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.
    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

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora