Sinuiju SAR/SEZ version 2: Bidan and Wihwa islands

According to Yonhap:

North Korea is considering establishing a special economic zone on two small islands bordering China to help resuscitate its moribund economy, a South Korean source said Friday.

The North has been pushing to form a free trade zone on the Bidan and Wihwa islands on the Yalu River on the western border between North Korea and China, and has sounded out South Korean companies on their investment plans for the area, the source privy to inter-Korean economic projects said.

“The North has been mulling building the zone since early last year but hasn’t made headway in the wake of its nuclear test. The idea is being considered again now, however, as conditions became favorable following the Feb. 13 agreement,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

The source referred to a landmark six-party agreement in which North Korea promised to begin dismantling its nuclear programs in return for aid. The agreement, signed by the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan came four months after the North defiantly tested a nuclear weapon, prompting worldwide condemnation.

The economic zone is to specialize in such sectors as trade, distribution, light industries, tourism and finance, the source said.

In 2002, the North designated Sinuiju, a city bordering China, as a special economic zone, but the plan fell through after Beijing arrested its governor Yang Bin, a Chinese-Dutch entrepreneur, on bribery and kickback charges. Since then, the plan has been put on hold amid the North Korean nuclear standoff and China’s alleged opposition.

North Korea has been resorting to outside handouts since mid 1990s, when its state-controlled economy collapsed due to mismanagement and natural disasters.

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N. Korea considering building special economic zone on two islands


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