Deputy Prime Minister Ri Ryong-nam of North Korea has admitted economic difficulties faced by his country, and asked for assistance and support from the Republic of Korea (south). This was disclosed by Special Presidential Economic Advisor Kim Hyun-chul.
DPM Ri of North Korea made the comments in a meeting with top South Korean business executives earlier this week, The executives, including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, accompanied Moon on his first trip to Pyongyang for a summit with Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea earlier this week.
The visit by Chairman Lee and other leaders of the Korean jaebeol business groups indicated that North Korea, one of the world's poorest countries, wants to attract South Korean investment and technology to improve its economy.
North Korea's gross domestic product, calculated as power purchasing parity, was estimated at US$40 billion in 2015, according to the CIA Factbook, a fifth of the 2017 annual sales of only one jaebeol busienss company, namely Samsung Electronics, which reached $213 billion.
The economic adviser also stated that DPM Ri had talks with Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun and Chairman Park Yong-maan of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a major South Korean business lobby. No details of their discussions were disclosed.
Hyundai Asan, the inter-Korean business arm of Hyundai Group, was a key partner in a joint factory park in North Korea's border city of Kaesong as well as a joint tour program at Mount Kumgang, a scenic mountain resort on the North's east coast.
The two projects--prominent symbols of reconciliation between the two separated countries--have been suspended for years due to tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang following North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons and military provocations against the ROK during the governments of former Presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye.