Archive for the ‘European Business Association’ Category

Update: 2008 Pyongyang International Trade Exhibition

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Update from Dr. Petrov:

Among the foreign companies attending the 11th Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair in the DPRK last week was Phoenix Commercial Ventures Ltd.

Representatives from Phoenix Commercial Ventures attended the fair and manned a stand representing member companies of the European Business Association in Pyongyang, together with members of the management team from Sinji JVC and Hana Electronics JVC (joint venture companies formed with Phoenix) and Daedong Credit Bank – Phoenix’s banking partner in the DPRK – (since 2000 Daedong Credit Bank has been 70% owned and managed by a company run by professional fund managers. The remaining 30% is held by Korea Daesong Bank).

Nigel Cowie (CEO of Phoenix, General Manager and CEO of Daedong Credit Bank and Vice President of the European Business Association) said: “The trade fair provides an ideal venue and opportunity for companies to showcase their products and services, as well as providing an excellent networking opportunity. Phoenix Commercial Ventures and Daedong Credit Bank are proud to have participated in this regular event, which provides a springboard for economic development and growth”.

“Although the fair provides the opportunity for participants to establish new contacts for trade relationships, we also wanted to emphasise investment opportunities. Something that is often overlooked is that it is perfectly possible to create and run successful joint ventures in the DPRK. We have shown this with Daedong Credit Bank, which has been operating successfully for 13 years, and with Hana Electronics, which has been doing the same for five years, and are in the process of repeating the process with Sinji JVC, our youngest joint venture,” concluded Nigel Cowie

An extensive gallery of photos from the trade fair can be viewed on the Phoenix website.

DPRK holds it’s largets ever Pyongyang International Trade Exhibition
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
(NK Brief No. 08-5-19-1)

From May 12th to the 15th, North Korea held the eleventh annual Pyongyang International Summer Product Exhibition in the Three-Revolution Exhibition Center. The trade show hosted over 180 foreign businesses, making it the largest convention to date.

Companies from North Korea, China, Taiwan, Russia, the Netherlands, Germany, Syria, Switzerland, Australia, England, Italy, Spain, Vietnam, Thailand, France, Finland, and several other countries participated in the show, displaying a wide range of manufacturing machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, conveyor systems, petrochemical materials, medical supplies, daily necessities, foodstuffs, and other goods.

With more than 120 Chinese companies and more than 30 vendors from Taiwan, North Korea’s largest-ever convention was host to over 50 vendors more this year than the previous record of over 130, set last year.

With a large-screen television positioned at the entrance of the hall displaying multimedia advertisements and a range of large-scale billboards and advertising displays for North Korea’s domestic companies set up around the exhibition center, there was also a distinct sense of commercialism in the air.

In particular, there were several booths selling the wares of large Chinese industries, as well as several affiliates of the Haier Group Co. Ltd., representatives from TCL Electronics Co. Ltd. , sales staff from China Hong Kong Manufacturers Co. Ltd. and other main offices directly participating in the event.

The Pyongyang International Product Exhibition has been held in the summer annually since 1998, and since 2005, a convention has also been held each fall.


Nosotek: First European software firm based in DPRK

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

 “Nosotek is the first European-invested software development & research company in the DPRK, with the head office in Pyongyang.” – Interview with Mr. Ju Jong Chol (Vice-President of Nosotek)

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Mr. Ju, you are the Vice President of a very interesting company named Nosotek ( Could you please tell us something about this venture?

Ju Jong Chol: Nosotek is the first European-invested software development & research company in the DPRK, with the head office in Pyongyang.

It is founded by the General Federation of Science and Technology (GFST) of DPRK and experienced European IT-entrepreneurs. Felix Abt, the president of the European Business Association ( is one of Nosotek’s directors.

Nosotek is jointly run by European IT engineers together with their Korean counterparts. We have presently 50 engineers and a strong production line. We expect rapid growth thanks to our qualified, experienced and committed staff.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: What are Nosotek’s main products?

Ju Jong Chol: As we specialize on offshore IT outsourcing services we already have produced a large range of software products. Among our finished products, you find scientific software, video games, web applications, embedded software and 3D virtualization tools.

In case our customer needs a field of service where we don’t have experienced engineers in our own staff, the GFST will help us finding good people among the scientists of the universities. We can rely on sustainable DPRK and European engineering and business ressoucces.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: The DPRK is not the Silicon Valley or Bangalore. What are the customer’s benefits to do Business with Nosotek?

Ju Jong Chol: Of course, we’re not Silicon Valley or Bangalore. But we take the challenge to compete with these locations. The DPRK government took the strategic decision to give strong support to our IT industry which now bears fruits.

In the DPRK, software engineers have an average academic math level superior to their western or Indian counterparts.

Computer science education involves understanding of deep low level processes: when was the last time you hired a PHP programmer to realize he was quite at ease in assembler?

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Outsourcing to Asia is often identified with a risk of IP leak. Many western companies are complaining that after outsourcing their partners start copying their technology.

Ju Jong Chol: Then they are all invited to do their outsourcing projects in the DPRK! Our country is well known to have strong laws to protect secrets and we respect the value of IPs. And unlike what is common in other countries like China, there is only very little fluctuation of the workforce. Like in Japanese companies, our employees usually enter the company after university and stay their entire business life with the high personal motivation. This does not only help to keep trade secrets, it also helps to keep the experienced persons, who are needed for long-term partnership.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: How are the working conditions at Nosotek?

Ju Jong Chol: Our employee’s working conditions are far better than average, compared with both domestic and international standards: They work with state-of-the-art hardware, have free lunch, more holidays than in Europe and even a one-week vacation trip to a touristic place every summer, which is completely paid by the company.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: How difficult is it for you to acquire international business? What exactly are the main challenges?

Ju Jong Chol: Currently the main problem is the US sanctions against our country. For example, western customers are threatened by the US to prevent doing business with us. At the moment, it is very difficult to transfer money to DPRK. Luckily, together with our European partners we found good solutions and our customers will make their contracts with companies outside of DPRK.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: Is it possible to name some of your reference projects?

Ju Jong Chol: Unfortunately, this is not possible. Our policy is not only to respect our customer’s trade secrets and software IP, but also not to disclose the names of our customers. But please be assured, that some of our work products are used in large public companies, all over the world including USA.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: There are quite a lot companies from South Korea and also international companies working at the Kaesong special economic zone in North Korea. Are these Companies potential customers for Nosotek?

Ju Jong Chol: We are doing business all other the world. Of course, companies from Kaesong may be potential customers. Currently, our main focus is on Europe and Japan.

Klaus-Martin Meyer: The last question is our famous 5-years-questions. What is Nosotek’s outlook for the next five years?

Ju Jong Chol: Our goal is to create public awareness of the DPRK as a place where IT outsourcing can be done at the best ratio between price and quality. Nosotek will grow and the business volume will highly increase.

Source here.


DPRK Chamber of Commerce

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

The DPRK Chamber of Commerce was inaugurated on August 25, 2004 with the purpose of developing economic and trade relations with different countries over the world.

The Pyongyang Chamber of Commerce (PCC), the predecessor of the DPRK Chamber of Commerce, had been established on March 1, 2000 and granted an associate membership of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) at its 33rd World Congress held in Budapest, Hungary in May, 2000.

The PCC had conducted such service activities as trade, finance, arbitration and consultation helpful to the domestic and foreign trade and economic organizations in close relations with the ICC, national chambers of commerce and world trade and economic centres.

It was registered in the directory of addresses published by the ICC, the International Trade Centre and other international economic organizations.

With a view to expanding exchange and cooperation with foreign countries in all fields of the economy, the PCC was developed into the Chamber of Commerce of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

At present, it is extensively carrying on its commercial business in closer ties with the ICC and national chambers of commerce around the world.

The DPRK Chamber of Commerce makes efforts to promote bilateral and multinational exchange and investment with Korean joint venture and individual enterprises in foreign countries as its full members and with foreign individual enterprises and entrepreneurs residing in Korea, overseas compatriots and foreign enterprises who hope to have business transactions with Korean partners as its associate members.

It has an organizational structure consisting of secretariat, trade information committee, trade arbitration committee and exhibition committee as well as non-permanent credentials committee for full members or associate members.

The trade information committee engages in such business as collection and distribution of information data on world economy and trade, international commodity and financial markets.

The trade arbitration committee handles correct examination and settlement of disputes relating to economy and trade.

The exhibition committee organizes the opening of national trade fairs at home and abroad and provides every convenience for the participation of its members in the fairs.

The DPRK Chamber of Commerce will make a positive contribution to the promotion of foreign trade, invitation of investment and economic exchange with other countries.


The DPRK Chamber is headed by Ri Hak Gwon.  I have been unnable to determine any other posts he might have held in the past.


The Chamber has two addresses on line:

DPRK Chamber of Commerce
c/o Ministry of Foreign Trade
Central District
D.P.R. of Korea
E-Mail: [email protected]
(This address seems to indicate it is an office within the Ministry of Foreign Trade)

DPRK Chamber of Commerce
Jungsong-dong, Central District,
Pyongyang, DPR Korea
P.O.Box 89
Tel: 850-2-3815926
Fax: 850-2-3815827
E-mail: [email protected]


Externally, the DPRK Chamber liases with numerous external business organizations to promote DPRK exports and foreign direct investment (FDI):

European Business Association

The EBA cooperates with the DPRK Chamber of Commerce and supports it as well as the Korea International Exhibition Corporation under the Ministry of Foreign Trade to help European companies participate [in the Pyongyang International Trade Fair].  European companies participating at the European booth [in the most recent fair] said they were very satisfied. European businesses that would like to participate at the European booth during the next trade fairs (11th PYONGYANG SPRING INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR, May 12 – 15, 2008 and the and the 4th PYONGYANG AUTUMN INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR, September 22 – 25, 2008) are welcome to contact EBA from now on. Details on these fairs will also be given shortly on the EBA-website under “Services”

Friedrich Nauman Foundation

“It is a great honour and a token of both appreciation and trust” , said Mr. Kim Myeong-ho, Deputy Director of the Department of International Relations of the Korean Workers’ Party welcoming two representatives of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation at the Headquarters of the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) in Pyongyang. Since their meeting at the beginning of February this year the international political situation has changed dramatically: the February 13 Agreement on the Denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula was signed between the six parties DPR Korea, USA, China, Republic of Korea, Japan and Russia. Meanwhile, the parties have taken necessary steps to ease the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and to move towards denuclearization. Both the U.S. and the DPR Korea have started negotiations on the normalisation of bilateral relations within the framework of the Six-Party Talks. Finally, both Koreas agreed to hold a second summit on 2-4 October.

Mr. Kim Myeong-ho expressed his appreciation of the training activities of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in the DPR Korea. Referring to the New Year’s editorial of the Rodong Shinmun, the KWP’s newspaper, he mentioned the priority of modernizing the economy in the sectors of agriculture, light industry, IT and banking. According to him, of particular interest are methods of farm management, renewable energy and food security but also city management.

The representatives of the KWP accepted FNF’s offer of having a study tour to Germany for party officials in 2008 presuming further progress in the Six-Party Talks. The members of the delegation would have “fresh ideas” after being back in the DPR Korea, FNF was told.

Walter Klitz, Resident Representative of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Korea, also had meetings with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the DPRK’s Chamber of Commerce. In cooperation with the European Union, FNF will hold the 3rd EU-DPRK Economic Workshop in October, its fourth seminar this year.

Here is the agenda for a training seminr held last April. Here is their summary of the event.

New Clients:

South-North Korean Economic Cooperation Forum

A major South Korean business organization said Thursday (Sept. 27) it plans to form a civilian body for economic cooperation with North Korea on the occasion of the 2007 South-North Korean Summit next week.

The envisioned body, tentatively named the South-North Korean Economic Cooperation Forum, is to be set up in October and have 50 members, including 35 entrepreneurs, the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said.

It would be the first non-governmental channel for inter-Korean economic cooperation. Currently, the South’s Ministry of Unification and the North’s National Economic Cooperation Federation are the sole channels for inter-Korean economic cooperation.

“The establishment of the body is designed to further promote inter-Korean economic cooperation on a civilian level,” said Kim Sang-yeol, vice chairman of the KCCI.

The planned group will conduct economic cooperation projects with the North and help improve North Korea’s investment environment, the KCCI said.

To that end, the chamber will try to sign a deal with its counterpart, the DPRK Chamber of Commerce, and send an investment inspection team to the North after the end of the summit. DPRK is the acronym for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Established in March 2000, the chamber of commerce, which includes members of 100 major companies, has carried out external economic exchanges and attracted foreign investment in the North, according to the KCCI.     

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun is scheduled to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il from Oct. 2-4 in Pyongyang. Seoul has hinted that the promotion of economic cooperation will be high on the agenda of the 2007 South-North Korean summit, as it was in the first summit in 2000.

Alejandro Cao de Benos

In his own words: “[The KFA is] looking into development of new areas to expand into, especially those related to economy that are critical also for the development and life improvement of the DPRK. Since KFA has played an important role in building friendship, now we also can play our part in building business.

For accomplishing this goal, I announce the creation of the IKBC (International Korea Business Center).  As a sister organization of the KFA, the IKBC will strictly take care of business issues, facilitate business information to private investors and companies around the world.

In close collaboration with the DPRK Chamber of Commerce, IKBC will become the reference link between the DPRK and foreign businessmen. The spirit is to build a DPRK Chamber of Commerce outside the DPRK that will approach the countless possibilities in trading that will benefit all sides involved.

Alejandro’s involvement raises questions about the relationship between the DPRK’s cultural diplomatic efforts (since he is a client of the Committe for Cultural Relations with Foreign countries) and its business outreach efforts auspiciously under the Ministry of Foreign Trade.  I suspect that various DPRK agencies have been blurring the boundries between the two activities for fiscal reasons.  As access to hard currency comes to play a greater role in the DPRK system, I predict that we will see more of this kind of mission creep on the DPRK side.

They also undertake external activities:

A delegation of the DPRK Chamber of Commerce (KCC) took part in the 5th China International Equipment Manufacturing Exposition on Aug. 29, 2006 and the 2nd China Jilin Northeast Asia Investment & Trade Exposition on Sep. 2, 2006.

During its participation in the expositions, the delegation held an interview on investment and discussed matters of investment in the development of a vanadium mine, stone dressing, the production of agrochemicals and calcium carbonate, seafood breeding and processing and so on.

The KCC secretary-general made an introductory speech entitled “On the trade and investment policy of the DPR Korea”.

At the interview, a series of technical matters on joint ventures and processing trade as well as investment guaranty were discussed and agreed between traders.

A trade and investment seminar for European businessmen was held in Pyongyang under the sponsorship of the KCC on October 30, 2006.

There was the general explanation on the DPRK trade and investment policy and the investment environment.


EBA Press Release: Pyongyang International Trade Fair

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Europen Business Association
October 2007

EBA.JPG18 European companies are participating at the European booth organized by the European Business Association (EBA) in Pyongyang. This has been the largest ever participation of European companies at a Trade Fair in Pyongyang. The 18 EBA-member companies come from 6 European countries and are engaged in banking, IT, pharmaceuticals, maritime transportation, railways, courier services, industry, mining, solar driven water pumps, energy saving technology, commodity inspection, cosmetics and other consumer goods and general trading. Some already operate in joint ventures with Korean partners or found other forms of close business cooperation, particularly in the fields of banking, mining, internet services, logistics, software development and pharmaceuticals.

The EBA will continue to make efforts to attract more European companies to invest and do business in the DPRK in the coming years and will share its experience to help make the endeavors of the newcomers and their Korean partners a success. The EBA closely cooperates with the DPRK Chamber of Commerce and the Korea International Exhibition Corporation to facilitate the participation at exhibitions, to intensify trade between European and DPRK-enterprises and to enhance the identification of suitable business and investment opportunities for European companies.

Pictures of the European booth will be published on
Felix Abt, President
Dr. Barbara Unterbeck, PR-manager
European Business Association
President´s Office
Chang Gwang Foreign Residential and Office Building
10th Floor, No. 10-2
Central District
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea



3rd Pyongyang Autumn International Trade Fair

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

European Business Association
September 24-27, 2007

The European Business Association (EBA) in Pyongyang and DPRK Chamber of Commerce are orgaizing a booth for European business at the upcoming international trade fair in Pyongyang.  European companies are invited to make use of this opportunity to introduce their business to the North Korean market.

European companies interested in taking advantage of this opportunity are invited to visit the EBA website – please click through to membership for the statutes. The membership fee of 500 Euro will include the following services for companies who would not send their own representative to the trade fair:

  • Poster display (maximum size DIN A2)
  • Distribution of flyers (maximum size DIN A4)
    Feedback for Korean inquiries by e-mail: any contact request and any inquiry by a Korean company will be registered in a special format and will be supplied asap by   e-mail to your company.
  • Photos documenting the participation of your company in the fair.

If a representative will take part, the joint European booth is of course open for him/her to be used during the fair and EBA will support and assist you actively in making contacts and business meetings with potential Korean partners. According to a special arrangement between the EBA Pyongyang and the DPRK Chamber of Commerce, the deadline for visa application has been extended for European businesses to August 20, 2007.

Learn more here


North Korea Wants End to Sanctions Before It Makes Nuclear Deal

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Bradley K. Martin

To make painkillers and antibiotics in his factory in Pyongyang, Swiss businessman Felix Abt needs reagents, chemicals used to test for toxic impurities. Abt can’t get them now — because the world refuses to sell North Korea a product that is also used to manufacture biological weapons.

Such sanctions on trade with the regime of Kim Jong Il — some dating back to the Korean War — may be the next diplomatic battleground after North Korea bowed to pressure last week and shut down five nuclear facilities at Yongbyon.

North Korea said July 16 that ending sanctions, and its removal from a U.S. list of countries that sponsor terrorism, are prerequisites for further progress in the negotiations to end its nuclear weapons program. The U.S., meanwhile, says the next step is for North Korea to disclose all its nuclear capabilities, followed by a permanent dismantling of Yongbyon.

North Korea is playing a “tactical game,” said David Straub, a Korea specialist at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. After shutting down Yongbyon and receiving a pledge of 950,000 tons of oil, the reclusive nation will try to “force the U.S. and others to lift sanctions,” Straub said in an e-mail exchange.

While many of the post-Korean war sanctions were lifted between 1994 and 2000 by President Bill Clinton, Americans are prohibited from exporting “dual-use” products or technologies, a wide range of items that might have military as well as civilian applications — including reagents and even aluminum bicycle tubing, which might be used to make rockets.

UN Sanctions

Much of the world joined the sanctions regime after North Korea tested an atomic device last October. The United Nations called on member states to stop trade in weapons, “dual-use” items and luxury goods. Japan went further, stopping used-car exports and banning port calls by North Korean vessels.

Now that North Korea has shut its facilities at Yongbyon and allowed in international inspectors, the haggling will begin on the next steps. If its demands aren’t met, North Korea could kick out the inspectors and restart the plants, as it did in 2002.

“The Bush administration must choose between settling for a temporary closure of the nuclear sites and taking a strategic decision to coexist” with North Korea, said Kim Myong Chol, Tokyo-based president of the Center for Korean-American Peace, who for three decades has encouraged foreign reporters to consider him an informal North Korean spokesman. “Otherwise, the agreement will break up, leaving the U.S. with little to show.”

‘Contentious Issue’

Sanctions represent “a multiplicity of issues that could become contentious,” said economist Marcus Noland, North Korea specialist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, in an e-mail exchange. China has already called for the lifting of the UN sanctions imposed Oct. 14.

North Korea agreed with the U.S., South Korea, Russia, China and Japan on Feb. 13 to close its Yongbyon reactor, which produced weapons-grade plutonium, and to eventually declare and disable all of its atomic programs. Working groups will meet in August before another round of talks in September.

If the U.S. insists on a list of all the country’s nuclear facilities without starting to negotiate on sanctions, North Korea might consider that “a spoiler” for the talks ahead, Kim Myong Chol said.

Swiss businessman Abt said that in the past he could get around U.S. sanctions for his North Korean pharmaceutical factory by buying supplies from other countries. The UN sanctions shut off those sources.

Using Old Stocks

“Luckily, we have enough stock of reagents, but when it runs out we would not be able to guarantee the safety of our pharmaceuticals any longer,” he said.

Abt, 52, is president of Pyongsu Pharma Joint Venture Co., an enterprise with ties to the Ministry of Public Health that makes painkillers and antibiotics for humanitarian organizations in North Korea. He is also president of Pyongyang’s European Business Association.

“The same is true in many other civilian industries,” said Abt, who moved to North Korea from Vietnam five years ago. Gold mines are affected too, he said: “If they cannot import cyanide, they can’t extract the gold.” Cyanide is another “dual-use” product, part of the process for making some chemical weapons, he said.

All this has “a highly negative impact” on the economy at a time when the regime has announced it wants to focus on development, Abt said. Foreigners are showing “more and more interest in doing business here,” Abt said, predicting that North Korea will eventually be regarded as a successor to Vietnam as “the newest emerging market.”


North Korean Propaganda Festival May Signal Shift in Policy

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Bradley Martin

Since 2002, North Korea has invited visitors every few years to a festival featuring 60,000 dancers, gymnasts, acrobats and musicians, along with card-flippers who create vast pictorial mosaics covering one entire side of the 150,000-seat May Day stadium in the capital, Pyongyang.

The previous performance, in 2005, included noisy and bloody tableaux of North Korean soldiers making mincemeat of enemy soldiers. Last week’s Arirang production — named for a famous Korean love song — was different. Battlefield carnage was replaced with scenes of people seeking higher living standards by rebuilding factories and growing crops.

While North Korea is hardly going pacifist seven months after testing an atomic device, the propaganda shift may signal a significant change in policy, according to expatriate businessmen living in the isolated country. Now that it is a nuclear power, North Korea appears to be directing more resources to improving an economy on its knees after decades of sanctions and isolation, they say.

Korean officials “are now confident they can defend their country,” said Felix Abt, the Swiss president of PyongSu Pharma Joint Venture Co. Ltd., which recently started manufacturing painkillers and antibiotics in Pyongyang. “Their next priority is economic development.”

Consumer Goods

The policy emphasizes light industry to produce consumer goods. It was formally expressed in a joint editorial that was run at the beginning of the year in three major newspapers published by the regime, Abt said.

Getting verifiable information about policies in North Korea is still almost impossible, especially on tightly organized trips for foreigners in which government guides keep visitors on a short leash.

And if the propaganda on display during one of these visits last week can be believed, the government continues to conceive any new economic policy along the lines of a traditional, planned economy, focused on state-owned enterprises where workers are inspired to redouble their efforts and produce miracles of socialist endeavor.

The Arirang show made this abundantly clear. In an act called “Power and Prosperity,” the audience was urged to emulate “youth shock brigade” members and other working people in North Pyongan Province who recently completed Thaechon Youth Power Station No. 4 in spite of catastrophic shortages of food, energy and most other materials that became evident in the early- to-mid-1990s.

`The Power’

The performance illustrated that North Korea needn’t depend on foreign donations, said Kim Song Ho, 32, one of the tour guides assigned to foreign visitors this month. “Our country has the power to live by ourselves,” said Kim, who worked for the World Food Program’s Pyongyang office until the government reintroduced rice rationing in 2005 and told foreign-aid organizations it could manage mainly on its own.

In Thaechon, Kim said, “workers constructed a power station despite the bad situation without any help. Now the slogan is, `We will work like Thaechon Power Station workers.’ We renovated factories, built new factories and now the economy is booming more and more.”

Evidence of such economic change wasn’t included on the tour Kim was guiding. Kim said he would happily show such sites to the foreign visitor another time.

Different Conditions

The development schemes aren’t directly modeled on those of China or Vietnam, locals stressed. “The conditions of the Chinese and Koreans are different,” said Kim Hyon Chol, the 32- year-old chief guide of the tour group. “The biggest difference is that our country is not united.”

The regime has kept its propaganda options open on its military direction.

Billboards in the capital city showed a U.S. and a Japanese soldier both skewered on the same bayonet. And while there was no sequence in the Arirang show celebrating the country’s nuclear explosion or missile tests, a military parade on April 25 to which foreign residents were invited showed off a missile said to be capable of hitting U.S. bases on Guam.

At the Demilitarized Zone, which has divided North from South Korea since the Korean War armistice agreement was signed in 1953, Korean People’s Army Captain Han Myong Gil was asked whether North Korea is safer since its nuclear test. He replied that U.S. and South Korean forces had held huge military exercises even as diplomats talked of trying to bring peace to the Korean peninsula.

`Hostile Attitude’

“The saying goes in Korea, `If there are many clouds, it will soon rain,”’ the 28-year-old career officer said. “We can’t feel safe until the U.S. gives up its hostile attitude.”

Han eventually responded to a question about what he thought of his government’s spending money on a huge military apparatus – – North Korea’s troop strength is the world’s fourth largest — while people don’t have enough food.

“We receive fright and oppression from the U.S., so I cannot hide that our living standard is not high,” Han said. “We were on an arduous march for a long time. Now we are very proud because we defended socialism with the military-first policy. A strong country can defend itself, but the weak will be beaten down.”


European firms in N. Korea running business association: chairman

Saturday, May 5th, 2007


European companies operating in North Korea have been running a business coalition to better coordinate trade ties with the reclusive nation, a businessman said Saturday.

“Our purpose is to build bridges between Europe and North Korea,” Felix Abt, chairman of the European Business Association (EBA), said in an interview with Washington-based radio station Radio Free Asia. The association was founded in April 2005.

The businessman, who is also president of the joint venture PyongSu Pharma Co., said European firms need to do more business with Pyongyang, whose business ties are heavily dependent on Northeast Asia.

The association comprises 11 companies, mostly European or joint ventures between European and North Korean state-run firms. DHL, the logistics arm of Germany’s Deutsche Post AG, is also a member.

North Korea’s trade with the European Union accounted for less than 10 percent of its total volume in 2004, while trade with China surged by 35.4 percent, according to the EBA’s Web site.


Korean-Polish Joint Venture

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Via the Eurpoean Business Association:

The Korean-Polish Shipping Co., Ltd. is a joint venture company established in 1967 in accordance with the agreement between the governments of the DPRK and Poland.

The company has head offices in Pyongyang, the DPRK and branch offices in Gdynia, Poland, where well-experienced officials appointed by the two governments respectively are employed.

In close cooperation with shipping agents and brokers of foreign countries in Asia, Europe and other parts of the world, it conducts mainly such businesses as cargo transportation and chartering of vessels. It also engages in brokerage and agency in marine transport, as well as invitation of investment.

The company will, in future, put the management of marine transport on a modern basis and further promote cooperation and exchange in shipping with different countries around the world.

Korean-Polish Shipping Co., Ltd.
Head office
Add: Moranbong District, Pyongyang, DPRK
Tel: 850-2-18111-3814384
Fax: 850-2-3814607
E-mail: [email protected]

Branch office
Gorczycowa Str.4F, 
81-591 Gdynia
Tel. ++48 (0) 58 629 90 54-55
Fax. ++48 (0) 58 629 90 53
eMail: [email protected]


North Korea’s Profession: Entrepreneur

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

From Businessweek:
Joe McDonald

In the midst of tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program, a Western company is there searching for oil. Another just bought a bank.

“North Korea is hungry for business,” said Roger Barrett, the British founder of Beijing-based Korea Business Consultants, who recently took 11 Asian and European clients to Pyongyang to play golf and make contacts.

A small group of Westerners are taking on the challenge of doing business in the isolated North, hoping to get in on the ground floor as its communist rulers experiment with economic reform.

The obstacles are daunting. A Stalinist dictatorship, bureaucracy and language barriers. Foreign sanctions that block most financial transfers, making it hard to get paid and to get supplies. And now worries that United Nations sanctions imposed after North Korea’s Oct. 9 nuclear test could be expanded to a general clampdown on trade.

But the Westerners talk positively about the North as a business environment, with skilled workers and leaders who they say welcome foreign investment.

“They are very skillful and hardworking,” said Felix Abt, a Swiss businessman who oversees two ventures in Pyongyang, one that makes business and game software for sale in Europe and another that makes antibiotics and painkillers for the domestic market. “It’s sometimes faster to get licenses and necessary approvals here than it is in China or Vietnam.”

Barrett said that even as the U.N. Security Council debated the latest sanctions on the North, he got inquiries from investors interested in its rich mineral resources and low-cost manufacturing work force.

“Investors are rushing into China, but labor costs there are escalating, and companies are looking for an alternative,” Barrett said. North Korea “has absolutely the capabilities to take off like South Korea.”

So far the largest foreign business community in North Korea is from China, its main source of trade and aid.

South Korea accounts for most of the North’s foreign investment, with stakes totaling $620 million in an export-manufacturing zone and a resort for foreigners. China’s investments total just $31 million, according to the Chinese Commerce Ministry.

U.S. regulations allow American companies to trade with North Korea under limited conditions, though tensions between the governments and lack of diplomatic relations raises the risk of doing business. Britain, Germany, Sweden and other Western governments, meanwhile, have official relations with Pyongyang.

North Korea’s foreign trade has risen sharply, though the total was less than $4 billion last year, according to South Korean and Chinese government figures. Trade with the South soared by more than 50 percent in 2005 to just over $1 billion.

Most trade is carried out by North Korean state companies, not private entrepreneurs. And some partners are shying away. Trade with Japan, once the North’s No. 1 trading partner, tumbled from $1.3 billion in 2001 to just $200 million last year amid tensions with Tokyo over North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and ’80s.

The Europeans’ chamber of commerce in Pyongyang had 12 members when it was launched last year. They include delivery company DHL Express, an Italian law firm and a German venture founded in 2003 to provide Internet access to foreign businesses in Pyongyang.

This tentative foothold follows the slow pace of economic reform in North Korea. Only in 2002 did North Korean leader Kim Jong Il allow limited free enterprise to revive a decrepit economy, which teetered in the 1990s following the loss of Soviet aid and then collapsed amid widespread food shortages. Still, foreign observers say officials are reluctant to give up control, despite prodding from Beijing, which wants faster reforms to reduce its ally’s dependence on aid.

Abt, the Swiss businessman, moved to Pyongyang in 2002 after seven years working in Vietnam, another Asian communist economy in the throes of reform.

“I heard that some economic reforms were in the pipeline, and I was quite thrilled to experience the beginning,” said Abt.

Now his Vietnamese wife takes their 14-month-old daughter to play at an international school. After work, he goes out to sing karaoke with North Korean co-workers.

But Abt has felt the bite of efforts to pressure the North.

Foreign banks have been leery since Washington last year sanctioned Macau’s Banco Delta Asia, which the U.S. said helped the North launder money. China told its banks this month to curtail financial transfers to or from the North.

“It’s getting difficult to make bank transfers to suppliers or to get money from customers,” Abt said.

He worries that the factory might have to shut down if U.N. sanctions block imports of required chemicals on the grounds that they also could have military uses.

Barrett said his clients have lost access to $11 million in Banco Delta Asia accounts that were frozen by the U.S. sanctions.

Colin McAskill, a British businessman who has done business with the North since the 1970s, is lobbying Washington to fine-tune its sanctions so the bank’s customers can withdraw money that was made legally.

McAskill is chairman of Hong Kong-based Koryo Asia Ltd., which said in September it was buying a 70 percent controlling stake in Daedong Credit Bank, North Korea’s first foreign-owned financial institution. The bank, which is 30 percent owned by a North Korean bank, serves foreign companies and has accounts at Banco Delta Asia.

North Korea also has turned to Western investors in hopes of developing oil resources and reducing its near-total reliance on China for fuel. It awarded a 20-year exploration concession last year to Aminex plc, a London firm.

Aminex is helping the North Korean government deal with other foreign companies, and in exchange gets to pick where it will drill for oil, its chief executive, Brian Hall, said by phone from London.

Aminex hasn’t felt any effects from the nuclear tumult, Hall said.

“We have good relations and no problems with the agreements but are closely watching the political situation,” he said.