North Korea’s Money Men in China

It’s a few days old, but this Daily NK piece is a fascinating insight into how North Korea’s state trading companies put revenue in Kim Jong Il’s coffers, how they’re adapting to the politics of succession:

Ri, who is in his mid-40s and living in Dalian, says he enjoys extravagance which he could never have imagined in North Korea. “The Cheonan incident and other issues are complicated,” he explains, “I now believe here (China) is my hometown and where I will live.” He drives two foreign cars and says he owns two houses, each worth $300,000, in an economic development zone in the city. He says he plays golf and is able to send his children, who he says have a talent for art, to Europe to study.

To his acquaintances, he advises, “When trying to export North Korean commodities, there are no alternatives to minerals or marine products. Try to mediate the importation of necessities for the Cabinet, military authorities or the Ministry of Light Industry, and avoid other industrial goods.”

In the process of supplying goods to North Korea, these men commonly obtain additional money illegally. North Korea’s light industries are not well developed, which means that there are a lot of opportunities to import daily necessities. There are countless traders who have accumulated considerable wealth by conspiring with North Korean officials during the process.

Of course, Kang admits that he has exaggerated his costs when delivering goods to North Korea, and that he has lived until now thanks to the power of the military authorities and his background with Kim Jong Nam. He regards it is inevitable for a merchant, asking, “If I did not use such a method, how could I afford my $2 million house?” [Daily NK]

Read the rest on your own.

1 Comment

  1. I actually read the Daily NK everyday. Not sure how many other regulars here do the same. I had thought it was a given that the site’s owner would be in this camp given the limited outlets on NK events, but it seems he is catching up with some older news (no knock to him, since he still finds time to post mostly great original stuff here everyday).

    Still a great post for those who missed it on Daily NK, as was the one on African monuments.