Up the Mountain, Down to the Villages

Earlier this year in March, North Korea decided to set up Special Economic Zones in all the provinces. On the back of this policy, we were invited to bring our training programs in economics, business and law to every province. Obviously, given our limited resources, this was impossible. But the request gave us an opportunity to debate how Choson Exchange should involve the provinces in our programs. This review of our province strategy culminated in meetings with provincial officials (example), and a workshop in Wonsan that saw 5 provinces send representatives to participate. If people in Pyongyang sorely needed knowledge and exposure to bridge the gulf of understanding with people from the rest of its region, people in the provinces clearly were even more needy. We decided that we would start a program and dedicate part of our resources to the provinces.

The next question was whether we should split our limited resources among several provinces or concentrate on 1-2 provinces. There is merit to either proposal. We solicited feedback from our board of advisors as well as various North Koreans and decided on taking a more focused approach.

Next year, we expect to hold workshops in Wonsan and Hamhung, and bring participants from the Eastern seaboard to Singapore. Similarly to Pyongyang, our aim is to scale up and develop local alumni who share the same experiences and knowledge base.