North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

DPRK Developing Master Economic Plan with German Advice

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German media reported on 4 January (Friday) that the DPRK is formulating a “master plan” to develop its economy and attract foreign investment with advice from German economists and attorneys.  According to Frankfurter Allgemeine, the DPRK is working on legislation to increase foreign investment.  One of the German economists involved in the consultations told the newspaper that “There is a master plan.  They want the opening [to occur] later this year.”  While the country continues to develop and plans to utilize Chinese-type Special Economic Zones in Raso’n and Hwanggu’mp’yo’ng/Wihwa Islands, it also wants to lure foreign investment in underdeveloped mineral resources from countries other than China.  The DPRK is studying the “Vietnamese blueprint whereby selected enterprises for investment are picked out,” according to one of the German experts involved.

Despite a general consensus within the DPRK’s central leadership, Korean People’s Army [KPA] units which control mines and export mineral resources to China are reluctant to surrender their lucrative mineral resources which could obstruct any potential legal changes or policy modifications.    Frankfurter Allgemeine reports that one of the leading DPRK elites promoting DPRK-German contacts and “seeking to attract expertise” is the head of Joint Venture and Investment Commission [JVIC].  Current JVIC Chairman Ri Kwang Kun is fluent in German, studied there in the 1970s and held a series of foreign trade  positions at the DPRK Embassy in Berlin in the 1980s and 1990s.  

Kim Jong Il visits Wo'nsan University of Agriculture (L) in April 2009, an event which Kim Jong Un attended as hereditary successor.  During this visit  Kim Jong Un posed for a commemorative photo with his two siblings and KWP officials (Photos: KCNA, KCTV-Yonhap)

Kim Jong Il visits Wo’nsan University of Agriculture (L) in April 2009, an event which Kim Jong Un attended as hereditary successor. During this visit Kim Jong Un posed for a commemorative photo (R) with his two siblings and KWP officials (Photos: KCNA, KCTV-Yonhap)

Germany has recently conducted several agricultural education programs which has included a study tour to The Netherlands and Germany  and an organic farming program that began in 2011 and will continue until 2014.  In late October German-Swiss Kempinski Hotels announced that it would manage the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang.    The GDR (former East Germany) financed and contributed to post-war construction in Hamhu’ng, South Hamgyo’ng Province during the 1950s and 1960s.  One of the most significant events during Kim Jong Un’s succession was his father, Kim Jong Il, visiting Wo’nsan University of Agriculture in April 2009. Part of the university’s campus is located at the old German Benedictine To’kwon Abbey (see images here and here).    During that visit, KJI introduced KJU to the university’s officials saying that “this is a very significant university where the stunning achievements of Great Leader Kim Il-sung and Mother Kim Jong-suk are exemplified.  Today I have come here with General Kim [Jong-un].  This is a glorious university which has served the Great Leader, Mother Kim Jong-suk, me and General Kim.”  Kim Jong Un posed for a commemorative photograph with his elder brother Kim Jong Chol, his younger sister Kim Yo Jong and Korean Workers’ Party Secretary Kim Ki Nam.  While KJU and his sibling studied in Switzerland they were educated in the German language.

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