China capturing ROK’s old business in DPRK

According to the JoongAng Daily:

South Koreans doing business with North Korea, or across its border with China, are seeing opportunities dry up as Pyongyang gives all the good breaks to Chinese companies.

Yesterday, workers were seen getting ready for a ground-breaking ceremony at Hwanggumpyong, a joint industrial complex run by North Korea and China on an island in the Yalu River.

North Korea’s official news agency said the complex would further deepen economic ties between the two countries. The exact reverse is happening to South Korean businesspeople.

“South Korean firms and investors have pretty much let their businesses at the China-North Korea border go since last May,” said Choi, the owner of a restaurant in Dandong. Choi, 54, has been running his restaurant for a decade and, to him, the good times are over.

“When business was active between South and North Korea, there were about 1,000 South Korean businessmen working in Dandong, all doing work related to North Korea,” said Choi. “But now most of them have left.”

“Most of the manufacturing jobs done inside North Korea have been taken by Chinese investors and the South Koreans left here in Dandong are mostly contractors for Chinese firms,” Choi said.

After the attack on the warship Cheonan in March 2010, business ties between South and North Korea have run dry due to sanctions ordered by Seoul the following May.

“I invested millions of dollars into developing the underground natural resources in North Korea before last May,” said Park, 56, who was working from Hunchun in northeast China. “Now that the South Korean government has banned all North Korean goods from entering the South, I’m about to lose all my money.”

Chinese investors – including ethnic Koreans living in China – are grabbing the business opportunities forfeited by the Southerners.

“I run short of stock even if I charge 10 renminbi [$1.54] for an abalone I used to sell at 5 renminbi,” said Han, 70, an ethnic Korean in China who sells abalones caught in North Korea. The trade was formerly done by South Koreans.

“Doing business with Chinese customers is much better because I can earn more and in cash, too,” he said.

The South’s sanctions on North Korea have resulted in some other problems as well. Pollack caught in Russian waters have been denied being imported into South Korea because they were mistaken for North Korean pollack. In fact, the fish cannot be found in North Korea anymore due to global warming.

“It was a loss for me when the fish didn’t make it through customs after being mistaken for North Korean pollack,” said Lee, 51. “I export Russian pollack to South Korea after they are caught and processed in China.” Lee is involved in aquatic product processing in Hunchun.

Jo Dong-ho, a professor of North Korean studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said, “North Korea is looking for an alternative by doing business with China after trade with the South halted. There is a need for some breathing space when it comes to inter-Korean trade.”

Read the full story here:
China capturing North’s business
JoongAng Daily
Chang Se-jeong


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