The Chosun Development & Investment Fund is a privately structured Limited Partnership Fund incorporated in the United Kingdom and based in London.
Specifically designed for investment in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“DPRK”) or (“North Korea”). Chosun Fund is now beginning to seek subscriptions from qualifying investors. This follows the authorisation of Chosun Fund’s Fund Manager, Anglo-Sino Capital Partners Limited on 19th May 2006 by the UK Financial Services Authority.
Chosun Fund will concentrate entirely on the DPRK and will channel external investment into the economic development of that country.
The exclusive Investment Advisor to Chosun Fund Fund manager is Hong Kong based Koryo Asia Limited (“Koryo Asia”) whose team of principals has over 25 years experience of commercial & financial dealings with the DPRK and in Asia generally.
The principals working with Chosun Fund will initially be concentrating on those areas of the DPRK economy with which they are familiar and which they believe can be developed quickly and efficiently to generate foreign exchange cash flow for the DPRK.
As a completely private initiative it is intended that Chosun Fund is a fully transparent financial vehicle that will assist the DPRK develop its legitimate economic activities along internationally accepted lines and also provide an attractive return to investors.
This first-to-market fund has the capability to deliver a significant return on investment in the near term and considerably enhanced returns after the expected resolution of the current nuclear issue and other problems. This should result in a substantial expansion in the economy of North-East Asia’s last emerging economy.
About the Fund
The idea of an investment fund specifically for The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) began at a conference in July 2000 held by the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu, and entitled “Engagement and Development in the DPRK” , to which Colin McAskill (McAskill), the originator of this project, was invited because of his experience in dealing with the DPRK. The conference was also attended by Mr. James Kelly, prior to him joining the US State Department as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the first George W. Bush administration. Following the conference McAskill was called to the US State Department by a special adviser in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (in the administration of President Clinton), who wished to talk to him about realistic prospects for business in the DPRK – an issue of concern at the time since the “Perry process” held out foreign investment and business as one of the benefits of the DPRK’s engagement with the outside world.
McAskill said that he had come to the conclusion that a private initiative to set up an investment fund, which could initiate or participate in repeated dealings in the DPRK, and thus be seen by the ruling hierarchy as too important to alienate through non-performance, could avoid many of the pitfalls of investing in, or dealing with, the DPRK. The State Department Official agreed with his analysis and encouraged McAskill to set up such a fund.
Partners were gathered and engaged to set up such a fund. Aware that although this was completely a private business initiative it engendered a certain political sensitivity, McAskill met with US Assistant Secretary Kelly in September of 2001 to brief him on progress. Kelly had no objection to such a fund as long as it kept within the parameters of US law and asked to be kept informed. By the autumn of 2002 a fund based in the US was ready to be launched but, with the serious deterioration in political relations between the US and the DPRK in October 2002, several partners in the US asked if they could postpone their active participation.
As a result of this, the planning of the fund was reconstituted with the emphasis deliberately shifted to North East Asia, with new partners in Hong Kong and China as well as with experienced fund managers in London.
McAskill has kept the US government informed of the Fund’s progress. Similar to the close contact kept with the US State Department, McAskill has also kept both the UK Foreign Office and the Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea) government fully informed, the latter through contact with the South Korean Ambassador in London as well as the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Unification in Seoul. McAskill’s partners in China have similarly informed the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC or China).
While the organisers and participants in the Fund fully understand the decision to keep relevant governments informed as a matter of courtesy, and to comply with any laws or regulations by those governments that affect the Fund, it should be emphasised that the Fund is a purely private business initiative. Its establishment in London, and the authorisation and regulation of its Fund Manager by the UK Financial Services Authority will ensure complete transparency.
McAskill has been involved in business dealings with the DPRK since 1978 (his first visit to the DPRK was in 1979/1980), primarily in coordinating the emergence of parts of the DPRK’s business community into western markets. This included the certification and sale of DPRK bullion and other minerals in the London market, and also in assisting other significant DPRK state entities in their dealings with western institutions, especially European banks, over their defaulted debts. Dealings with the DPRK became somewhat moribund in the 1990s due to internal political developments there, coupled with the natural disasters that overran the country causing widespread damage and a general contraction of the DPRK economy. During this period McAskill continued to maintain contact with senior associates in both business and banking institutions in Pyongyang.
The DPRK leadership has officially declared that it will pursue a controlled opening to commerce and is seeking foreign capital. In 2002 it introduced internal reforms that allowed the economy to become more market orientated. The reforms are now entrenched and gradually expanding to a point where most outside experts on the DPRK believe they have become irreversible.
The management, partners, and directors of the Fund understand the risk inherent in dealing with the DPRK, but also believe that the Fund can achieve returns commensurate with that risk. The Fund will seek initially to deal with and invest in key areas of the DPRK economy that have been known to operate successfully in the past, concentrating on transactions in sectors that were proven hard currency exporters into Western markets, mainly minerals, but have been subject to recent performance constraints. Later dealings will take advantage of a wide variety of opportunities that are expected to become available as the DPRK economy opens and develops.
The DPRK government is aware of these developments, at first via senior DPRK officials engaged in the six-party talks in Beijing whom McAskill met with in July 2005. This was followed by meetings in Beijing in December 2005 and again in Asia in April 2006 with a special envoy sent from Pyongyang to establish direct contact. And, as a result of the earlier meeting, McAskill’s partner and management team member in China was invited to meet the DPRK Ambassador in Beijing on 15th August 2005.
The creation of the Chosun Fund and the authorisation & regulation by the UK Financial Services Authority of Chosun Fund’s Fund Manager has now formally been announced to the DPRK government.