News / Asia

North Korea Tries to Drum Up Investment in Southeast Asia

Kim Yong-nam, left, North Korea's president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono walk to a greeting ceremony at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, May 15, 2012.
Kim Yong-nam, left, North Korea's president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono walk to a greeting ceremony at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, May 15, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Kate Lamb
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - Kim Yong-nam, North Korea’s second-highest ranking official, is on a three-day trip to Jakarta, Indonesia, where he is reportedly drumming up support for foreign investment in one of the world’s most isolated countries. Kate Lamb reports from Jakarta.
 
While most nations shun North Korea, Indonesia has maintained good relations with the country since 1961.
 
When North Korea and Indonesia were both part of the non-aligned movement, the only trip the enigmatic Kim Jong-il ever took by plane was to Indonesia.
 
Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa says Tuesday’s bilateral meeting highlights a deepening relationship.
 
“There was determination to raise the bilateral relations to a higher level in a broad range of areas," said Natalegawa. "For example, the two leaders resolved to raise political relations between the two countries by promoting increased visits by leaders, by ministers, by officials, of the two countries. In addition, the two leaders agreed to enhance economic and trade cooperation links between the two countries.”
 
There were other signs of cooperation last week, when officials announced a media swap deal that would allow networks in both countries to share content. In the future, media organizations plan to participate in journalist exchanges.
 
Analysts say the deal is odd given that media in North Korea is among the most tightly controlled in the world.
 
Notoriously isolationist, Kim’s visit to Singapore and Indonesia this week appears to be part of North Korea’s plan to boost trade in the impoverished nation.
 
Despite the diplomatic pledges Tuesday, Peter Beck, a Korea specialist at the Asia foundation in Seoul, is skeptical that the countries are truly committed to tightening trade links.
 
“I think that’s just talk because North Korea doesn’t really have anything to offer Indonesia," said Beck. "North Korea has become a massive liability, an economic liability and political liability and I seriously doubt that North Korea has anything that Indonesia really needs. Frankly I think they [Indonesia] have much more to lose than to gain from dealing with North Korea.”
 
Beck says the North Korean regime is also trying to curb its reliance on China by reaching out to other countries in Asia.
 
Most western multinationals avoid direct business with North Korea because of the U.S. trade embargo, but these restrictions are not enforced in China.
 
Beck says there are a handful of countries that can help break North Korea out of isolation, but Indonesia is not one of them.
 
“They are certainly fully engaging with China but they don’t like the idea of China dominating their economy, but the only other countries that can really counteract the balance of China are the U.S. and South Korea," said Beck. "So until they start making overtures to Washington or Seoul, I think all their other trips are exercises in frequent flyer mileage accumulation.”
 
Washington has warned financial institutions in Singapore and Southeast Asia that they do business with North Korea at their peril.
 
Singaporean banks stopped doing business with North Korea several years ago and Indonesia is not one among the country’s top trading partners.
 
Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Tuesday called for dialogue to resolve problems on the Korean peninsula, while the Foreign Minister suggested that isolating North Korea further was not a constructive solution.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid