North Korean high-ranking official visits Taiwan

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

A high ranking North Korean official visiting Taiwan gave a statement that, “North Korea is using most of its resources for national defense and military.”

This was revealed in a report released by KOTRA Taiwan Trade Mission. In this report, Kim Jong Gi, the chairman of the Committee for the Promotion of International Tradeof DPRK visited the Taiwan-(North) Korea Business Association to attend a meeting discussing North Korean business trade.

Kim criticized South Korea, Japan and other neighboring countries for harboring antagonistic attitudes toward communist North Korea, and especially the United States for enforcing “violent sanctions” against North Korea.

He also admitted the country was suffering from economic hardships and food shortages since 1995 with four years of continuous natural disasters. In 2011, the total food needed is around 6.5 million tons but the actual production output was only 5.1 million tons, leaving the country 1.4 million tons short.

Kim also explained that North Korea experienced similar economic growth as South Korea and Taiwan in the 1970s and 1980s but as socialist countries began to collapse one after another in the early 1990s, North Korea’s economic trade agreements with other nations became null and hence hindered its economy and trade.

At that time, North Korea was signing purchase agreements on magnesium oxide (about 800,000 ton) with Eastern European countries every year and barter trade with other socialist nations. But with the fall of socialist countries, North Korea quickly lost its long-term trading partners and it failed to take appropriate and necessary actions. Thus, it fell into the vicious cycle of unsold commodities with insufficient funds, leading to inevitable economic downturn.

Kim was the highest official from the DPRK to visit Taiwan. The purpose for his visit was to 1) attract investment from Taiwan for Hwanggumpyong Island and Rajin-Sonbong Special Economic Zone, and 2) express gratitude toward the Tzu Chi Foundation, a Buddhist charity for continuous assistance to North Korea. The Tzu Chi Foundation is reported to have sent aid to North Korea nine times.


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