The Economist on running a CE workshop

We have often received questions on what it is like being a workshop leader for Choson Exchange in North Korea. It is an unusual experience for sure. Surprising fact? North Koreans are well...kinda human too. An Economist bureau chief who helped us run a workshop in North Korea on inflation policies recently wrote about his experience. Some excerpts:


However, instead of challenging me over The Economist’s view of the world economy, they pumped me for facts—hard facts. Each session ended with notes delivered to me either in English or via my interpreter, with almost desperate demands for case studies from around the world that (I surmised) could be useful for the DPRK. This led to a delicate dance, because discussion of the country’s own economic problems was strictly taboo. The strong wording of the messages themselves seemed to say a lot: “You better tell us in more detail,” said one. “We want more real examples,” said another.


Without a doubt, the seminar’s participants were part of a privileged elite—but not that privileged. They wore heavy winter gear in late spring because they were literally freezing cold in the cavernous hall as they sat through the lectures. Only I was given a small heater to keep warm, which was hidden behind the dais. One member of the audience who did not realise I had this privilege came up to tell me that I should put on a coat while I gave my lecture. She also brought me glasses of hot tea. Some people seemed wary of talking to me directly. That made such subtle gestures all the more touching.

Shih Tung, another workshop leader, has also blogged about his experience. Some excerpts:

The first workshop I conducted was on Lean Production as part of a Women In Business program. The Women In Business program is one of Choson Exchange's key activities this year and includes workshops held in North Korea as well as study trips abroad for selected participants. Apart from my session on Lean Production, the March workshop also included seminars on the changing role of women in business, marketing and business strategy.


Simultaneously with the Women In Business workshop, we also ran a workshop on inflation for officials from the Ministry of Finance and other financial institutions. The former Tokyo Bureau Chief for the Economist presented on recent global economic developents and delivered a macro view of inflation while I discussed the nuts and bolts of how Singapore measures inflation, starting from the Household Expenditure Survey to the Consumer Price Indices (CPIs) for different income groups.