Before the discussion started, professor Moon-Soo Yang gave a short presentation on economic reform trends in North Korea, followed by a second presentation by Jae Hwan Hong, Research Fellow by KINU, about North Korea’s current living conditions based on UNICEF survey results.
For the discussion three experts came together, one of which was Dr Seliger from the HSF, the other two were Professor Jiyong Zheng from the Fudan University in China and Masahiko Nakagawa, a senior overseas research fellow from the Institute of Developing Economies in Japan. One of the problems discussed was the problem of data from North Korea, since every source gives different numbers, which makes research rather complicated. Dr Seliger talked about the change in the North Korean economy over the resent years, made possible through a slide change of ideology, that allows a more widely open market. He also mentioned that the effect of the sanctions against North Korea due to the nuclear war on the living conditions of the people is basically non-existing, because most people do not have access to more than the local market anyways. Even though North Korea’s internal growth is increasing, internationally they need to change something, which is tried to be done by investing in tourism projects, most of which were failures so far. For his last point Dr Seliger stressed the importance of international cooperation to help North Korea change into a more open mindset. He emphasized that only by helping in training governmental officials and education North Koreans, also abroad, can the poverty rate be brought down.