North Korea has briefly opened its door to foreigners in an attempt to attract investment in the isolated economy and catch up with its neighbors in Northeast Asia. This comes following agreements between North Korea and China to develop an economic zone near its borders in the northeast.
A variety of products, from bulldozers, trucks and minivans to toys and clothes, mostly from China and other countries, were showcased at the international trade fair in the city of Rason. According to AP, some 110 compaies from 11 countries set up booths in the four-day event. Businessmen from China and Europe casually talked: an uncommon sight in North Korea where foreigners are closely monitored and certain actions are restricted.
Analysts believe that young leader Kim Jong-un is steering the country towards a different direction than his late father. Kim invited Chinese diplomats to Pyongyang in his first diplomatic talks where he stressed that he would “develop the economy and improve livelihoods”. Kim is seemingly taking gradual steps to open up the country.
North Korea’s lack of basic infrastructure – steady power supply, internet, international banking system or mobile services – favorable to creating a sprawling economic environment will be a hindrance that the country still needs to overcome.