“Nosotek is the first European-invested software development & research company in the DPRK, with the head office in Pyongyang.” – Interview with Mr. Ju Jong Chol (Vice-President of Nosotek)
Klaus-Martin Meyer: Mr. Ju, you are the Vice President of a very interesting company named Nosotek (www.nosotek.com). Could you please tell us something about this venture?
Ju Jong Chol: Nosotek is the first European-invested software development & research company in the DPRK, with the head office in Pyongyang.
It is founded by the General Federation of Science and Technology (GFST) of DPRK and experienced European IT-entrepreneurs. Felix Abt, the president of the European Business Association (www.eba-pyongyang.org) is one of Nosotek’s directors.
Nosotek is jointly run by European IT engineers together with their Korean counterparts. We have presently 50 engineers and a strong production line. We expect rapid growth thanks to our qualified, experienced and committed staff.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: What are Nosotek’s main products?
Ju Jong Chol: As we specialize on offshore IT outsourcing services we already have produced a large range of software products. Among our finished products, you find scientific software, video games, web applications, embedded software and 3D virtualization tools.
In case our customer needs a field of service where we don’t have experienced engineers in our own staff, the GFST will help us finding good people among the scientists of the universities. We can rely on sustainable DPRK and European engineering and business ressoucces.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: The DPRK is not the Silicon Valley or Bangalore. What are the customer’s benefits to do Business with Nosotek?
Ju Jong Chol: Of course, we’re not Silicon Valley or Bangalore. But we take the challenge to compete with these locations. The DPRK government took the strategic decision to give strong support to our IT industry which now bears fruits.
In the DPRK, software engineers have an average academic math level superior to their western or Indian counterparts.
Computer science education involves understanding of deep low level processes: when was the last time you hired a PHP programmer to realize he was quite at ease in assembler?
Klaus-Martin Meyer: Outsourcing to Asia is often identified with a risk of IP leak. Many western companies are complaining that after outsourcing their partners start copying their technology.
Ju Jong Chol: Then they are all invited to do their outsourcing projects in the DPRK! Our country is well known to have strong laws to protect secrets and we respect the value of IPs. And unlike what is common in other countries like China, there is only very little fluctuation of the workforce. Like in Japanese companies, our employees usually enter the company after university and stay their entire business life with the high personal motivation. This does not only help to keep trade secrets, it also helps to keep the experienced persons, who are needed for long-term partnership.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: How are the working conditions at Nosotek?
Ju Jong Chol: Our employee’s working conditions are far better than average, compared with both domestic and international standards: They work with state-of-the-art hardware, have free lunch, more holidays than in Europe and even a one-week vacation trip to a touristic place every summer, which is completely paid by the company.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: How difficult is it for you to acquire international business? What exactly are the main challenges?
Ju Jong Chol: Currently the main problem is the US sanctions against our country. For example, western customers are threatened by the US to prevent doing business with us. At the moment, it is very difficult to transfer money to DPRK. Luckily, together with our European partners we found good solutions and our customers will make their contracts with companies outside of DPRK.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: Is it possible to name some of your reference projects?
Ju Jong Chol: Unfortunately, this is not possible. Our policy is not only to respect our customer’s trade secrets and software IP, but also not to disclose the names of our customers. But please be assured, that some of our work products are used in large public companies, all over the world including USA.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: There are quite a lot companies from South Korea and also international companies working at the Kaesong special economic zone in North Korea. Are these Companies potential customers for Nosotek?
Ju Jong Chol: We are doing business all other the world. Of course, companies from Kaesong may be potential customers. Currently, our main focus is on Europe and Japan.
Klaus-Martin Meyer: The last question is our famous 5-years-questions. What is Nosotek’s outlook for the next five years?
Ju Jong Chol: Our goal is to create public awareness of the DPRK as a place where IT outsourcing can be done at the best ratio between price and quality. Nosotek will grow and the business volume will highly increase.