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North Korea woos, berates South’s firms

Oct 03,2005
PYONGYANG ― North Korea has shown a flash of capitalism, staging an investor relations meeting for South Korean businessmen here.
North Korea’s National Economic Cooperation Federation, which handles economic relations with South Korea, gave a presentation to about 100 businessmen from South Korea on Saturday and held individual consultations with group members.
Trust was one of the themes sounded by the North Koreans.
“We created this event so that North and South Korea can trust each other and our businesses can proceed smoothly,” said Kim Chon-gun, the vice chairman of the federation in his opening speech. “Like South Korea’s Andong Hemp Textiles and North Korea’s Saebyol General Trading Company, I hope other companies can form similar joint ventures with trust in carrying out business.”
A ceremony just before the presentation marked the inauguration of Pyongyang Hemp Textile Joint Operated Co., which will employ 330 North Korean workers; Mr. Kim was referring to that business.
But in private conversations, the North’s officials sounded another theme: dissatisfaction with North-South business links.
“South Koreans complain that Northern companies don’t meet deadlines, but if they would send the raw materials to us on time, that kind of thing wouldn’t happen,” said Kim Yong-hak, president of Saebyol.
“Southern businessmen press us to write statements of agreement,” he continued, “but when we do, there have been many cases where they have not kept their promises. I have a stack of proposals on my desk at my office, papers full of unkept promises.”
The Korea Industrial Complex Corp., which runs the industrial site at Kaesong, described plans to create another industrial complex in Pyongyang, but a senior director at the federation said that North Korea does not have any plans for any complexes in addition to the one at Kaesong.


by Ko Soo-suk


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