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.
It has been announced that the next US-DPRK Summit between President Donald J. Trump and Chairman Kim Jong UN will take place in Vietnam - our internal betting pool still points to Danang with Chairman Kim visiting Hanoi separately. This is great news to us. Since 2014, we organize training workshops on economic policy, entrepreneurship and women in business in Hanoi, Halong Bay and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam for DPR Koreans, and established an office in Vietnam in 2016. We also advised the Danang local government on the development of a public-private partnership: the Da Nang Business Incubator, or DNES.
Given our observations, we believe that Vietnam’s development experience is highly relevant to North Korea. We hope this short primer will give some insight to the visiting media covering this Summit.
Held from 20th to 27th April this year, the DPRK Economic Forum will include three days of interactive business trainings where workshop leaders will not only teach but also interact with locals whose entrepreneurialism have left an indelible impression on past workshop leaders like Julian Rossy and Laura Ashton.
Recalling how his paper plane challenge took flight with a flurry of ideas, Julian Rossy shares with us his thoughts and experiences during his visit to the DPRK as a workshop leader for our November 2018 Pyongsong Startup Festival. He expresses optimism and hope for the country’s future, and looks forward to returning with a new batch of workshop leaders in the near future.
With a revised format and a record number of workshop leaders, our inaugural Pyongsong Startup Festival was a successful first step towards creating bigger and better initiatives with an emphasis on peer - to - peer learning. A success we owe, in huge part, to our distinguished workshop leaders and volunteers.