This July, we were glad to have an amazing ASEAN (Southeast Asia) delegation join us in DPR Korea. This group was led by George Yeo, former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade & Industry, Health and Information, Communications and the Arts for Singapore. George last visited Korea in 2011 as Foreign Minister and was keen to return with his wife to see how the country has changed.
Today, we read that the US Government has issued new restrictions on visa-free entry into the US for visitors to the DPRK since 2011. The wording of the regulations can be seen at the Customers and Border Protection homepage. Further reporting on this topic can be found at NKnews. This is similar to restrictions the US has imposed on other countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen. What does this mean to our past and future workshop leaders?
Praised by President Trump and once highly sought after by Chinese and South Korean investors, real estate in the DPRK is still largely ambiguous and misunderstood. Just as, if not more, enigmatic as frontier entrepreneurship is in the country, the industry has evolved significantly since the first signs of informal real estate exchange and transactions in the 1990s. But real estate in the DPRK has a longer history than that, and its evolution is largely a result of economic turbulence.
In this first instalment of our inaugural CE Insights Thought Leadership Series on North Korean real estate, our colleague Tian Wen offers a brief overview of real estate in the DPRK, and highlights one procedure in which a real estate project can be undertaken in the country.
“The DPRK is the last frontier left in Asia, and to me it felt to me like a country on the brink of change. At this moment, everything seems unfamiliar, even strange. But that could change very quickly. “
Venturing to places and taking risks where few would, Stephen Lee finds familiarity in the unfamiliar. Here, he recounts his experiences and shares his thoughts during his visit to the DPRK as a workshop leader with our May 2019 DPRK Economic Forum in Pyongyang.
We are proud to have brought DPR Koreans to participate in a historic first at the St Gallen Symposium. This marks the first time we have brought Koreans not just to Switzerland, but to engage in an economic dialogue at a prestigious international event. The Koreans did not just listened to the interesting sessions at the event, but also mingled and discussed topics with fellow participants, met with a number of Choson Exchange alumni or friends at the event (who helped our Koreans feel comfortable at this event), and even hosted a session moderated by Choson Exchange on the topic of “Change” in DPR Korea.
When my friend Julian told me about this trip to North Korea (DPRK), I was directly interested as I have a peculiar passion for special places, and the implications of the politics of such places for people’s lives. What a better place to indulge such a passion than the DPRK? It’s a secluded country about which a lot has been written and said… but very few people actually know what is going on there. This was a perfect occasion into which I rushed as quickly as I could!
For us, this is an opportunity to raise the global issue of North Korea at the World Economic Forum, and to encourage individuals from that community to contribute their ideas, voices and actions to the long, difficult and continuing challenge on the Korean Peninsula. We expect the period ahead to continue to be difficult so long as the US and DPRK are unable to reconcile their differences. And post-reconciliation, there will be the difficult task of integrating and developing this country to ensure stability. Read Geoffrey’s call here on the World Economic Forum’s blog for more direct people-to-people exchange between individuals outside and inside North Korea.
Just a year ago, many feared the Korean Peninsula may descend into war — but with a fresh start between old enemies at the inter-Korean Summits and the US-DPRK Summit, that fear turned into optimism. Alas, it didn’t last, and we are again facing a familiar stalemate. Despite the cycle of mistrust, events on the Korean Peninsula in 2018 have led us to hope for a better future.
Mapping out where the North Koreans will go and what they will do will not be easy. Unlike Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi has a very dispersed urban landscape. There is a central government complex which will definitely host a state visit for Kim Jong Un. This is centered around Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (see map). The Pullman Hotel is nearby. The Opera House is beautiful, and the new parliament building is impressive too. You can find the DPRK embassy nearby in the embassy district. The Metropole Hotel is swanky and President Trump stayed here for his last visit to Hanoi.