A couple of weeks ago, an international conference in Pyongyang followed by press reports that North Korea was planning 14 additional SEZs set off the usual breathless “reform-is-around-the-corner” commentary. So, is it different this time? The smoke is never-ending, but is there actually a fire? To start, a little historical perspective. Many, many countries have […]
Inter-Korean economic cooperation projects—including railroads—are among the few things that garner a consensus in South Korea. In the last couple of weeks there have been a flurry of reports that, having re-established the rail link between Khasan and Rason, Russia’s Vladimir Putin wants to push south through the DMZ and re-establish the “Eastern line” down […]
Since last posting on cyber warfare, there have been a steady drip of stories, none of which managed to rouse me to comment. But as an economist I like numbers, so when someone puts a price tag on it, I cannot resist. Representative Chung Hee-soo, a Saenuri Party member of the National Assembly defense committee, […]
Choco-Pies: The various KIC working groups and subcommittees have begun meeting and a key item on the agenda is the allowable Choco Pie distribution limit. With hiring and pay practices tightly regulated, firms operating at KIC had resorted to using rations of these Moon Pie knock-offs, which double as a parallel currency outside the KIC gates, […]
We have long argued that the transformation of North Korea will ultimately hinge on an opening to foreign direct investment. No amount of aid—no matter how well deployed–will substitute for the advantages of investment-driven trade and technology transfer. The re-opening of Kaesong and recent stories of a plan to open new zones suggest that the […]
Ages ago Troy Stangarone of the Korea Economic Institute interviewed me and Mark Manyin of the Congressional Research Service on the Kaesong Industrial Park. Now, with KIC slated to reopen, KEI has posted the podcast. It can be heard here.
The Economist magazine has its Big Mac index; maybe we should have a Witness to Transformation Blog Choco-Pie index. The price of the cakes, which are provided to KIC workers as snacks and circulate in Kaesong as a parallel currency, fell on news that KIC might be re-opening. (Either that, or news that former Witness […]
Over the weekend, the North Koreans canceled the family reunions involving 100 North Koreans and 96 South Koreans scheduled for September 25-30 (Choe Sang-Hun for the New York Times; Yonhap). The statement issued by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF) contained a laundry list of grievances, from hostile statements by South […]
Unpacking some material that I had hauled back from the East-West Center at the end of August, I stumbled across a notated copy of the Bank of Korea’s report on the North Korean economic performance in 2012. Oops. Well, better late than never. The bottom line is that while North Korea appears to be muddling through there are reasons for concern. Maybe that’s why they are making nice.
According to a Ministry of Unification statement summarized by Yonhap, operations are set to resume next week at the Kaesong Industrial Complex after a five-month hiatus. As expected, North Korea made some relatively minor concessions on taxation issues. According to Yonhap, “Under the deal, South Korean firms will be exempt from paying taxes for the […]