Associated Press (Hat tip DPRK Studies)
Three North Koreans ended a rare and discrete visit to Oregon this week after visiting Oregon State university scientists, orcharists in the Hood River area, the Nike campus, Gov. Ted Kulongoski and attending a Trail Blazers basketball game.
Because of sensitive six-way talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, Mercy Corps, which hosted the visit, declined to release the officials’ names.
Portland-based Mercy Corps is among a handful of humanitarian agencies running programs involving North Korea, which has no diplomatic relations with the United States.
Over 12 years, Mercy Corps has supplied fish and fruit trees for farm projects in North Korea, which has chronic food shortages.
The North Koreans, representing Mercy Corps’ main partner organization, the Korean American Private Exchange Society, arrived Tuesday and were to leave Saturday.
Mercy Corps President Nancy Lindborg said the three visited OSU, which has made scientists available to advise on the agricultural projects. On the way back they met with Kulongoski. They visited orchards in the Hood River area Friday.
At Nike headquarters near Beaverton, they met with managers who gave a presentation on e-commerce, an Internet activity with undetermined relevance in a socialist nation with limited Web penetration.
“I don’t have a specific point of view to share on their visit and the possible opportunities North Korea may present,” said Bob Applegate, a Nike spokesman.
The visit was perhaps the 10th in a series of low-profile North Korean delegations here over the years, Lindborg said. In North Korea, she said, “Oregon is very well-known.”
At the Rose Garden on Thursday the visitors watched the Trail Blazers dismantle Charlotte.
“They’re fans,” said Lindborg, who also attended the game. “Two of them actually play basketball.”