North Korea Monitor

Aidan Foster-Carter on the North Korea-Orascom Deal

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Follow up to: North Korea to Expand Mobile Phone Service
Writing in his Pyongyang Watch Column for Asia Times Aidan Foster-Carter had stern warnings for Orascom about doing business with the North:

Hyundai used to vie with Samsung to be South Korea’s biggest chaebol or conglomerate. The group’s northern-born founder, the late Chung Ju-yung, was a pioneer of inter-Korean business. His reward was to be fleeced rotten by Pyongyang, which charged almost a billion dollars for a six-year tourist concession – and then coolly offered bits of it to rival operators like Lotte. As a result, Hyundai splintered into separate firms – and no other chaebol will touch the North with a bargepole. Cheating really doesn’t pay.

He also relates the story of Thai company Loxley, who planned to set up mobile service back in 2003, only to see the project banned a few months later:

Having begun with a mainly fixed network in the Rason special economic zone in the northeast, several years later in 2003 Loxley rolled out mobile service in Pyongyang – only to see them banned after a mere six months. That was in May 2004, soon after a huge rail explosion destoyed [sic] a swath of the northwestern town of Ryongchon – hours after Kim Jong-il’s train had passed through from China. Officially an accident, one rumor is that this was an assassination attempt triggered by a mobile phone.

Overall, Aidan Foster-Carter is pessimistic about the whole venture. Understandably so, it seems.


Written by nkmonitor

February 3, 2008 at 4:38 am

Posted in Inside North Korea

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