Daily NK has learned that a group of North Korean government officials and academics are currently receiving education in China on the workings of special economic zones (SEZs).
A source acquainted with the situation explained today, “A group of 20 trainees made up of economic officials and academics from the DRPK Ministry of Trade has been receiving training in Tianjin since the end of May upon an invitation from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.”
“The aim of the training is the vitalization of North Korea’s special economic zones at Hwanggeumpyeong, Wihwa Island and Rajin-Sonbong,” he added.
According to the source, the North Koreans, who come from the finance and economics, administration and taxation sections of the ministry, will remain in China for two months. The costs of the program, including accommodation and training fees, are being covered by the Chinese side, and they are staying in a state guest house.
For the first month, the 20 were reportedly due to receive training in techniques pertaining to the operation, management and attraction of investment to SEZs from Chinese experts. For the second, they are set to receive field training in Shanghai, seeing how China’s SEZs operate.
Despite the holding of a colorful launch ceremony for the Hwanggeumpyeong SEZ in June 2011 that was attended by both Jang Sung Taek and Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming, there has been little practical development in the zone over the following year, with much of the existing farming activity continuing largely unhindered.
In other economic news, Radio Free Asia yesterday released a report yesterday suggesting the existence of rumors inside North Korea to the effect that Kim Jong Eun is keen to embark on a broader economic opening, but is being restrained by Jang Sung Taek and his aunt, Party Light Industry Department head Kim Kyung Hee.
However, the report cites a Party source in Yangkang Province as saying that the rumor is impossible to verify.