As the new year kicks off, as does the economic ambitions and strategies of North Korea. With nuclear deterrence being a popular story in 2017, it looks like economic sanctions against the country and how to cope with them will be the major story in 2018.
According to Kim Jong Un’s New Years Day speech, driving a stronger economy was mentioned nearly as many times as the nuclear stronghold the country has. And it’s no surprise that this was the case given that economic sanctions against the country have dropped exports of textiles, coal, and seafood by nearly 30% since last year while exports to China, the countries main trading partner, dipped by close to 35%. Additionally, the blockage of foreign visas for North Koreans working abroad has impacted another economic feature the country is dependent on: that of gifts or remittances to family members of the foreign workers.
With all the economic sanctions piling up against the country, it’s no surprise that leader Kim Jong Un is willing to begin negotiating again on behalf of his country. The first step in that direction looks to be with neighboring South Korea. With the winter Olympics coming up in Pyeongchang County, president Moon Jae-in has mentioned South Korea may temporarily lift restrictions to aid North Korea’s participation in the sporting event. Accordingly, North Korean officials claimed they will be sending a delegation of athletes and a cheering squad to next month’s games.