Shinuiju Development, Not a Special Region But an ‘International Market?’

[imText1]Regarding the rumor about the Shinuiju Special Region Plan, Lee Jeong Gil (44), a Chinese-North Korean trader who recently returned from Shinuiju in late April, said that, “It would be hard for Shinuiju to be a special region. However, it is likely that an international market will be created in the outskirts of Shinuiju.”

Mr. Lee stated, “As far as I know, including that of Shinuiju, international market plans will be created in the outskirts of Nampo and Wonsan as well.” He went on to explain, “This was already determined at the Central Committee level,” something he noted hearing directly from a high-ranking official living in Shinuiju.

Moreover, it is Mr. Lee’s view that, “The possible place where an international market will be created is in the outskirts of Shinuiju,” when asked about the Wiwhado liberalization news which was broadcast in South Korea with the title of, “Is it possible to build a market on an island?”, Mr. Lee explained, “Because of the removal of residents and the impact on outside areas caused by the special region plan, the government regards the Shinuiju special region plan as complicated.” He noted as well, that, “It seems that the government pursues this in the same manner as the previously constructed Onsung and Nasun international markets.”

The special regional plan is to develop a particular region by dividing it into a concerned area and outskirts. The goal would then be to introduce into the concerned area such aspects of a market economy as financial industries, manufacturing industries, accommodation industries, and free trade zones. Like special regions, international markets could attract foreign investments. Yet, because special regions are controlled by international markets that are not yet mature – most only at a stage where foreigners rent stores to do business – the effects that international markets can bring are limited.

Mr. Lee said, “It seems reasonable to assume that the government will permit commuting since it has allowed daily visa-free commutes to and from China since July… So, it necessitates a look into the news that North Korean customs moved from Ryeokjeon-dong, the present area, to Minpo-dong where the second NK-China Yalu River iron bridge plan is being constructed.”

He went on to explain, “I heard that the government will construct new buildings for foreign traders to do business in, in the outskirts of Shinuiju, and that they will give leasing rights to investors who invest more than 100,000 dollars.”

On the other hand, on the 23rd, Mr. Kim (51) noted, “The internal policy direction for Shinuiju and Nampo was already set to make special regions within the year to overcome the economic crisis [North Korea] has faced recently.” It is likely that what the high-ranking official testified about is not about special regions, but about international markets.