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Labor Policy in the Last Stalinist Utopia

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By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen – Own work by uploader, http://bjornfree.com/kim/, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32400550

Something about this interview with a Chinese investor struck me as absurd:

I brought 10 million RMB [around $1.4 million] into North Korea to build the factory and started the business by lobbying North Korean cadres. That makes it difficult to suddenly shut down the factory or switch to another product. I think it’s natural for any businessperson to recoup the money that has already been invested.

North Korea doesn’t have a stable political environment for foreigners to do business in, but because wages are so low, doing business there is worth a try, even if you have to face risks like sanctions. 

Unstable and corrupt… but still a good investment because wages are low! And I suspect the regulators are loose if they throw around a few RMB!

One of my takeaways from my visit to South Korea was my complete inability to have any empathy with the North Korea government. Pyongyang is run by a bunch of gangsters out to protect their portfolios and their positions of power. As much as I hate Putin and Xi I can at least understand the nationalist impulses that guide their domestic and international behavior; they make sense to me. The North Korean state exists to do nothing but impoverish and brutalize its own people while threatening and harassing everyone else in its neighborhood. It’s the world’s best example of a state that exists only for the sake of its own brutality. When you see the vibrancy of South Korea, it’s hard not to be furious with the gang that has worked devilishly hard at snuffing out every last trace of that vibrancy. And I certainly have more contempt than ever for the small group of Westerners who laud the DPRK as the only “authentic” example of Korean culture and Korea’s history of resistance.

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