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[Editorial] Shinuiju Plan, Not to Make Same Mistake in Rajin-Seonbong District

[Editorial] Shinuiju Plan, Not to Make Same Mistake in Rajin-Seonbong District

Posted September. 22, 2002 23:38,   


North Korea Announced that it would designate Sinuiju as a special administrative district to attract foreign investment. There has been the rumour of the designation for years. Now, finally, it seems to materialize. We hope that the plan will pave the way for the North to take reform and opening policy in earnest.

The designation is worth attention, along with the North`s efforts to improve its economic system, such as the step taken in July to raise wages to proper levels, in that Pyongyang is mapping out its future economy. In the basic law on the special district of Sinuiju, which states that Sinuiju is an independent district in administraion, legislature, and jurisdiction and except for diplomatic matters, the central government cannot interfere with the business in the region, we can take a look at the North`s willingness to reform itself. However, there is a long way to go before the North succeed in drawing foreign investment through the plan.

First of all, there is a need of "change of mind," which was stressed by North Korean National Defense Commission chairman Kim Jong Il during his visit to Hongkong in January 2001. Even if Pyongyang introduced a good system, it has still difficulties in drawing foreign investment. It should assure the international society that it has changed. It can get a hard lesson from its unsuccessful plan to revive the economy through designating the Rajin-Seonbong district as economic free trade zone, which started in the early 1990s.

As for the prerequisites other than in economy, it should get foreign nations` confidence through the improvement of the U.S.-North Korea relations. Though Pyongyang is trying to get economic aid from Tokyo through the better relations, the improvement between the U.S. and the North is a necessity for it to get foreign aid and investment from other countries at large-scale. Therefore, the North should deal with its weapons of mass destruction, such as missiles and nuclear weapons, which have been the matter of concerns for the U.S.

In fact, it is early to evaluate the economic reform measures taken by the North. However, the North can still find an exit out of its difficulties if it continues to take action to solve problems stemming from it reclusive past.