- A South Korean official says North Korea may be open to US investment to help modernise its economy.
- The official likened “modernisation” to building a Trump Tower or a McDonald’s restaurant.
- “They want to be a normal country, a normal state to be recognised by the United States,” he said during a CNN International interview.
- The suggestion could also hint at the North’s desire to be relieved of economic sanctions leveled against the country in response to its past aggressions.
During a dinner that followed the historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, North Korean officials indicated the regime wants to modernise its economy, in order to become “a normal country,” according to a South Korean official who attended the event.
“They want to be a normal country, a normal state to be recognised by the United States,” Chung-in Moon, a special adviser to President Moon, said during a CNN International interview on Friday.
“They want American investment coming to North Korea,” he said. “They welcome American sponsors and multilateral consortiums coming into North Korea.”
Chung-in referenced Trump Tower and McDonald’s as examples of what one might consider to be “modern” for North Korea.
On Friday, Kim struck a different tone from his country’s usual bellicose rhetoric. With smiles and hugs, Kim and Moon greeted each other as if it were the first time in years – almost 11 years to be exact – for the leaders of the two countries.
The warm reception continued during the day-long summit. Kim and Moon signed a joint declaration outlining their collective goal to work toward a “complete” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and eventually signing a peace treaty.
But while images of Kim and Moon walking side-by-side calmed some longstanding fears of conflict on the Korean Peninsula, sceptics remain wary, citing the North’s past diplomatic relapses.
Chung-in, referencing North Korea’s recent declaration that it would “stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles” and focus on economic growth, said the regime’s goals have shifted, and suggested the latest developments warrant an optimistic outlook for the upcoming summit between President Donald Trump and Kim.
“North Korea argues that it has completed the nuclear weapons; therefore it has credible nuclear deterrence; therefore they believe that the United States cannot attack North Korea,” Chung-in said. “With that kind of assurance, they wanted to have a talk with the United States.”
“Then the argument is, if the United States can come up with acceptable terms, then they are willing to give up nuclear weapons.”
Building anything close to a Trump Tower – skyscrapers on which Trump licenses the rights to his name – or a McDonald’s in North Korea is still a pipe dream given the litany of economic sanctions imposed against the regime. And any US investment in North Korea would almost certainly require that the sanctions be lifted first.
But if the current mood, which Chung-in described as “extremely friendly,” develops into official policy that’s successfully executed, North Korea could end up constructing some towers – or at least finishing the one it started in 1987.
Watch the interview here:
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