Doing Business in North Korea: Modernization and New Consumerism
The Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) of Kyungnam University and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) hosted a conference on “Doing Business in North Korea: Modernization and New Consumerism”. Chun Hae-sung, new vice-minister of unification gave a congratulatory remark during the opening ceremony addressing the nearly 200 guests attending the conference. “Doing Business in North Korea” has been a theme of our joint conferences before. The goal of this conference was to better understand the changes in the North Korean economy. Despite the increased sanctions the economy seems to be developing and new businesses are constantly emerging.
To strike a balance between academic excellence and on-site information, the panels were comprised of university experts as well as professionals who either have business relations to North Korea or are engaged in respective touristic our journalistic activities.
The conference was structured into two sessions. The first session dealt with "Modernization in North Korea's Business Development". During their presentations, North Korea insiders who frequently visit the country showed photos and videos of the accelerating marketization and corresponding developments while other panellists provided the related theoretical context. Topic of the second panel was "Modernization in North Korea: Banking, Consumerism and Localization", strongly emphasizing the connection between increasing commercial activity, industrial development and the necessity for a private banking sector.
Key message of this conference was the existence of an economic sphere in and with regard to North Korea that operates and develops largely independent from current security issues. The presentations shown served as a reminder of the daily life that continues within the country, in the face of international politics. The partnership of IFES and FNF was established in 2008 and has since then, produced at least one international event per year.