Archive for the ‘Eugene Bell Foundation’ Category

ROK aid to DPRK up 26% in 2013

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

According to Yonhap:

South Korea has sent 17.8 billion won (US$16.7 million) in humanitarian aid to North Korea in 2013, a 26 percent increase from last year, despite the spike in cross-border tensions, the Seoul government said Sunday.

In a report released by the Ministry of Unification, the total amount of aid sent to the communist country, including money donated to international organizations, represents a 26 percent increase from 14.1 billion won offered in 2012.

“Despite criticisms that Seoul has not done enough to help the disadvantaged in the North, the incumbent Park Geun-hye administration has sent more aid to Pyongyang than what was shipped last year when President Lee Myung-bak was in office,” a government official said.

The official, who did not wish to be identified, pointed out that while critics have said the amount is small, people have to take into account the overall aid offered. North conducted its third nuclear test in February and threatened pre-emptive strikes against Seoul and Washington, seriously souring cross-border ties.

Fifteen local charity groups including the Eugene Bell Foundation and Korea Sharing Net provided 4.3 billion won, or a little over 24.1 percent of all aid to the North, with the rest coming from the South Korean government.

Seoul donated 13.5 billion won to the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund since President Park took office in late February.

Moving forward, the official said South Korea has no plans to provide direct food aid to the North but that it may consider offering matching funds to private charity organizations wanting to help the North.

The source said while Seoul has no plans to ease its so-called May 24 sanctions that ban all nonhumanitarian economic and social exchanges with the North, it has exercised flexibility and permitted limited cross-border contacts and transactions.

Seoul implemented the ban after it accused the North of sinking one of its warships in the seas off their west coast in 2010. The incident claimed the lives of 46 South Korean sailors.

“The policy of flexibility existed in the past and is nothing new,” he said.

Read the full story here:
S. Korean aid to N. Korea grows 26 pct in 2013 on-year
Yonhap
2013-11-17

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ROK to donate $6.3m to DPRK

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

According to Yonhap:

South Korea will give US$6.3 million won in humanitarian aid to North Korea through a United Nations agency, the unification ministry said Monday.

The move comes as Seoul has maintained it will provide assistance to underprivileged people in the North regardless of political and diplomatic developments.

Inter-Korean tensions that spiked in the first half of this year have eased in recent months with the two Koreas engaged in talks to fully reopen the factory park in Kaesong and hold family reunions for people separated by the 1950-53 Korean War on Sept. 25-30.

“The money to go to the World Health Organization (WHO) will help repair medical facilities, train healthcare workers and give essential drugs to the North that can help all people,” a unification ministry official said.

The funds will come from the inter-Korean cooperation fund managed by the state with final approval to be given by the South and North Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council.

Besides money to be sent to the WHO, Seoul plans to allow 12 civic groups to send 2.35 billion won (US$2.13 million) worth of aid to the North in 13 different projects, the ministry official said.

This move will mark the second time that the Park Geun-hye administration has allowed humanitarian aid to reach the North. The last shipment was approved in late July when Seoul said it would send $6.04 million to the North through the U.N. Children’s Fund and allowed 1.47 billion won in aid to be sent by five civic groups.

The aid to be provided by private charity groups includes medical supplies, baby formula, vitamins, soup, soy milk, supplies to make nutritionally fortified bread and stationary for children, he added.

Charity groups such as the Eugene Bell foundation, Human Earth Organization, Headquarters of Zero Tuberculosis World, Movement for One Corea, Korea Foundation for International Healthcare and Korea Love One groups want to send humanitarian supplies to the North.

The official said that compared to the last aid that focused on giving aide to newborns, young children and pregnant women, the latest move aims to help all people in need of assistance.

“Final approval will be made following confirmation that local relief organizations have received assurance of transparent distribution of the aid from Pyongyang, and they have acquired the necessary supplies to send to the communist country,” he said.

Related to the aid plan, various international organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, claimed the North will likely suffer from a food shortage this year.

Read the whole story here:
S. Korea to give US$6.3 mln in humanitarian aid to N. Korea
Yonhap
2013-9-2

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Eugene Bell sends medical aid to DPRK

Friday, April 19th, 2013

According to the Hankyoreh:

While North Korea prohibited members of the Corporate Association of Kaesong Industrial Complex (CAKIC) from entering the North, it granted access to representatives of the Eugene Bell Foundation. The foundation has been providing humanitarian and medical aid to North Korea for some time.

On Apr. 18, the Eugene Bell Foundation announced that a group of nine people who had been staying in Beijing waiting for their North Korean visas, including Chairman Stephen Linton and a group of donors to the foundation, finally received their visas that afternoon and boarded a plane bound for Pyongyang.

“Even this morning, it was unclear whether they would be allowed to enter the country, but fortunately the visas were issued in the afternoon,” a representative of the foundation said.

This is being seen as showing that North Korea is linking the Kaesong Industrial Complex issue with the current political situation on the Korean peninsula, but that it is willing to receive humanitarian support. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that the group visiting North Korea includes eight Americans and one French person, but no South Korean nationals.

The Eugene Bell Foundation, which operates tuberculosis clinics in eight areas in North Korea, including Pyongyang and Nampo, has sent representatives to North Korea twice each year in order to assess whether the tuberculosis medicine that it provides is being used properly. These visits continued to take place during the Lee Myung-bak administration (2008-Feb. 2013).

On Mar. 22, the foundation sent North Korea 678 million won (USD$604,267) worth of tuberculosis medicine in keeping with the principles of Park Geun-hye’s trust-building process for the Korean peninsula, which does not link humanitarian aid with the North Korean nuclear weapons issue. This medication left Pyeongtaek harbor and arrived at Nampo harbor on Apr. 4 by way of Dalian, China.

Meanwhile, the owners of the businesses at the Kaesong complex that were prohibited from entering the North on Apr. 17 have decided to try once again to visit the North on Apr. 20 via the CIQ (customs, immigration, and quarantine) office in Paju, Gyeonggi Province.

The Ministry of Unification announced on Apr. 18 that eight more employees who had been staying in Kaesong had returned to South Korea through the CIQ office. This brought the number of South Korean employees still remaining in the complex two weeks after North Korea blocked traffic from entering to 197, less than one fourth of the original total.

Read the full story here:

N. Korea allows entrance to foreign aid group
Hankyoreh
Gil Yun-hyung
2013-4-19

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RoK approves private aid to DPRK

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

According to Yonhap:

Under the approval, Eugene Bell, a South Korean charity group, will ship tuberculosis medicine worth 678 million won (US$606,500 to eight tuberculosis clinics run by the South Korean group in North Korea. The shipment is expected to be delivered in April, the official said.

This marks the first aid package approved by the ministry since Park took office on Feb. 25. The last aid request was granted in November last year under President Lee Myung-bak.

“The approval is strictly for humanitarian purposes and should not be read as a message to condone North Korea’s recent provocations,” Kim said.

“The planned medicine aid can help cure about 500 multidrug-resistant tuberculosis patients in the North whose lives would be at serious risk without the medicine,” the spokesman said. It is difficult for North Korea to produce quality medicine to cure the difficult type of tuberculosis, he added.

President Park has repeatedly said despite relations with the North, she will continue to allow humanitarian aid to less-privileged North Koreans as part of her signature North Korean policy to build trust with the country. She, however, pledged to sternly respond to any provocations by the North.

“The spread of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis is so serious that North Korea is judged to have missed the crucial ‘golden time’ to root out the tuberculosis,” Stephen Linton, the chairman of Eugene Bell, said in a news conference in November following a two-week visit to the country.

The charity foundation has been running a medical service program for tuberculosis patients in the North since 2000 and sends drugs on a regular basis to the impoverished country.

Read the full story here:
Seoul approves first private-level aid provision to N. Korea under new administration
Yonhap
2013-3-22

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S. Korea approves medical aid to DPRK by civic groups

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

According to Xinhua:

South Korea has approved humanitarian aid to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ( DPRK) by civic groups here, the latest in the flow of private aid to the estranged neighbor, local media reported Thursday.

With the approval, two South Korean aid groups, Nanum International and the Eugene Bell Foundation, plan to send medical equipment including X-ray machines and diagnostic reagents for tuberculosis, according to Yonhap News Agency.

South Korea suspended almost all exchanges with the DPRK following their border incidents in 2010, but has occasionally allowed humanitarian assistance to the impoverished neighbor.

Civic groups need government permission for DPRK-bound aid.

The original Yonhap story is here.

Read the full story here:
S. Korea approves medical aid to DPRK by civic groups
Xinhua
2012-2-23

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2011 ROK aid to the DPRK

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

UPDATE 32 (2012-1-27): According to an article in the New York Times, inter-Korean trade and aid declined in 2011:

On Friday, the South’s Unification Ministry said that South Korean aid to the North fell to 19.6 billion won, or $17.5 million, last year [2011], down more than 51 percent from a year earlier [2010].

Inter-Korean trade fell by more than 10 percent [from 2010 to 2011] to about $1.5 million in 2011, the ministry said.

UPDATE 31 (2011-12-10): According to the Korea Times, the potential food aid is not being auctioned off.  It is being sent to South America. According to the article:

Seoul will send baby food originally offered as aid to North Korea to El Salvador following Pyongyang’s refusal to accept delivery, to help the South American country deal with damaging floods, officials said Friday.

The delivery consists of 190,000 packs of baby food that were part of a $4.4 million flood aid package to the North, which the Stalinist regime rejected two months ago amid high tension.

It was slated to depart from the port city of Busan via cargo ship for El Salvador, which has appealed for help to deal with floods that displaced tens of thousands earlier this year.

Seoul offered the aid, which also included biscuits and instant noodles, to help the North deal with torrential summer rains. But Pyongyang demanded cement and equipment instead and eventually shunned the offer altogether.

The rerouting of the items underscores lingering tension despite efforts to warm ties and eventually resume regional dialogue on dismantling the North’s nuclear program. Regional players want the situation on the peninsula to improve before the talks begin.

Pyongyang’s silence over the aid put a damper on the early signs of improvement. President Lee Myung-bak has been exercising a softer line since September, when he tapped close aide Yu Woo-ik as unification minister, including expanding humanitarian activities and cultural exchanges.

But the North, apparently seeking rice and other forms of massive aid, has recently slammed the flexible policy as political pandering to the South Korean public, which is gearing up for elections next year.

Such remarks come even as the unification ministry continues to approve northbound aid, including $5.65 million worth for infants, children and pregnant women through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Consultations are ongoing over how to provide more of the baby food. Seoul has also attempted to auction some of it off through a government website.

The North Korean regime is thought to be doing all it can to secure food and other handouts ahead of next April, when it will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il-sung. Watchers say that the North is liable to alternate pressure and peace offensives to secure as much aid as it can through inter-Korean and multilateral channels.

 

UPDATE 30 (2011-12-6): According to the Korean Herald the first auction of potential food aid (See Update 27 below) did not go so well, so Seoul is trying again:

South Korea plans a second attempt to auction off baby food originally intended for North Korean children, officials said Tuesday.

The move comes after nobody bid for 540,000 packs of baby food on Onbid, an auction Web site run by the state-run Korea Asset Management Corp.

South Korea plans to issue a second public notice and adjust the prices, said an official handling the issue at the Unification Ministry. He did not elaborate on further details.

The baby food is part of 5 billion won ($4.4 million) worth of emergency relief aid South Korea had planned to ship to North Korean flood victims earlier this year.

South Korea dropped that plan in October after differences between the two Koreas on the items to be sent. South Korea had insisted it would deliver baby food, biscuits and instant noodles to the North, instead of the cement and equipment its communist neighbor had requested.

Separately, South Korea has been in talks with local private relief agencies over how to donate another 290,000 packs of baby food to other countries, according to another ministry official.

She declined to give further details, saying consultations are taking place.

UPDATE 29 (2011-12-5): The South Koreans will donate US$5.65 million to the DPRK via UNICEF.  Accoring to Yonhap:

South Korea said Monday it will donate US$5.65 million (about 6.5 billion won) for humanitarian projects in North Korea through the U.N. body responsible for the rights of children.

The donation to the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, will benefit about 1.46 million infants, children and pregnant women in North Korea, according to the Unification Ministry, which is in charge of relations with the North.

Seoul’s contribution will be used to provide vaccines and other medical supplies as well as to treat malnourished children next year, said the ministry.

There have been concerns that a third of all North Korean children under five are chronically malnourished and that many more children are at risk of slipping into acute stages of malnutrition unless targeted assistance is sustained.

“The decision is in line with the government’s basic stance of maintaining its pure humanitarian aid projects for vulnerable people regardless of political situation,” Unification Ministry spokesman Choi Boh-seon told reporters.

South Korea has been seeking flexibility in its policies toward the North to try to improve their strained relations over the North’s two deadly attacks on the South last year.

South Korea donated $20 million for humanitarian projects in North Korea through the UNICEF between 1996 and 2009.

Last month, the South also resumed some $6.94 million worth of medical aid to the impoverished communist country through the World Health Organization.

..

Separately, South Korea also decided to give 2.7 billion won ($2.3 million) to a foundation to help build emergency medical facilities in an industrial complex in the North Korean border city of Kaesong.

More than 47,000 North Koreans work at about 120 South Korean firms operating in the industrial zone to produce clothes, utensils, watches and other goods. The project serves as a key legitimate cash cow for the impoverished communist country.

UPDATE 28 (2011-12-1): Distribution of private aid monitored in N.Korea. According to the Hankyoreh:

“North Koreans know that the wheat flour aid they received came from South Korea.”

These were the words of Cho Joong-hoon, director of the Unification Ministry’s humanitarian assistance division, during a meeting with reporters Wednesday at the Central Governmental Complex in Seoul upon his return from a recent visit to North Korea to monitor the distribution of aid.

“The name of the South Korean private aid group, the manufacturing company, the date, and the address were all printed on the packages of flour,” Cho said.

Arriving in North Korea on Sunday with Kim Min-ha, co-chairman of the private group Ambassadors for Peace, and three others, Cho visited three sites to observe the distribution of the 300 tons of flour provided in aid. The site were the Namchol Kindergarten, February 16 Refinery Kindergarten, and Tongmun Nursery in Chongju, North Pyongan.

It was the first visit to any part of North Korea besides Kaseong and Mt. Kumkang by a government official in the one year since the Yeonpyeong Island artillery attack on Nov. 23, 2010.

Cho said that the distribution, storage, preparation, and supply of the flour were monitored and that everything was confirmed to be proceeding as planned.

On the situation on the ground, Cho said, “Judging simply from the nursery and two kindergartens, the children’s nutritional condition does not appear to be good.” Cho noted that no heating was being supplied to the facilities despite the cold weather.

Cho said that while North Korean authorities did not official request food aid, a request was made under unofficial circumstances.

Cho also noted that construction efforts were under way on a highway connecting Pyongyang with Sinuiju.

“It is not very far from Pyongyang to Chongju, but I think the trip took about four hours because of the detour around the highway construction,” he said.

Analysts said this appears to be linked to hurried infrastructure building efforts, including highway servicing and construction, amid recent moves by North Korea to rebuild its economy through a stronger economic partnership with China.

UPDATE  27 (2011-11-29): Seoul auctions off “unwanted” DPRK food assistance. According ot the Korea Times:

South Korea has taken steps to auction off some baby food originally intended for North Korean children, an official said Tuesday.

The move comes nearly two months after South Korea dropped a plan to send 5 billion won ($4.3 million) worth of aid to North Korean flood victims, citing no response from the North as the reason for the change of plan.

South Korea had insisted it would deliver baby food, biscuits and instant noodles to the North instead of cement and equipment requested by the North.

South Korea’s Red Cross, which handles relief aid to the North, gave public notice of a bid for 540,000 packs of baby food on Onbid, an auction website run by the state-run Korea Asset Management Corp.

Separately, South Korea has been in talks with local private relief agencies over how to donate the other 290,000 packs of baby food to foreign countries.

Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik has ruled out rice aid to the communist country unless Pyongyang admits to last year’s deadly provocations.

South Korea suspended unconditional aid in 2008 and imposed sanctions on the North last year in retaliation for the sinking of a South Korean warship that was blamed on the North.

The North has denied involvement in the sinking that killed 46 sailors. It also shelled a South Korean border island in November 2010, killing four South Koreans.

Still, South Korea has selectively allowed religious and private aid groups to deliver humanitarian and medical assistance to North Korea.

Also on Tuesday, a Unification Ministry official and four civilians were to return home after a rare trip to the North aimed at ensuring that South Korea’s recent private aid had reached its intended beneficiaries.

UPDATE 26 (2011-11-25): According to Yonhap, ROK officials are traveling to the DPRK to monitor food aid:

A South Korean official and four civilians left for North Korea on Friday on a rare mission to ensure that recent aid from Seoul had reached its intended beneficiaries, an official said.

The trip comes a day after North Korea threatened to turn South Korea’s presidential office into “a sea of fire” in anger over Seoul’s massive military maneuvers near the tense sea border.

The Unification Ministry official and four civilians were to arrive in the North’s capital later Friday via Beijing, according to the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

It is first time that North Korea has allowed a South Korean official to travel to the isolated country to monitor aid since a conservative government took power in Seoul in 2008.

They are scheduled to visit a day care center and two other child care facilities in the northwestern city of Jongju to monitor how 300 tons of flour were distributed to children and other recipients, according to a civic group.

Ambassadors for Peace Association, a civic group that is partly funded by the Unification Group, donated the flour to Jongju, the birthplace of Unification Church founder Moon Sun-myung.

The civic group said the monitors also plan to discuss details on another 300 tons of flour aid before returning home Tuesday. Some members of the civic group are associated with the controversial Unification Church.

Read previous posts on the ROK’s aid to the DPRK in 2011 below:

(more…)

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Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis health risk in DPRK

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

According to Yonhap:

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis has emerged as a major public health problem for North Korea, a private foundation said Thursday, calling for public donation to help combat the highly contagious disease.

Stephen W. Linton, chairman of the Eugene Bell Foundation, said his foundation currently treats some 600 multidrug-resistant patients in six medical centers in the North, but hundreds of people are still on the waiting list.

You can read more about the Eugene Bell Foundation’s work in the DPRK here.

Previous posts on the Eugene Bell Foundation here. Their web page is here.

Read the Yonhap story here:
Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis poses public health risk in N. Korea
Yonhap
2011/10/27

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Eugene Bell foundation fighting tuberculosis in DPRK

Monday, February 21st, 2011

According to the Korea Times:

Dr. Stephen Linton, founder of the Eugene Bell Foundation, says his group’s program to combat multidrug resistant TB (MDRTB) has cured its first patients after four years of working to establish adequate care in the North.

“We’re making progress,” Linton, 60, said in a phone interview. “It has been a tremendous learning curve for the North Koreans on a very short time frame. It takes most nations decades to put together a good MDRTB program because the treatment is so intensive.”

A growing health concern worldwide, MDRTB emerges when regular TB is inadequately treated, creating bacteria resistant to first- and sometimes second-line drugs. Half of those who do not get treatment, which can take up to two years to complete, die.

The problem is compounded in poor countries not properly equipped to diagnose the disease and where malnutrition makes the body more susceptible to TB.

The organization’s hopeful outlook follows its most recent trip to the North in November last year, when it found a steadily-increasing rate of patients testing negative for the strain ― meaning they are no longer infective.

It also comes as the international community wrestles with how to help the impoverished country ― which has called in recent weeks for humanitarian assistance ― without supporting its provocative behavior.

In the case of treating MDRTB, the doctor says the breakthrough would be impossible without meaningful contributions on both sides of the tense border that divides the Koreas.

Powerful medicine

By 2007, Linton had been travelling to the North to treat TB for more than a decade, so he was braced for the news when caregivers complained that first-line drugs were not helping some patients.

“I knew it was going to be a real headache,” he said of the undertaking. “But the commitment of our donors and the desire to treat the people in most need ― that was a powerful incentive.”

Later that year, Linton and his team took sputum from 19 patients, brought the samples to a South Korean hospital for analysis, and returned six months later with medicine. On subsequent trips, the number of patients wanting the test grew.

By 2009, as an indication of the worsening health situation but also the growing trust in the program, Eugene Bell was overwhelmed by crowds of people at its testing centers.

The program now accommodates upwards of six hundred patients at six specialized centers across the country’s northwest.

Linton, who spent his childhood in South Korea, says the process requires significant “buy-in” from North Koreans, beginning with the health authorities.

In their biggest show of cooperation, the government agreed to Eugene Bell’s recommendation that treatment take place in centrally-located MDRTB centers, despite reluctance over the logistics.

It also needs the dedication of health care providers, who must vigilantly keep patients on their programs. If not, they can become resistant to MDRTB medications, opening the door for the emergence of XDRTB, which Linton calls “virtually incurable.”

But the biggest commitment comes from patients, who are prescribed with a harsh cocktail of drugs. Some need to learn to trust outside help, not always an easy task in the isolated country.

“This is a very rigorous and rough treatment program. It takes a lot of very strong, toxic medicines to treat MDRTB. Patients suffer a good bit,” said Linton, who counted nausea, vomiting, temporary deafness and psychosis as side effects.

If after eighteen months, a patient’s sputum tests negative for MDRTB, they are effectively cured. But if after a year they still test positive, the treatment is considered a failure.

“Most of those people know, because they are still coughing up phlegm,” the doctor said. “But failing people is terrible. This work can be very dramatic at times.”

You can read previous posts about the Eugene Bell Foundation here.

UPDATE: On February 24th the Korea Economic Institute held a conference with Dr. Sharon Perry, DPRK Tuberculosis Project, Stanford School of Medicine.  You can see the video of the conference here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. The paper is here (PDF).

Read the full sotry here:
Aid group engages N. Korea in fight against TB
Korea Times
Kim Joung-jin
2/21/2011

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Can North Korea embrace Chinese-style reforms?

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

According to China Economic Review:

Could North Korea be saved by Chinese-style reforms? In return for its continued support, China is pushing the rogue state to liberalise its economy, and Chinese firms are making inroads into various sectors, especially infrastructure and mining. Earlier this week, I interviewed Felix Abt, a Swiss business consultant who was appointed managing director of a pharmaceutical joint venture in Pyongyang with a brief to turn around the loss-making company, about his experiences over the last eight years.

How open is North Korea to foreign investment, and how many foreign companies are operating on the ground?

In 1992 the Supreme People’s Assembly adopted three laws allowing and regulating foreign investment — the Foreign Investment Law, the Foreign Enterprise Law, and the Joint Venture Law.

Since then, foreign investors have become active in a variety of industrial and service industries. There are a few hundred foreign-invested companies operating at present, mainly smaller sized ventures ($100,000 to $3 million) and of Asian origin (with China ranking No.1).

There are a few very large foreign investments, mainly in the telecom and cement industries. Western multinationals have been shying away from North Korea for fear of ending up on a sanctions list in the world’s largest economy. BAT sold its highly profitable tobacco factory due to political pressure in Great Britain to a Singaporean company a few years ago.

What sort of person sets up business in North Korea? What sort of industries have arrived and what sectors are not represented?

The domestic market is still very small and limited and and not much growth can be expected in the foreseeable future. So to talk about a promising emerging market at present would be a silly exaggeration.

However, North Korea is a very interesting location for the processing of products from garments to shoes to bags where you send the cloth or the leather and the accessories and they send you the finished products back.

The same goes for the extraction of minerals and metals, abundantly available in North Korea, in which case you would send equipment and get the mining products.

In addition, the manufacturing of low to medium technology items is very competitive and such products are already being made with foreign investment in North Korea from artificial flowers to furniture to artificial teeth. I was involved in making the business plan for the artificial teeth joint venture and know therefore that such products can be manufactured with a much better profit margin than for example in the Philippines where the artificial teeth had been produced before.

A particularly promising industry is IT due to the extraordinary quantity and quality of mathematicians unmatched by other countries. The first and only software JV, Nosotek, has seen remarkable successes within a very short time from its foundation and could become a subject of interest to investors who would never have thought of putting any money in North Korea until now.

How easy is it to do business there? Are most foreigners concentrated in Pyongyang or are they spread around?

It depends on the expectations, on the choice of the local partner and on the expatriate staff a company sends there. You need to thorougly select the most suitable local partner and an expatriate manager that is not only professionally competent but also can adapt to and cope with a demanding business environment.

The success of the pharmaceutical joint venture I was running in the past depended on a fast capacity building of the Korean members of the board of directors, managers and staff. I brought them to China where they visited the first foreign and Chinese invested pharmaceutical JV and I convinced its Chinese octogenarian architect to become a member of our company’s board of directors.

Since he faced very similar problems decades earlier he could convince the North Koreans quite easily why certain things had to be done in a certain way to make the business successful. We visited a great number of pharmaceutical companies, wholesalers, pharmacy chains in China and some of our staff even worked in a Chinese factory for some time.

When I wanted to set up the marketing and sales function I was first told that “companies in the DPRK usually don’t have a sales dept.”. I was asked to send a letter to the cabinet to explain my reasons to get the permit for doing so. The visits in China were surely important eye openers and helped getting things organised like in any other country.

The Korean managers and staff quickly acquired all the necessary skills and were able to run the day to day business (factory, import and wholesale of pharmaceuticals, pharmacies) alone when my term ended as managing director.

Many foreign business people are based in Pyongyang, but there are also many working in different places throughout the country, e.g. near mines in the mountains.

Hu Jintao has urged North Korea to speed up its economic reform, using China as a model. Could North Korea open up in the same way over the next few years?

The Chinese are better informed than the scholar and North Korea expert who recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the country’s elite would never agree to reform its economy as they fear the system would then collapse.

Together with the Chinese, I believe the risk of a collapse is much bigger if no reforms are carried out than if there are slow and controlled changes.

Once the economy starts taking off and people’s living standards rise the people will hardly challenge the system and the leadership even though the North Korean people know that South Korea’s economy is much more advanced.

Read the full story here:
Can North Korea embrace Chinese-style reforms?
China Economic Review
Malcolm Moore
9/23/2010

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Cato Institute panel on DPRK

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

This week the Cato Institute hosted a panel on North Korea.  Participants include:

Stephen Linton, Chairman and Founder, Eugene Bell Foundation
Karin J. Lee, Executive Director, The National Committee on North Korea
Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute
Ted Galen Carpenter (Moderator), Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute

You can see a video of the panel discussion here.  It includes an interesting fundraising video by the Eugene Bell Foundation.

UPDATE: Tad at NKnews.org has a write up of the panel here.

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