North Korea - A
Glance at the Worker's Paradise!
Tom frequently travels to the north of China to Liaoning Province and the commercial
region of the DPRK. Specifically, we are active in the Dandong region which is the
main city bordering on North Korea. This allows us a close up view and quick jaunts
into the Worker's paradise. Our friends at the Liaoning Import Export Corporation
conduct around 90 percent of their business with the North, and trade food, for
steel. They operate duty free stores and restaurants in the capital city and even
sell automobiles to VIP communist leaders. Here are just a few images from the
frontier. Give Tom a call if you want to learn more about what is really going on in
North Korea. firstname.lastname@example.org
(Although we are not allowed to do anything, there, we certainly know people who
are!) Until last week! The doors are now open, and we will be presenting information
on doing business with the Hermit Kingdom!
DPRK Practical Questions and Answers.
(Or scroll down beyond the gallery)
Leader & Leader Junior!
host panicked when I spilled a beer on this propaganda place mat! Here Great
leader and Benevolent Leader share the spotlight in a mural commemorating the 80th
birthday of Kim Il Sung. Tom toured the border region of the People's republic of
Korea (DPRK) and the neighboring city of Dandong where he has business relations with the
Liaoning Province Import Export Corporation.
Trading with the DPRK
Korean businessmen cross the border for 1 hour visits to the border city of Dandong.
They load up with food supplies, head for the Korean stores on the square near the Yalu
River Bridge and buy cigarettes and booze and head back. Many are Chinese who were
born on the wrong side of the river and were trapped after the war. Now, they are
the merchant class of this nation and someday will make it rich. Few return to China
as they are getting rich!
45 Years later!
45 Years later! What's wrong
with this picture? The Yalu River Bridge at dawn which connects Dandong with North
Korea. Note the long last step! The Korean end of the bridge was bombed
heavily during the war. I was shown a bridge further to the North which recently
collapsed after too much metal was taken by scavengers. The Korean War museum
describes the conflict as a patriotic last stand by the North Koreans against the Yankee
Imperialists. The museum includes an entire section on North Korean War Aces, and
also deserting prisoners of war which were said to opt for the good life in the worker's
paradise. Today traffic runs one way on the remaining bridge over the Yellow.
It also includes a train track down the middle so it is a tight fit! Tom was kindly
deported from North Korea by soldiers who didn't like the way he looked!
and answers from a non governmental or bureaucratic Source. 15
years ago, TJP started work in East Germany, then Romania and down the list of the
forbidden countries. What I learned is that if you want to do business you need to
throw out the books on international marketing, don't deal with acronym companies, and
forget about big deals! Here are some tips for doing business in the DPRK:
What is the business climate like? Right
now, most business in DPRK is government controlled in state trading companies, businesses
or by the Armed Forces who are a substantial business interest involved in just about
everything. At first glance you will believe that all business is locked up between
these large monopolies and a select group of "outside companies" who are allowed
to deal in the DPRK. You can imagine that these are mainly Chinese companies like my
friends in Dandong, Japanese companies and a select group of Scandinavian and Eastern and
a few Western European companies. these companies have bought their way into the
system, give great concessions and are all banking on things getting better.
Do the North Koreans Pay their Bills? Like
the other communist partner companies, they learned a lot of bad habits. In short,
No. Everyone who deals with North Korea is owed a tremendous amount of money.
You must have a person in country to collect and grease the skids. North
Koreans change the terms of contracts, ignore agreements. They feel you are
privileged to deal in their country and take what they give.
Are there small business opportunities? One
of the concessions given to the outside companies is that they have been able to develop
projects which can bring in revenue. For example, the Dandong group runs hotels,
restaurants, snack bars and even a bowling alley with karaoke of course. If you
travel to the larger cities you will stay in a foreign hotel or eat at their restaurant
and pay exorbitant high prices! That is the system! One nice concession and
opportunity is in the hard currency or duty free stores at hotels. Foreign companies
are bringing in luxury goods such as cosmetics, liquor and other items including American
goods for use in the stores. Although they are intended for visitors with cash, I am
certain that these goods are trickling into the population, and will do more and more in
Are there private businesses operating in the
You must look very close. I have heard of small fruit sellers and a lot of
intra village trade which is overlooked. But, at this time the high profile
operations are all state owned or state controlled ventures. But, I do know of a
number of small traders operating on the border regions, who are mainly Chinese.
These guys were trapped on the wrong side of the war and stayed. They have
the ability to cross the border in trucks and pick up goods to bring to the other side.
I believe they work in tandem with relatives on the Chinese side. Although
this is small business, this is business. I believe that real business will
develop with private business in the DPRK and this is the first spark of life! (I
would not waste time dealing with the state)
What about all of the aid organizations etc...I
wonder about these groups. I read about a big project, to give wheat and then I read
that they were delivering a few truck loads. At the same time, trainloads of grains
and seeds are at the Chinese border moving across. They need everything now, but
there must be a reason why they will allow and perpetuate. For South Korean
companies to send rice this is a nice gesture, but a defeat for the North Koreans. I
have always felt that the country can be fed with legitimate imports of goods from
neighboring countries in significant and meaningful amounts. Also, there are enough
wheat seed supplies and agricultural specialists in China who could come in and kick start
the economy. If anything these aid organizations can shame the government into doing
something. But, I also think this is just a band aid.
What can a foreigner source in the
Chinese companies buy cement, sand and gravel, steel, silk and chemicals heavy
industrial items. For consumer goods, the North Koreans have very good pickled
cabbage and traditional Korean foods, and liquors. I have also heard they have a
What do the North Koreans Need? On a large
scale, they need just about everything. But, on a small scale, there are lots
of micro opportunities. for example, over the past few decades, they have imported
used Japanese and even American automobiles from China. They love Cadillac's.
They are in great need of auto parts, and especially windshields for certain
models. They want consumer goods in small packs like raisins, almonds, peanuts,
cookies, crackers and chocolates. All of the items which are sold in the hotel shops
are in or will be in demand in the future, especially when and if the political system
Will the political climate change? The
school students in North Korea are taught a number of songs, dances, and hand gestures,
just like our students in church schools in the USA. The North Korean students learn
two salutes: defend with the raised fist, and defend with the cocked back fist. They
still have the belief that they are the last place on earth which has not sold out to
capitalism. They watch television shows such as "Cops" and other American
parades of murders and crime and they are reinforced that they are lucky to be in North
Korea. I know dozens of foreigners who spend weeks out of each month in North Korea,
and always ask the same question: Will there be peace, will there be a status quo or
will there be an attack. Immediately, enough they'll respond: Attack without a
hesitation! I believe that things will settle down with each day, as long as they
don't do something very stupid. and, they do have a history of doing stupid things!
How does a westerner survive there? You go
with the flow. Bring some of you r own food, pack your sense of humor and keep your
jokes to your self. Do not joke about Great Leader or Dear Leader no matter how
tempting it may get. Do not spill a beer on a great leader place mat like I did!
Do a lot of listening and do not talk politics, or religion. I have found a
safe topic which everyone is interested and admirable: Professional Wrestling.
Evidently when the Dear leader is not hitting holes in one on the golf course or
writing his voluminous books of wisdom, he keeping abreast of the WWF and WCW. I
heard that they even had a world congress on professional wrestling at one time. It
is a nice way to break the ice to ask about their feelings for the Undertaker, or Jake the
Snake. But, really, you must be very careful to stay out of trouble. Know that
you are always being watched or followed. Anyone approaching you to talk is either
crazy or else a secret police agent. Your phone and hotel room will be monitored.
Your bags will be searched going in and out of the country. A few simple
precautions: Keep receipts handy for everything you buy (otherwise you are open to be
accused of stealing or black market money transactions) Go along with he stupid
conversions. Always go along with a guide for now who you can trust. Otherwise
you can be led to the wrong place. Always check your belongings before you leave to
ensure that nothing is planted for inspection at the airport!
Can you access the
internet from there? A: Not officially,
but some do dial over to the China net in Dandong and Dalian and Shenyang.
recommendations from me!
Directorate of Tourism, Central
District, Pyongyang, DPR Korea, Tel: (2) 381 7201. Fax: (2) 381 7607.
International Tourist Company, Central
District, Pyongyang, DPR Korea, Tel: (2) 31562 or 35431. Fax:
(2) 381 2100.
Ltd, 108 Berwick Avenue, Heaton
Mersey, Stockport, Cheshire SK4 3AT, Tel: (0161) 975 0843. Fax: (0161)
432 0148. E-mail: BESTravel@breathemail.net,
Web site: http://www.BESTravel.co.uk
Delegation of the DPRK, 47 rue
Chaveau, 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, Tel: (1) 47 47 53 85. Fax:
(1) 47 47 19 61.