Bradley O. BabsonBradley O. Babson is a consultant on Asian affairs with a focus on Korea and Northeast Asia economic cooperation. He is retired from a career at the World Bank, with a concentration in East Asia. In the early 1990s he worked on the opening up of Vietnam and was the first World Bank Resident Representative in Hanoi, and since 1997 has studied the North Korean economy and written extensively on economic perspectives on the integration of North Korea into the international community.
The demise of Jang Song Thaek and those loyal to him just may be good news for the prospects of reforming the North Korean financial system. This system is perhaps the most perverse on the planet, having evolved in a context defined by North Korea’s isolation and inward orientation, its dogged adherence to the ideals of a State-directed economy, [...]
In recent weeks North Korea has actively publicized in domestic and foreign news media its determination to pursue an aggressive strategy to develop special enterprise zones (SEZs) throughout the country. This follows and complements the agreement reached between the two Koreas in September to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC)—which [...]
Some analysts, like Bruce Klingner writing in the Wall Street Journal on August 18, 2013 lament the recent agreement between the two Koreas to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), calling it a “trap,” wondering why the South Koreans would want to take this step given the opportunity to close the zone altogether, and claiming that KIC [...]
Will a New South Korean Policy for Inter-Korean Relations Help or Hinder Economic Reform in North Korea?
South Korean presidential candidates Park Geun-hye, left, of the ruling Saenuri Party, Moon Jae-in, centre, of the main opposition Democratic United party and independent hopeful Ahn Cheol-soo, right, who has pulled out. (Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP) It is now clear that following the South Korean Presidential elections this week there will be a [...]
North Korea has been touting for some time that 2012 is the year it will demonstrate its credentials as a “strong and prosperous nation.” On March 17, 2012, the day after announcing its intention to launch a missile and place a satellite in orbit, the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) published new foreign investment laws for the two special [...]
At the moment of his accession to power, Kim Jong Il inherited the devastating impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the subsequent trade shock to North Korea’s economic output, the onset of the worst famine in modern history, and a humanitarian crisis that required a direct appeal to the outside world for help. By the late 1990’s, he [...]