ltd.” This bank is located in Taedonggang District, P’yongyang. Its telegraphic address is Koryo bank; its telephone number is 32060; its telex is 36019 kcb kp; and its fax number is 814441. According to NUB, the bank was established in 1988, jointly financed by the DPRK and a Group of Korean residents in the United States. Its business reportedly is to issue “National Reunification Fund” bonds.

Credit Bank
21. The Credit Bank’s title in English is “Credit Bank Of Korea.” It is located in the Taedonggang District of P’yongyang. Its telegraphic address is credit bank; its telephone number is 814285; its telex is 5939 cbk kp; and its fax number is 817806. The president of Credit Bank is Pak Ki-chu.

22. Credit Bank was first established in September 1986. It was initially called the International Credit Bank, but its name was changed to its present form on 23 August 1989. Dealing in international finance, the Credit Bank does exchange transactions in cities around the world, including Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Milan, Moscow, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Vienna, and Zurich. The Credit Bank also was once Involved in trade with South Korea, selling gold nuggets to it.

Kumgang Bank
23. Kumgang bank is located in the central district, P’yongyang. Its telegraphic address is Kumgang Pyongyang; Its telephone numbers are 32029 and 32797; its telex is 5355 kgbk kp. Kumgang Bank settles accounts for export-import transactions of North Korean trading corporations, including Korea Pyongyang Trading Corporation and Korea Ponghwa General Trading Corporation.

24. According to the NUB, Kumgang bank was established in September 1978. Its subordination is not clear as the NUB says it is under the state administration council’s jurisdiction, while KDI says it is under the Central Bank’s. (Comment: to further complicate the issue, the NUB document notes in its write-up of Korea Ponghwa General Corporation (SEPTEL) that Ponghwa itself operates the Kumgang Bank.)

Nagwon Financial Joint Venture Corporation
25. According to the NUB publication, Nagwon was established in October 1987, jointly financed by Korea Nagwon Trading Corporation and a Japanese firm “Palace.” Its subordination is not clear as NUB says it is under the State Administration Council jurisdiction, while KDI says it is under the Central Bank’s. The bank accepts deposits, remits money, and provides financial services to joint venture projects, trading corporations, and companies run by overseas compatriots.

26. (Comment: The KDI publication does not provide information on this firm. Instead, it notes that a bank named Korea Ragwon Kumyung Company (aka Korea Ragwon Financing Company) operates in North Korea, but information on its activities is not available. It is not clear whether the NUB and the KDI firms are one and the same.)

Yongaksan Bank (aka Lyongaksan Bank)
27. This bank was established in February 1983. It settles trade accounts of trading companies, including Yongaksan Trading Corporation.

T’ongil Palchon Bank (aka Korea Tongil Paljon Bank)
28. (Comment: T’ongil Palchon means “reunification and development.” Based on the information below, this bank is probably the same as “United Development Bank” which was formed in November 1991 between Ruby Holdings (now known as China Strategic Investments) and Osandok General Trading Corporation.)

29. According to NUB and KDI, T’ongil Palchon Bank (TPB) is a joint venture between Hong Kong’s Ruby Holdings Company and North Korea’s Osandok General Bureau. The two publications differ regarding the bank’s financing and subordination: –NUB says that TPB was jointly financed; KDI indicates that Ruby Holdings financed 51 percent of TPB’s US $30 million capital, with Osandok financing the remaining 49 percent. (Comment: According to the KDI publication, China’s International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) had an option to buy into the joint venture, but it is not clear whether CITIC ever did so.)

— The NUB says TPB falls under the State Administration Council’s jurisdiction; KDI says TPB is subordinate to the Central Bank.

30. According to KDI, TPB deals in general trade, including the import of advanced technologies (NFI). It also operates an affiliate, Korea International Trust Investment Corporation (KITIC). KDI notes that North Korea appears interested in learning market financing techniques because the holding company of the joint venture partner (Ruby Holdings) is Indonesia’s Sinarmas (phonetic) Business Group which owns the Bank International Indonesia. (Comment: KDI defines “financing techniques” as ones required for inducing foreign capital.)

Habyong Bank
31. Habyong Bank’s title in English is “Korea Joint Venture Bank” (KJVB). It is located in the Central District, P’yongyang. KJVB’s telephone numbers are 33052 and 39620; its telex is 36001 kjb kp; and its fax number is 814497. The bank’s vice president is Pak Il-nak, who the NUB document says is from the Chosen Soren.

32. KJVB was established in April 1989. The NUB and the KDI publications differ on the names of the joint venture partners:

— The NUB says that the bank was formed by the Chosen Soren and its affiliate, the Federation of Korean Traders and Industrialists in Japan. The North Korean partner is the State Administration Council’s Joint Venture Industry General Bureau.

— KDI notes that KJVB was jointly financed by the Chosen Soren’s Joint Ventures Promotion Committee and North Korea’s Korea International Joint Venture Company.

33. The bank functions as an international financial institution, providing financial assistance for North Korea’s joint venture projects and settling domestic and foreign accounts for joint venture companies. According to NUB, the bank also conducts economic surveys. KJVB operates branches in North Korea, including Hamhung, Sariwon, Sinuiju, Wonsan, P’yongsong, and Ch’ongjin. It also has correspondent relationships with some 30 foreign banks, including Japan’s Sokuri Bank, Hong Kong’s Maritime Commercial Bank, and China’s Bank of China.

Kukche Insurance Company
34. This firm’s title in English is “Korea Foreign Insurance Company” (KFIC). It is located in P’yongch’on District in P’yongyang. Its telegraphic address is chosunbohom; its telephone numbers are 36147, 38805, and 45501; and its telex number is 5464 bohom kp. KFIC’s president is Paek Myong-non, and its vice presidents are Yi Sang-chu and Pak Kun-pae.

35. According to NUB, KFIC handles insurance matters involving ships and export-import cargos and reinsurance issues involving foreign insurance companies. It also does business with some non-life insurance companies in Japan regarding reinsurance matters. KFIC operates branches at major ports, including Namp’o, Hungnam, Ch’ongjin, Najin, and Haeju.