Intervention of Mr. Joseph Busha in the Think Tank 2022 Forum

Intervention of Mr. Joseph Busha, Founder and CEO, JM BUSHA Investment Group, Zimbabwe, in the IAAP Session of the Think Tank 2022 Forum on 2 February, 2022.

Economic Proposal to Open and Facilitate the Relationship of North Korea and the World

First, I thank Father and Mother Moon, the Co-Founders of the Universal Peace Federation for their vision and foresight. Second, I am grateful for the opportunity given to me to participate at this Think Tank 2022 Global Forum Virtual Conference themed “Toward Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula”. And I present on “Economic Proposal to Open and Facilitate the Relationship of North Korea and the World”.

Peace is the umbilical cord for unity, togetherness, harmony and love. The history of North Korea is linked to that of South Korea and the Korean Peninsula surrounded by China, Russia and Japan – all great nations of the world.

The relationship between North Korea and the world is well documented – cold, warm and hot. There are 197 countries adding Taiwan and Kosovo in the world with 193 being member states of the United Nations (UN). North Korea is an observer member of the UN, a full Member of the Non-Aligned Movement, Member of the Group of 77 (G77) – a coalition of 134 developing countries, and member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional group.

North Korea has diplomatic relations with 166 countries out the 197, and has embassies in 50 countries. It does not have good relations with the USA, Israel, Japan and Taiwan. It has stronger ties with China and a lukewarm relationship with sister-country South Korea.

North Korea borders China and Russia to the north and South Korea to the south – all great developed nations. Japan, the third largest economy after the US and China, is a neighbour still unhappy with events of the past. North Korea is the least developed country of its neighbours. Why?

To put the disparity in social and economic development into perspective, I provide a comparative statistical review of North Korea and South Korea.


South Korea

North Korea

S. Korea / N. Korea


51.31 million

25.7 million

x 2

GDP, Gross Domestic Product

US$ 1.80 trillion

US$ 19 billion

x 95

PPP, Purchasing Power Parity

US$ 2.2 trillion

US$ 40 billion

x 55

GDP per capita

US$ 34,865

US$ 1,700

x 20

GDP rank




GDP per capita rank




GDP Contributors per sector















US$ 644 billion

US$ 156 million

x 4


US$ 615 billion

US$ 2.70 billion

x 228

FDI, Foreign Direct Investment

US$ 230 billion

US$ 1.80 billion

x 128




x 40




x 4

Main Industries

Electronics,     telecoms,

automobile, chemicals

Military       products,

machinery, minerals

From the numbers South Korea has double the population, but that does not tell the story of individual wellbeing - how the economy is doing and how the people are living?

For example, South Korea’s economy is 95 the size of North Korea and the GDP per capita is 20 times. South Korea receives more than 128 times more foreign direct investment than North Korea. Inflation is 40 times at 20% in North Korea. For every one person unemployed in South Korea, four are without a job in North Korea. That’s the disparity.

Now, I return to the question posed earlier. Why is North Korea the least developed country of its immediate neighbours China, Russia, South Korea and Japan?

There are many reasons among the following:

  1. North Korea is a closed and centralised economy or command economy. The state controls the means of production, although there are some private business
  1. There are sanctions and trade restrictions hurting the economy and the people of North Korea. North Korea is not a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The status quo has been like this for a long time. Now it’s time to open up, put forward economic and socio-political reforms that will change the course for the better.

The strength of social cohesion within a country, social ties with other countries and economic performance make a country great, developed or weak, underdeveloped.

The following proposals might help enhance economic trade and diplomatic relations and also the integration, of North Korea and the world.

  1. The starting point is normalising relations with South Korea to bridge the gap. I acknowledge that this started in 2000 at the North-South Summit. Four (4) economic cooperation treaties were signed covering rules for taxation, investment guarantees, direct financial transactions processes, and trade settlement This was followed by Hyundai establishing an industrial park and signing business contracts. More of this must happen to increase trade.
  1. In 2001, there was visit to Shanghai Stock Exchange in China by North Korean leaders. A sign of wanting to learn and open up the economy to more private participation and possibly for FDIs. I would say yes. China and Vietnam successfully transitioned from central command economies to free So North Korea will not be walking the uncharted path if it were to open its economy and facilitate private investments thereby improving interactions and relationships with the world. Other nations have done so with positive results.
  1. North Korea is rich in mineral resources that include coal, iron ore, copper, zinc, lead and magnesite. The resources are estimated to be worth US$10 trillion. This could unleash economic growth that turns its fortunes into a miracle for the many impoverished citizens in terms of
  1. Use its comparative competitive advantage in technology and design to scale up in that industry for
  1. North Korea is a homogenous society with life expectancy of about 72 It can take the 60% of its citizens who live in poverty out of the poverty.
  1. The world must positively engage North Korea, and North Korea must be willing and commit to building better relations. The two Koreans must unify. It has happened before where a nation was divided by a wall - East and West Germany and they broke down the wall. And unified Germany is a great nation today. So will be a unified Korean

Let’s give peace a chance.

Thank You.

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